Strange in Ramadhan?

July 18, 2012 § 2 Comments


Not strange, if we do more zikir in Ramadhan

Not strange, if we read the Qur’an more in Ramadhan

Not strange, if we rarely miss the Fajr solah in Ramadhan

Not strange, if we are more patient (Sabr) in Ramadhan

Not strange, if we are more kind in Ramadhan

Not strange, if we frequent the masjids more in Ramadhan

More than in other months, strangely

For it is through the Grace and Blessings of Allah SWT, that is NOT STRANGE.

Roses of Islam: Rabi’a Al-Adawiyah, Part V

June 27, 2012 § 1 Comment


It was told of Rabi`a that she was seen one day carrying a brand of fire in one hand and a pitcher of water in the other, and that she was running very fast. When they asked her what she was doing and where she was going, she said, “I am going to light a fire in the Garden and pour water onto it so that both these veils may disappear from the seekers, and that their purpose may be sure, and that the slaves of Allah may see Him, without any object of hope or motive of fear. What if the Hope for the Garden and the Fear of the Fire did not exist? Not one would worship his Lord, nor obey Him. But He is worthy of worship without any immediate motive or need.

And she said: “ I love You with two loves: A Selfish love and a Love that You are worthy of. As for the selfish love, it is that I think of You, To the exclusion of everything else. And as for the Love that You are worthy of, Ah! That I no longer see any creature, but I see only You! There is no praise for me in either of these loves, But the praise in both is for You.” It was said that Rabi`a was the first person to teach about the necessity for truthfulness and sincerity in the lover’s bondsman-ship to the Beloved Who is Allah. She was one of those referred to as the spies of the heart for she often spoke out clearly against all who claimed to be lovers of Allah, but whose hearts were not always pure in intention and devotion.

This was the case of those who could not unquestioningly surrender to the Will of the Beloved in everything. She said to them, “You rebel against Allah, yet you appear to love Him. I swear by my faith that this is most strange. For if your love were truthful you would have obeyed Him, since the lover obeys the one whom he loves.” So that whenever someone said to her, “Alas, for my sorrow (my sins),” she replied, “Do not lie, but say rather, ‘Alas for my lack of sorrow,’ for if you were truly sorrowful, life would have no delight for you.

One of her companions, Sufyan al-Thawri, asked her, “What is the best thing for the servant to do who desires proximity to his Lord?” She said, “That the servant should possess nothing in this world for the Next, save Him.” Rabi`a, may Allah preserve her secret, never had any doubts about her Beloved being present or absent, because she was not concerned only to have His good pleasure and bounties. She lived for a Love which does not seek for any answer, reward or reciprocity.

O God, if I worship You for fear of Hell, burn me in Hell, And if I worship You in hope of Paradise, Exclude me from Paradise. But if I worship You for Your Own sake, Grudge me not Your everlasting Beauty.
[Rabi’a Al-Adawiyah]

It was related how one day one of her followers said in her presence, “Oh Allah, may You be satisfied with us!” Whereupon Rabi`a said, “Are you not ashamed before Him to ask Him to be satisfied with you, when you are not satisfied with Him?” By this she meant that first we must be truly satisfied with Allah, Most High, before we can ask Him to be satisfied with us. Then this was followed by the question to her, “When then is the servant satisfied with Allah Most High?” She replied, “When his pleasure in misfortune is equal to his pleasure in prosperity.

Someone asked Rabi`a, “What is Love?” She, may Allah be pleased with her, said, “Love has come from Eternity and passes into eternity, and none has been found in seventy thousand worlds who drinks one drop of it until at last he is absorbed in Allah, and from that comes His words: “He loves them, and they love Him.” (5:59).

Once when she was sick a number of people went to visit her. They asked her, “How are you?” She replied, “By Allah! I know of no reason for my illness except that Paradise was displayed to me and I yearned after it in my heart; and I thank that my Lord was jealous for me and so He reproached me; and only He can make me happy again.” She said: “O God, whatsoever You have apportioned to me of worldly things, Give that to Your enemies, And what You have apportioned to me in the Hereafter, Give that to Your Friends, For You suffice me.

When Rabi`a was urged to speak, her words perfectly manifested her love, her belief and her faith, for she was so totally immersed in her Lord that she became a shining Light which attracted many people to her presence to drink from the same Spring from which she drank. She said, “If I will a thing and my Lord does not will it, I shall be guilty of unbelief.” So that her faith came from her total surrender to her Beloved God, as she said, “I have fled from the world and all that is in it. My prayer is for Union with You; that is the goal of my desire.” Then, since she always attributed her illnesses and misfortunes to the Will of her Beloved God, how could she oppose Him in trying to rid herself of them? Once she was heard to say, “If You had not set me apart by affliction, I would not have increased Your lovers.”

Continue… Part VI
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A Beautiful Poem… Made Imam Ahmad (RA) Cry

June 24, 2012 § Leave a comment


A beautiful and touching poem that made the respected scholar Imam Ahmad cry upon hearing it.

If my Lord asks me ‘Have you shyness in disobeying me? You conceal your sins from my creation – and with sins you come to me.’
So how will I answer? O woe to me – and who shall protect me?
I keep averting my soul with thoughts of hope – from time to time.
And I forget what is to come after death – and what is to come after I am shrouded.

As if I am guaranteed life (eternally) – and that death will not come to me.
And when the severe stupor of death overtakes me – who will protect me?
I looked at the faces, is there not from amongst them who will ransom me?
I will be asked regarding what I’ve prepared in my life to save me (on the Day of Judgement). Then how will I answer – after I’ve neglected my religion.

Woe to me! Did I not hear the Speech of Allah inviting me?
Did I not hear what came in (the chapters of) Qaaf and Yaa Seen?
Did I not hear about the Day of Gathering, the Day of Assemble and the Day of Judgment?
Did I not hear the crier of death inviting me, calling me?

So O’ my Lord, a slave (turning to you) I have repented – so who then shall shelter me?
Except a Lord extensive in forgiveness – to the truth He will guide me.
I have come to you (in repentance) – so have mercy on me, and make heavy my scales (with good deeds).
And lighten my account – You are the best of who will bring me to account.

It surely brought tears to my eyes too!

Beauty & Body Image

June 14, 2012 § Leave a comment


According to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, Americans spent nearly $10 billion on over 9 million cosmetic procedures in 2011. The latter represents a whopping 197% increase in the total number of procedures performed in 2007.1 Some of the reasons cited for these alterations were to correct abnormalities, but most were for purely cosmetic reasons.

While the beauty, fashion and entertainment industries make big bucks on selling the newest standards of beauty and physical appeal, we as a society are becoming increasingly dissatisfied with our appearances. We are feeling more self-conscious, more deficient and even less beautiful. Why?

Because we’re being told—implicitly or explicitly— that we are not enough. We’re not good enough, thin enough, or attractive enough; that our skin does not look young or light enough. We are always broken, blemished, or scarred, and we need fixing. There is always a new standard or method for enhancing everything from our skin, hair, lips and nails, to almost every inch of our body—and it’s impossible to keep up. So many succumb to society’s pressure to conform, and they go to great lengths to surgically alter their bodies, inject foreign objects in them, starve themselves or follow strict diets or exercise programs—all in an effort to look more beautiful and desirable.

As in the other article, Islam encourages outward beauty, cleanliness and beautiful dress. We adorn our bodies with nice clothes and maintain good hygiene because this is what God loves. We also do our best to eat healthy and stay fit because our bodies are a trust from God, and because better health gives us more energy to serve God and society better. These are all admirable efforts, when done moderately. What I am addressing here is how we view the natural physical form of our bodies; what we were born with or what developed over time because of genetic influences.

It is important to remember that God is our Maker—He made you the way you are—your unique color, shape, hair and facial features. In His eyes, you are beautiful—no matter what society says. He says, “Surely, we have created the human being in the finest stature,” (Qur’an, 94:4). He fashioned you in your mother’s womb, brought you into this world knowing nothing, and then beautified your heart and mind with faith, wisdom and intelligence. Even before you were born, He honored you; He created your father, Adam, with His Own Blessed Two Hands, breathed His spirit into him, and made the angels prostrate to him out of respect.

Throughout your life, He showers you with beautiful gifts; He provides you with experiences that inspire you, teach you, and make you feel joy, connectedness and love towards Him and others. He gives you a lifetime to invest in the beauty of the Eternal life with gorgeous homes, companions, flowing rivers, and blessings that you cannot even imagine. Now, who could dare touch your feelings of self-worth after that?

Underneath the superficial layers of different physical features, skin colors and types of dress, all of us have hearts and souls that long and plead for the same deep connection with their Creator. As Ibn Al-Qayyim (may God have mercy on him) says, “Truly, in the heart there is a void that cannot be removed except with the company of God; and in it there is a sadness that cannot be removed except with the happiness of knowing God and being true to Him; and in it there is an emptiness that cannot be filled except with love for Him and turning to Him and always remembering Him; and if a person were given the entire world and what is in it, it would never fill that emptiness.”

So no matter how much we alter and reshape our physical form, it will not fill the void in our hearts that is reserved for God. When we follow our desires and the ever-changing whims of creation, we chain our souls down to the lowly, fleeting life—and away from God. But when we connect our hearts and minds to the Eternally Permanent One, Al-Baqi, our souls are freer to draw closer to Him. Reflect for a moment on this hadith (narration) of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ (peace be upon him): “Prayer is light; charity is a proof, patience is illumination; and the Qur’an is an argument for or against you. Everyone starts his/her day and is a vendor of his/her soul, either freeing it or bringing about its ruin.” [Muslim]

When our souls are liberated, we see Reality for what it really is; that physical beauty fades, and that the beauty and light of our faith, character and actions are what bring us true bliss and deeply satisfying relationships in this life, along with a more permanent relationship with God and eternal bliss and in the Hereafter.

The Prophet Muhammad ﷺ would supplicate, “O Allah, as You have made my appearance beautiful, make my character beautiful,” (Allahumma kama hassanta khalqi fa hassin khuluqi).

That beautiful character is in sincere intentions, in our positive attitude, and in a graceful smile. It’s in showing abundant gratitude and forgiveness, in overlooking people’s faults, in giving generously of your love and time to support others, and in treating people with respect, mercy and gentleness. As Prophet Muhammad ﷺ said, “Gentleness is not in something except that it adorns it, and it is not stripped from something except that it ruins it.” [Muslim]

So, rather than striving to perfect a body that will, one day, end up covered in dirt, how about we turn to what truly matters? Instead of facelift and breast enhancements, perhaps we ought to focus more on uplifting our faith and morality; and instead of dwelling over fat layers and contemplating liposuction, we might want to work on suctioning the arrogance, pride and anger from our hearts; and instead of eyelid surgeries—yes, those exist—we would prosper more if we considered the virtues of lowering our gazes and turning our faces and hearts toward God’s light and guidance. These are the changes that yield the most beautiful, long-lasting effects in this life and the Next.

“So direct your face toward the religion, with pure faith. This is the natural disposition God instilled in mankind—there is no altering God’s creation. This is the upright religion, though most people do not realize it.” (Qur’an, 30:30)

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Memorizing The Qur’an (Becoming A Huffaz)

June 10, 2012 § Leave a comment


A huffaz is someone has memorized the whole Qur’an (30 Juzuk, 114 Surah). Some tried but only a few succeeded. Most of us, at one time or the other, just wish that we are able to become one but we never did make an attempt to it. “Ohh, it will be so difficult” would be one of the excuses, “It must be time-consuming and I just do not have the time” would be another one. Yes, we hear it all the time whenever the subject of becoming a huffaz is being mentioned.

Young boys taking Qur'an lessons from wooden t...

Young boys taking Qur’an lessons from wooden tablets in Mauritania, West Africa. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Did we ever wonder that we could recite the Fatihah so easily, while at the same time doing some other work. It just flows out instinctively without any moment of thought. It has withstood the test of time whereby we do not need to refresh the memory by looking the Qur’an itself. Sure we can quickly memorize a short surah but can we recite it back in a month’s time? Perhaps that’s the key…how could we have done it with Al-Fatihah? Let’s look at this phenomenon and figure out how can we apply it to the whole Qur’an.

Certainly, We have made this (Qur’an) easy in your tongue, in order that they may remember
(Ad-Dukhan, Chapter #44, Verse #58)

And We have indeed made the Qur’an easy to understand and remember; then is there any one who will remember (or receive admonition)? 
(Al-Qamar, Chapter #54, Verse #17)

We have been taught Al-Fatihah since we were kids, repeating them a minimum of 17 times daily, which amounts to more than 450 times in a month!. Is that the key? Repetitions? Kids in Mauritania (north-west of Africa) have been known to repeat 1000 times daily during their memorization of the Qur’an and/or Hadith. Before that, let’s establish some useful numbers. Looking at a typically normal Qur’an, it is divided into 30 Juzuk and each Juzuk is covered in 20 pages. And each page contains 15 rows of ayats.

  • Let’s start small, say we hope to memorize 3 rows of the Qur’an daily. On the 1st day, recite the 3 rows 300 times.(for ease of reference, we will label this “A”)
  • On the 2nd day, get to the next 3 rows and recite them 300 times as well (we will label this “B”). Once completed, recite “A” 150 times.
  • On the 3rd day, get to the next 3 rows and recite them 300 times as well (we will label this “C”). Once completed, recite “B” 150 times and recite “A” 75 times.
  • On the 4th day, get to the next 3 rows and recite them 300 times as well (we will label this “D”). Once completed, recite “C” 150 times and recite “B” 75 times and recite “A” 35 times.
  • On the 5th day, get to the next 3 rows and recite them 300 times as well (we will label this “E”). Once completed, recite “D” 150 times and recite “C” 75 times and recite “B” 35 times and recite “A” 15 times .
  • On the 6th and 7th day (will be Saturday and Sunday if you started on Monday), you will need to reconcile the whole page (yes, it’s a whole page of 15 rows) by repeating each page 100 times daily.

By now, you would have realized that most of it comes almost naturally, albeit a few glitches here and there. Surprised? Feels good?

Effectively, you will be reciting each set of 3-rows for 300 + 150 + 75 + 35 + 15 + 100 + 100 = 775 times!!!

And repeat the following weeks accordingly. You will soon get the hang of it and the process becomes easier as the weeks passed by. You will be tempted to increase the number of rows daily…just DON’T. Get a few Juzuk under your belt and progress in small steps. Once you have completed a Juzuk (in 20 weeks), take the following week by just reciting the Juzuk daily.

Again, let’s re-visit the numbers. The Qur’an contains 30 Juzuk and each Juzuk contains 20 pages. That brings us a total of 600 pages for the whole Qur’an. By sticking to the above program, you will become a Huffaz in 11 years. What? No worries, as you make those small progressions, you will accomplish it in 3-5 years, insyaallah.

Note: Get a standard copy of the Qur’an (mushhaf) and use it throughout your journey. It will breed familiarity.

Work hard, istiqomah (consistency) and make du’a. Allah shall make it easy for us to remember!!!

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