“Allah tumharey naseeb achey karey”


achey naseeb

“Allah tumharey naseeb achey karey!” (May Allah make good your destiny)

Being desi we often receive loving du’aas like these from beloved elderly relatives or friends. Recently when a dear one said these words to me, I couldn’t help but wonder over the actual meaning of the words. I feel we have restricted the meaning of *achey naseeb* (good destiny) to receiving all that a person would desire of worldly bounties – a good life with a good education, a great job, an amazing spouse, cute babies, a luxurious lifestyle, etc. So usually that is precisely what we mean, when we use these words while making du’aa for ourselves or others.

Seldom do we think of associating *achey naseeb* with a life spent in humble obedience to Allah and the strength and will to strive in deeds that would lead to a good life in the Hereafter – An eternal life of peace and delight in eternal Gardens of bliss far from the torturous burning heat of the Hellfire, knowing that our Creator is pleased with us.

Our apathy to look at the bigger picture of wellness in the Hereafter and working for it is quite upsetting. When we don’t possess the finer things in life, we begin to think that we lack the means to be happy – People with a failed marriage, or who have been single, widowed, divorced, remained childless or unable to find their dream job etc. are labeled as *bud-naseeb* (unfortunate). People in our society question them, taunt them and force them to think likewise.

But know, know without a doubt that there is absolutely no way to think that possessing these blessings is what makes one a possessor of *achey naseeb*. Rather, it is the choice of our actions which lead to a good or bad destiny and Allah clearly states this in Surah Al Isra:
“And [for] every person We have imposed his fate [destiny] upon his neck, and We will produce for him on the Day of Resurrection a record which he will encounter spread open.” (17:13)

The blessed ones on that Day, who attain true success and happiness according to Allah, are the ones who get to enter Jannah as a consequence of their righteous actions and who are saved from the torment of Hellfire. Those are the truly fortunate ones – the ones with *bohat achey Naseeb* !! :)

وَأَمَّا ٱلَّذِينَ سُعِدُوا۟ فَفِى ٱلْجَنَّةِ خَـٰلِدِينَ فِيهَا مَا دَامَتِ ٱلسَّمَـٰوَٰتُ وَٱلْأَرْضُ إِلَّا مَا شَآءَ رَبُّكَ ۖعَطَآءً غَيْرَ مَجْذُوذٍ

“And as for those who were [destined to be] prosperous, they will be in Paradise, abiding therein as long as the heavens and the earth endure, except what your Lord should will – a bestowal uninterrupted.” (Surah Hud 11:108)

-Mariam Anwer
#RandomThoughts

Deprivation leads to Du’aa


araf

Allah will keep testing His servants until the sincere believers can be clearly differentiated from the weak ones and the hypocrites. The children of Israel were weak and oppressed waiting for years for the help and mercy of Allah so when Allah drowned Fir’awan and his people to save them, the Children of Israel took the calf as God, forgot Allah and started worshiping it.

It’s clear from this, that whenever Allah deprives someone of something, it is only so that he can come closer to Him by ways of du’a and worship asking Allah to fulfill that need. And Allah finally fulfills that need according to his own timing, his own way, it’s so that the servant can rise in eeman and gratefulness. But then insan gets the name ‘insan’ due to his forgetful nature. So when there’s no longer a need that needs to be fulfilled, he forgets Allah’s favors, disobeys Him and gets involved in Shirk. Reflect over this…and correct your affairs.

-Lessons from Surah Al A’raf

Rainfall: Mercy from the Almighty


rain is mercy

I struggled to make space for the four of us as I spread our prayer mats and took out the dates that I had got on the way to the masjid from my hotel room. It was another calm and tranquil Ramadan evening in the courtyard of Al Masjid Al Haraam in Makkah. Other than the usual shouts and yells of the volunteers distributing snacks for iftar, I could hear people around me beseeching the Almighty in the precious moments just before Maghrib (sunset) Prayer. Taking cue, as I started whispering my du’as (supplications), I felt sudden drops of water on my raised hands. Looking up I noticed unusual dark clouds covering the horizon beyond the beautiful minarets of the masjid before hearing cries of happiness around me as it started drizzling and then suddenly pouring. Being an ardent lover of rain, I was elated but what surprised me most was that very few of the people ran for cover and hardly any left their places of prayer. Most of them just stood up raising their hands high, saying Allahu Akbar (God is Great) in unison and then making their own different du’as while the rain came down in buckets. And when the Adhan (call for prayer) resonated across the whole place, I witnessed a precious scene, where the servants of Almighty broke their fasts with whispers of thanks and du’as while rejoicing over His gift – the gift of rain. I did not notice any irritated face that evening nor a word of complaint when everyone had to pray and prostrate in puddles of rain water. I remember the strange tranquility in the air as the rain poured over us and the imam while leading the Prayer, recited beautiful verses about the blessing of rain.

Allah says: “It is Allah who sends the winds, and they stir the clouds and spread them in the sky however He wills, and He makes them fragments so you see the rain emerge from within them. And when He causes it to fall upon whom He wills of His servants, immediately they rejoice.” (Qur’an 30:48)

As believers, we need to reflect on this great blessing that Allah sends to us. Rain is a great miracle of Allah – a miracle that is often taken for granted and sometimes often detested. Perhaps such people should take a look at the places deprived of rain, where drought has taken the people and other living things into its deadly embrace.

Rain is one of the most important factors for the permanence of life on earth and it plays an essential role for the continuation of activity in a region. It is mentioned in various verses of the Qur’an, where Allah gives substantial information about the formation of rain, its proportion and effects. Rain, as it pours down on us every once in a while, here in Saudi Arabia and ever so often in some other parts of the world, shows us proof of the existence of Allah and reminds us of His Mercy and compassion towards the creation. Allah says: “And it is He who sends down the rain after they [people] had despaired, and spreads His mercy. And He is the Protector, the Praiseworthy.” (Qur’an 42:28)

Very few might know the fact that spending time in the rain was a practice of the Prophet (peace be upon him) and His Companions. Anas narrated: ‘We were with Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) when rain fell upon us. Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) opened up his garment a bit so that the rain could touch his skin. We asked: “O Messenger of Allah, why do you do this?” He (peace be upon him) replied: “Because it has just recently come from its Lord.”’ (Muslim, 898)

The scholars have taken proof from this hadith that it is Sunnah (recommended) to expose your body and clothing to the falling rain. Out of happiness that Allah is sending down his blessing and moreover rejoicing that it is pouring down on us. And the meaning of the phrase (in the hadith): “Because it (the rainfall) has just recently come from its Lord.” is mentioned in the explanation of Sahih Muslim of Imam Nawawi by saying: ‘That the rainfall is a mercy which Allah has just created, therefore use it as a blessing.’

It is narrated by Ibn Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him) that once when the rain fell from the heavens, he told his servant to bring out his mattress and saddle so that the rain may fall on it. Abu Jawzaa’ then asked Ibn Abbas: Why are you doing that, May Allah have mercy on you? Ibn Abbas then said: “Do you not read the book of Allah: “And we have sent down from the heavens water that is blessed” (Qur’an 50:9)…Therefore I would like the blessing to fall (incur) on them.” (From Imaam As Shafii’s book, Al-Umm)

It is narrated by A’ishah (may Allah be pleased with her) that, when it used to rain, the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) used to pray for beneficial rain and say: “O Allah, bring beneficial rain clouds.” (Bukhari)

He (peace be upon him) also used to say: “We are given rain by Allah’s mercy, Allah’s providence, and Allah’s grace.” (Bukhari)

The time of the rain is a time of mercy from Allah so; one should take advantage of this time when Allah is having mercy on His slaves and make lots of du’aa. There are many times and places where du’aa is answered and one of them is when rain falls, as the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Two will not be rejected, Du’aa when the Adhan is being called and at the time of the rain.” (Abu Dawood)

As believers, the closer and more intimate our relationship is with nature, the stronger and certainly healthier an impact such an affiliation can have on our faith and our relationship with the Creator. Allah invites us to look around us and above us, to observe when He sends us His mercy in the form of rain, to reflect and give thanks to Him. So let’s appreciate this great gift of rainfall and use this blessing to turn to Him with sincerity and be of His beloved ones.

-Mariam Anwer

Originally posted in Arab News on the 8th of April 2016

AN rain

Death – A Reminder


 

death

“She is no more…” I kept visualizing the words again and again, felt my heartbeat thundering in my ears while my mind refused to accept the fact – the fact that it was true. She was no more and had passed away to the next world!

She was my close friend, a dear school mate, a loving friendly soul – may Allah forgive her and bless her with the highest levels of Paradise. The news of her death that I had received as a text message two years ago still lies fresh in my mind and my eyes well up every time I remember that night. I think about all her qualifications, her accomplishments in life, her dreams and aims and I wonder about her last thoughts. What had it been, just before she breathed her last. I wonder like always, did she know it would be this sudden?

Death is always a bitter realization, a huge reminder and a recurring scary thought: ‘how long before I am the one lying lifeless being washed, shrouded and buried by others?’  Allah says in His Glorious Book: “Every soul will taste death, and you will only be given your [full] compensation on the Day of Resurrection. So he who is drawn away from the Fire and admitted to Paradise, he indeed is successful. And what is the life of this world except the enjoyment of delusion. (Al Qur’an 3:185)

The skins shiver and the eyes become moist when the beautiful words of Allah sink in. Actually, this is what life is all about. We have been created for a purpose and our time on this earth is limited. Striving and competing to do all that Allah has commanded,  avoiding all that He has forbidden and hastening to Him with our record full of good deeds has to be our major goal in life. All of us, regardless of the religion we follow, know and accept that this life is temporary. It will someday come to an end for us and an end for humanity altogether. But in Islam we are taught to believe in the life after death, the life of the Hereafter, which is eternal. Wise is the one who prepares for the eternal life rather than losing himself in materialistic, worldly desires.

Most of us know but tend to ignore the fact that age, status, nationalities, ambitions, plans and promises all lose color when death stands there glaring at our faces. There certainly are no second chances, no turning back and no last good byes! But how many of us take heed of these frequent heart wrenching, soul shattering reminders that our loved ones leave behind? How many of us prepare for that last moment leaving petty worldly desires aside? How many of us thank the Creator for all the breaths we take, how many of us turn to Him sincerely by submitting to His commands, by taking care of His rights, His servants’ rights, how many fear the sudden end.., the final meeting with Him?

Allah has made it clear in the Qur’an that the experience of the worldly life is almost nothing compared to the Hereafter. The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said: “What is the example of this worldly life in comparison to the Hereafter other than one of you dipping his finger in the sea? Let him contemplate what his finger will come back with.” (Sahih Muslim)

When we dip our finger into the sea, the little bit of water we pull out of it, i.e., the wetness which dries up in a while, is almost nothing compared to the entire sea. In the same way, the temporary life of this world is practically nothing compared to that of the Hereafter. The reality is that the Hereafter is the true life and this world is only a means to prepare us for the eternal life after death. The path we choose to follow in this world and the actions we do determine our fate in the life after death. Allah has told us in the Qur’an about the people who will realize on the Day of Resurrection that the Hereafter is the true life, and they will be filled with remorse because they did not perform many good deeds for their eternal life. Allah says: “He (Man) will say, “Oh, I wish I had sent ahead [some good] for my life.” (Al Qur’an 89:24)

Let’s take a moment and reflect on this verse; do the worldly tests and worries really matter when we know the result of this major test is drawing close? Would we still delay repenting for the sins we think are trivial? Would we still hesitate to turn to the Qur’an, read, recite, learn and practice it as it should be practiced? Would we still hold on to those riyals, dollars and pounds rather than giving them away to those in need or for the spread of our religion? Would we still let our egos stop us from being the first ones to forgive our loved ones’ mistakes and be kind to them for the sake of the Most Merciful?

Ibn Umar said: Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) took me by my shoulder and said: “Be in this life as if you were a stranger or a traveler on a path and If you reach the evening then do not expect to reach the morning, and if you reach the morning then do not expect to reach the evening. Take from your health before your sickness, and from your life before your death.” (Sahih Bukhari)

The death of my beloved friend and of all those dear to me has made me realize that while their time on this earth is over, I still continue to live and breathe; I still have all those opportunities to do good deeds with Ikhlas (sincerity), stay away from sins and draw closer to Allah – the opportunities that they would never get again. While they rest in their graves I continue to live on with my loved ones, continue to have chances of loving them, being kinder and more loyal to them.

This life is too short to carry on worrying about what is and what could have been. No doubt, we will face tests and trials of all sorts until we reach our graves, but let’s make sure that they don’t deter us from our aim to be of the best of believers – the kind of believers who let the tests and reminders make them grow stronger in faith, increase in empathy towards fellow believers and persevere in patience, humble gratitude and submissiveness to the Most High for all that He has blessed them with.

Allah says: “Whatever you have will end, but what Allah has is lasting. And We will surely give those who were patient their reward according to the best of what they used to do. Whoever does righteousness, whether male or female, while he is a believer – We will surely cause him to live a good life, and We will surely give them their reward [in the Hereafter] according to the best of what they used to do.” (Al Qur’an 16:96-97)

 -Written by Mariam Anwer

Originally Published in Arab News in January 2016

Article AN 5

 

Faith that Split the Sea


Allah is with me

At certain instances in his life, a believer might feel like an individual walking in the blinding darkness of an endless tunnel – scared, tired, thirsty, with hardly any hope left in him to find light or a way out. But there’s something in him that always cures and heals his aching soul. It is his faith and trust in His Master that He – the One who has been taking care of Him all this while, is with Him and will never desert him. Whenever a crisis comes his way, he utilizes his faith and good expectations of Allah in order to hold on and be strong in repelling the whispers of shaytan to give up. The Prophet (peace be upon him) related to us in a hadith narrated by Muslim that Allah says: “I am as My servant thinks of Me.” [Sahîh al-Bukhârî (6856) and Sahîh Muslim (4832)]

These good expectations of Allah bring him closer to relief. No matter what worries, concerns, anxiety, distress, apprehension, or calamities touch him he will find extreme peace, contentment, joy, and solutions through the belief that Allah is with him and that He will guide him to everything that is good for him even if it is by making him suffer all that he dislikes.

This is exactly what made the red sea part into two with the command of its Creator, thousands of years ago…to make way for an honorable believer, the servant and prophet of Allah; Musa (peace be upon him) and his followers as they crossed it and made their way to the other end. Prophet Musa’s strong faith in Allah, despite the atrocities that he and his followers faced under the oppressive rule of Pharoah was unshakable. He inspired his people to hold on to belief in Allah, His promises and be patient in tough times. On the command of Allah when he set off to move from the enemy’s land with his followers, he got stuck between pharoah and his army pursuing them and the huge sea before him, it was this relentless belief and trust in the Almighty that He will never forsake his side, which made him proclaim, inspite of all the impossibilities around him:

“Indeed, with me is my Lord; He will guide me.” (Al Quran 26:62)

What he possessed was the kind of faith which did not move mountains rather made the vast sea split in two by the order and might of the Most High, Lord of everything that exists. Allah says: Then We inspired to Musa, “Strike with your staff the sea,” and it parted, and each portion was like a great towering mountain. And We advanced thereto the pursuers. And We saved Musa and those with him, all together. Then We drowned the others. Indeed in that is a sign, but most of them were not to be believers. And indeed, your Lord – He is the Exalted in Might, the Merciful. [Al Qur’an 26:62-68]

Indeed Allah is Great. He keeps testing His servants until the sincere believers are clearly differentiated from the weak ones. He gives His servant what is most beneficial to him with wisdom, kindness and in a loving way, even if they are through ways which he might hate. The servant’s duty is to hold on to his faith in Allah, strive in drawing closer to Him through the blessings or the tests He sends and avoid being of those whom Allah Almighty describes: “And of the people is he who worships Allah on an edge. If he is touched by good, he is reassured by it; but if he is struck by trial, he turns on his face [to the other direction]. He has lost [this] world and the Hereafter. That is what is the manifest loss.” (Al Qur’an, 22:11) Being a servant of Ar Rahman, one must strive not to be of the ones who are happy in worshiping Allah as long as He showers them with blessings and bounties and turn depressed, doubtful and frustrated as soon as Allah tests them with trials and problems.

As a believer one ought to know and understand that Allah calls Himself Al Wahhab and He may gift him with things he did not expect, without asking for anything in return. He is also Al Lateef so He takes care of his worries in a very subtle, loving and gentle manner by putting trials as stepping stones in his way so that his servant’s footsteps reach a destination where he is taken by surprise by His Mercy. These trials may seem as difficult challenges in a believer’s limited vision but they may be His Form of Mercy to His servant to gain more understanding and awareness of Him and ultimately improve his relationship with his Creator. Notice how, Prophet Musa and his followers were oppressed but waited patiently for years for the help and mercy of Allah and when Allah’s help eventually arrived, it was beyond anything they ever imagined – in the form of a miracle, a supernatural phenomenon. Shaikh Abdul Aziz At Tarefe once said: “If Allah intends to grant relief, He opens its door; if it doesn’t have a door, He breaks its wall. For the command of Allah is irreversible.”

It’s clear from this, that whenever Allah deprives someone of something, it is only so that he can come closer to Him by ways of du’a and worship, persistently asking Allah to fulfill that need. And then Allah gives and fulfills that need according to his own timing, his own way it is only so that the servant can rise in faith and gratefulness. Sufyan ath Thawri (May Allah have mercy on him) rightly said: ‘Verily, when Allah withholds, He actually gives, because He did not withhold on account of miserliness or stinginess, but rather He looked at the benefit of the servant. So the fact that He withheld is actually His choice for the servant and His excellent decision.”

-Mariam Anwer

Lessons from Surah Al Kahf


kahf

Musa’s (alayhissalam) story in Surah Al Kahf (ayahs 60-82) teaches us that the outer appearance of things usually fools us whereas only Allah knows what situation is best for any individual. A problem is not always a problem. Our knowledge about things is limited while Allah is All Wise and All Knowing. Only He knows better how that specific problem is going to be beneficial for a person. Similarly, we might complain about a certain system or worldly problem but then it’s always according to Allah’s Plan and His wisdom. He created this world and the creatures in it…how can we doubt about His decisions for us? Let’s never fail to remember that our Lord is the Most Merciful and He will never ever be unjust in His Decisions for us, whether it is in this world or in the Hereafter. Allah says:

وَلَا يَظْلِمُ رَبُّكَ أَحَدًا
And your Lord does injustice to no one. [Al Kahf 18:49]

Soon when the veils of the unseen will be lifted then we will know and be sure that what happened was right for us…and we couldn’t have chosen a better destiny for ourselves. Sometimes it so happens that we fail to get the things we really want but many years down the road we realise that what happened was best for us…not getting that specific blessing then was the best for us! So our duty is to strive and do our best and if things don’t go the way we want them to go then we have to accept the Decisions of Allah for us and not be angry or depressed as He is the Only One who creates us, provides for us, gives and takes from us!

-My reflections after studying Surah Al Kahf

Lessons from the Attitude of Prophet Ibrahim’s dialogue with his father


key

Knowledge and understanding is not necessarily something that comes with age and just because a person is older does not mean that he or she is someone to emulate. Most of us notice our parents or other elders involved in wrong practices but hesitate to correct them or give them sincere advice out of fear of offending them or upsetting them. Sometimes, even when advised parents would not even admit that what they are doing is wrong, rather, they actually try to convince their young who are adhering to the limits and laws of Allah to instead follow their wrong ways. So how do we react to such a situation?

While analyzing the many amazing qualities of Prophet Ibrahim and extracting lessons from his fascinating life, let’s also try to study about his sincerity in trying to save his own father from eternal loss, by warning him about the destructive sin of shirk (polytheism) that he was indulging in. The way he interacted with his father is a very good example of a person respecting his parent yet rejecting his (the parent’s) ways and lifestyle and calling him to the right path.

Prophet Ibrahim’s father Azar was a sculptor of idols, so from a young age Ibrahim (‘alayhissalam) was aware that idols were nothing more than pieces of wood or stone – inanimate objects that could extend no benefit or harm. He tried to convince his father that his practice of idol worship was wrong and ultimately useless. He spoke to him in a gentle voice, using kind and loving words to address him, and he tried to warn him of the dangers inherent in worshiping idols. Allah tells us about the approach that Ibrahim uses in calling his father to Islam, in beautiful ayahs of Surah Maryam:

“[Mention] when he said to his father, “O my father, why do you worship that which does not hear and does not see and will not benefit you at all? O my father, indeed there has come to me of knowledge that which has not come to you, so follow me; I will guide you to an even path. O my father, do not worship Satan. Indeed Satan has ever been, to the Most Merciful, disobedient. O my father, indeed I fear that there will touch you a punishment from the Most Merciful so you would be to Satan a companion [in Hellfire].” [Maryam 19:42-45]

Lessons Derived:

  • Notice how Prophet Ibrahim says: يَا أَبَتِ  In Arabic this is a very endearing term. This is an expression of love for a father. Even though he is a mushrik and involved in an act that is abhorrent to Allah, Prophet Ibrahim’s actions teach us that we should hate the sin and not the sinner himself. He uses the best of loving and kind terms to call his father to Islam teaching us that being gentle, loving and polite is an important factor while addressing the elders.
  • Prophet Ibrahim (‘alayhissalam) then starts of by making him reflect over his actions. He doesn’t start by condemning his wrong actions but instead invites him to reason, use his intellect by asking him how something that does not hear and does not see can benefit him. He then moves from intellect to knowledge and explains how revelation has come to him from the Creator, thus showing him that what he is calling him to is special knowledge given to him from the Lord of the world—Allah. Thus teaching us that it’s necessary to arouse interest in the elderly listener by using logic and by appealing to his sense of right and wrong alluding to the consequences.
  • We read that Prophet Ibrahim, then explains to his father about the plot of shaytan and how following his path would lead him to eternal loss and informing him about the extreme mercy of Allah who is merciful even to a disobedient creature like Iblees. Also notice how he juxtaposes the mercy of Allah over his punishment. When people learn about Allah, they shouldn’t learn He is the One who puts them into hell fire but that Allah is the One who has been taking care of them their whole lives, the One who provides for them even when their sin and disobey and the One Who accepts people’s repentance and forgives their shortcomings. So know that from the best way to introduce Allah ta’ala in da’wah is by His Mercy. Muslims who have fallen into sins and non Muslims should be made to reflect about the mercy of their Lord in all the facets of their lives and then they should be reminded that what Ar Rahman commands is for His servants own good.

Prophet Ibrahim (‘alayhissalam) was wise beyond his years yet his father did not listen perhaps because of extreme ignorance or arrogance and threatened to stone him. But we notice in the continuing ayahs of the Surah Maryam that our dear Ibrahim (alayhissalam) did not lose his temper but instead responded to his father’s threatening attitude with respect and wisdom.

[Abraham] said, “Peace will be upon you. I will ask forgiveness for you of my Lord. Indeed, He is ever gracious to me. And I will leave you and those you invoke other than Allah and will invoke my Lord. I expect that I will not be in invocation to my Lord unhappy.” (Maryam 19:47-48)

Once again Prophet Ibrahim uses the best of speech and tells his father about the mercy of Allah and His generosity showing him he still has a chance to reflect, repent and turn to Him in submission. This teaches us that no matter how rude or unpleasant the attitude of the elderly, we should never be offended by the negative reactions, continue being kind to them, pray for them and never become weary of continuous work for His cause.

Conclusion:

We learn from the dialogue between Prophet Ibrahim and his father that the message should be shared with wisdom and gentleness and understand that the outcome is not always positive. We should be prepared for opposition, ridicule and unresponsive behavior. Nevertheless we should do our part, convey the message keeping in mind the instruction from Allah when He says: “O you who have believed, protect yourselves and your families from a Fire whose fuel is people and stones, over which are [appointed] angels, harsh and severe; they do not disobey Allah in what He commands them but do what they are commanded.” (Al Furqan 66:6)

We must do our duty and then let Allah take care of the rest, believing that we cannot guide the one we love, it is Allah Who guides whomever He wills. Allah (Subhahau wa Ta’ala) says:

“Indeed, [O Muhammad], you do not guide whom you like, but Allah guides whom He wills. And He is most knowing of the [rightly] guided.” (Al Qasas 28:56)

May Allah guide us and make us sources of guidance for our beloved ones and the whole ummah! Aameen!