Lamya's Corner

"There was for Saba, aforetime, a sign in their homeland [Yemen] two gardens to the right and to the left . . . be grateful to Him[Allah] . . .But they turned away, and We sent against them the flood released from the Dams [Maarib dam]" (Qur'an. Saba:15-16)

Ramadan 2016 Reflection 9 June 14, 2016

attachment-3

Once a man sought advice of Al Hasan Al Basri on the kind of man he recommended for marriage. His response was, ” The man of Deen.” I know it sounds so vague, but wait he elaborated and added , ” For when he is in love with her he will be generous to her , and if he happens to dislike her he will not treat her unfairly (unjustly) .” I stopped at this description and realized that Allah treats us that way. If Allah loves us He ( Subhanahu Wa Ta’la ) rewards us multi-fold for our own good deeds, and if He is displeased with us He is never unfair or unjust to us . Indeed He is worthy of our belief and worship . La Illah Ila Allah.

Let’s go back to Al Basri’s comment, “… And if he happens to dislike her he will not treat her unfairly ( unjustly).” So, this kind of man would be fair and just towards her at times of conflict. Conflicts bring out the worst in people. Maybe I can go as far as to say that they expose a person’s true moral fiber or the absence thereof. Their moral mettle is either amplified or diminished. All masks fall off, and it is either pretty or ugly .

In application , if you are a person of authority  learn from ‘Umar Ibn Al Khattab . When ‘Umar was Khalifah and charged with the matters of the Muslims, he one day saw his brother Zayd Ibn Al Khattab’s killer. ‘Umar being ‘Umar was honest with the man and said to him, ” I must be honest with you , but I cannot find it in myself to like you.” The man responded , ” Will that prevent you from treating me fairly and justly?” ‘Umar said, ” No.” The man uttered a sigh of relief. ‘Umar’s aversion to the man did not prevent him from doing that which was fair and just towards him, and such should a person of authority always be.

Remember the Prophet ( Salah Allah Alayhe Wa Salam) when he held captive some Makkan pagans after the Battle of Badr. Among them was a general  by the name of ‘Aziz , the brother of one of the companions  Mus’ab Ibn Umayr . ‘Aziz narrates that in his captivity he was among a group of Al Ansar, and when it was lunchtime they would feed him bread and eat dates. Humbled by their kindness, ‘Aziz would return the bread but they wouldn’t touch it . This was because the Prophet asked them to feed the captives the best among their food , so they did — bread was a luxury in Madinah, dates were not . What is this saying ? It is saying that even if we disagree with you , even if we were opponents at war, it does not mean that we will treat you unjustly and unfairly. Conflicts with others should bring out the best in us .

So for today’s reflection, let this rule govern our relationships : keep good fellowship or separate with kindness . Let not disagreement and conflict expose the worst in us, instead let it bring out the best in us . A believer never betrays . A believer is never mean, vile, lowly, base, and ignoble, qualities that cut off any hope for a relationship to continue . How can friends who have shared well kept secrets continue, when at the time of disagreement each exposes the secrets of the other ? How can arguing spouses air each other’s dirty laundry and mar each other’s image in public  and continue their marriage? This method of argument has cut a vein, let it bleed and eventually killed this marriage. Chew on that for a minute .

The Prophet ( Salah Alah Alayhe Wa Salam ) compared the believer to a palm tree. A palm tree is abundant in its goodness. It gives shade ( Al Satr) year long. It’s fruit can be eaten from the minute it emerges until it is dries–it supports and nourishes. Likewise from its trunk, branches and leaves there are so many benefits . Such should a believer be at all times even at times of conflict–obedient to Allah and noble in manners. And in another comparison the Prophet ( Salah Allah Alayhe Wa Salam ) said, ” The example of the believer who recites the Qur’an and acts on it, is like an orange which tastes nice and smells nice.” May our insides be as our outsides , at all times, pure and true. Ameen.

 

Ramadan 2016: Reflection 2 June 7, 2016

IMG_4911

F[l]ame

Rio Olympics 2016 are fast approaching and the Olympic Torch as of right now is in Aquiraz, CE. What is the one objective of the Olympic torch bearer? Keeping the flame lit until it arrives at the site of the games, where it will light a cauldron that will remain lit until it is extinguished in the Closing Ceremony. Likewise, we all have different flames that we strive to keep lit in our lives. For some self-interest is the flame they strive to keep lit. It governs all their relationships, even with Allah (Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala ):

“And when We show favor to man he turns aside and withdraws himself, and when evil touches him he makes lengthy supplications” (Qur’an 41: 51)

So, when in need they turn to Allah (Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala ) with fervent Ya Rab’s , and once Allah (Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala ) responds to their requests they turn away from Him only to return when they have another request. The only beautiful aspect of these people’s lives, is that Allah (Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala ) accepts them every time they turn towards Him.

I got to thinking today about the flame I should strive to keep lit until my closing ceremony? I decided that flame would be “humanness”. The original state Allah (Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala ) created me in, created us in. Humaness and all its accompanying qualities: considerateness, honesty, fairness, gratitude, faithfulness, loyalty, modesty, balance, courteousness, conscientiousness, respect, responsibility, perseverance, dependability, cooperativeness, determination, imagination, ambition, courage, care, and many more positive qualities. Erring but forgiving and forgiven. In short, it is the flame of mercy/compassion and kindness in all its forms—emotional, verbal and physical— in whatever circumstance we find ourselves in. It’s the original state we were born in. The state that we should all strive to keep lit our life journey. The state we want to be remembered by when we are long gone. And the state that we hope to return to to our Creator. Allah (Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala ) says:

“ As to the scum it vanishes into the earth, but that which benefits humankind remains on the ground” (Qur’an 13:17)

Scum literally refers to that thick mass or foam made of small bubbles that rises to the surface when for instance meat of chicken is boiled. But another meaning for scum in English is in reference to someone who doesn’t exhibit humanness. People who are referred to as, “The scum of the earth”. So, according to this verse these people vanish into the earth; when they are gone they are gone for good. And on the other hand “that which benefits humankind” , which is In Sha’ Allah those who exhibit humanness, are what remain and live in and on in the hearts of people after they are long gone. So, let’s keep that flame lit, as did our Prophet (salah Allah alayhe wa salam) who even after 1400+ years, still remains a Mercy to the World. I ask Allah the Lord of the heavens and the earth for our humanness to flow from us to our fellow humans at all times until our closing ceremonies. Let it be simply said of us when we are long gone, “They were indeed human.”

 

Ramadan 2016: Reflection 1 June 6, 2016

IMG_4878

Will Rogers says, “Never miss a good chance to shut up” and I absolutely agree. There are 4 situations where your “silence” is appreciated. Where your silence is crucial. Where it is a sign of your refined manners. Where you win both in this world and the hereafter. Where you will be rewarded In Sha’ Allah. What are these 4 situations where silence is golden:

1) When you are having a conversation with a person. Shut up, listen, think and learn from what is being communicated to you. Don’t interrupt that person. Don’t stir the waters and disturb the flow of the current of information coming your way and poison the conversation with your interruptions. You kill a conversation. Interrupting others mid conversation is a sign of haste on your part. It’s a sign that you lack patience, social and communication skills. It’s even a sign of arrogance, because you are saying to the person with whom you are “engaged” in conversation that they have nothing to say that is worth listening to. On the other hand, listening attentively is a sign of self-confidence, especially when there is a difference in opinion between you and the person you are conversing with. Let me give you an example of this from the Seerah of the Prophet (salah Allah alayhe wa salam). Remember when the Messenger of Allah was approached by Quraysh’s delegate Utbah Ibn Rabi’ah, who wanted. Quraysh were ready to bribe the Prophet (salah Allah alayhe wa salam) into stopping his mission. When ‘Utbah asked to speak to the Prophet (salah Allah alayhe wa salam), the Prophet said, “Speak, Abul-Walid. I am listening.” So, ‘Utbah started, “Nephew,” and continued with words that were quite offensive, even today. ‘Utbah said, ‘If you want money by this business, we will collect some of our property and make you the wealthiest among us. If you want honor, we will make you our chief so that every decision is yours. If you want a kingdom, we will make you our king. If you are possessed by a jinn that you cannot drive away from yourself, we will find skillful doctors to help you. We will spend our wealth on it till you are cured.’ The Prophet (salah Allah alayhe wa salam) listened to ‘Utbah, and then asked“Have you finished, Abul-Walid?” “Yes,” responded ‘Utbah. “Then listen to me,” said to Messenger of Allah (salah Allah alayhe wa Salahm. “I will,” said ‘Utbah. Then the Messenger of Allah recited some verses from Surah Fussilat:

“Ha, Meem / A Revelation from (Allah), Most Gracious, Most Merciful / A Book whose verses have been detailed, an Arabic Qur’an for a people who know / Good tidings and a warning. But most of them turn away so that they hear not…” (Fussilat 1-4)

The Prophet (saw) continued reciting the verses, until ‘Utbah begged him to stop. The Prophet did, and then ‘Utbah returned to the leaders of Quraysh leaders with a different facial expression than the one he initially left with. The point is that the Prophet listened to ‘Utbah patiently. Controlled his anger. Calmly thought about what ‘Utbah said. Then responded powerfully. Let be an example to follow when you are in a similar situation.

2) The second situation when your silence is golden, is when you don’t have anything of value or benefit to add to a conversation/discussion. Don’t just say something to draw attention to yourself. You know that moment when you have the urge for your presence to be noticed. The moment you inject a superficial comment into a discussion, or even a false one. News flash: you’ll regret it. Follow your Prophet (saw) who did not speak unnecessarily. Every word weighed heavy in his scale of deeds. Ponder on this: not making any contribution to a conversation because you knew that you had nothing of value to add is better than adding what is unnecessary, ignorant, repetitive, superficial or false.

3) The third situation when keeping your mouth shut is best is when you are angry. Fact is that when you are angry you lose part of your ability to think straight, to reason, or perceive things clearly. In Arabic, the mind is called “AL AQL”, which means “ The Tether”. So in other words, your mind tethers your words and actions and keeps them in check. So, when you’re angry that tether comes undone, and you might say the wrong thing and regret it. That’s why the Prophet (saw) says,”The strong one is not one who is good at wrestling, but the strong one is one who controls himself in a fit of rage.” Being silent when you’re angry is crucial, because in a fit of rage you’ll most probably say that which you will regret afterwards. Your words will hurt others, severe relationship, even make you lose respect. And once that damage is done, you won’t be able to swallow your words. So, stay safe and don’t put yourself in a situation where you say to yourself,“ I wish I’d just kept my mouth shut.”

4) The fourth and last circumstance, is when you’re in the midst of a gossip, slander, or dirty joke session. If you can’t leave that hostile space, keep a straight face and make, “No comment.” If you are a special person who is courageous enough to defend others in their absence, then do so otherwise either leave or offer no comment. There is absolutely nothing you can say other than defending them that will be beneficial or rewarding in this situation. Remember the verse, “In no way does he utter a saying except that close to him is a (Guardian) constantly ready to record it” (Surat Qaf, 18). You don’t want to stare at your record on the Day of Judgment and find your gossip, slander, and foul language starting right back at you. Remember your words are part of your actions, if you don’t realize that you’ll be making a lot of mistakes and won’t even notice it until the book of records is laying in your hands. It’ll be too late then.

In closing, remember all of these are applicable to social media as well. Don’t read two words/phrases/clauses/sentences from someone’s comment/s and then respond. If you are going to respond you owe it to that person to read their entire comment /s, ponder over them and learn from them before responding. Don’t repeat/paraphrase what someone has already said, maybe just “Like” it or don’t respond at all because someone already said what you wanted. Don’t read someone’s comment with the intention to just attack them, your angry attitude towards that person will cloud your judgment and be reflected in your response. Don’t read into someone’s words what they didn’t say, instead ask for clarification. Don’t follow your doubts and false assumptions. All of these situations are covered under the hadith of the Prophet (salah Allah alayhe wa salam), “Whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day should speak a good word or remain silent.”Be wise. Let your silences be an indication of your respectful and thoughtful nature. Let your utterances be reminders for yourself and others. Let your observations of situations around you be examples to follow or warnings to take heed from.

Next time you find yourself in these situations, remember, “Shhhhh!”

 

Say “Alhamdullilah” and Broadcast it to the World ! October 9, 2011

Filed under: Halaqa Notes — lamyaalmas @ 7:35 pm

To listen to the Halaqa instead click here Part 1 and Part 2.

I have always wondered what it would be like to know Allah [SWT] for the first time? What would my first knowledge of Him be? What would be that first impression? If you ask me to try and remember my first encounter of Allah, I would say that it is the same as what my culture endorses among kids growing up in Yemen. It was a culture in which parents introduced Allah for disciplinary purposes. I am not saying that that is wrong, it has had its advantages—the hellfire is a reality. But it was wrong to show Him [SWT] as just one faceted. In my mind as a child I always associated Allah with “punishment” for my shortcomings. The phrase, “Stop it or Allah will burn you in the hellfire” would jerk me away from whatever mischief I had my hand in.  No one talked about Allah’s love for me or His Creation for that matter. At some point I had to get to know Him through what He says about Himself, and not what others say about Him.

So, let’s today imagine that we have no knowledge of Allah [SWT]. We don’t know  who He [SWT] is and we want to know Him [SWT]. We want to know what He loves and what He hates. Where is the best place to search for what Allah says about himself? Scholars say that if you want to talk to Allah [SWT] then establish that Divine Link, Salaah [or send knee-mails as Sheikh Yasir Birjas called it in the Fiqh of Salaah class] and if you want Allah [SWT] to speak to you then read the Qur’an.  Logical right? We want to go organic today, we don’t want processed information about Allah [SWT], so let’s head to the Qur’an.

So, let’s open Allah’s book the Qur’an—for where best to start to know Him but through His own words.  So, we open the Qur’an and read after, “Bismillah Arrahman Arraheem” [in the Name of Allah the Most Gracious the Most Compassionate] “Alhamdullilah Rab Al Alameen” [All Praise to Allah, Lord of the worlds]. We continue reading the Quran, and Allah [SWT] tells us about the worlds He is the Lord of. He tells us that He is the Lord of this world [dunya] and another we are yet to witness in the future after our deaths called the “Hereafter” [Al Akhira]. We stumble upon a snapshot of the Hereafter, when we are all in Jannah Insha Allah and it’s the end. Final statements are made on the closing of the chapter of Judgment Day; everyone is where they should be—those who deserved to go to Jannah have settled in and those who are in the hellfire are suffering therein. The closing statement is made by Allah [SWT] who says: “And you will see the angels surrounding the Throne, exalting [Allah] with praise of their Lord. And it will be judged between them in truth, and it will be said, “[All] praise to Allah , Lord of the worlds.” [39:75] In the same vein, in the words of those in Jannah Allah [SWT] says in the Qur’an: “And the last of their call will be, ‘Praise to Allah , Lord of the worlds!” [10:10] So, it is with “Al Hamdullilah” that His book Al Qur’an started , Al Hamdullilah that this world will end, and with Al Hamdullilah that Insha Allah those of the Jannah will settle in their final abode.

When we contemplate some more, we find that the most beloved person to walk on the face of this earth was named “Muhammad” a name derived from the word “Hamd” [meaning praise and gratitude].  Furthermore, when Allah [SWT] who loves praise and gratitude–that is due to Him alone– broke the news to the angels about His creation of Adam (as) the angels wondered if they did not praise and give gratitude enough. They wondered if they had neglected or lacked in their praise and gratitude to Allah [SWT], “They said, ‘Will You place upon it one who causes corruption therein and sheds blood, while we declare Your praise and sanctify You?’” [2:30]  And furthermore Allah [SWT] says, “The seven heavens and the earth and whatever is in them exalt Him. And there is not a thing except that it exalts [Allah ] by His praise, but you do not understand their [way of] exalting. Indeed, He is ever Forbearing and Forgiving.” [17:44]

Every atom and every cell praises its Creator, Allah [SWT]. “Alhamdullilah” is the best word—it’s in vogue since the beginning of our creation. It never gets old. It’s in. It’s the word to have on your lips day in and day out. Say, it “Alhamdullilah” “Alhamdullilah” Alhamdullilah.”   Abu Dharr (raa) reported that the Prophet (saw) said, “Shall I tell you the words that Allah loves the most?” I said: “Yes, tell me, O Messenger of Allah.” He said: “The words dearest to Allah are: subhan Allah wa bihamdihi. [Glory be to Allah and Praise Him].”

And if I were to ask you, what was the first word uttered by a human being ever? Allah [SWT] said, “And He taught Adam the names of all things”—so the first thing Allah [SWT] taught Adam after creating him was language. So, out of all of the words Allah taught Adam (as) which one was the first he uttered. It is said, that when Allah created Adam from water, dirt, and clay and so on, He then blew the soul into Adam. The soul entered Adam (as) in different stages, and when it arrived at his nose he sneezed and the angels told him, “Say Alhamdulilah” and he did. Imagine that “Alhamdullilah” was the first word.

Why does Allah [SWT] love this word “Alhamdullilah”? Loves to see our hearts content with Allah [SWT] being our Lord? Because it is evidence of the health of our Iman [belief in Allah]. We all believe in the existence of Allah [SWT], but what comes to mind when you think of Allah [SWT]. You know for some people their god is symbolized by a stone, a rat, a cow etc. Their symbol is the meaning that comes to their minds when they think about their god. What is the meaning that comes to your mind when you think of Allah [SWT]?  It is that “meaning” that makes you content and happy that Allah is your Lord; that meaning that makes you say “Alhamdullilah.” These three meanings should settle firmly in your heart when you think of Allah. That He [SWT] is:

1)      The Creator [Al Khaleq]—“He is the one who has Created, and His Creation is nothing short of a masterpiece: “Then fashioned We the drop a clot, then fashioned We the clot a little lump, then fashioned We the little lump bones, then clothed the bones with flesh, and then produced it as another creation. So blessed be Allah, the Best of creators!” [23:14]

2)      In His hand is the dominion of the heavens and the earth and all that is in it: “Blessed is He in Whose Hand is the dominion, and He is Able to do all things.” [67:1]

3)      He is the regulator of all affairs: “Allah is He Who raised the heavens without any pillars that ye can see; is firmly established on the throne (of authority); He has subjected the sun and the moon (to his Law)! Each one runs (its course) for a term appointed. He doth regulate all affairs, explaining the signs in detail, that ye may believe with certainty in the meeting with your Lord.” [13:2]

Let’s revisit our father Adam (as). What was he (as) praising Allah [SWT] for?  For creating him from nothing; for his very existence! Do you know what it means to be blessed with existence from nothing? Do you know what it means to be once zero? We were all zero by the way as Allah says in Surat Al Insan: “There surely came over man a period of time when he was a thing not worth mentioning.” [1]

Why did Allah [SWT] create us? So we may enjoy ourselves. I know some of you have raised eyebrows now, and probably wondering, “What on earth is she talking about?” Yeah to ‘enjoy’ ourselves! If you have a righteous friend in this life, your companionship with them is full of enjoyment. Right? Now imagine how much you would enjoy life if you knew Allah [SWT], and led your life in His companionship? How much will you enjoy your life when you know Allah who asks: “Do you feel Me who gave life to you? Who created you in your mother’s womb, and provided for you?  Do you feel me in your everyday life as I provide for you? Do you know how much I love you, and have incurred My wrath and decreed punishment on those who wrong you? Do you feel My presence with your during times of misfortune? Do you feel know how shy I am to let you go empty handed when you have raised your hands calling Me in dua? Do you know how much I love you, and ask for your affection through My blessings? Knowing this, feeling it, being certain of is the true pursuit of happiness. Ibn Taymiyyah said: “There is in this world a Jannah, and the only way to enter the Jannah of the hereafter is to enter the Jannah of this world. And he who does not enter the Jannah of this world will not enter the Jannah of the hereafter. And that Jannah of this world is the worship of Allah (SWT).” This is called “Jannat Al Ma’rifa”, A Jannah/A Paradise of Knowledge and Awareness of Allah]. A different Jannah than the one in the Hereafter, where you get to eat, sleep, play, and do whatever you want—it’s a different kind of enjoyment than the one we are talking about. If you experience this one, then you will the other.

No doubt, we find so much enjoyment in this life knowing Allah [SWT], being aware of Him [SWT], living according to His instructions. So much enjoyment in this life, that is less than a drop in the ocean of the Jannah in the Hereafter. I mean look around you at the beautiful colors of the leaves this fall; the flowers of all colors, shapes and sizes; the shades of blue and gray of the sky; the softness of the clouds; the fresh air. Taste the—variety of fruits, vegetables, nuts, spices, herbs and meats that Allah [SWT] has blessed us with. There’s so much to be content with, and Allah loves to see you content in this life and show gratitude and praise to Him. Seriously, what does Allah gain from blessing you with Jannah in the Akhirah, in the Hereafter? It will simpley make Him happy to see you happy.  In this world, Allah [swt] wants you to enjoy yourself through your awareness of Him even though you do not see Him, and in the Jannah of Al Akhirah He wants you to enjoy seeing Him and being close to Him in Jannah.

Who forced Allah [SWT] to Create you from nothing? No one! Who forced Him to make Himself known to you? No on! Who Him to bless you day in and day out—to literally drown you in His blessings [Allah [SWT] says: “And if you were to count Allah’s favors, you would not be able to number them; most surely Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.” (Sūrah Al-Nahl: 18) ]? No one! Who forced Allah to choose you from the millions of people to be a follower of Muhammad (saw)? No on! He chose you out of His own will to create you from nothing, so that you might enjoy yourself in His realm. You enjoy life through the knowledge that you benefit from obedience to Him, and do no from disobeying Him. So, know that your creation is a blessing, and the continuous supply of blessings is another a blessing.

Our journeys in this life are full of divine gifts—every second we are opening a gift from Allah. Why aren’t we content when we have done all that is necessary on our part to achieve a ‘good’ life, and once we realize that Allah [SWT] has chosen a good life for us [although different from what we had in mind]?  Why can’t we say “Alhamdullilah” this is what Allah wants for me; what He has decreed for me? Allah [SWT] does not life after you have done your part and the results of your hard work have come out, to see a revolution in your heart against Allah’s system in your life. Oftentimes we shrug our shoulders while we utter a contradictory, “Alhamdullilah.”

What does a content heart mean? It means a heart that has accepted the blessings Allah [SWT] has gifted you. Those gifts that Allah has tried to come close to you through—through which He seeks your your affection. Do you even know that Allah tries to win your affection through His blessings: “And Allah brought you forth from the wombs of your mothers knowing nothing, and gave you hearing and sight and hearts that haply ye might give thanks.”[16:78]   He has made that apple taste so good to you, asking you whether you love Him?” He has made your heart yearn to see Him when you listen to the beauty of the recitation of the Qur’an, asking whether you miss Him?  He has taught you certain words to say so that He may forgive your sins no matter how big or small they are, asking you whether He is enough for you?”  He has made you love gatherings of His remembrance.

Do you come back home after a long days work to find your family and home safe and sound? Do you come back to a home just as you left it? Untouched?  You could have sinned that day, yet Allah [SWT] did not punish you in your health, home, family or property even though you deserved to be. Look around you at the world, where people are living in homes with no roofs. They live with the suns beating on their heads during hot summer days, feet digging into muddy floors during the rainy season, and shivering with cold during cold winter nights. All this while we complain about where we live; with the homes that Allah [SWT] has blessed us with.  How many of us are not content with the food we eat? All this while 100’s are dying in Somalia; while we choose what to eat, a Somali mother chooses which child of hers lives.

 What if you have lost your rights—does that mean that you just have to be content with the fact? No, that is different. You have struggle in Allah’s way and fight for your rights, but within the means and tools that are in obedience to Allah—the end does not justify the means, the means has to be equally in obedience to Allah as the end.  Do what you can, and leave the rest to Allah [SWT], and whatever Allah decrees after you have done your best be content with the results. Do from A to B, and leave B to Z to Allah [SWT] so to speak.

Before we end this today,  I want to warn you of that organ that can cause you to show discontent with and even refusal of Allah’s gifts ; one that can convey a bad image of Allah [SWT]. That organ is the tongue.  May be you have said, “Life sucks!” and forgotten that life is Allah’s decree. Life is a gift we have been blessed with; an experience which we benefit from by saying and doing the right things. Use the blessing of life to fulfill the will of Allah, and don’t let Shaytan distract you from that focus. Don’t allow him to cause you to focus on a part of your life that is not working out the way you want it to, and make you forget everything else that is perfect Subhan Allah. Realize that life is the greatest gift from Allah. It is not meant to be cursed and refused. So, say “Alhamdullilah”—a word that you inherited from the Prophet (saw)—with a sweet tongue and a content heart.

So, let’s have tongues that scoop up the word “Alhamdullilah” continuously from our hearts and broadcast it to the world at large.

 

The mountain was asked, “Why are you so high?” It answered, “Because the valley is low.” March 20, 2011

Filed under: Halaqa Notes — lamyaalmas @ 1:42 pm

What comes to mind when you hear the word ‘quality’? A product or service maybe offered by a company usually accompanied by the phrase “getting your money’s worth” or “getting more for your buck”? Yes, to an extent it is true that the ‘seal of quality’ should be on all brands produced by Muslims for profit. Yet, that is just part of it. How about ‘you’ branded with the seal of quality? How about you receiving the seal of approval from Allah (SWT), and stamped with a seal that reads “Muslim of Quality.” Wouldn’t that guarantee insha Allah that whatever emanates from you is of quality?

Allah (SWT) says in the Qur’an, “How often a little community has overcome a much larger community by the permission of Allah. And Allah is with the patient. . .” (2:249).And to further drive this point home in another ayah Allah (SWT) addresses the Muslim army in the battle of Hunayn saying: “God gave you victory on many a battlefield. Recall the Day of Hunayn, when you fancied your great number but it did not help you one whit. So, the earth, for all its wide expanse, narrowed before you, and you turned fail and fled. Then God made His serenity descend upon His Messenger and the believers. . . ” (9:25). On close examination of these two ayat in the Qur’an and a quick birds-eye view of glorious moments in our Islamic history, the myth of success lies in numbers is shattered. Yet, many Muslims today rant and rave about the fact that the numbers of Muslims is on the rise, which is true no doubt, yet this rise in number does not translate into the strength and success of this Ummah among others. They are many but as the Prophet (saw) describes them in his famous hadith, “Rather, on that day you will be many, but you will be like foam, like the foam on the river. . .” [Saheeh: Related by Abu Dawood (no.4297)]
The brands of Muslims, although available and in surplus, is unfortunately ‘not of quality’. They are the valley so low as opposed to being the mountain so high, as the title of this post suggests. More importantly they have chosen to be so.

This was the topic of our past Circle of Light Halaqa in which we reflected on the story of Talut and Jalut (Saul and Goliath) in Surat Al Baqara ayat 246-251. We witnessed Allah filtering the Children of Israel through submitting them to a number of tests, and extracting from them a generation of 313 who were qualified for Allah’s promise of success. We concluded that in essence the weakness of our Ummah is not because of the power and success of other nations, but because we have not yet met the criteria for Allah (SWT) to grant us the pre-ordained success of the believers. We too wondered if our Muslim personalities were missing those same quality traits that disqualified huge numbers among the Children of Israel in the Talut and Jalut story. Those personality traits that qualified the ‘few’ as Allah (SWT) calls them were: 1) courage 2) determination; 3) discipline; and 4) loyalty. So, we pondered on ways to incorporate them into our daily lives so that with each day we could come closer to receiving that seal of approval that reads “Muslim of Quality” that would qualify us for the favor of ‘success’ that Allah (SWT) has bestowed on believers in the past and promised those of the future.

So, here is the activity/challenge we decided on. Every month, each one of us would take on a 30 day personal challenge called “30 day Muslim of Quality Project” which would focus on five categories: 1) Spiritual; 2) Physical/Health; 3)Knowledge; 4) Habits/Manners; 5)Activism/Volunteering/Charity work. Sisters Zakya, Bahja, Idil, Amal and I put together a schedule to help you all out. Click 30 day challenge for the document.

In each category you will determine 3 goals to focus on in 30 days. For instance, Spiritual: praying Fajr on time, reading morning and evening Adhkar, reading Surat Al Kahf on Fridays, praying Quiyam Al Layl 3 times a week, fasting 3 days this month, reading a page of Qur’an after every prayer etc.; Physical/Health: exercising for an hour every day, substituting coffee for green tea with every meal, incorporating 1 fruit and 1 vegetables per day; Knowledge: reading a book of quality a week, reading tafseer of 1 ayah per day, learning about 1 name and attribute of Allah (SWT) per day, reading a hadith a day and applying it etc; Habits/ Manners: whether it is ridding of yourself of bad ones or picking up good ones. For example, stop procrastinating on homework and dedicate 2hrs to homework every day after fajr prayer, clean my room once a week etc.; Activism/volunteering/charitable work: tutoring others in language, Qur’an, or any skill Allah (SWT) has blessed you with, volunteering in soup kitchen or food shelf etc.

Pick and choose your challenges, and make sure that you stick to them. Here are some tips the sisters shared:

  • Make sure your challenges are realistic–don’t get over ambitious. Keep them real, few and prioritize. For instance, praying Fajr on time is more important spiritually than fasting three days a month.
  • Make sure your challenge is well defined–for instance, “Strengthening my trust in Allah” is vague. So, rather “In order to strengthen my trust in Allah, I will take on the task of educating myself on one of the Names and Attributes of Allah” every day.
  • If you are going to be working out for instance, make sure you include how many times a week, for how many hours. The more defined the more likely you will stick to it.
  • Keep a journal entry–of no more than 1 page a day–to reflect on the accomplishments or under accomplishments on any given day.
  • Encourage yourself in whatever way you see fit, such as buying yourself a new journal for instance.
  • Make sure you incorporate your monthly goals into your daily schedules.
  • Make sure you keep your schedule where you can see it. Post it on your wall and make sure you give yourself a “green check mark for ACCOMPLISHED”  “Orange check mark for ALMOST” and “Red check mark for NOT ACCOMPLISHED” for a particular day.

Please share your thoughts by commenting to this entry and feel free to share with others. Our goal is that every Muslim on the face of this earth be a mountain so high and never a valley too low. Jazaakum Allah Khayr.


 

Life in Pictures! Subhan Allah! December 21, 2010

Filed under: Halaqa Notes — lamyaalmas @ 9:12 pm

 

“It is God [Allah] Who created you in a state of (helpless) weakness, then gave (you) strength after weakness, then, after strength, gave (you) weakness and a hoary head; He creates as He wills. And it is He Who has all knowledge and power”(30:54).

 

“Whoever does not get angry, he is a donkey.” August 14, 2010

Filed under: Halaqa Notes — lamyaalmas @ 1:02 pm

Imam Shafi’i (ra) said, “Whoever does not get angry, he is a donkey.” Shocking I know! It was to me at first sight. But then he continues, “And whoever is not pacified (or quelled) when angry is a Shaytan!”

A powerful statement! He is referring to two extremes as far as a person’s “anger” is concerned. One in which you can either be in the “donkey” category or that of “Shaytan.”No offense to any one and that includes donkeys.

Honestly, I don’t know the nature of donkeys and I am not ready to go and search what science says about them. But from having seen and observed them from my parents’ home in Yemen—years ago—they always struck me as very patient animals. When burdened they passively endured, and when loaded above Allah’s “loading -limit” refused to budge.

Like the “donkey” some are provoked to every known human positive or negative limit and they are irresponsive–cold as cucumbers as the saying goes, or a two-tiered deep freezer! Excuse me, but that isn’t normal. Then there are others if provoked turn from kittens to roaring lions strutting around in their lair—no matter how much those around them try to quell their anger they are viciously bitten. Now that is,  as Imam Shafi’i says a “Shaytan.”

Indeed the Prophet of Allah (saw) talks about the best and worst type of angers. He says, “Some are swift to anger and swift to cool down, the one characteristic making up for the other; some are slow to anger and slow to cool down, the one characteristic making up for the other; but the best of you are those who are slow to anger and swift to cool down, and the worst of you are those who are swift to anger and slow to cool down.” He continued, “Beware of anger, for it is a live coal on the heart of the descendant of Adam. Do you not notice the swelling of the veins of his neck and the redness of his eyes? So when anyone experiences anything of that nature he should lie down and cleave to the earth.” (Abu Sa’id al-Khudri ,Hadith – Al-Tirmidhi ,5145) The Prophet (saw) is not talking about a certain group of people, but about people in general. So, the issue is not anger as an emotion in and of itself, but rather how it is manifested. This brings me to a very important point. Anger is a blessing from Allah (swt). There you go, I uttered the unutterable! A blessing, you out of your mind! Indeed it is, like any emotion “anger” is a blessing from Allah (swt), one through which you come out as “best” as the hadith above so poignantly points out and, believe it or not, is also a way to Jannah.

When seen in this light, having anger is not the problem and we shouldn’t be doing away with it altogether.  That’s impossible!  We are all born with it as we are with fear, love, anxiety, etc. Originally it’s a blessing, but can turn into a curse when absent, taken to the extreme,  aroused for the wrong reasons, or  directed at the wrong target. Indeed, as is custom in our beautiful religion, anger can either win you rewards and Jannah, or it can pile up your sins high and lead you the only other way, hellfire.

There is that kind of anger that is one letter short of danger, as the saying goes. A human trait that is low, dirt-low, without exception. So, there’s no excuse for having any one of them in any degree, shape or form. They are a waste of your energy because simply put they are not worth getting angry over. Such as anger over the material world “dunya,” and for the self i.e. the “nafs.” These are two vast targets that your anger should not aim at. Furthermore, anger is a runner-up for violence; remember that a dog growls before it attacks. And violence is but the most severe and apparent form of anger, so beware of its undertones as well.  Many don’t associate these hidden forms as “anger”: attempting to dominate by over asserting yourself; seeking faults of others; correcting others to the smallest detail of things; losing patience with others;  being so brutally honest with others to the point that it hurts; holding an air of condescendence when dealing with others;  constantly seeking out to debate with others; and being sarcastic. So, the kind of anger that transgresses moral boundaries, decency and propriety and cause one to be unjust is evil no doubt.

Guide your anger to a deserving target. I remember once a story I heard about a man on death row. His final request was to see his mother. When they brought her to him, he said, “I just wanted you to know that I am here because of you.” It distressed her to hear it. She had done all the right things a mother does towards her child—above all loved him unconditionally.  He continued, “Remember when I was little boy and brought you a stolen egg and asked you to cook it for me?” Her face paled. “If only it had angered you to know that I had transgressed Allah’s limits, maybe you would have nipped it all in the bud. Maybe I would not have escalated from a thief to a murderer.” Her unconditional love for her son caused her to turn a blind eye to what displeased Allah (swt); by not being angry at the right moment and for the right reason she had failed her son.  Actually, shared in causing his demise.

Let us look at our Prophet (saw) and how he guided his anger—his anger was never personal. It was always for the sake of Allah (swt).  Narrated by Abu Mas’ud,  “A man came and said, ‘O Allah’s Apostle! By Allah, I keep away from the fajr prayer only because so and so prolongs the prayer when he leads us in it.’ The narrator said, ‘I never saw Allah’s Apostle more furious in giving advice than he was at that time. He then said, ‘Some of you make people dislike good deeds (the prayer). So whoever among you leads the people in prayer should shorten it because among them are the weak, the old and the needy.’” (Bukhari, 670) In another instance, Abdullah ibn `Abbas reported that the Prophet (saw) saw a gold ring on a man’s hand. He took it off and threw it aside, saying, “Would any of you take a burning coal and hold it in his hand?”When the Messenger of Allah (saw) had gone away, someone said to the man, “Take your ring and make use of it (i.e., sell it.)” He said, “No, by Allah, I will not take it after the Messenger of Allah (saw) has thrown it away.” (Muslim) This is an anger that gave us a ruling that Muslims abide by and will be abide by to the end of time. And don’t forget the incident that Aisha (raa) narrated about Quraish being anxious about the Makhzumi woman who had committed theft, and said, “Who will speak to Allah’s Messenger (saw) about her?” They said, “Who dare it, but Usama, the loved one of Allah’s Messenger (saw)?” So Usama spoke to him. Thereupon Allah’s Messenger (saw) said, “Do you intercede regarding one of the punishments prescribed by Allah?” He then stood up and addressed (people) saying,” O people, those before you were destroyed, because if any one of high rank committed theft amongst them, they spared him; and if anyone of low rank committed theft, they inflicted the prescribed punishment upon him. By Allah, if Fatima, daughter of Muhammad, were to steal, I would have her hand cut off.”(Sahih Muslim, 4187) Similar instances in the life of the Prophet (saw) are many, look them up.

Keeping your  anger on a leash is key. Allah (swt) says, “Those who spend in prosperity and in adversity, who repress anger, and who pardon men; verily, Allâh loves Al-Muhsinûn (the good doers).” (3:134) The word in the Qu’an for “repress”[“kadhemeen”] is derived from a word that refers to a “string that ties the opening of a water bottle”—so basically Allah (swt) is asking us to keep our anger “bottled up,” never let it spill out of our heart, never act on it, and eradicate it completely by forgiving.  And the Prophet (saw) reinforces this, “The real strong man is the one who gets intensely angry, so that his face reddens and his hair stands on end, but he suppresses his anger.” (Ahmad, 5/367)

Indeed, anger can win you Jannah as the Prophet (saw) says, “Whoever suppresses his anger when he is able to vent it, Allah will call him before all the people on the Day of Resurrection and let him choose whoever of the hoor al-‘iyn he wishes.” (Abu Dawood, 4777) Imagine if you weren’t blessed with “anger”!  Apart from the fact that you would be abnormal, your parents would worry, probably take you to a psychiatrist who would diagnose you with a complicated disorder [I wonder if ‘donkey’ would be one of them—just kidding, I am just keeping Al Shafi’I in mind!], and  prescribe you some meds.  Not being blessed with the emotion of “anger” or completely doing away with it, would cause you to miss out on a door that would lead you to Jannah. So, indeed praised anger and the management of “wild anger” according to Qur’an and Sunnah can lead you to your ultimate destination in life–Jannah.  It would be a pity if we were to find this door to Jannah and say, “Too bad, I was told that anger was all bad so I never used it for any reason.” Passivity is not part of our deen, and neither is wildness—but a responsible responsiveness to our surroundings.

Now let’s look at Anger Management “Muslim Style:

1) Smile:

Anas bin Malik narrated: “I was walking with the Messenger of Allah, and he was wearing a Najrani cloak with a rough collar. A bedouin came and seized him roughly by the edge of his cloak, and I saw the marks left on his neck by the collar. Then the bedouin ordered him to give him some of the wealth of Allah that he had. The Prophet turned to him and smiled, then ordered that he should be given something.” (Fath al-Bari, 10/375)

2) Seek refuge with Allah from the Devil:

The Messenger of Allah said: “If a man gets angry and says: “I seek refuge with Allah,” his anger will go away.” (Sahih al-Jami, 695)

3) Whatever happens keep your mouth shut—you can never anticipate what may spew out of it when you are angry. You might even shock yourself :

The Messenger of Allah said: “If any of you becomes angry, let him keep silent.” (Sahih al-Jami, 693)

4) Change your position:

“Abu Dharr was taking his camels to drink at a trough that he owned, when some other people came along and said to one another, ‘Who can compete with Abu Dharr in bringing animals to drink and make his hair stand on end?’ A man said, ‘I can.’ So, he brought his animals and competed with Abu Dharr and ended up breaking the trough. Abu Dharr was standing when he saw this, so, he sat down, then he laid down. Someone asked him, ‘O Abu Dharr, why did you sit down then lie down?’ He said, ‘The Messenger of Allah said, ‘If any of you becomes angry and he is standing, let him sit down, so that his anger will go away. If it does not go away, let him lie down.’”(Musnad Ahmad, 5/152 and Sahih al Jami, 694)

5) Remember the Prophet’s (saw) advice:

Abu Hurayrah narrated: “A man said to the Prophet, ‘Advise me.’ He said, ‘Do not become angry.’ The man repeated his request several times, and each time the Prophet said to him, ‘Do not become angry.’”(Fath al-Bari, 10/456)

6) Keep your ultimate goal in mind:

The Messenger of Allah said: “Do not become angry [means control your anger, and aim it at what it deserves, and be wise in how you express it, and overall be sincere in it being for the sake of Allah], and Paradise is yours.” (Sahih al-Jami, 7374)

7) Fear the wrath and punishment of Allah (swt):

Ibn Abbas (raa) narrated that the Prophet (saw) sent Mu’ad to Yemen and said, “Beware of the cry of the oppressed as there is no screen between his invocation and Allah.” (Bukhari)

8 ) Remember that uncontrolled and unfounded anger humiliates:

‘Alqamah bin Wa’il narrated, “My father said to me, ‘I was sitting with the Prophet, when a man came to him leading another man by a rope. He said, ‘O Messenger of Allah, this man killed my brother.’ The Messenger of Allah asked him, ‘Did you kill him?’ He said, ‘Yes, I killed him.’ He asked, ‘How did you kill him?’ He said, ‘He and I were hitting a tree to make the leaves fall for animal feed, and then he insulted me, so I struck him on the side of the head with an axe and killed him.’”(Muslim, 1307)

9) Follow the examples of the righteous:

In the Battle of Trench a man from the enemy’s side–by the name of ‘Amr bin Abdawud who was known for his strength, courage and swordsmanship– challenged the Muslims to a duel. There was a fierce fight between him and Ali bin Abi Talib, until Ali (raa) threw him down to the ground and mounted his chest, ready to kill him.  At this very moment ‘Amr spat in the face of Ali (raa), and to the surprise of the spectators Ali (raa) dismounted ‘Amr’s chest and walked away.  Shortly afterwards, ‘Amr attacked Ali (raa) again but was overpowered and killed. After the battle Ali (raa) was asked why he had spared ‘Amr the first time, to which he (raa) replied, “I had no personal animosity towards him. I was fighting him because of his disbelief, on behalf of Allah. If I had killed him after he spat on my face then it would have become my personal revenge which I do not wish to take”  This is one of many examples of the righteous in our rich Islamic history—go and look up some more. Live with them through their words and lives, and imitate them for they were the best of examples after the Prophet of Allah (saw).

Know your anger, keep it on a leash, and guide it to a deserving target—it matters, it really matters. It could guide you to either Jannah or Jahanam!