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

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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.

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Ramadan 2016: Reflection 2 June 7, 2016

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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

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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!”

 

Reflections on verses 1-5 of Surat Al-Hajj October 7, 2010

Filed under: Reflections on "attended" halaqat — lamyaalmas @ 1:45 pm

Surat Al-Hajj continues from where Surat Al Anbiyaa left off—the Hereafter. It starts by powerfully addressing all of humankind without exception, “O humankind, fear your Lord! The Quake of the Hour is a thing terrible indeed.” (22:1) Allah (SWT)—our Creator who appointed Himself as our Provider and Sustainer, who reared and nurtured us through His infinite mercy and blessing—reminds us of the terror of the Hour. A reminder which is a mercy and blessing, in and of itself. Indeed, Allah (SWT) sends us reminders throughout our lives in the form of gestures, signs, alerts, alarms, and even loud sirens to wake us up from heedlessness. The question is not whether you have been forewarned, because you definitely have, but rather how sensitive are you to messages from Allah (SWT)? Some of us are extra sensitive to the slightest of gestures, whereas others only hear the loud sirens signalling danger. Are they hard of hearing? Nope, but rather their sins have caused a thick coating around their hearts. For as the Prophet (saw) warns us, When one commits a sin, a black speck appears on his heart. If he disowns it and repents, his heart will be purified. But if he ignores it and repeats the/a sin, the spot spreads, until it overtakes the entire heart.”(Tafsir al-Qurtubi, vol. 19, pg. 259) So assess your sensitivity to the messages of Allah (SWT)?  And if you aren’t picking up the signals, practice caution by resorting to repentance it’s real tough on sins.  Oh, why go far? What impact does the first verse of Surat Al Hajj have on you? Does it pierce your heart and cause you to tremble? Or is it merely words and nothing beyond that?

The weight of words on the listener depends on who is saying them. When we read the headlines:  “Millionaire Gives in Charity” what is the amount that comes to your mind? So, imagine when Allah (SWT) the Lord of the Worlds, the Great and Magnificent describes the Hour as “terrible”?  This “quake” will change the state of the universe and time as we know them forever. Of course, during our lifetimes, we have heard of and maybe even witnessed quakes in the form of natural disasters, but these are minuscule compared to that of the Hour. These are but a taste of things to come.

To aid us in understanding the terror of the “terrible quake” and its impact on us Allah (SWT) the All Merciful explains further, bringing us close to its impact, “On the day you witness it, every nursing woman shall forget her nursing child; every pregnant woman will deliver what she is carrying; And you shall see mankind drunk, but they are not drunk. Rather, the doom of Allah is so grievous.” (22:2) Breastfeeding is the most extraordinarily intimate experience between mother and child. During this very special on-on-one session, the whole world fades into the background. Their eyes lock, fingers intertwine and then wander to trace each others’ faces.  So attentive is the mother to her suckling child, that any unusual sound is reason for alarm. So, terrible will be the impact of the Hour on this very same mother, that her eyes that were once attentive to her suckling child will be distracted to the point of forgetfulness.  The most intimate ties will be severed. So sudden and powerful is this quake, that every expecting mother who struggles throughout her pregnancy to keep her child will deliver it whether it has reached to term or not. Similarly, trees bearing fruit will be completely unburdened. And the whole human race will be so engrossed in their strange surroundings with utmost certainty that it is real. They stagger in drunken stupor, yet they are not drunk rather it is the reality of the doom that has befallen them. This verse Allah (SWT) is grabbing us by the collar and shaking us to the reality of the matter. It is real and hence Allah (SWT) speaks of it in the past tense. It is so certain that it is a done deal.

Despite this certainty there are those why deny this knowledge “about Allah.”. Allah says, “Among people is one who argues about Allah, without knowledge, and follows thereby every obdurate demon. It has been decreed upon him, whoever takes him for counsel, he shall lead him astray and guide him to the torment of the raging Fire.” (22:3-4) In so much of a denial are they that they are willing to debate the authenticity of the existence of Allah and the Hereafter, so much so that they deem it even unnecessary to acquire the proper knowledge to debate the matter. Ignorance is all that is required for them to hold a “scholarly” debate. Some go as far as to publish books based on this pseudo knowledge. Their resistance to the in-depth study of the verses of Allah (SWT) attests to the fear of their turbulent souls encountering a truth they would be forced to submit to, how could they when they are madly in love with their own thoughts and ideas—a license for their imagination to go wild.  They concoct sophisticated fabrications that are seen for what they are by the intelligent: eloquent pseudo-knowledge packaged in hardcover copies, hugged by designer dust jackets, that adorn the shelved of eminent library.

These pseudo scholars are deluded by the supposition that the mere reading of books by those who have taken great pains to write them after a lifelong acquisition of knowledge, transforms them into instant scholars. Reading on its own is insufficient, but rather as Allah (SWT) advised “. . . ask the followers of the reminder if you know not.” (21:7) For accepting one’s self as ones counsel, rather than the experts in the matter is indeed following the plan devised by Shaytan.  It is the acquisition of knowledge Shaytan-style. Shaytan relied on his own knowledge to question Allah’s (SWT) order about prostrating to Adam (as). Shaytan proclaimed arrogantly, “I am better than he. You created me of fire but him You created of clay.” (7:11) Hellfire was decreed for Shaytan as it was for his future followers and supporters.

Imagine the fate of these pseudo scholars; after living their entire lives in the dark in this world, and they suddenly come out to the light of the truth in the Final Hour. How will their eyes adjust to the sudden light?  Indeed they will go blind.  They relied on themselves for knowledge beyond their human capability, ignoring the light of guidance leading them to it—the light in the revelation, the Qur’an. If only they accepted and approached the light, walked through it gradually and gave their eyes time to adjust they would have found themselves in unison with the rest of the Universe—praising Allah (SWT).

In our own quests for knowledge beyond our human faculties, this verse ought to cause us to pause and re-assess.  Who are our guides? Are they Allah’s (SWT) book and the Sunnah of the Prophet (saw) and those who adhere to them? When we are lost out on the street, do we simply take the hand of anyone who offers to guide us? If the answer is no, then similarly why surrender our mind to anyone when it comes to our religion. Do we not aspire for heavenly advice that in earnest is “off the hook”—I am using it in original sense used by Frederick Douglass, i.e. liberating. Just so we are “off the hook” when we meet our Lord (SWT)!  We ought to be worried whether or not, in our quest for knowledge, we are “pleasing Allah.” That should be our number one worry in our quest for knowledge in life. And we ought to know that there are those who are “going down” and they want to pull us down with them.

Yet, the All-Merciful still addresses those in doubt,

“O mankind, if you are in doubt about the resurrection, We created you from dust, then from sperm, then from a blood clot, then from a morsel, formed and unformed, to make it plain to you. And We plant in the wombs whatever We desire, for a stated term, Then We bring forth, a child, and then to reach full maturity. Some of you die, some are held over to the most degrading old age, So that, once having known, he comes to know noting. And you will see the earth lifeless, but when We send down the rain upon it, it vibrates, and doubles its yield, and comes out in plants, of every kind, a joy to behold. This is so because Allah is the Truth.” (22:5)

How many people today on a quest to find their origins pay money to genealogists? They say that their peace of mind and sense of direction in life depends on it. Allah (SWT) offers it for free, and goes further than any modern genealogists dares to go.  Allah (SWT) takes us back to our very beginning, when it was just us and Allah (SWT).  Our father Adam (as) was literally created from soil and so were we his descendents. We are literally made of soil, live on it, and are nurtured from it. So, go and grab yourself a handful of soil and know with certainty that that is indeed your beginning.

Then Allah (SWT) tells you about the early stages of your development—scientifically called embryology, a science just recently discovered in the 20th century. Science tends to talk about this stage mechanically—but it is the prime example of Allah’s Mercy when none could claim any involvement in providing for you. We all witnessed it even though we don’t remember, and Allah (SWT) reminds us of it. We were a little drop of water that took its journey down the fallopian tube, and then buried ourselves into the wall of the uterus and hung there for dear life. Who knew that we even existed then? None but Allah! That first gush of blood to the uterus was Allah (SWT) saying, “Welcome dear creation of Allah.” Some of us came to term and some of us didn’t yet, in the eyes of the believer, faith that Allah (SWT) is indeed the All-Merciful places both cases in a positive light. As for our date of arrival into this world, modern science and technology can attempt to “pretty accurately determine it” but the final say is Allah’s (SWT). Allah (SWT) continues that some die young, while others mature and continue to the most abject time of life—old age. These are facts of life, “. . . This is so because Allah is the Truth.” (22:5) Can modern science and technology change this fixed process? Can they find a cure for death? Can modern science and technology concerned with anti-aging methods and concoctions stop the aging process? Time and time again the helplessness of our human abilities are apparent, yet many refuse to see.  We can only ask Allah (SWT) that if we were to reach the abject stage of old age, that Allah (SWT) preserve our minds. It has been proven through example that memorizing and studying the book of Allah (SWT) preserves the mind in old ago. So, remember to use your brain cells well in your youth, so they serve you well in old age.

Then Allah (SWT) gives another live example of Allah’s (SWT) ability to resurrect the dead, “And you will see the earth lifeless, but when We send down the rain upon it, it vibrates, and doubles its yield, and comes out in plants, of every kind, a joy to behold.” (22:5) Today modern technology, intentionally or unintentionally, has confirmed that “. . . Allah is the Truth” (22:5) so watch this video and see for yourself as a dead seed comes to life once again. Likewise, I hope that our hearts have come to life when we sincerely seek to understand the words of Allah (SWT).

Will have the next verses that we talked about posted soon insha Allah. . .

 

On Completion of Surat Al Anbiyaa (Chapter 21) September 21, 2010

Filed under: Reflections on "attended" halaqat — lamyaalmas @ 10:53 pm

Inspired by Sister Raghad’s interpretation of verses 97-112

We completed the interpretation of Surat Al Anbiyaa and came to the realization that this surah is indeed a summary of the beginning and the end of our lives. Allah (SWT) the most powerful of writers, draws our attention at the onset of the Surah by describing the state of humankind—us included of course—in the face of the grave journey ahead of them:

“As the reckoning of humankind draws near, they turn their backs to it in heedlessness. There never comes to them a new reminder but that they listen to it while they are engrossed in play, their hearts preoccupied and distracted.” (21:1-3)

Each of us has a “departure date and time” on our tickets out of this “life” and the verse creates a sense of anxiety as that date and times creeps up on us. The anxieties that are precursors to a journey within the confines of this world are minuscule compared to the final journey of our life. So, right away we are drawn into this surah, by a reminder of our real “journey of a lifetime.” We are hooked from the very first verse of this chapter.

The closing verses of the Surah revisit the beginning verse but in an entirely different way—did I not mention that Allah (SWT) is the best of the writers. Nowadays, we are in awe of methods of the telling of events in books and movies—but by all standards Allah (SWT) is above all  in this respect as well. This time He (SWT) presents us with a mental picture of the end of the” journey of a lifetime” for those whom Allah (SWT) described as heedless at the very beginning. They have reached their “final destination.” Here are their initial sentiments:

“And as the true promise of the Day of Resurrection is fulfilled, then you shall see the eyes of the disbelievers fixedly staring in horror. They will say, “Woe to us! We were indeed heedless of this. We were indeed the wrong-doers.” (21:97)

On reaching their final destination they absorb their new surroundings—the Hellfire. Their glassy eyes  fixedly stare in horror. So unlike their jaw dropping and awe-striken gazes in this world. The breath-takings gasps at the sights and sounds, are now exchanged  with self reproach.  They will personally declare themselves “Losers” with an outstretched thumb and forefinger on their foreheads spelling the letter “L.” A fitting  price for their heedlessness, for their hearts and minds being preoccupied with things other than their final destination–their return to the Creator (SWT). Of course, there is no doubt that we will all witness moments of heedlessness of the fact that we will return to Allah (SWT) for either reproach or praise, but the question is: for how long will we place preparation for the most crucial moment in our life’s journey in the back of our mind? On the back burner? On the top shelf behind scores of books? Or in a small box in the farthest corner up in the attic? In earnest, for how long are we going to push it  further down on our list of things to do? For how long are we going to continue to commit this utter injustice to ourselves? Why don’t we reproach ourselves and return to Allah (SWT) today rather than tomorrow before it is too late? Every single one of us should have a “regretful self” that pulls the reins on us when we stray—a self that is constantly nagging us and reminding us of Allah (SWT) and our final return to Him (SWT). That reminds us of the final journey to the moment of truth.We will all develop a certain degree of “heedlessness” it is human, but our trips back to Allah (SWT) for repentance should be quick. For there are those who are heedless for a month, week, or day, but there are those who are heedless for merely hours, minutes or even seconds. You want to aspire to the latter, and you should be able to achieve it the closer you become to Allah (SWT).

To these losers beyond return, Allah (SWT) the All Merciful and Compassionate responds unsympathetically:

“Certainly, you, along with what you have worshipped besides Allâh, are fuel for Hell! Surely, you will enter it. Had these idols been gods, they would not have entered it. They will all abide therein. Therein they will be breathing out deep sighs and roaring in torment, and therein they will hear not.” (21:98-99)

Allah (SWT) has decreed  their “final” place of arrival and settlement/residence  is the city of “hellfire.” There is plenty of room therein for both them and their idols. They are likened to “hasab” which are literally “pieces of wood thrown in to sustain a roaring fire.”  And indeed both they and their idols provide the fuel to sustain their own  lives in their  abode of Hell. In other words, their injustice to themselves make their eternal world in the hellfire go round.  Note, this does not include the prophets (as), angels (as), and righteous who were taken as idols besides Allah (SWT)–but rather the idols made out of wood, metal, ivory and other material.

Then we hear them in the Hellfire. We hear their deep sighs of sadness and regret at the heedlessness of the certainty of this day. We hear them “roaring” with the pain of the physical and psychological torment. So absorbed are they in their own state of loss that they are oblivious to anything beyond it—they hear nothing but their own sighs and cries of  regret and pain. Their sadness engulfs them, as did their heedlessness in this world.

In our books, this incident is one of the future but in Allah’s (SWT) it is of such certainty that it is a thing of the past. Indeed, who can give us a certain promise of the detailed events of the Hereafter except Allah (SWT)? Who has the right to talk about this part of the history of life? Indeed, no one but He (SWT). Although Allah (SWT) has provided us with a rundown of the events to come, we have not delved into the words of Allah (SWT) to internalize and boost our own certainty of the journey ahead of us prepare ourselves to the best of ability. Let not our case with Allah (SWT) be like that of this story:

A father  travels abroad and writes back caringly to his family. Yet when he comes back he neither finds his family nor home –the former was destroyed and the latter sold. After investigation he finds out that his letters of guidance, counsel, and advice were never opened.

Let not the words  of Allah (SWT) be more than words preserved in ink confined to pages imprisoned between two hard covers. If we are lost, it is not because He (SWT) misguided us, but we chose not to be guided. If we did not hear, it was because we chose not to listen. If we are lost, then it is because we chose not to follow.

Then Allah (SWT) the Merciful pacifies hearts that have trembled at the terror of these events:

“Verily those for whom the good has preceded from Us, they will be removed far there from. They shall not hear the slightest sound of it, while they abide in that which they desire. The greatest terror (on the Day of Resurrection) will not grieve them, and the angels will meet them: “This is your Day which you were promised.” (21:101-103)

This verse is a smile-in-the- making tugging at the corners of a believer’s lips. The goodness of the believers’ hearts fueled their good deeds in this world, and will in turn fuel their life in their final abode. In the Herafter, these believers are obviously saved from the fate of the heedless. So secure. Their hearing is sheltered from even the slightest sound of the hellfire (Arabic “hasees”)—yes fire has a sound listen. Their emotions are sheltered from the terror of that day–and the word for “terror” in the Qur’an is “Faz’a” which is a state of fear that is sudden and so intense that one fears for ones life, and is likely to cause unconscious or even loss of sanity.  In comparison, the terrors of this world are transient and experienced by a select few–such as the ones we witness on TV in news reports of wars breaking out,  mothers widowed, children orphaned, deserted and even killed, homes destroyed, and many slaughtered and massacred. But the terror of the Hereafter ALL will witness except those Allah (SWT) the Merciful  has decreed them “exempt from terror.”

The angels will receive them and welcome saying “this is your big day”—the happiest moment in your life. The happiest moment in your entire life is not the day you got married, or had your first child these and many more of this word are all transient. Rather  it is the day you are met with this greeting from the angels and you are shown into your final abode—Paradise.  And when you enter, there is not even the slightest sense of anxiety one normally witnesses on arriving at a new destination. No getting lost before settling in. You know the address to your palace in Paradise like the back of your hand. You head home. Your worries in the world that were of the Hereafter are laid to rest forever. And you will achieve and continue to achieve in it, “that which they [you] desire.” In this world,  luxuries are fulfilled at least through articulation or the simple push of button, but in Paradise they take on a new level.  “Desire” it and it is yours—you don’t have to take the trouble of asking or pushing a button, just desire it and it appears in front of you.

Such are the two final destinations for the two kinds of passenger on the journey of life, and with that Allah (SWT) flips the final page on the book of this life. Like a teacher who closes the book at the completion of the curriculum. And with that He (SWT) , “. . . roll[s] up the sky like a scroll rolls up books, As We began the first creation, We shall renew it, (it is) a promise binding upon Us. Truly, We shall do it.” (21:104) (For a detailed account of this either read Qur’an: prior to science and civilization by Mlivo Mustafa , particularly “The Big Crunch” (p.59) and “The Contraction and Time Reversal” (p.60). Or I would highly recommend you listen to Dr. Zaghloul Al Najjar on this matter here). But in brief,  here is the history of the earth as non-Muslim scientists have mapped it unaware of Allah’s (SWT) statement in the Qur’an, “As We began the first creation, We shall renew it, (it is) a promise binding upon Us. Truly, We shall do it” (21:104)

“The universe starts with a Big Bang, expands to a maximum dimension, then recontracts and collapses (to the Big Crunch); no more awe-inspiring prediction was ever made.” Quotation from Charles W. Misner, Kip S. Thorne and John A. Wheeler in “Gravitation”, W. H. Freeman, San Francisco, 1973, page 1196.

Scientists today are theorizing that the world will come to an end. Life as we know it will cease to exist. But Allah (SWT) the Creator of the universe confirmed this with certainty and not hypothetically or theoretically 1400 years ago.  So, do you believe Allah (SWT)? If you do, then know that evidence of belief is manifested in ones actions—so your life should  attest to this certainty from Allah (SWT).

Then Allah (SWT) says:

“And indeed We have written in Az-Zabûr [i.e. all the revealed Holy Books – the Taurât (Torah), the Injeel (Gospel), the Psalms, the Qur’ân] after (We have already written in) Al-Lauh Al-Mahfûz (the Book, that is in the heaven with Allâh), that My righteous slaves shall inherit the land (i.e. the land of Paradise). Verily, in this Qur’ân there is a plain Message for people who worship Allâh.” (21:106)

Allah (SWT) reiterates in this Qur’an His (SWT), as he did in previous books, His (SWT) one and only master plan for the purpose of life and that is so that: “. . . My righteous slaves shall inherit the land” (21:106) It never was top secret. It was not hidden behind closed doors. It was revealed to humankind in all the books that were ever revealed to them. It had no expiration date. The big question is: what land will the righteous inherit? Is it the earth? Or is it Paradise? We don’t know for sure! But we know that on this earth as in the Hereafter, Allah (SWT) establishes the believers. Being on the pure faith in this world—i.e. of balancing between the material and spiritual  to generate contingent ideas more meaningful to our times– is essential for temporary as well as eternal establishment. Material establishment alone is transient. Faithless civilizations decline with the decline of their man-made morals—morals that go against those encoded in our “fitra” or “natural original state we were created by Allah.” Their morals metamorphose ever so often to accommodate human desires. This abandonment leads to a vacuum that eventually engulfs these civilizations into oblivion–into a point beyond return.

Then Allah (SWT) addresses Prophet Muhammad (saw):

“And We have sent you O’ Muhammad  (saw) but as a mercy for the universe. So, say O’ Muhammad (saw): “I am only one upon whom revelation descends. Your God is but One God. Will you submit to Him?” (21:107-108)

The Prophet of Islam (saw) is characterized by Allah (SWT) as “Mercy for the universe” and indeed he (saw) was to the whole universe.  A study of his (saw) Seerah (biography) attests to a heart that accommodated everyone and everything in the universe. He was the first to call for kindness for animals, before any Animal Welfare Act. It was Narrated by Abdul Rahman bin Abdullah bin Mas’ud , “We were on a journey with the Messenger of Allah, and he left us for a while. During his absence, on seeing bird we took its young ones. The mother bird circled above us in the air, beating its wings in grief. When the Prophet came back he said: ‘Who has hurt the feelings of this bird by taking its young? Return them to her.’” (Muslim) In another narration, Aishah (raa) narrates: “I was riding a restive camel and turned it rather roughly. The Prophet(s) said to me: ‘does it behoove you to treat the animals gently’. (Muslim) It was also narrated by Yahya bin Said,” The Prophet(s) was seen wiping the face of his horse with his gown. When asked why he was doing that, he replied: ‘Last night I had a reprimand from Allah regarding my horse for having neglected him’” (Al-Muwatta) He consoled wood as narrated by Ibn ‘Umar (raa), that the Prophet (saw ) used to deliver his sermon while leaning against a trunk of a date-palm tree. When he (saw) had the pulpit made and used it instead, the trunk started crying and the Prophet (saw) went to it, rubbing his (blessed) hand over it (to stop its crying). (Sahih Al-Bukhari) He was the first to call for conserving nature: “Even when the world is coming to an end, if anyone has a palm-shoot in his hand, he should plant it.” (Musnad Ahmad) His heart accommodated those who lived during his time, and his ummah after him (saw):

“Abu Hurayra reported that the Messenger of Allah (saw) came to a graveyard and said, ‘Peace be upon you, abode of a believing people. Allah willing, we will join you. I wish that we could see our brothers.’ They [the companions] said, ‘Are we not your brothers, Messenger of Allah?’ He said, ‘You are my Companions. My brothers are those who have not yet come.’ They said, ‘How can you know someone of your community who has not yet come, Messenger of Allah?’ . . . ‘” (Muslim)

For  a lecture by Bilal Assad on the Prophet’s mercy, click here. And as Surat Al-Anbiyaa points out, the religion conveyed through the Messenger of Allah (saw) is a mercy to humankind. It brought them from darkness to light, from the tightness and limitation of this world to the vastness of the universe and what is beyond it. It allowed them to achieve a balance within themselves, as opposed to perturbation. Achievable only when they draw the circle of their lives with Allah (SWT) as its center.

And to those who turn away from Prophet Muhammad (saw) and his news flash Allah (SWT) orders him to say, “If they turn away say,’I delivered the message to all alike. I know not if what you you are promised is near or far. Say [O’ Muhammad (saw)] Verily, He (Allâh) knows that which is spoken aloud (openly) and that which you conceal. I know not whether this is a temptation set before you, Or else enjoyment for a little while.’”  (21:109-111)

“Mission accomplished,” the Prophet of Allah (saw) delivered the message for all to hear regardless of their race, color, or creed. It is a universal message, one that all of humankind can relate to and feel at home with. As for the question as to when the Hour of truth is, neither the Prophet (saw) nor the very angel Israfeel know (Israfeel is the blower of the horn signifying the onset of the Hour, and our Prophet (saw) says that he has raised the horn to his lips and pricked his ears in wait for the final order from Allah (SWT)). Then the Prophet (saw) reminds and warns those who turn away, that Allah (SWT) hates hypocrisy in faith—where ones appearance tells one story but their heart tells another. This state of affair of their hearts is in Allah’s full view (SWT). Then the Prophet (saw) claims no knowledge of the events that befall humankind in this world—whether calamities are tests to show ones true mettle or whether enjoyment is temporary before final subjugation to eternal torment. The certainty of it all is in Allah’s knowledge alone. And in the face of opposition, the Prophet (saw) is advised by Allah (SWT) to say, “My Lord, judge with the Truth. Our Lord, the All-Merciful, is our source of help against what you [disbelievers] recount.” (25:112)

 

Expose yourself to the elements of the Night of Power so that you may receive its light August 29, 2010

Filed under: Ramadhan Corner,Reflections on "attended" halaqat — lamyaalmas @ 6:54 pm

Inspired by Sister Raghad’s Halaqa this past Wednesday the 25th of August, 2010 . . .

We are approaching the Night of Power! It is called the Night of Power because whoever is exposed to it is “powered” spiritually. What’s the “spiritual voltage” of this night?  It’s worth more than a thousand months of continuous worship. It is the only condensed power-packed night of the year. No doubt because it was the night the Qur’an was first revealed to Prophet Muhammad (saw), a time of the beginning of the guidance of humanity. The beginning of an Ummah guided through a blessed revelation of guidance. And for us, it certainly can be a new beginning with Allah (SWT). For the possibility of you being released from the hellfire (Jahanam) and becoming one of the residents of Paradise (Jannah) is high on that particular night. And guess what, if you are released once then you  are NEVER held captive of the hellfire again—so give it your all. Imagine you become a living releasee from the hellfire, and a resident of Paradise walking on the face of this earth. You can possibly return to the state of a newborn child with a zero balance of sins. You can possibly be granted a book with empty pages—clean slate—and you can determine for the year ahead what you would like to fill those empty pages with. So make a sincere intention today to fill them up solely with actions that please Allah (SWT).

Some other translations of the name for this night is “Night of Determination” or “Night of Destiny” and rightly so. In this night, your upcoming life in this world and the hereafter are determined based on your actions on that particular night and their acceptance by Allah (SWT), and then destined and finally sealed with red wax forever: “By the Manifest Book! We sent it down on a blessed night—For We (ever) wish to warn (against Evil).  During that night all matters are wisely apportioned, By Command, from Our presence. For We send Revelations as Mercy from your Lord, for He hears and knows (all things)!” (44:1-6) It is a night in which you will either be honored or humiliated in this world and the Hereafter, O Allah grant us the former. Let’s hope that after Ramadhan we are transformed and unrecognizable from the year before–the Qur’an becomes our best of companions, daily sadaqa is a necessity like food and drink, prayer becomes the coolness of our eyes,  visiting the ill and elderly is a joy rather than a bore and chore.

The Night of Power is an open market of hasanaat with unbelievable sales. One night of Umrah (smaller pilgrimage) on that day is worth over 83 years worth of rewards of continuous Haj (pilgrimage),   a Sadaqa (charity) is worth 83 years worth of rewards of continuously paying Zakat and the list can go on. For remember, voluntary acts of worship in Ramadhan receive the same rewards as obligatory ones, and on the Night of power they are to the power of “over 83 years”! Don’t waste your time doing the math for no worldly numbers can accommodate the rewards you can reap on that one night. How many of us will live to be over 80? And even if we do, how many of us can in earnest say that we are worshipping Allah (SWT) day in and day out, and will leave this world with a favorable record of our exact age at death? NONE!!! So this is your chance. Don’t delay. No one goes shopping after the sales are over, that would be absurd. Just like the earth has its seasons, similarly believers have seasons that they can attain the nearness to Allah (SWT) whether it is a specific time, day/s, and nights. And this Night of Power is the most suitable night to attain nearness of Allah (SWT) so that He (SWT) can hand you your share of spiritual energy and sustenance for the journey of the year ahead, and the final destination in the Hereafter. So expose yourself to its elements of mercy, peace, blessing, grace, favors. Race to compete for the maximum number of hasanaat so as to raise the temperature of your faith, in the hopes of launching your upcoming campaigns (SWT) for the sake of Allah after Ramadhan.

When exactly is the Night of Power? Many believe they have it figured out and claim it’s on the night of the 27th of Ramadhan. Those you will see camped out at the local Masajed solely on that night. Where’s the charm, if we already know when it is? We can just target that one day and give ourselves a huge pat on the back afterwards. The Prophet (saw) was searching for it himself:

Abu Salama reported that: “Once I went to Abu- Sa’id Al-Khudri and asked him, “Won’t you come with us to the date-palm trees to have a talk?” So Abu Said went out and I asked him, “Tell me what you heard from the Prophet about the Night of Qadr.” Abu Sa’id replied, “Once Allah’s Apostle performed I’tikaf (seclusion) on the first ten days of the month of Ramadan and we did the same with him. Jibreel (as) came to him and said, ‘The night you are looking for is ahead of you.’ So the Prophet performed the I’tikaf in the middle (second) ten days of the month of Ramadan and we too performed I’tikaf with him. Jibreel (as) came to him and said, ‘The night which you are looking for is ahead of you.’ In the morning of the 20th of Ramadan the Prophet delivered a sermon saying, ‘Whoever has performed I’tikaf with me should continue it. I have been shown the Night of “Qadr”, but have forgotten its date (or I was caused to forget it), but it is in the odd nights of the last ten nights. I saw in my dream that I was prostrating in mud and water.’ In those days the roof of the mosque was made of branches of date-palm trees. At that time the sky was clear and no cloud was visible, but suddenly a cloud came and it rained. The Prophet led us in the prayer and I saw the traces of mud on the forehead and on the nose of Allah’s Apostle. So it was the confirmation of that dream.”” (Bukhari)

So, make sure you witness every night without fail—in such a way that if attendance were being taken every night you have a check mark by your name. It suffices you to know that the Prophet of Allah (saw) did this, it was his (saw) Sunnah to observe the whole of the last ten nights: Ayesha (RA) said, “When the (last) ten nights began, the Messenger of Allah (saw)) would tighten his waist-wrapper (i.e., strive hard in worship or refrain from intimacy with his wives), stay awake at night and wake his family.” (Bukhari and Muslim) We are definitely in need of more hasanaat than the noblest of men who tread this earth, so don’t drag your feet. Take it in stride!

Who is deprived of the blessings and rewards of the Night of Power is truly DEPRIVED.

Prophet Muhammad (saw) is reported to have said, “Verily this month has come to you; and therein is a night which is better than a thousand Months. Whosoever is deprived of it, is deprived of all good; and none is deprived of its good except a totally unfortunate person.” (Ibn Majah)

Remember the angels will be descending to the earth on this night:

“Therein descend the angels and the Rûh [Jibril (Gabriel)] by Allah’s Permission with all Decrees, (All that night), there is Peace (and Goodness from Allah to His believing slaves) until the appearance of dawn” (97:4-6).

The best of angels and Jibreel (as) shouldn’t find you fast asleep snoring your head off, but up and ready to receive the peace and blessings that they bring with them from the heavens.  Jibreel (as) will be beside himself with joy to see you holding the Qur’an in your hand, reciting it as he (as) revealed it to the Prophet (saw) over 1400 years ago, contemplating its meanings, and determining to take firm hold of it in the year ahead. He (as) will rest assured that the Ummah is lucky to have a Muslim like you in their midst, and he and the rest of the angels will pray for you and will provide their Lord (SWT) in the heavens with the best of accounts of you. Insha Allah. So, please don’t snore the last ten nights of Ramadhan away. Say your heartfelt goodbyes to sleep for just these ten days of the year!

Yeah, I know you get it by now. So, what should we do during these upcoming ten night of Ramadhan. Here are some recommendations:

1) Be in the mood for a lot of sujood: The Prophet (saw) enjoined staying up and praying on Laylat al-Qadr out of faith and in the hope of reward. It was narrated from Abu Hurayrah (raa) that the Prophet (saw) said: “Whoever stays up and prays on Laylat al-Qadr out of faith and in the hope of reward, his previous sins will be forgiven.”(Bukhari) So, spend your nights in prayers with long ruku’u and sujood, and recitation of long surahs. Feel at home in Salaat, you should because you are in the presence of your Lord (SWT). Don’t miss out the voluntary prayers after or before the obligatory ones—in other words, build your palace in Paradise and choose your neighbors from now. Who would be betters eternal neighbors than the Prophet (saw) and his companions: Abu Bakr, Umar, Othman, and Ali (raa).

2) Pack your bags: Go for a retreat to Allah–“I’tikaf– in the Masjed for the last ten days or a couple of days. Abu Huraira (raa) reported that: “The Prophet used to perform Itikaf every year in the month of Ramadan for ten days, and when it was the year of his death, he stayed in Itikaf for twenty days.” (Bukhari)

3) You and the Qur’an should be inseparable: Remember it is the month of the Qur’an. Ibn ‘Abbas narrates “. . .  Jibril would come to the Prophet (saw) every night to rehearse the Qur’an with him.” (Bukhari) So here are some suggestions: study the Qur’an; come together  with your family and friends for this purpose; check your memory and knowledge of the Qur’an with someone who has preserved it better; increase recitation of the Qur’an especially during the night when you are less preoccupied and can better concentrate. Make the sincere intention to maintain strong relations with the Qur’an after Ramadhan. Neglecting of the Qur’an is of different levels, as Ibn al-Qayyim writes: not reciting or listening to it; not studying and understanding it; not conveying its message; not judging by it in personal and communal matters, at all levels of society; not believing in it.

4) A special Dua for a special kind of forgiveness: I love Ayesha (raa) she asks the right questions. It was narrated by Ayesha: “I asked: O Messenger of Allah! Tell me if I were to witness the Night of Power, what should I recite therein?” The Holy Prophet Muhammad advised me to recite: “Allaahumma inna-ka ‘afoowwan tuhibbul ‘afwa fa, afu ‘ana” (O Allah! You are Forgiving, You love forgiveness, please have forgiveness for me)”(Bukhari). “Afu” means your sins are completely erased—clean slate—to such a degree that you yourself forget them, as do the angels who recorded them, and guess what your sins won’t haunt you on the Day of Reckoning.

5) Knock at Allah’s (SWT) door: Cry and plead at Allah’s doors asking for Him (SWT) to accept you and release you and make you exempt from the hellfire. Don’t despair, knock and knock and knock. He (SWT) likes those who are persistent.

For more ideas on what to do during these upcoming ten nights, please visit this site.

Let’s turn our backs to worldly matters! For goodness sake don’t use the last ten days to do your Eid shopping, or make Eid cookies, or prepare your home for your Eid guests. Don’t worry, if I visit you I’ll turn a blind eye :). With all sincerity turn your attention to Allah (SWT), so that you may be worthy of receiving the light of this upcoming blessed Night of Power.

 

“Has there come to you the story of Moses?” (20:9) August 28, 2010

Filed under: Reflections on "attended" halaqat — lamyaalmas @ 11:09 pm

Storytelling reminds us of magical moments around grandparents. Or maybe  tender moments between a mother and child, with the child’s  eyelids drooping as its mothers voice lulls it to sleep. Key phrases such as, “Once upon a time there was . . . “ or  “Did I tell you the story of . . . .” unlocks hearts ANYWHERE no matter what your age, gender, or culture. There is no doubt that from an early age we are fond of those who tell us stories. Indeed for many of us, it is still the quickest way to unlock our hearts.

Similarly Allah (SWT) entertains his prophets (as) with the best of stories. In Surat Taha,  He (SWT) narrates the story of Moses (as) to Muhmmad (saw), saying, “Has there come to you the story of Moses?”(20:9) We along with our beloved Prophet (saw) are wide-eyed and eager to hear the story of Prophet Moses (as) through the best of story tellers,  straight from Allah (SWT). And these stories are nothing like what humans concoct. No.  Allah’s (SWT) stories are true and perfect, for Allah (SWT) in Surat Yusuf says:

“We narrate to you the fairest of narratives, through what We revealed to you–this Qur’an. And yet before it you were heedless.” (12:4)

I can’t remember how many times I’ve gazed at my baby pictures, and asked my parents to tell me the story of my baby-hood. The details of a part of my life that my memory fails to recall. I enjoyed the gentleness that overcame my mother’s face, and the smile that tugged at the corners of my fathers lips . A picture perfect moment, when mine and my parents eyes would remain locked in time. Now imagine Moses (as) hearing of his baby-hood from Allah (SWT) the Lord of the Worlds, in which Allah (SWT) expresses his love for Moses (as) from the very beginning:

“We had favored you once before; Remember when We revealed to your mother what was revealed; Throw him into a basket and fling him into the river, And let the river deliver him to the bank, Where an enemy of Mine and his will pick him up. I have cast upon you a love from Me, and you shall be brought up under My caring eye. That was when your sister went about saying: ‘Shall I point out to one who will take charge of him?’ We then returned you to your mother so that she may be of good cheer and not sorrow.” (20:36-43)

I look forward to meeting Allah (SWT) so that He (SWT) may relate to me the story of my temporary residence in my mother’s womb, when it was He (SWT) who took it upon Himself to sustain my existence at the most critical time of my life. What a glorious moment that will be?