Wednesday, December 2, 2009

When asked to talk about "The Art Of Achievement"

First of all, I am not someone who has achieved the ultimate success or something that I can sit back, relax and write about this....I am only writing this as per my friend's (my sister in Islam) suggestion....

I guess nobody should feel that they have reached the ultimate success, in the first place...We are a greedy species..and so just like how we "want" more of everything, we should be wanting to "do more" too....We should be desiring to excel more in the sight of Allah, first and foremost, just as the Sahaba Radhiyallahu anhum were always seeking from the Prophet Sallallahu alaihi wasallam to know of the greatest deeds contrary to today's lazy man. We are not as ambitious as the righteous Salaf of the past when it comes to investing for the aakhirah.

Here are some reminders I go back to when I feel down or discouraged, and I have things to accomplish:

1. Sincerity and commitment:
These 2 factors in itself should be behind one's motivational drive. Your sincerity and commitment could be to your kids and family, to your job, to a good consistent deed that you are trying to keep up with- it can be anything. But the most important is sincerity to Allah SWT and commitments to your duties you do for His Sake. For example, you just started on a physical fitness program. You are driven by the fact that you have to lose 10 lbs or so, in order that you will be able to fit into that dress that's been hanging in your closet for a while now. This motivation could drive you for a while- either you become successful in losing these extra 10 lbs and then you quit caring about your physical fitness, or you become like the fox who decided that the unreachable grapes were sour anyway (you give up). But if you are focusing on your fitness so that you can become a better person for the sake of Allah and for accumulating more for your aakhirah, then you and I will be driven forever bi idnillah.

2. The right kind of tawakkul and dua = giving your best effort + relying on Allah SWT for results + optimistic about whatever comes out is from Allah and Allah knows best, and is the best of planners.

3. Get yourself prepared to face challenges and obstacles. Don't expect everything to go perfectly- if it did, you wouldn't savor the sweetness of what you have achieved. Hardwork and sweat gives you satisfaction at the end of the day.

4. Believe in yourself even if nobody else does. Don't expect support and encouragement always. Sometimes, even the people you love and turn to the most, can fail you. But keep going, for the sake of Allah.

5. Seek advice from people you know can guide you. Keep company who can benefit you.

6. When you face difficulties, remember to ask Allah alone, and again remind yourself- Allah knows what is best for you.

7. Think of great people of the past whom Allah is pleased with. (May Allah make you and me from among those with whom Allah is pleased.)

8. Laziness will just make you depressed afterward. But if you have been lazy or made any mistake, forgive yourself. Learn from your mistakes- don't allow your mistakes to cling to you like leeches and take advantage of you.

9. Eat well, Sleep (rest/relax) well and play well(have a physical activity other than regular housework).

10. Accept criticism with a good heart....Ok, don't even consider them as criticism, see them as opportunities to learn from, ponder...if it doesn't pertain to you in anyway that you can improve, forget it. Love everybody. Forgive and forget. Be happy. Be positive.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Submerge: The Art of Achievement

Assalamualikum warahmathullahi wabarakathuh

To listen to Heba Alshareef's motivational talk on the subject, go to:

For those of who do not know Heba Alshareef, she is a teacher and author of Release Your Inner Queen of Sheba! She has been mentoring women around the world to discover their unique talents, act on their aspirations to achieve great things, and find authentic happiness. She lives with her husband and five children near Toronto, Canada. Visit her online at:

She is a true "Bonafide Queen of Sheba"!

Also, there's a talk/interview of myself, on my reflections of "achievement" and how Al-Hadiyah started....And then Heba and Umm Zahrah(a hafidha who has achieved great things mashAllah and is a role model for many sisters in the Bay Area) talk...

InshAllah, I hope to post some more reflections soon...

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Quality Salah Chart

Bismillahi Ar-Rahmani Ar-Raheem

After I attended Divine Link, I decided that I need help in being consistent in accelerating the quality of my Salah, rather than sometimes up and other times down. So I designed this chart. Now I feel I should share this chart with you so that we can help each other out, and most of us feel more religious when we do things together and in congregation. Bi idnillah, I hope this chart will benefit us all. Please share your feedback and suggestions in the comments section.

Before you download the Quality Salah Chart here, this is how it works:

Each Salah is rated according to how good you are in praying on time, concentration, performing the rawatib etc. The maximum you can reward yourself for each of these is 2 points. The least is zero except for "praying on time".

For praying on time:

Salathul Fajr and Maghrib:
Within 15 minutes of adhan, 2 points
After that, 1 point
Just 5 minutes before Qadha time, no points

Salathu Dhuhr and Asr:
Within first one-third of the salah time, 2 points
In the second one-third, 1 point
Last one-third
, no points

Salathul Isha:
The three parts here won't be calculated from the beginning of time for Isha till Fajr. But the night itself, i.e, from the time of sunset till Fajr.
Again, by end of the first third, 2 points
Second- 1 point
Last third- no points

As for Qadha, you give yourself -2 (minus two) points

Based on this, the maximum you get for each Salah is 12. For brothers, there is an additional 2 points for praying in the masjid or in congregation(if possible) during office hours if you have Muslim colleagues.
Maximum daily total for women is 60 and for men, 70.

Maximum weekly total for a Salah for sisters, is 12x7= 84
And for brothers, 14x7= 98

Maximum weekly total for all fard salah for sisters is 420 and for brothers is 490.

You can earn your bonus with witr= 1point, Duha= 3 points and Tahajjud= 5 points.

These numbers don't mean anything except that it should push us to aim higher and work for the bonuses. Please let me know if there are mistakes in calculation. Please share this with family and friends.

Finally, I would like to remind myself, then everybody else that this chart is for helping us become worshippers of Allah SWT. Let's not confuse our intentions and improve our Salah for the sake of giving ourselves good points, and have a sense of false complacence. Let's also not cheat ourselves and give ourselves more points than we deserve. Remember Allah is judging us always!!

May Allah Azza Wajal always keep us on the straight path. Aameen....

Friday, October 16, 2009

"Al-Hadiyah" Magazine Vol1 Issue 1 on the stands!!

Assalamualikum warahmathullahi wabarakathuh

Alhamdulillah, the Magazine of Qabeelat Haadi has been released. You can access it online at Also, it will be distributed at MCA during Jumu'ah time.

I welcome your feedback and suggestions....

Email me at

Yours sincerely,
Fathimah Zainulabideen

Friday, August 21, 2009

"Cleanse" - The Ramadan Experience

Zaara grew up in the perfect Muslim home; her parents were God-fearing and religious and taught her everything they knew about Islam. They were very involved in community work, Da'wah and they always looked for opportunities to fill up their books of good deeds. As Zaara grew up, she followed in her parents' footsteps. In short, she was really proud of being blessed with such good parents, and they were proud to have brought up a daughter like her.

Living Islam and preaching Islam was something that came naturally to her. She didn't need a force that would empower her from within to live the way she did; it had never occurred to her why she did something, or stayed away from something. After she finished High School, she traveled overseas so she could pursue her Duniyawi Ilm. Her parents always reminded her of sticking to the dheen wherever she went. And in a way, she did pay heed to their advice.

But now Zaara felt there was something missing in her life; she felt as though she led 2 different lives. One: the life her Lord Almighty and her parents wanted to live. She still continued to do what she did as she grew up- holding halaqaat, calling people to the truth, encouraging people to practice. In fact, her naseeha and advice made deep impact on the people she spoke to, than on herself. Her words were always profound, made people think and ponder, she spoke with feeling, from deep within- but she always felt that there was some major core of the heart where the "Eman" just didn't touch her. And she felt that this struggle to actually feel close to Allah was her second life.

And then one day, something happened. On her way to school, as she was crossing the street, yes- that's what happened. A reckless driver who had the music system in his car in booming volume (and hence, intoxicated) hit her. Zaara became unconscious, and when she regained her senses, she was in the hospital, and her legs were in traction. She had multiple fractures in her ribs and other bruises. Her eyes felt heavy. And she drifted back to sleep, on effect of the anesthesia. The next couple of days were a blur for her. On the third day, however, she felt her renewed energy level come back to her, and she was transferred to the normal ward.

As she lay in her hospital bed, with her right leg still in traction, and her room lit because of the full moon shimmering through the curtains, she suddenly felt something that overpowered her pain and aches. An emotion so strong that it was as though the moon light had penetrated into her heart, and it reflected back. but this light was brighter than the moon light itself. She suddenly knew why she was there. She felt totally at peace and this brought a big smile on her lips. She whispered out loud: Allahu As-salaam, Huwa Al-Haakim (Allah is The Bestower of peace, He is the Wise). Of course, she always knew the meaning, and she had always said this too. But this time, it was different. She understood it in its profanity, in a deeper and a higher level. Allah SWT had chosen her to be cleansed through her trials. Allah Azza Wajal knew that her soul had been searching for knowing Her Lord more.

All of us have such moments, sometimes in situations of hardships; sometimes when things go perfectly and there is joy around. Whatever the situation, we treasure these moments and crave for more. That is the fitrah of mankind that Allah SWT has blessed him with. We find comfort in being close to our Lord, in knowing Him more, and being His sincere slave in total submission. And that is why we love Ramadan!!! In Ramadan, we experience more "cleanse"-ing moments than at other times. Ramadan burns away our sins and bad thoughts and scars in the soul just as the extreme scorching heat of the Sun burns away matter. We feel that Ramadan just peeps in, and then rushes off. We never seem to get enough of it, SubhanAllah. (Let's do some serious soul search like Zaara, and then Allah will bring us closer to Him, and cleanse our souls. Let's not just think about this in Ramadan; at the same time, lets do our best now- Alhamdulillah He has blessed us with this month now.)

We live in an age where luxury has become necessities of life. We have a lot of everything- our refrigerator is full, our wardrobe is full, every family has 2 vehicles (both the latest models in most cases)- all but lesser time to reflect upon Nature and its Creator. We need to stop ourselves from our daily, busy, monotonous flow of things happening, and really think. Think so that we can cleanse ourselves, and experience the bliss of connecting more firmly with Our Lord.

Cleanse....cleanse your souls of sins, negative thoughts and unnecessary, lingering emotions- But How?! Cleanse the way Prophet Yunus Alaihiwassalam cleansed his soul when he was inside the whale. The way he had repented to Allah Subhanahu wa tha'ala with utmost humility and proved that he was in real need of Allah's Mercy. Cleanse the way we open up to the Majesty of Our Lord Almighty.

1. Pray Qiyamu-al-Layl and make lots of duah:

We have to let go of our ego, really humble ourselves as much as we can, and talk to Allah. Raise our hands and beg Allah. Your Lord is the Only One worthy of this begging. We do not have to beg anyone else to achieve some worldly gain. Let's remember and try to visualize how we will stand before Allah in the Mahshara on the Day of Judgment (and remember that the real picture is nothing like how we visualize.)

2. Count our Blessings- how we should actually show gratitude:

Alhamdulillahi Rabb-il-'Aalameen. Isn't it one of the greatest blessings that Allah Subhanahu wa tha'ala gave us yet another chance to experience Ramadan (May Allah give us all long lives, and many more Ramadan's that will be beneficial for our Hereafter, aameen), in spite of our lack of sincerity and negligence in the other months. We have to really value it, and treat it like the most honored guest of the year. If we do so, then inshAllah we will habituate the art of treating the less honored guests (the other 11 months) also with considerable love and zeal.

3. Remember Qur'an is the theme of this month.

Fasting has been prescribed for you in order that you main acquire Taqwa (Surah Al-Baqara: 183) - so that you may become more conscious of Allah, so that we may center our lives with the love of Allah. And when we love someone, truly love someone- we pay heed to His words. The theme of Ramadan is Quran. The Quran was revealed in the month of Ramadan, and by fasting and other increased Ibadah, we show gratitude to Allah Azza Wajal for revealing the Quran to us. And The Book introduces itself to us that it is a Guidance for those who have Taqwa. (Surah Al Baqara:2)

So, Taqwa and Guidance, and Ramadan and Quran are all connected and intermingled with each other.

4. Ramadan Special goal-setting:

This is the best time to train ourselves to make our whole life surrounded by our purpose in life. It is the best time to start good habits, and make stronger the base of our old habits (the good ones). Allah has blessed this month so much that He SWT chains the devils- so isn't this the best time to get rid of bad habits too.

Set 2 special goals that we can accomplish, 2 things that will help us grow better bi idhnillah; that will raise our level in the Sight of Allah Azza Wajal. If we find it difficult, we have to keep striving. Practice, practice and more practice. What we are, is represented by what we do. Let's imagine it as mountain climbing, and bi idhnillah, if we reach this mountain peak, we have reached our goal. (till you spot another more promising mountain to climb!) We have to do what it takes to get to the pinnacle.

We have to cultivate the habit of journalis-ing our special goals. And keeping a track of it. Seeing is believing and often, a moment of realization. When we see it on paper, the result itself critiques us, it will connect with our souls and provide further motivation.

Make a Ramadan special schedule: Because of how blessed this month is, believe you me, we can do more than we ever did in the other months. Allah SWT has put so much blessing in this time. There is a special blessing in our physical strength and stamina too. Its all about the struggle to get organized and make the best use of our time, especially if one has little kids at home. The keyword is: do jihad, strive and don't give up. Maybe everything wouldn't have gone the way we wanted on the first day of Ramadan, but we learn from experience, and make each day better.

5. Don't carry excess baggage:

"Be in this world as is you are a wayfarer" - Can the one who is traveling carry more than the necessary? Can he afford to have a lot of excess baggage- most probably he will have to pay (duty/excess baggage) for it. So what all can we avoid and what should we carry, especially in Ramadan?

a. Too much food can do harm and prevent us from excelling in our Ibadah- We have to pay heed to the one-third rule- "One-third water, one-third food and one-third air". This is what the Prophet Sallallahu alaihi wassalam advised us. Too much food means too much time wasted in the kitchen- so time subtracted from "Ibadah time". Too much food will make us sleepy, and we cannot stay up late or wake up in the middle of the night to pray Taraweeh or Qiyam-u-layl. Eating too much food especially in Ramadan even opposes one of the purpose of fasting which is feeling for the poor. The generosity boost we feel in Ramadan to feed should not be directed to our own stomach, rather the poor.

Follow the sunnah of Prophet Sallallahu alaihiwassalam of having a lot of dates and water. Water is the elixir of life- the one that keeps us going. Instead of having all those oil-fried items- have ones that are water-filled-like fruits and greens.

b. Over-socialising in the month of Ramadan- Keep your conversations over the phone and or in the masjid after Taraweeh to a minimum. InshAllah, we will keep it for Eid when we will celebrate with our loved ones. Time lost in idle talk cannot be brought back. This is one of the main regrets we have when Ramadan comes to a end- the regret whether we have utilised our time well or not.

At the same time, have company around you who are the bearers of the fragrance of musk. Have a Ramadan buddy with whom you can discuss how well you are doing in your ibadah, so that you can motivate each other. Let the people we are with, be the ones who will take us with them on the journey to Allah SWT.

c. And most of all, we have to develop a good heart, a good soul and a content mind. We have to strive to push away our negative thoughts and emotions and doubts/ suspicions about others. Ramadan is a month of forgiveness, Allah SWT forgives His slaves who ask for it with sincere repentance. We have to forgive and forget others' mistakes. Forget in a way that it is completely erased from our minds. A person who has accomplished this will have the most heart warming smile, a smile that can make someone's day, a smile that is da'wah for others. Now is the best time to bring out the hidden positive attitude inside us.

Let's succeed bi idhnillah, in eliminating unnecessary stuff from our bags and fill it with good stuff that will be allowed to pass through the Siraat-ul-mustaqueem without any repurcussions. Let's hurry and race for good deeds when their reward is on sale. Let's sincerely repent to Allah Azza Wajal and erase all our bad recording with the Mercy of Our Lord. May Allah accept our humble good deeds and our fasting and prayers from us, and forgive us our sins, and enter us all into Jannathul Firdaws without any ihtisaab(questioning). May the gate of the fasters (Ar-rayyan) open to us for us to enter through it (and all the other gates too). May Allah SWT bless us with good health and long lives so that we can do more ibadah and please Our Lord more and more. Aameen...

Inspired by Sr Heba AlShareef (Her "Cleanse" talk on iamsheba radio launch)- may Allah preserve and increase her.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Leaving behind our comfort zone

With less than two weeks to Ramadan, its time we did some serious re-thinking about our priorities and goals. It just so often happens that once upon a time, our goals used to be to establish the five times salah(prayer) consistently, or to start dressing up with modesty, and then that's it!! We get stuck there, and even years down the lane, the goal list is still the same!!! We do not really lose purpose, but we just confine ourselves to the false comfort....Do not we remember that once we used to feel unhappy with ourselves in regards to our relationship with Allah Azza Wajal, and we desired change? And now that, that change has come about, you are happy with yourself! Should we be content and happy, and lay back when it comes to our relationship with Our Lord, whose Ni'mah and Mercy is continually over-flowing upon us? SubhanAllah!!!

Below are few tips that will help us inshAllah, to keep striving for raising our level of emaan, and in attaining Ihsan (Al-Iman-al-Kaamil - The Perfection of Emaan; which is a ray- it has a starting point, but no end point; it keep extending to higher horizons):

1. Have a clear-cut purpose in life:

Allah Subhanahu watha'ala says:

وَمَا خَلَقْتُ الْجِنَّ وَالإِنسَ إِلاَّ لِيَعْبُدُونِ - مَآ أُرِيدُ مِنْهُم مِّن رِّزْقٍ وَمَآ أُرِيدُ أَن يُطْعِمُونِ - إِنَّ اللَّهَ هُوَ الرَّزَّاقُ ذُو الْقُوَّةِ الْمَتِينُ
And I created not the Jinn and mankind except that they should worship Me. I seek not any provision from them nor do I ask that they should feed Me.Verily, Allah is the All-Provider, Owner of power, the Most Strong. (Surah Adh-Dhaariyaat: 56-58)

Allah SWT reminds us in the above ayahs that we were created solely for the purpose of worshipping Him alone, in return for ALL the provisions and Blessings from Him, AND Eternal Bliss in The Hereafter...And He balances His Mercy, by reminding us that He is The Owner of All Power, He is Able to do everything, inclusive of being The Owner of the Day of Judgement when He will judge and decide man's fate depending upon his deeds and intentions.

Our ultimate goal is Jannathul Firdaws. To reach this goal, we need to find contentment with Our Lord, and the way of life He has commanded us to live. Being content with Allah means to have no complaints with whatever has been decreed for us, and submitting to Allah's will in obedience, with out questioning Him and His Commands. Being content with your Lord is the belief that He wants only good for His creation (mankind). Allah is also content with His servant who is content with his Lord- it is mutual, and we ask Allah Subhanahu watha'ala for a heart and soul that is content and filled with tranquility.

Allah says:

يأَيَّتُهَا النَّفْسُ الْمُطْمَئِنَّةُ - ارْجِعِى إِلَى رَبِّكِ رَاضِيَةً مَّرْضِيَّةً - فَادْخُلِى فِى عِبَادِى - وَادْخُلِى جَنَّتِى
"O tranquil soul! Come back to your Lord, -- well-pleased and well-pleasing! Enter then among My servants, And enter My Paradise!'' (Surah Al-Fajr: 27-30)

Just like a host inviting an honourable guest into his home, Allah SWT calls the servant with An-Nafsul-Muthma'innah to The Paradise that He created, and prepared for His righteous servants- where rivers flow beneath the gardens, and where there are huge mansions with all the unimaginable beds and pillows, and expensive cups to drink from, the variety of fruits which are like the fruits of this world, yet so different and delicious in taste, the drinks that will be provided for the people of lower level heaven which will be just a flavouring from the actual drink of the people of higher levels....SubhanAllah....

Isn't this life a travel to undertake, worth striving for?!

2. Keep renewing your goals and evaluating yourself: We have to keep using that goal sheet of ours.

Allah SWT says:

لاَ أُقْسِمُ بِيَوْمِ الْقِيَـمَةِ - وَلاَ أُقْسِمُ بِالنَّفْسِ اللَّوَّامَةِ- أَيَحْسَبُ الإِنسَـنُ أَلَّن نَّجْمَعَ عِظَامَهُ
Nay! I swear by the Day of Resurrection. And nay! I swear by An-Nafs Al-Lawwamah. Does man think that We shall not assemble his bones. (Surah Al-Qiyamah: 1-3)

An-Nafs Al-Lawwamah is the self-reproaching soul, that keeps questioning itself, and keeps itself on track. And this is the soul that helps us in consistent work-out to higher grounds. It questions us: "Is that enough?" "Did you do it with the right intention?" "Did you do the right thing?" "Shouldn't you ask Allah to forgive you for your sins?" "Do Isthigfar and don't repeat this mistake!" "How can you be satisfied with doing just this much, when the sahabah used to do much more?!" etc...and so on...This soul pulls you back when you feel proud of yourself, and keeps you on track.

In the first ayah, Allah swears by the Yaum-al-Qiyaamah (Day of Resurrection) and then he SWT goes on, to swear by the Reproaching soul that we must have, which in turn reminds us of the Yaum-al-Qiyaamah. The reproaching soul reminds us each time we do something that we will gathered on the Day of Resurrection and our bones will be resurrected and assembled after our death. SubhanAllah, notice the relationship between the first three ayahs?!!

We ask Allah to be the owners of Nafs-al-Muthma'innah and Nafs-al-lawwamah. We have to develop this reproaching soul within us by constantly renewing our intentions, reminding ourselves by listening to good lectures as often as we can, indulging in only beneficial talk and good deeds and being around people who care about their Hereafter and ours. These are the food and nutrition for the reproaching soul. Feed it! The main food is installation of deep-borne fear and taqwa of Allah and the Hereafter.

We have to set practical goals by carefully prioritising them. For example, if we are habituated to reciting 1 page from the Mushaf daily, lets raise the bar to 2 pages; if we are regular with our salah, then consider starting the habit of Salathul Dhuha and/or Witr. If we feel our weakness is in judging or making assumptions about others, rectify it by listening to the reproaching soul within each one of us- "Isn't Allah the judge over His creation, why don't you judge yourself before you are judged?" If one has a problem in over-spending his money, once again, listen to what the reproaching soul has to say- remember the poor, remember what the Quran has to say about over-spending!

The worst type of soul is the Nafs-al-Ammarah- the wretched soul. Allah says in the Quran:

إِنَّ النَّفْسَ لأَمَّارَةٌ بِالسُّوءِ
Verily, the self is inclined/urged to evil. (Surah Yusuf: 53)

This is the soul that in unattended, neglected or not fed properly. This soul has Shaytan as an ally- sometimes it realises that, sometimes not. Sometimes, the owner of this soul (A'oodhubillah) is so happy about it, and he is the one for whom Allah appoints Shaytan as his Qareen (friend/ partner). Allah says:

وَمَن يَعْشُ عَن ذِكْرِ الرَّحْمَـنِ نُقَيِّضْ لَهُ شَيْطَاناً فَهُوَ لَهُ قَرِينٌ
And whosoever Ya`shu (turns away blindly) from the remembrance of the Most Gracious, We appoint for him Shaytan to be a Qarin (a companion) to him. (Surah Al-Zukhruf: 36)

And this is the soul that, even in Ramadan when the Shayatin are chained and when the gates of Hell-fire are closed, tempts one to fall into disobedience of Allah SWT and sin. The reproaching soul pulls us up when we fall into mud. But the wretched soul pulls us in, like falling into quick sand. It beautifies our sins, makes us feel that it is okay to bend rules and encourages us to the traps of shaytan till we lose sense of what is right and wrong. It magnifies some little good that we may do, and overlooks the voluminous sins we commit. This soul follows its hawa(desires). This soul does not remember Allah often. May Allah SWT show Mercy upon us, protect us from all evil, and guide us always.

3. Reflecting upon Allah's names and attributes:

We should always ponder deeply upon Allah's most perfect names and attributes, His names are perfect in every sense. Very often, we find in the Tafseers of the Quran, that are not really explained as much as it should be. When we say Allah is الْعَلِيمِ, The All-Knower- it should be with such firm belief that it will lead us to be conscious of Him while doing anything, since whatever we do, He Subhanahu watha'ala is aware! He is aware of all our thoughts, so we should purify our intentions. He is aware of what we do in our homes privately, and what we do in public; so we do not be good just to impress the public. If we lie, He is aware; if we backbite, He is aware.

When we say Allah is الْغَفُورُ, The Oft-Forgiving- we have to realise that Allah loves those who seek forgiveness, and so, we should constantly remember Allah, and seek repentence from Him The Almighty.

When we say Allah is الْحَكِيمُ, The Wise- we have to really believe it and knowing that whatever happens is for the best, as it is decreed by Allah, The Most Wise. And that He decrees whatever is most fit to whomever He pleases.

Similarly, we should know Our Lord by All His perfect names, and ponder upon them, call Him by them, and supplicate to Him by calling Him by His names.

May Allah SWT make us among the righteous, Bless us with a Ramadan that we will take the most benefit from, and inshAllah rise our levels of emaan to the next higher level. May Allah accept our humble deeds from us- and verily, a sign of acceptance of our forthcoming Ramadan inshAllah is that even after Ramadan, we keep striving to please Our Lord Almighty....

And Allah knows best.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Time Management

We all have heard of the Pickle Jar Theory. Imagine a large empty jar. Now we throw in big yellow lemons, we keep adding till we feel we can add no more. Try shaking the jar, and we will see that we can, in fact, add a lemon or two more. Of course, there is still space left, so lets try filling it with something smaller than lemons- maybe gooseberries, and then nutmegs. And when you can add no more, add lentils, kidney beans etc. Make it colorful. Finally, when you feel none of that will go in, add salt, sugar, some red chili powder, and other spices. And still, you will feel there is space left for lime juice, water or vinegar- maybe even some hot/ chili sauce.

The big empty jar is our time. We need to learn to prioritise our activities and goals for each day. The most important and urgent are the lemons- you have to do them whether you like them or not, the less urgent but equally important and the urgent but not-so-important things come in between. And you will still find space and time to fit in that extra cool glass of water to relax your mind and soul, and that chili sauce and other seasonings to spice up and bring excitement to your life. As a Muslim, we need to put in more of "the less urgent but equally important" gooseberries (amla). We know that gooseberries taste sour when you eat, but you feel so rewarded when you drink water after that. A Muslim, if he increases his righteous deeds in order to please His Lord, then he is rewarded highly for his struggle and perseverance in fighting his laziness and procrastinating attitude. SubhanAllah

We have the best role models in our beloved Prophet Sallallahu alaihiwassalam, his family, and his Sahabahs and Sahabiyaat. If we look into their biographies even casually, we come across the various roles they had in life, and they managed these roles in a very balanced fashion. They led stress-free lives compared to the life of an average person who has a busy and stressful life, and SubhanAllah, they were the "actual" busy people.

Take the example of Our Prophet Sallallahu alaihiwassalam: we read about him as a Prophet receiving revelations, a father who would calmly advise his daughter, a loving and dutiful husband (that too, to many wives) and even finding to play with them and have races etc, a man who would sit and teach his companions, a warrior of Islam fee sabeelIllah and a devotee of Allah The Almighty who would stand up in Qiyam and Ibadah at night. How did he manage all these roles efficiently?! Isn't it because of the deep understanding about what our purpose in life is?!

If we learn to prioritise things in our life, we wouldn't have problems with time-management. The reason we often feel stressed and overwhelmed, is due to the dissatisfaction we feel within ourselves for not having accomplished enough, utilising our potentials to the maximum. One of the reasons that one feels in the dumps or bored with his life is also this. People often complain that their life is monotonous. We have to remember that it is ourselves who make our lives the way it is; monotonous because we make it that way, eventful and interesting because we make it that way! We have no right to blame it on anybody else or our fate. Allah SWT has blessed us with a lot of potential, and we don't even use half of it to please Him and serve His Dheen. This should be our inspiration, our urgency to fit in more and more gooseberries into our time, and hence, our life. We have to make use of our health before sickness, our intelligence at its peak before it gets rusty and our time before our death.

We have to reflect upon the lives of great scholars and the beloved companions of Prophet Sallallahu alaihiwassalam- The Torch Bearers of Islam. We will also notice that age should not be a factor to do things. Be it young or old, or our prime years. We have the examples from the past and from today, of people whose stories inspire us. When you procrastinate, bring into your visual mind their images and try to picture yourself there. Think of how you want to lead your life now, and think of what you want to leave in this world when you die. And most of all, think of what you want to carry with you to stand before Allah Azza Wajal tomorrow. We have to seize the moment, before something happens and regret strikes us.

Let's all rise and shine and show off in front of Allah Subhanahu watha'ala!
Disclaimer: This is to motivate me first and then you. I am sure I need it more than you!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Principles to approach the Qur'an- Part III

To read previous part, click here

4. Qur'an has been revealed for the individual "YOU"

Allah SWT says:

يَأَيُّهَا النَّاسُ قَدْ جَآءَتْكُمْ مَّوْعِظَةٌ مَّن رَّبِّكُمْ وَشِفَآءٌ لِّمَا فِى الصُّدُورِ وَهُدًى وَرَحْمَةٌ لِّلْمُؤْمِنِينَ

Oh mankind! There has come to you good advice from your Lord, and a cure for that which is in your breasts, -- a guidance and a mercy for the believers. (Surah Yunus: 57)

It doesn't matter if the other person is following the Qur'an or not; what matters and will affect you is depending how much you chose to live by the Qur'an. On the Day of Judgement, we will stand in front of Allah SWT alone, no one to help us or harm us except our deeds and how we approached the Book of Guidance. So, we cannot afford to "not follow" the Qur'an just because others are not, this should never be our excuse.

If we got an email from our most beloved, a friend or sister we love a lot, what would we do? How will you read this letter that has been addressed to none but yourself? How much haste and excitement would be there as you read it? Likewise, the Qur'an is addressed to "you", and it is from The One we claim to love the most! SubhanAllah. We say the Qur'an is the most important possession, most valuable property. But do we treat it that way? We seek Blessings for our gatherings and functions by starting with the ayahs of The Holy Qur'an; but do we follow and obey what it expects us to?! When the Qur'an was revealed, Allah SWT was either commanding to do something that is good for mankind (on an individual's level and/or for the mankind as a whole) or it was prohibiting something that is not good for us. And how much of this do we take seriously?

Allah says in Surah Aal Imran,

إِنَّ فِى خَلْقِ السَّمَـوَتِ وَالاٌّرْضِ وَاخْتِلَـفِ الَّيْلِ وَالنَّهَارِ لاّيَـتٍ لاٌّوْلِى الاٌّلْبَـبِ - الَّذِينَ يَذْكُرُونَ اللَّهَ قِيَـماً وَقُعُوداً وَعَلَى جُنُوبِهِمْ وَيَتَفَكَّرُونَ فِى خَلْقِ السَّمَـوَتِ وَالاٌّرْضِ رَبَّنَآ مَا خَلَقْتَ هَذا بَـطِلاً سُبْحَـنَكَ فَقِنَا عَذَابَ النَّارِ

Verily, in the creation of the heavens and the Earth, and in the alternation of night and day, there are indeed signs for men of understanding. Those who remember Allah standing, sitting, and lying down on their sides, and think deeply about the creation of the heavens and the earth, (saying): "Our Lord! You have not created this without purpose, glory to You! Give us salvation from the torment of the Fire. [Surah Aal Imran: 190-191]

The people of real understanding are those who remember Allah at all times, reflect upon the creations of Allah. and constantly remember the purpose of this life. May Allah Azza Wajal make us all among the people of real understanding. We have to so much to ponder and reflect upon every creation of Allah SWT; shouldn't we reflect more upon the "Word" of Allah. Isn't the word of The Lord of all those to whom it has been addressed for, more superior than all the creations?! We believe the creations have flaws and do not last forever, everything created will stop to exist and will die, but the "Kalam" of Allah is not a creation. And by the way, only the one who reflect upon the ayah of the Quran will be able to reflect upon the ayahs (signs) of the world and only he will be able to reflect/ remember the ayah of the Quran when he sees the ayahs(signs) around him. When it rains, only a person who reflects over the ayahs of the revelation will remember that just like the descending of the rain-laden clouds, the Quran descended; just as rain is a Mercy from Ar-Rahmaan, so is the Qur'an. SubhanAllah. Similarly, when plants sprout from the ground, we must remember that on the Day of Resurrection, we will also wake up in a similar fashion.

5. Living under the shade of Qur'an as long as you live:

Our efforts to become more and more closer to Allah SWT should be continuous and consistent at all times. Our Emaan is subjected to increase and decrease. Emaan is not something static; so if it isn't increasing, it decreases. Allah Azza Wajal keeps talking to us about the struggles between truth and falsehood, and the treacherous temptations of the Duniya and Shaytan. We do not know where/what we are falling into unless we strive and experience the content and the real happiness that comes with submission and obedience to the Lord Almighty.

The more we turn to the Quran with Sincerity and a strong will to live under the shade of the Guidance, the more Allah Blesses us with goodness. The more number of times we reflect upon an ayah, the more wisdom and understanding and comprehension Allah gives us.

Allah SWT says:

الَّذِينَ يَسْتَمِعُونَ الْقَوْلَ فَيَـتَّبِعُونَ أَحْسَنَهُ أُوْلَـئِكَ الَّذِينَ هَدَاهُمُ اللَّهُ وَأُوْلَـئِكَ هُمْ أُوْلُو الاٌّلْبَـبِ

Those who listen to the Word and follow the best thereof, those are (the ones) whom Allah has guided and those are men of understanding. (Surah Az-Zumar: 18)


وَالَّذِينَ جَـهَدُواْ فِينَا لَنَهْدِيَنَّهُمْ سُبُلَنَا وَإِنَّ اللَّهَ لَمَعَ الْمُحْسِنِينَ

As for those who strive hard for Us, We will surely guide them to Our paths. And verily, Allah is with the doers of good. (Surah Al-Ankaboot: 69)

And Allah SWT promises:

إِنَّ الَّذِينَ ءَامَنُواْ وَعَمِلُواْ الصَّـلِحَاتِ يَهْدِيهِمْ رَبُّهُمْ بِإِيمَانِهِمْ تَجْرِى مِن تَحْتِهِمُ الاٌّنْهَـرُ فِي جَنَّـتِ النَّعِيمِ

Verily, those who believe and do deeds of righteousness, their Lord will guide them through their faith; under them will flow rivers in the Gardens of delight. (Surah Yunus: 9)

How foolish would it be if we did not hold firmly to the rope of Allah, and instead chose to fall into the dark traps set up by Shaytan! How foolish would it be if we chose mere temporary excitements over the eternal bliss?! May Allah SWT make among those who are wise, and know Him, and listen and turn our hearts to His Guidance, Mercy and Blessing- The Qur'an....aameen...

Qur'an is the best Dhikr

Abu Sa'eed radia Allahu Anhu narrated that the Prophet salla Allahu alayhi wa sallam said,
"Allah the Most High says, 'When engrossment with the Qur'aan preoccupies a person from making Dhikr and asking from me, I grant him better than what I grant to those who ask from Me.' The Rank of the Word of Allah over other forms of speech is like the rank of Allah over all His creation." (narrated by Tirmidhi, ad-Daarimi and al-Bayhaqi)
Many Ulama' like Sheikh Albaani, Ibn Hajar RahimahumAllah have termed this hadeeth as weak. Sh Yasir Qadhi came to the conclusion that this is Hasan li-ghairih (weak hasan). Sh Jamal hasn't come to this conclusion.

Allah says in the Qur'an:

ص وَالْقُرْءَانِ ذِى الذِّكْرِ
Saaad. By the Qur'an full of reminding. (Surah Saad: 1)

Monday, May 4, 2009

Principles when approaching the Qur'an- Part II

To read previous part, click here

2. Approach the Qur'an with an open mind:

Is what we want from the Qur'an consistent with what the Qur'an wants from us? Do we try to approach the Qur'an with our own personal rules and views of life, and try to bring the words of Allah SWT, in terms with our thoughts and notions. And then we claim that this is what the Qur'an teaches us?!

We should allow the Qur'an to speak for itself, to guide us, to show us the truth from falsehood, the right from wrong. If the purpose of the Qur'an is this, then why not bind ourselves, and commit to following it sincerely, instead of beating about the bush, and trying to justify our actions which do not adhere to the teachings of the Qur'an and the Sunnah? We should work hard in transforming ourselves by learning the Qur'an, and grabbing the fruits of wisdom, rather than trying to reform the Qur'an.

This is the difference between the Muslims of today, and the Sahabah Radhiyallahu anhum of the Prophet Sallallahu alaihiwassalam. They would sincerely look to walk upon the right path, without the slightest of deviations, focused in their mission to attain Jannah. If they had to eliminate some cultural acts that they had been following before Islam, out of ignorance; they would do so completely removing it off from the roots, sincerely with their hearts and actions. And today, our society has adopted customs and rituals which are not from the teachings of Qur'an or Sunnah, and we do not like to be told so. There are some cultural practices that have become so religious, and this is one of the ways by which innovation in religion (bid'ah) arises, A'oodhubillah. And when the Qur'an shows that it is wrong, some still do not want to give it up. This shows the exact similiar kind of pride in the way of the fore-fathers that the Mushrikeen(polytheists) in Makkah during the time of Muhammed Sallallahu alaihiwassalam and Ibraheem Alaihissalam showed!

Today, we pride ourselves for our so-thought-to-be-so high level of intelligence and advancements that we feel we can always make the right decisions and do the right thing. And this, gradually has started to corrupt our beliefs too. In Islam, we believe that we need Divine Guidance, that is, The Qur'an. Unlike what today's rationalists and philosophers claim that God has given us all the intelligence that is needed to guide ourselves. So why not turn to the Qur'an sincerely, and accept with full heart, all that it says, teaches, commands and prohibits?! We should not approach this Divine Book of Guidance like the way of the Orientalists who tried to establish their views and opinions, or people with feminist views, or like the deviant sects like the Mu'tazilah (who claim that Allah does not have the Attribute of Speech) etc. Basically, what happens is, they try to bend the real and true interpretations of the Qur'an to match their way of thinking. A'oodhubillah, doesn't this show arrogance?

So, let's keep a check on ourselves inshAllah, where we stand!

3. Release the Qur'an from any constraints of time and space:

The Qur'an was revealed and preserved, and will be preserved till the end of mankind for the purpose of showing the truth. We have to believe that every ayah in the Qur'an is a message for us to reflect upon and learn from it. We know the stories from the Qur'an, but do we know the messages and numerous lessons it brings to us? We just enjoy the story, and then move on with complacence, that so-and-so things happened in the past. Why did Allah SWT, The All-Knower, and The Most-Wise, preserve it in the Qur'an?

The Message is for us, so that we can check whether we share those characteristics and change for the better. The Qur'an is talking about the reality of things happening to us and around us whether or not, we realise and accept it. For example, in the story of Bani Isra'eel, there are many lessons for us to take from. And SubhanAllah, for this purpose, Allah mentions it in the Qur'an around 180 times. We learn about their insincerity to Allah and His Prophets, their laziness, how they turn back to their old ways, their ingratitude towards their Lord, their qualities of hypocrisy, their weak emaan, their inconsistency in the worship of Allah etc. And then we even curse them, view them as the worst among the disbelieving people. Period. What do we do? Part of all these qualities, or all? May Allah SWT protect us from these characteristics, aameen...We have to realise that the messages within the stories are independent of the actual stories, as the similar kind of stories still continues. And so, we have to release the messages of the Qur'an from any constraints of space and time.

Another example of ayah that we should always reflect upon:

وَمِنَ النَّاسِ مَن يَعْبُدُ اللَّهَ عَلَى حَرْفٍ فَإِنْ أَصَابَهُ خَيْرٌ اطْمَأَنَّ بِهِ وَإِنْ أَصَابَتْهُ فِتْنَةٌ انْقَلَبَ عَلَى وَجْهِهِ خَسِرَ الدُّنْيَا وَالاٌّخِرَةَ ذلِكَ هُوَ الْخُسْرَنُ الْمُبِينُ
And among mankind is he who worships Allah as it were upon the edge: if good befalls him, he is content therewith; but if a Fitnah strikes him, he turns back on his face. He loses both this world and the Hereafter. That is the evident loss. (Surah Al-Hajj: 11)

We learn from the tafseer that this ayah is talking about the Bedouins who used to come to Medina, and accept Islam. If their wives gave birth to sons and their mares gave birth to foals, they would say, `This is a good religion,' but if their wives and their mares did not give birth, they would say, `This is a bad religion.' They would feel content, and say that they have not experienced anything bad ever since they accepted Islam. But if they had become afflicted with something bad, then they would blame it on the religion.

What is the lesson for us in this ayah? There are among us who have this attitude towards Our religion of Islam. Sometimes, we fear following Islam thinking that it will bring us bad. For example: we deal with interest fearing that otherwise, we will not be able to purchase a car, a house, or sometimes even petty things like clothes etc. We sometimes fear to wear our Hijab fearing that people will stereotype us as being backward people, we fear that having a beard will be a hindrance to get a good job etc. We join in unnecessary conversations (their weekend party experiences etc) with our colleagues or classmates fearing that we will be considered boring. This is due to lack of strong belief. We turn our backs on Islam, instead of placing complete thawakkul upon Allah Azza Wajal.

May Allah SWT always us on the straight path, and may He bless us with the true understanding of the Quran, aameen...
To read next part, click here

Tips to memorize the Qur'an (Let's become the carriers of the Qur'an)

Memorizing the Qur'an should be one of the goals of a Muslim. Each and every one of us should have this deep desire to become a haafidh and work towards it inshAllah. This is irrespective of our age. It is a wrong notion to think that one can memorize the Qur'an only at a very young age. It is true that it could be easier when one is young, and for that, inshAllah, we should encourage young children, whether your siblings or kids, to memorize the Qur'an. As for us, come up with a plan, and start immediately, without procrastination, without further delay, and with isthiqama (steadfastness).

Let's not come with reasons such as we do not have enough time, or we do not have a good memory power. We have to fit this noble project into our schedule, as the virtues and bounties that comes with are numerous, and inshAllah, if done with Ikhlaas, then Allah will reward us in both the worlds. And, about lack of memory, yeah it could be true if one had to memorize any other text of science or poetry, but not for the Qur'an. We should have a firm belief and understanding that it is the Power of The Kalam (speech) of Allah that enables anybody on the face of earth, who desires to memorize it, shall be able to. We should concentrate on doing our part, and Allah will make it more and more easy as we go along further. Allah says in the Qur'an to Our Prophet Sallallahu alaihiwassalam:

سَنُقْرِئُكَ فَلاَ تَنسَى

We shall make you recite, so you shall not forget. (Surah Al-A'laa: 6)

Which other book in the world has been memorized by people, word to word, verse to verse, exactly with the same intonations that our Prophet recited, to whom Allah SWT had revealed it so! Which other book is read so repeatedly and the reciter never gets bored of it, unless Shaytan overpowers him- and the more it is recited, the more beautiful it is, and the reciter is in more awe than ever! SubhanAllah, this is one of the many miracles of the Qur'an. No matter what some enemies of Allah and His Dheen do (like burning of the copies of Qur'an etc), there are many thousands of people (even non-muslims) on the other hand, who learn and understand the Qur'an. Even disbelievers like Abu Jahl, Al-Waleed Al-Mughirah were addicted to its beauty, and would go and listen to the recitation of The Prophet hidden in the darkness of the night. SubhanAllah.

Imagine that more of us become carriers of the Qur'an, the guidance to our life. Surely, the status of our Ummah would rise, due to the establishment of stronger connection to The Words of Allah Azza Wajal. So, this is our duty as a muslim, it is a collective duty of the Muslims that more of us learn, understand and memorize this book. This will help us in boosting the level of eman more than we can imagine.

SubhanAllah, isn't it the priveledge of our Ummah that no other nation before us enjoyed, that we actually have the words of Our Lord preserved, that Allah has made the understanding and learning it easy upon the person who strives towards it?! So, shouldn't we show gratitude to Allah for this blessing!


Here are some very beneficial tips that Sheikh Yasir Qadhi shared with us, on how to memorize the Qur'an (some of them are my opinions depending upon what works for me, as Sheikh is a man, and sometimes, for women, things work slightly differently, especially if you are a wife and mother):

1. The First and Foremost, Sincereity and Ikhlaas: The Niyyah that we are making sincere effort only for the sake of Allah SWT, only to seek His Pleasure so that inshAllah, with His Mercy, we will be rewarded in the Aakhirah. And that it is not to show off in front of others that we have memorized a lot.

2. Consistency: The more frequently we memorize, the easier it becomes to memorize. To this, I testify. SubhanAllah, this is a miracle, no doubt.

It is very essential to be consistent, and not to skip even one day. Our brain, soul and mind needs consistent feeding to work more efficiently and with ease. It is just like how machines need constant lubrication and care, and the machines that is not used more often, starts to rust. And the car that is not used more often, starts to give problems. Taking a break can slow down the process, as our brain is programmed in such a way that it needs new raw materials in order to make strong the older ones. And if we do skip a day, then Shaytan squeezes himself through and tries to discourage you the next day, and then ultimately, it comes to a complet halt. The bare minimum that one should memorize is atleast 3 lines, five is more ideal. If we continue in this way, inshAllah, we will be able to be huffadh in 5-6 years. SubhanAllah- isn't that so inspiring?! It really feels easy when we think of it this way.

3. Timing: Early morning after Fajr Salah is the ideal time, as Allah has blessed the morning hours the most. This, I am sure, all of us agree upon, that it is the morning hours that we are able to get most work done. And even to study, it is the ideal time, as your mind is free from other thoughts since your day is just beginning. Whereas, in a later time of the day, there is more chance that your subconscious mind is preoccupied with other thoughts like who you would have met, the dialogue that took place, the food you had was yummy, and other things that you would have done.

Personally, I feel that even if this time of the day doesn't work out for us, we can dedicate some other time- just that we will have to work harder and longer- Wa Allahu A'lam. And if it usually does, and for some reason, we miss it one day, we should make some time in the later part of the day, and still keep up with the consistent flow. It is more important that we do not skip a day.

4. Atmosphere: We should try our best to avoid all kinds of distractions like phone calls, children, munching on some nuts or crackers during this time. This again takes us back to the previous point where the morning hours are the best, since there is less distraction at that time.

5. Familiarity: This is more of a psychological advantage. So use the same Mushaf, listen to the same recitation, sit to learn in the same place and same time. This way, the brain will relate better. Like for example: the advantage of using the same Mushaf is, the part of the brain that is responsible for vision records it, and we will be able to remember this stored vision where a particular word comes, where a new ayah begins etc.

6. There are no tricks or short-cuts. It is just repititive recitation and/or listening that will help to memorize.

7. Understand what you memorize: Read the translation before one starts, correlate some words. We do not have to necessarily try to learn the entire tafseer, but we need to have some idea. Tafseer should be learnt at a different time so that we can achieve this goal of becoming Huffadh in a shorter time. And then when inshAllah, that happenes, we can learn more deeply into the Tafseer of the Qur'an.

8. Surround oneself with recitation: Keep listening to what one is currently memorizing.

9. Find a memorizing buddy: This will be a huge encouragement for each other, and this will add a psychological pressure that we have to recite to each other what we learnt.

10. Recite daily in Salah, and at all times that you can, what you have memorized most recently.

11. The triple daily dose of the Qur'an:
a) New memorization at your assigned time of the day
b) Revision of the previous 7 days, just before you start the new memorization: This is because the fastest thing you forget is the new memorization. And doing so, will also build the connector between the old ones and the new portion you are going to memorize. Plus, it will be a good warm up for the brain when you recall from your memory and recite, before you go into the real exercise of doing the new memorization.
c) At a later/another time of the day, revise those before the recent 7 days. The bare minimum should be 4-5 pages.

12. Do not jump around: When we feel a particular surah is tough, do not go to another. Stick to the order. That way, you will have the satisfaction of having completed a juz rather than leaving unmemorized portions here and there.

13. The three chunks:
a) Juz 28, 29, 30 or just Juz 29, 30
b) Surah Al-Kahf till Juz 28
c) Surah Al-Baqara to Surah Al-Kahf

I feel that after the last 2-3 Juz, we should start from Al-Baqara as the ayahs are much easier to learn, since there are Madani verses (verses and surahs revealed after the Hijrah of The Prophet Sallallahu alaihiwassalam and the Sahaba Radhiyallahu anhum- Makki verses are more poetic and SubhanAllah, very beautiful, and a little more complex, I feel. The Verses are shorter and so, more powerful), and hence, more eloquent, and it flows automatically and with more ease. And it is from Surah Al-Baqara where we start to read our Khatm-al-Qur'an from, and so we are more familiar with it.

InshAllah, I hope that we all benefit from these tips, and Allah SWT makes this a sadaqathul jaariah for Sheikh Yasir Qadhi, and all Shuyookh who would have inspired many to make a memorization plan, and myself for writing this here. And I hope that we all stick to this most important project till we finish inshAllah, with determination, consistency and increased Taqwa. Let's dream of the day when we will recite from Surah Al-Fathiha to Surah An-Naas, without looking into the Mus'haf, InshAllahu Ta'ala.....Aameen, aameen, Thumma aameen...

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Dua'h from last ayah of Surah Al-Baqara

رَبَّنَا لاَ تُؤَاخِذْنَآ إِن نَّسِينَآ أَوْ أَخْطَأْنَا
"Our Lord! Punish us not if we forget or fall into error!"

رَبَّنَا وَلاَ تَحْمِلْ عَلَيْنَآ إِصْرًا كَمَا حَمَلْتَهُ عَلَى الَّذِينَ مِن قَبْلِنَا
"Our Lord! Lay not on us a burden like that which You did lay on those before us!"

رَبَّنَا وَلاَ تُحَمّلْنَا مَا لاَ طَاقَةَ لَنَا بِهِ وَاعْفُ عَنَّا وَاغْفِرْ لَنَا وَارْحَمْنَآ أَنتَ مَوْلَـنَا فَانْصُرْنَا عَلَى الْقَوْمِ الْكَـفِرِينَ
"Our Lord! Put not on us a burden greater than we have strength to bear. Pardon us and grant us forgiveness. Have mercy on us. You are our Mawla (Patron, Supporter and Protector) and give us victory over the disbelieving people.''

[Surah Al-Baqara: 286]
It has been recorded in Sahih Al-Bukhari, Muslim and others that Prophet Sallallahu alaihiwassalam said: Whoever recites the last two Ayat in Surat Al-Baqarah at night, they will suffice for him.
`Abdullah said, "When the Messenger of Allah went on the Isra journey, he ascended to the Sidrat Al-Muntaha in the sixth heaven, where whatever ascends from the earth ends at, and whatever descends from above it ends at. The Messenger of Allah was then given three things: the five prayers, the last Ayat in Surat Al-Baqarah and forgiveness for whoever did not associate anything or anyone with Allah from his Ummah.'' (Muslim)

Weight of "La ilaaha illa Allah" on the scales

Narrated Anas bin Malik Radhiyallahu anh:
"Once Mu'adh was along with Allah's Apostle as a companion rider. Allah's Apostle said, "O Mu'adh bin Jabal." Mu'adh replied, "Labbaik and Sa'daik. O Allah's Apostle!" Again the Prophet said, "O Mu'adh!" Mu'adh said thrice, "Labbaik and Sa'daik, O Allah's Apostle!" Allah's Apostle said, "There is none who testifies sincerely that none has the right to be worshipped but Allah and Muhammad is his Apostle, except that Allah, will save him from the Hell-fire." Mu'adh said, "O Allah's Apostle ! Should I not inform the people about it so that they may have glad tidings?" He replied, "When the people hear about it, they will solely depend on it." Then Mu'adh narrated the above-mentioned Hadith just before his death, being afraid of committing sin (by not telling the knowledge).

Narrated Anas Radhiyallahu anh:
I was informed that the Prophet had said to Mu'adh, "Whosoever will meet Allah without associating anything in worship with Him will go to Paradise." Mu'adh asked the Prophet, "Should I not inform the people of this good news?" The Prophet replied, "No, I am afraid, lest they should depend upon it (absolutely)."
(Sahih Al-Bukhari)

- The believer who testifies to the Shahada (Ash'hadu an La Ilaaha Illa Allah, Wa Ash'hadu anna Muhammedan Rasoolullah) should do so with Uttermost sincerity, Knowledge, Submission and Obedience to Allah SWT, Love for Him and His Rasool, complete acceptance and 100% certainty with truthfulness and by negating any other Lord besides Allah.
- Prophet Sallallahu alaihiwassalam was afraid that if people knew this, they would lag in striving towards excelling more in doing righteous deeds and acts of worship. This shows that we have to do act upon our shahada too.
- The value of the speech of Prophet Sallallahu alaihiwassalam that the sahaba Mu'adh Ibn Jabal had, is subhanAllah a big lesson for us to learn from. The sahabahs and the scholars were so afraid that knowledge would be lost. Do we sincerely pass on what we learn?! Are we selfish when it comes to sharing ilm?!
- And most importantly, the fact, that this hadeeth was preserved even though Muhammed Sallallahu alaihiwassalam was feeling skeptical to let his Ummah know of this- to me, this shows that Allah Azza Wajal has preserved of His Dheen everything that we need to know, the dheen is perfect, there is no need for us to add anything, or bring in any new traditions (which are termed as bid'ah- innovations) If we do try to bring in any new practice, thinking it is for good, then it is like saying that The Prophet could have added it to our religion.

And Allah knows best.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

رَبَّنَآ أَفْرِغْ عَلَيْنَا صَبْرًا وَثَبّتْ أَقْدَامَنَا وَانصُرْنَا عَلَى الْقَوْمِ الْكَـفِرِينَ
"Our Lord! Pour forth on us patience, and set firm our feet and make us victorious over the disbelieving people.'' (Surah-Al-Baqara: 250)

This is the Duah that Prophet Dawud Alaihissalam and his followers invoked to Allah when they advanced to meet Jalut (Goliath) and his forces.

The Greatest Blessing of Allah upon the people of Jannah

On the authority of Abu Sa'id al-Khudri (Radhiyallahu anh), who said that the Messenger of Allah (Sallallahu alihiwassalam) said:
Allah will say to the inhabitant of Paradise: O inhabitants of Paradise! They will say: O our Lord, we present ourselves and are at Your pleasure, and goodness rests in Your hands. Then He will say: Are you contented? And they will say: And how should we not be contented, O Lord, when You have given to us that which You have given to no one else of Your creation? Then He will say: Would not like Me to give you something better than that? And they will say: O Lord and what thing is better than that? And He will say: I shall cause My favour to descend upon you and thereafter shall never be displeased with you.

Sahih Al-Bukhari, Muslim, At-Tirmidhi)

SubhanAllah, the Greatest Blessing and reward that the believers will experience in Jannah will be when Allah Azza Wajal will say: I shall cause My favour to descend upon you and thereafter shall never be displeased with you. (InshAllah, may He grant us all this gretest Blessing, aameen) and when we will be able to see Our Lord, The Most Majestic, The Most Gracious.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Invoking Allah for good for The Duniya and The Hereafter

رَبَّنَآ ءَاتِنَا فِى الدُّنْيَا حَسَنَةً وَفِي الاٌّخِرَةِ حَسَنَةً وَقِنَا عَذَابَ النَّارِ

"Our Lord! Give us in this world that which is good and in the Hereafter that which is good, and save us from the torment of the Fire!'' (Surah Al-Baqara: 201)
In another Ayah, Allah SWT talks about people who pray only for the bounties of this world, and do not remember the affairs of The Hereafter. Sa`id bin Jubayr said that Ibn `Abbas said, "Some bedouins used to come to the standing area (`Arafat) and supplicate saying, `O Allah! Make it a rainy year, a fertile year and a year of good child bearing.' The believers whould make supplication with this dua'h. This Sunnah is greatly recommended as it covers all aspects of good in both the world, and seeks safety from the Hellfire. And SubhanAllah, it is one simple duah that we all know.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Qur'an- The Miracle

Narrated Abu Hurairah Radhiyallahu anh:
The Prophet Sallallahu alaihiwassalam said, "Every Prophet was given miracles because of which people believed, but what I have been given, is Divine Inspiration which Allah has revealed to me. So I hope that my followers will outnumber the followers of the other Prophets on the Day of Resurrection."
(Sahih Al-Bukhari)

This hadeeth signifies the power of the Speech of Allah SWT. That the unlettered Prophet was the one chosen to be given the Divine Inspiration itself is the greatest miracle among all other miracles (Mu'jizath) given to him, and all other Prophets. Qur'an is the only miracle that has no constraints of place or time. All the other miracles were witnessed only by the people who were present then. But Qur'an will be continue to be a miracle till the end of this world, for all the people, no matter where they live, as there is no place in the world, where the Qur'an is not being recited. And, because The Qur'an is the greatest miracle of all times, Prophet Sallallahu alaihiwassalam hoped that he will have the greatest number of followers on the Day of Resurrection. And this will be so, inshAllah, as we know from other ahadeeth.

All other miracles given to other Prophets and our Prophet (May Allah be pleased with them) were miracles shown to prove or strengthen the true message, but the Qur'an is a miracle in itself to prove what is says. SubhanAllah...

And Allah knows best.

Important principles to make our relationship with the Qur'an blossom

To read previous part, click here

1. Renew and redefine our intentions:

When we read a book for a course study or for work or for an exam, what is our intention? We want to understand and take maximum benefit from it so that it help us better when we need to apply it where it has to be applied. Even when we read a novel at our leisure, we want to understand the plot, the important characters etc, and we even try to take lessons from them and even movies we watch. When we read the ingredients on the grocery before buying it, we look for the key words, like Gelatin etc. We rarely read anything mindlessly, and even if we do, we realise that we haven't gained anything out of it, and turn back the pages and re-read it.

Qur'an is the book of Guidance for those who fear Allah, and this is what we should take from it. The Key word is "Guidance". Allah SWT says:

ذَلِكَ الْكِتَابُ لاَ رَيْبَ فِيهِ هُدًى لِّلْمُتَّقِينَ

That is The Book in which there is no doubt, guidance for the Muttaqin. (Surah Al-Baqara: 2)

And Allah SWT says:

كِتَابٌ أَنزَلْنَـهُ إِلَيْكَ لِتُخْرِجَ النَّاسَ مِنَ الظُّلُمَـتِ إِلَى النُّورِ بِإِذْنِ رَبِّهِمْ

A Book which We have revealed unto you (Oh Muhammad) in order that you might lead mankind out of darkness into the light by their Lord's leave. (Surah Ibraheem: 2)

Our intention should be to take this guidance, and hence draw closer to Allah Azza Wajal, to obey and follow what the Qur'an is guiding us to, and to not fall into the category of people Allah is displeased with. With this intention, inshAllah Allah will make easy upon us to learn and understand His Book. Sometimes, our mind while reciting it, will wander off, since we don't know and understand Arabic. For this reason, we should all make sincere efforts to learn Qur'anic Arabic, and translations with the explanation inshAllah. This will help us in reflecting better on ayahs that talk about the punishments in the Hellfire, the Graciousness and Most Supreme Power or Our Lord, His Wisdom etc.

How much should we reflect on ayahs such as:

قُلْ أَرَءَيْتُمْ إِنْ أَهْلَكَنِىَ اللَّهُ وَمَن مَّعِىَ أَوْ رَحِمَنَا فَمَن يُجِيرُ الْكَـفِرِينَ مِنْ عَذَابٍ أَلِيمٍ - قُلْ هُوَ الرَّحْمَـنُ ءَامَنَّا بِهِ وَعَلَيْهِ تَوَكَّلْنَا فَسَتَعْلَمُونَ مَنْ هُوَ فِى ضَلَـلٍ مُّبِينٍ

Say: "Tell me! If Allah destroys me, and those with me, or He bestows His mercy on us - who can save the disbelievers from a painful torment''. Say: "He is the Most Gracious, in Him we believe, and upon Him we rely. So, you will come to know who it is that is in manifest error.'' (Surah Al-Mulk:28-29)

وَقَوْمَ نُوحٍ لَّمَّا كَذَّبُواْ الرُّسُلَ أَغْرَقْنَـهُمْ وَجَعَلْنَـهُمْ لِلنَّاسِ ءَايَةً وَأَعْتَدْنَا لِلظَّـلِمِينَ عَذَاباً أَلِيماً

And Nuh's people, when they denied the Messengers, We drowned them, and We made them as a sign for mankind. And We have prepared a painful torment for the wrongdoers. (Surah Al-Furqan: 37)

إِلَىَّ مَرْجِعُكُمْ فَأُنَبِّئُكُم بِمَا كُنتُمْ تَعْمَلُونَ - وَالَّذِينَ ءَامَنُواْ وَعَمِلُواْ الصَّـلِحَـتِ لَنُدْخِلَنَّهُمْ فِى الصَّـلِحِينَ

Unto Me is your return and I shall tell you what you used to do. And for those who believe and do righteous deeds, surely, We shall admit them among the righteous. (Surah Al-Ankabut: 8-9)
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Asking Allah to accept our deeds and repentence

رَبَّنَا تَقَبَّلْ مِنَّآ إِنَّكَ أَنتَ السَّمِيعُ الْعَلِيمُ
"Our Lord! Accept from us. Verily, You are the Hearer, the Knower.'' [Surah Al-Baqara: 127]
وَتُبْ عَلَيْنَآ إِنَّكَ أَنتَ التَّوَّابُ الرَّحِيمُ
"And accept our repentance. Truly, You are the One Who accepts repentance, the Most Merciful." [Surah Al-Bqara: 128]
This was the dua'h of Prophet Ibraheem and Prophet Ismaeel Alaihumassalam when they were raising the foundations of Ka'bah in Makkah. When we perform a good deed for the sake of Allah SWT alone, we should always make dua'h to Allah to accept it from us with humility, as He is The All-Hearer, and The All-Knower. He is The Most Merciful, and the One who seeks repentence, sho we should constantly ask for repentence.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Let's return to The Qur'an

Alhamdulillahi Rabbi Al-'Aalameen. I testify that there is no Deity worthy of worship except Allah SubhanAllahu Wa Tha'aala, and that Muhammed is the Messenger of Allah. The Qur'an is the final book of Allah revealed to mankind, to Prophet Sallallahu alihiwassalam through Angel Jibreel Alaihissalam, it is our manual on how to live in this Duniya, and it is a Promise from Allah SWT that it will be preserved till the Last Day for the mankind to turn to, whether or not man turns to this Guidance, Mercy and Blessing from Allah.

The following is lessons taken from just an hour lecture of Sheikh Jamaal Zarabozo(Hafidhahullah), but SubhanAllah, it was very rich in content and gems to reflect on, and it caused wholesome amounts of emanrush in those present there, and I hope the booster will continue to change our lives towards the better inshAllah.

We, the Muslim Ummah have lost in establishing the proper kind of relationship with the Qur'an. We spent most part of our life in studying other Sciences that will help us to excel in this world, some of the Sciences that are valued only because the so-called intelligent, on-top-of-the-world people have accredited it. We live according to the man-made principles that we feel, will help us to achieve our goals (and for sure, our goals are also messed up- Ihdina-As-Sirathal Musthaqueem), when in reality, isn't our goal supposed to be to please Allah SWT in this world, and hence, attain Success in the Hereafter?! We say we are proud to be Muslims, and yet, we allow ourselves to be looked down upon, and we look up and admire the disbelievers in whatever they do, the worldly achievements they have accomplished, and their ideologies like Socialism, Capitalism etc. And stillworse, we try to be like them! Aren't we the ones who should raise our standard in our code of life, and show them something to be looked up to?

Allah SWT has given us, This Qur'an, which is perfect in every sense and flawless, as not "source of guidance" alone, but "Guidance" itself. And it is preserved by Him The Most Exalted, among us, in our hands. All of us have a copy or more of The Holy and Noble Qur'an, and we say that we respect it. But are we really respecting it in the way that it deserves to be so, in the way that we ourselves deserve?! We show respect to it in the secondary and tertiary aspects like not allowing dust to settle on it, not writing in it, keeping it elevated, touching it only when we are in the state of wudu, and at the most, memorizing a little from it. Let's just really reflect upon this! Aren't our questions always centered on things like, "can we touch the Mus'haf" if we are not in the state of Wudu for studying purposes?" Another way of our limited interaction with the Qur'an is that unfortunately, we turn to it when we are struck with distress, illness etc. For sure, The Qur'an is Ash-Shifa'(The Cure), but it is mainly a cure for the diseases of the heart and soul, it helps to purify our souls and hearts from all kinds of diseases. Allah SWT says:

يَأَيُّهَا النَّاسُ قَدْ جَآءَتْكُمْ مَّوْعِظَةٌ مَّن رَّبِّكُمْ وَشِفَآءٌ لِّمَا فِى الصُّدُورِ وَهُدًى وَرَحْمَةٌ لِّلْمُؤْمِنِينَ
O mankind! There has come to you good advice from your Lord, and a cure for that which is in your breasts, -- a guidance and a mercy for the believers. (Surah Yunus: 57)

So, what is the Primary aspect of respecting the Qur'an?!

Obvious to all of us, The Qur'an is by no doubt, the most important book in our life. We all keep saying that. If it is so, we are to really take the benefit from it, by really appreciating it, appreciating the fact that Allah SWT, with His Mercy, has allowed the imperfect, sinning man to recite, read, hold onto the Perfect, Flawless speech (kalam), to make use of it. One of the main ways of not respecting the Qur'an is when we recite it, we do so only to get the Blessings, Ajar (reward), Hasanat that comes with it. Of course, this is true. And we should continue to recite it regularly and repeatedly. But our intention should be to really understand it, learn it and implement it by obeying what it guides us to, the commands of Allah, and avoiding what has been prohibited. We are supposed to be "Shuhadah" (witnesses) for the true message, against the rest of mankind who do not have this Guidance.

Let me put it in the most common way that the people of knowledge remind us with (for all of us to benefit from). For us to have a blooming career, or pass our exams in school with flying colours, we read, and read, and read. Break our heads to understand, do the practicals etc. Toil away day and night. And on the other hand, we have just this one Qur'an which continues to give and give. and continues to make it easier on the person learning it. And its rewards will be reaped in this world, for one, and last but definitely not the least, for an eternal heavenly bliss. Merciful is our Lord Almighty?! So, let's not just wish for the Hasanat in reciting This Noble Book, let's fulfill our obligations to it, Our Lord and ourselves (ourselves as we are the ones who are really in need of The Qur'an, not the other way around. We need Allah's Mercy, Blessings, Guidance, Help ....)

Allah says:

الَّذِينَ آتَيْنَـهُمُ الْكِتَـبَ يَتْلُونَهُ حَقَّ تِلاَوَتِهِ أُوْلَـئِكَ يُؤْمِنُونَ بِهِ وَمن يَكْفُرْ بِهِ فَأُوْلَـئِكَ هُمُ الْخَـسِرُونَ

Those to whom we gave the Book recite it as it should be recited (Yatlunahu Haqqa Tilawatihi) they are the ones who believe therein. And whoso disbelieve in it, those are they who are the losers. (Surah Al-Baqara:121)

What is حَقَّ تِلاَوَتِهِ (The correct recitation)? Abu Al-`Aliyah said that Ibn Mas`ud Radhiyallahu anh said, "By He in Whose Hand is my soul! The right Tilawah is allowing what it makes lawful, prohibiting what it makes unlawful, reciting it as it was revealed by Allah, not changing the words from their places, and not interpreting it with other than its actual interpretation.'' As-Suddi reported from Abu Malik from Ibn `Abbas who said about this Ayah (2:121): "They make lawful what it allows and they prohibit what it makes unlawful, and they do not alter its wordings.'' `Umar bin Al-Khattab said, "They are those who when they recite an Ayah that mentions mercy, they ask Allah for it, and when they recite an Ayah that mentions torment, they seek refuge with Allah from it.''

Allah SWT says regarding that Allah has made Quran easy for us to understand:

وَلَقَدْ يَسَّرْنَا الْقُرْءَانَ لِلذِّكْرِ فَهَلْ مِن مُّدَّكِرٍ

And We have indeed made the Qur'an easy to understand and remember; then is there anyone who will remember. (Surah Al-Qamar: 17)

This ayah should be an encouragement for us, we do not have to think that it is impossible to study it, memorize it. There have been people who become determined to study The Qur'an at the age of 70 years, and completed the memorization at the age of 80.

InshAllah, Let us all take the maximum benefit from The Perfect Speech of Allah that He has blessed us with, and continue to strive to learn more and more so that we can become better Muslims. Let the Noble Qur'an not be like the books a donkey carries on its back. A donkey has no use for books, as it cannot understand it. We all possess this most important Qur'an, let's not be like the donkey. This is the parable that Allah Azza Wajal mentions in the Qur'an:

مَثَلُ الَّذِينَ حُمِّلُواْ التَّوْرَاةَ ثُمَّ لَمْ يَحْمِلُوهَا كَمَثَلِ الْحِمَارِ يَحْمِلُ أَسْفَاراً بِئْسَ مَثَلُ الْقَوْمِ الَّذِينَ كَذَّبُواْ بِـَايَـتِ اللَّهِ وَاللَّهُ لاَ يَهْدِى الْقَوْمَ الظَّـلِمِينَ

The likeness of those who were entrusted with the Tawrah, but did not carry it, is as the likeness of a donkey which carries huge burdens of books. How bad is the example of people who deny the Ayat of Allah. And Allah does not guide the people who are wrongdoers. (Surah Al-Jumu'ah: 5)

And Allah knows best.

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