Ramadan – A Nafs Killer


Ramadan to Ramadan sins

 

Isn’t Ramadan a nafs-killer?

When you want to eat you cannot eat, and there is blessing in eating at a time when you’d rather not eat! (sahoor)
When you want to sleep you push yourself to stay awake and when you’d rather be awake you know you have to get some sleep so you can remain sane…
It almost feels like you have no control over your life any more… you cant do what you please, its all about what Allah wants. This is exactly what we have signed up for:

إِنَّ اللَّهَ اشْتَرَىٰ مِنَ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ أَنفُسَهُمْ وَأَمْوَالَهُم بِأَنَّ لَهُمُ الْجَنَّةَ
Indeed, Allah has purchased from the believers their lives and their properties [in exchange] for that they will have Paradise. [9:111]

And this is what is expected of us:

التَّائِبُونَ الْعَابِدُونَ الْحَامِدُونَ السَّائِحُونَ الرَّاكِعُونَ السَّاجِدُونَ الْآمِرُونَ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ وَالنَّاهُونَ عَنِ الْمُنكَرِ وَالْحَافِظُونَ لِحُدُودِ اللَّهِ ۗ وَبَشِّرِ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ
[Such believers are] the repentant, the worshippers, the praisers [of Allah ], the travelers [for His cause] / those who fast, those who bow and prostrate [in prayer], those who enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong, and those who observe the limits [set by] Allah. And give good tidings to the believers. [9:112]

O Allah, accept from us our lives, and give us Jannah. Ameen.

– Taimiyyah Zubair

The Earth will testify


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Imam Ahmad, At-Tirmidhi and Abu `Abdur-Rahman An-Nasa’i all recorded a Hadith from Abu Hurayrah — and in the wording of An-Nasa’i’s version it states — that he said,

“The Messenger of Allah (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wasallam) recited this Ayah,

﴿يَوْمَئِذٍ تُحَدِّثُ أَخْبَارَهَا ﴾

‘That Day it (the earth) will declare its information.’ (Surah Al Zalzalah 99:4)

Then he said, «أَتَدْرُونَ مَا أَخْبَارُهَا؟» “Do you know what is its information?”

They said, `Allah and His Messenger know best.’ He said,

«فَإِنَّ أَخْبَارَهَا أَنْ تَشْهَدَ عَلَى كُلِّ عَبْدٍ وَأَمَةٍ بِمَا عَمِلَ عَلَى ظَهْرِهَا أَنْ تَقُولَ: عَمِلَ كَذَا وَكَذَا يَوْمَ كَذَا وَكَذَا، فَهَذِهِ أَخْبَارُهَا»

Verily, its information is that it will testify for/against every male and female servant, about what they did upon its surface. It will say that he did such and such on such and such day. So this is its information.

-Tafsir Surah Al Zalzalah from Tafsir Ibn Katheer

Righteous Lies


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The worst opinion is the one in which you lie to yourself and others, and then attribute it to God.
If you’re too lazy to pray, be honest with yourself, instead of saying prayer doesn’t make someone Muslim. It does. Prophet Muhammad, sallallaahu’alayhi wa sallam, taught that Salaah is the dividing line between faith and disbelief.
If you’re too weak to wear hijab, be honest about your struggles—we’re all human after all—but don’t say hijab isn’t important in Islam. Our Lord doesn’t speak trivialities. If He spoke about it, it’s important.
If you don’t want your husband or wife to divorce you, then be honest about your deepest desires and vulnerabilities—we all have them—but don’t slander your husband or wife, saying they are bad Muslims to even want this.
If you are too spiritually weak or ignorant to understand the wisdom of polygyny for all times—we all have much to learn about our faith—then pray that Allah increases you in knowledge and understanding. But don’t say polygyny is haraam in today’s society.
Obeying Allah through marriage is never forbidden, no matter what society you live in.
But lying on Allah is *always* forbidden, no matter your motivation or excuse.
Allah says, “Woe to those who write the Book with their own hands and then say, ‘This is from Allah!’” (2:79).

Be careful.

Allah has already spoken about prayer, hijab, and marriage. Limit your “opinion” to His revelation…
Or await facing Him alone on the Day of Judgment, when you’ll be asked to explain why you felt you knew better than He.
—from the journal of Umm Zakiyyah

Special Days of Special Worship


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It is that time of the year again when we see millions of people from every corner of the world gathering together in Makkah, for Hajj which is the largest annual religious gathering that humanity knows. It is not just the sheer number of people, but also the diversity that is stunning. Indeed, the heart of every believer soars with joy and the eyes well up when they watch the live transmissions being aired from the Holy sites and every single one of them wishes that he/she was one of the blessed ones performing Hajj this year.
 
As the same feelings sweep over me, I can’t help but remember the time when it all started. The time when Allah commanded Prophet Ibraheem to build His House, purify it and then call people to it for pilgrimage. I remember and I wonder how our father Ibraheem must have felt at the honor and how he must have made the call. Allah talks about this, in Surah Al Hajj and says: “And when We designated for Ibraheem the site of the House, [saying], “Do not associate anything with Me and purify My House for those who perform Tawaf and those who stand [in prayer] and those who bow and prostrate. And proclaim to the people the Hajj; they will come to you on foot and on every lean camel; they will come from every distant pass.” (Qur’an 22:26-27)
 
Ibn Katheer said in his commentary on these verses: “This means: Allah says, Proclaim (O Ibraheem) the Hajj to the people, calling them to come on pilgrimage to this House which We have commanded you to build. It was mentioned that Ibraheem said, “O Lord, how can I proclaim it to the people when my voice does not reach them?” He said, “Call and We will convey it.” So he stood in his maqaam (Station of Ibraheem) – or it was said, on the rock, or on al-Safa, or on Abu-Qubays (a mountain) – and said: “O people, your Lord has taken a House, so come to it on pilgrimage.” And it was said that the mountains lowered themselves so that his voice could reach all parts of the earth, those who were still in the wombs or in men’s loins also heard. And everything that heard him, cities, nomad encampments and trees, and everyone whom Allah has decreed should perform Hajj until the Day of Resurrection responded, (saying): ‘LABBAYK ALLAHUMMA LABBAYK’ (HERE I AM, O ALLAH, HERE I AM). (Tafsir Ibn Katheer)
 
Praise be to the One Who has made His House “a place of return for the people and [a place of] security.” (2:125).The hearts of those who love Allah are naturally attached to the House of the Beloved. Every time they see its image from afar they long for it and every time they are away from it they want to return. Although this narration amazes us, it also saddens many who are unable to undertake this amazing journey, either due to financial reasons, family obligations, or any other reason that may exist. Allah knows the state of hearts and He is especially Merciful towards His believing slaves when He decrees that whenever one resolves to do an act of worship but he is unable to do it because of some excuse, he will be granted the reward of one who does it. This is proven by the incident when the Messenger (peace be upon him) came back from the campaign of Tabook and when he drew close to Madeenah he said: “In Madeenah there are some people who, whenever you marched or crossed a valley, were with you (gaining similar rewards).” The companions said: “O Messenger of Allah, but they were in Madeenah.” He said, “They were in Madeenah because some excuse kept them back.” (Al-Bukhaari-4423)
We can also get the ultimate rewards of Hajj, from right where we are. According to a hadeeth, whoever prays Fajr Prayer in congregation, then sits and remembers Allah until the sun rises, and then prays 2 rak’ahs of voluntary prayer (Al-ishraq), he will gain a reward equal to that of performing a perfect, perfect, perfect Hajj and Umrah. (Al-Albaani, Saheeh Al-Jaami’-6346)
Furthermore, Allah has made the month of Hajj, Dhul-Hijjah blessed, and the first ten days of this month have been made the best ten days of the year so all good deeds done in this season carry extra rewards. The evidence of this has been reported in both the Qur’an and the Sunnah. Allah says: “By the dawn. And by the ten nights.” (Qur’an 89:1-2) The ten nights refer to the first ten days of Dhul-Hijjah according to Ibn Abbas, Mujahid and others. (Tafsir Ibn Katheer)
The Messenger (peace be upon him) said, “There are no days in which righteous actions are more beloved to Allah than these ten days…” (Al-Bukhari, 2/457)
 
Therefore, for those of us who are unable to be in Makkah right now for Hajj, let’s value these special days of the year and maximize our efforts to excel in various good deeds. We can:
• Pray all Fard prayers on time and try to pray extra nafl prayers for extra reward.
• Fast as the Prophet (peace be upon him) used to fast on the first nine days of Dhul-Hijjah. (Saheeh Abi Dawood-2/462). And when the he (peace be upon him) was asked about fasting on the 9th – The Day of ‘Arafah, he said: “It expiates (sins) for the past year and the coming year.” (Muslim-1162)
• Keep our tongues moist with Takbeer (Allahu-Akbar), Tahmeed (Alhamdulillaah), Tahleel (La ilaha ill-Allah) and Tasbeeh (SubhanAllah)
• Try to read the Qur’an as much as possible as ‘every letter earns us more than ten rewards’ (Tirmidhi-2910).
• Increase in our worship, repentance and du’a during the day and during the night.
• Give charity and help those who are less fortunate to prepare for Eid.
• Restrain our tempers and our tongues from evil or idle talk, try being patient in upholding ties with relatives even if they are rude to us.
• Share sacrificial meat with the poor and be cheerful with everyone.
 
These ten days are truly special days of great gains and profits. The smart traders are those who make the most of this special season to increase their profits and seek nearness to their Master, whether there are at Makkah or far away. Perhaps Allah will accept from them as He accepts from the Hujjaj, because of their sincere intentions.
 
-Mariam Anwer
Originally published in Arab News
 AN DhulHijjah

Istikharah – A Special Prayer


At certain stages of life we often find ourselves at crossroads, impelled to make important decisions that would have huge impacts on our future. These decisions could be about choosing a career, getting married to someone, buying a car or a house, relocating or moving to a foreign land and the like. Despite considering all the positives and negatives and consulting family, friends or other qualified people, this task of reaching a sound decision leaves us doubtful and nervous. Praise and thanks to our Creator who doesn’t leave us fretting and worried during these crucial times. He has taught us, a special prayer for guidance in making decisions called Salat Al-Istikharah. When performing this prayer one asks Allah to guide him to the right choice concerning a certain essential matter.
 
The prayer of Istikharah was described in a hadeeth narrated by Jaabir ibn ‘Abd-Allah al-Salami, who said: “The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) used to teach his companions to make Istikharah in all things, just as he used to teach them surahs from the Qur’an. He (peace be upon him) said: ‘If any one of you is concerned about a decision he has to make, then let him pray two rak’ahs of non-obligatory prayer, then say:
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Allaahumma ‘innee ‘astakheeruka bi’ilmika, wa ‘astaqdiruka biqudratika, wa ‘as’aluka min fadhlikal-‘Adheemi, fa’innaka taqdiru wa laa ‘aqdiru, wa ta’lamu, wa laa ‘a’lamu, wa ‘Anta ‘Allaamul-Ghuyoobi, Allaahumma ‘in kunta ta’lamu ‘anna haathal-‘amra-[then mention the thing to be decided] Khayrun lee fee deenee wa ma’aashee wa ‘aaqibati ‘amree – [or say] ‘Aajilihi wa ‘aajilihi – Faqdurhu lee wa yassirhu lee thumma baarik lee feehi, wa ‘in kunta ta’lamu ‘anna haathal-‘amra sharrun lee fee deenee wa ma’aashee wa ‘aaqibati ‘amree – [or say] ‘Aajilihi wa ‘aajilihi – Fasrifhu ‘annee wasrifnee ‘anhu waqdur liyal-khayra haythu kaana thumma ‘ardhinee bihi’
 
O Allah, I ask for Your decision by Your knowledge and Your decree by Your ability, and I ask of You from Your great favor. For You are able and I am not able, and You know and I do not know, and You are the Knower of things concealed. O Allah, if You have known that this matter [naming it here] is good for me in my religion, my livelihood and the outcome of my affair, then decree it for me, make it easy for me and then bless it for me. And if You have known that this matter is bad for me in my religion, my livelihood and the outcome of my affair, then turn it away from me and turn me away from it, and decree for me what is good wherever it may be. And then make me content with it.’ (Al-Bukhaari, al-Tirmidhi, al-Nisaa’i, Abu Dawood, Ibn Maajah and Ahmad).
 
The result of Istikharah is known by being inclined to do something and continuing to feel positive about it. In addition, if the decision one is about to take is good for him (in both worlds), the paths to it will open up and if it’s not, then the paths will become obstructed and Allah will direct him somewhere else.
The beauty of the Istikharah is that the person who sought the guidance of Allah will be content with Allah’s decision for him even if it diverts him from what he thought was good as he will know that this is the result of his Istikharah. This is because, Allah, the Creator knows what is best and will definitely guide His servants to what is best for them within His vast knowledge and infinite wisdom. rely
  We need to understand that Istikharah does not guarantee the absence of tests and trials in life. Since Istikharah is a du’aa, Allah’s response to it may come in any of the three ways as stated in the hadeeth: “There is no Muslim who offers a du’aa in which there is no sin or severing of family ties but Allah will give him one of three things in return: either He will answer his du’aa soon, or he will store it up for him in the Hereafter, or He will divert an equivalent evil away from him because of it.” (Ahmad)
 
So if one goes through a bad marriage even after performing Istikharah or suffers loss in his business, etc., it might be that Allah wants him/her to draw closer to Him by way of patience and du’aa and send His blessings through some other way. Allah says: “But perhaps you hate a thing and it is good for you; and perhaps you love a thing and it is bad for you. And Allah knows, while you know not.” (Qur’an 2:216)
The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “It is from the happiness of the son of Adam to practice Istikharah and be pleased with what Allah had ordained for him. And it is from the misery of the son of Adam to drop the Istikharah of Allah and be displeased at Allah’s decrees.” (Tirmidhi and Ahmad)
 
Unfortunately, many people nowadays ignore this beautiful Sunnah and resort to baseless or forbidden ways to make important decisions. Seeking omens (faal) is one of these ways and it has been strictly forbidden in Islam, because it comes under the same heading as divination with arrows (mentioned in the Qur’an 5:3).
There are some other people who do follow the Sunnah of praying Istikharah but have added weird myths and unreasonable expectations to it. They ask some stranger or religious personality to do it for them and expect the results of Istikharah to be shown to them in dreams, visions, some special sign or color while all of this is nothing but acts of ignorance.
 
Firstly, it is a form of innovation to ask someone else to do istikharah for you or do it for others and secondly, it doesn’t give one instant results like giving a green signal to proceed in a certain affair.
 
Istikharah is a du’aa which one needs to make himself, at any time of the day and then execute the matter (for which he prayed). And if it is good then Allah will make it easy for him and bless him in that, and if it is not good for him, then Allah will turn it away from him and will make easy for him that in which there is good by His permission. For without doubt, the person who makes Istikharah, seeking guidance from his Creator and advice from His creation never regrets, as Allah said to His Messenger (peace be upon him) in the Qur’an (3:159): “Consult them in the matter. And when you have decided, then rely upon Allah. Indeed, Allah loves those who rely [upon Him].”
 
-Mariam Anwer
Originally published at Arab News
AN Istikharah

The Quest for True Happiness


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HAPPINESS is the ultimate goal in life for almost all of us. It is the motive behind every action that is taken in this world. People eat, shop, study, work, marry or sometimes fall into forbidden relationships, go on vacations, throw lavish parties and sometimes go to weird, forbidden extremes just for the pursuit of happiness and delight. Eventually, there comes a time when they realize that these feelings are short-lived, temporary and bound to end at some point. So the question that arises is; what is it that gives one the feeling of everlasting happiness? What is it that would tend to make the heart content and at ease despite the day to day tests and hardships that life throws our way?
Simply put, true happiness is in realizing the purpose for which we were created. It is in worshipping the One who created us, that gives the hearts contentment and delight. It is in doing every action with the sole intention of gaining Allah’s pleasure, avoiding His Anger while following in the footsteps of His beloved Messenger (peace be upon him).
Allah Ta’ala says:
فَمَنِ اتَّبَعَ هُدَاىَ فَلاَ يَضِلُّ وَلاَ يَشْقَى

“Then whoever follows My guidance he shall neither go astray nor shall (he) be distressed.” (Quran 20:123}

Imam Ibn Al-Qayyim, said, “In the heart are disorders that cannot be remedied except by responding to Allah. In it is a desolate feeling that cannot be removed except by intimacy with Him in solitude. In it is sadness which will not leave except by happiness of knowing Him and truthfulness in his dealings. In it is anxiety that is not made tranquil except by gathering for His sake and fleeing to Him from His punishment. In it is a fire of regret which cannot be extinguished except by satisfaction with His commands, prohibitions, and decrees, and embracing patience with that until the time he meets Him. In it is a strong desire that will not cease until He is the only one who is sought. In it is a void that cannot be filled except by His love, turning to Him, always remembering Him, and being sincere to Him. Were a person to be given the entire world and everything in it, that would never fill the void.” (Madarij Al-Salikeen)

No doubt, this is the only reason our hearts are so much at peace and our souls so exuberant during Ramadan. It is because we spend the whole month busy in doing what we were created to do! We feel happy despite staying without food and water all day and despite exerting ourselves for extra prayer and worship.
We can actually maintain this state of peace and contentment throughout the year if we persist in continuing all the good acts that we do during Ramadan. The Creator and Master of everything that exists says in His Glorious Book:

ٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُوا۟ وَتَطْمَئِنُّ قُلُوبُهُم بِذِكْرِ ٱللَّـهِ ۗ أَلَا بِذِكْرِ ٱللَّـهِ تَطْمَئِنُّ ٱلْقُلُوبُ

“Those who believe, and whose hearts find contentment in the remembrance of Allah: for without doubt in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find contentment.” (Qur’an 13:28)
The contentment and openness of the heart are aspects of happiness which are achieved through keeping up the remembrance of Allah and through following the teachings of the Qur’an. It is something that instills happiness in us not just during the moments in which it is done but also later on. This is because; every type of pleasure is enjoyed only once, except for (the acts of) worship, which is enjoyed three times: when you do it, when you remember it, and when you are given the reward for it. (Abd-Allah ibn Wahb)
Allah tells us in more than one place in the Qur’an that the faces of the ones who believed and did righteous acts for His sake will be glowing with happiness and delight. He says: “(Some) faces, that Day, will be bright — Laughing, rejoicing at good news (of reward and Jannah).” (Qur’an 80:38-39).
“Faces, that Day, will show pleasure. With their effort (they are) satisfied. In an elevated garden (Jannah)…” (Qur’an 88:9-11)
As believers we need to know and have strong belief in the fact that life will not be a bed of roses for long and that we will be tested and tried till we reach our graves. If we look at the people around us, we will see people who are being tested in one way or the other. It will be either by missing out on something that they like, or going through that which they dislike.
Ibn Mas’ood (may Allah be pleased with him) rightly said: For every moment of joy there is a moment of sorrow, and no house is filled with joy but it will be filled with sorrow.
Beautiful is the dua that the Prophet (peace be upon him) taught us. He said, “If any Muslim is afflicted with distress and makes this dua, then his supplication will be answered:
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‘O Allah, I am your servant, the son of your servant, the son of your maidservant. My forelock is in your hand, your command concerning me prevails, and your decision concerning me is just. I call upon you by every one of the beautiful names with which you have described yourself, or which you have revealed in your Book, or you have taught to anyone of your creatures, or which you have chosen to keep in the knowledge of the unseen with you, to make the Qur’an the delight of my heart, the light of my chest, the remover of my sadness and dispeller of my anxiety.’”
The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “If he says this, Allah will remove his affliction and replace it with joy and happiness.” His They said, “O Messenger of Allah, should we not learn it?” The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “Yes, whoever hears it should know it. (Ahmad 3704)
Lastly, we need to understand that happiness is the spiritual experience of living every minute doing good for the sake of Allah, it is in being grateful for whatever we have and in utilizing it all in being of service to the creation of Allah. May Allah grant us the happiness of this world and the next. Ameen.
-Written by Mariam Anwer
Originally published in Arab News

When Allah calls you back…


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‘When we are doing wrong, Allah afflicts us with guilt, thereby calling us back to Him. Yet some of us fight this internal reminder by using our tongues to defend our wrong, hoping to quiet the guilt and convince ourselves that we are right.

Then Allah uses the tongues of others, thereby calling us back to Him. Yet some of us fight this external reminder by using the same arguments we used to quiet our guilt—or by pointing out the faults of the one who is speaking. “They’re being judgmental!” we say. “They have no wisdom or compassion!” We then arrogantly return to wrong, justifying our sin because of the faults we see in those who heeded the advice of their Lord, “And remind, for verily the reminder benefits the believers” (51:55).
Yet Allah continues to call us back to Him, as our hearts are continuously afflicted with guilt, and the tongues of others continuously remind us of our wrongs. Yet so many of us relentlessly fight the internal and external reminders…until our hearts become deaf to both.

Then Allah afflicts us with the harshest lesson—that of life itself—sending into our lives the storms of suffering in response to our sins. And only then, for so many of us, do our hearts hear for the first time Allah’s call. But even in this, there is mercy.

For surely, those who ignore the mercy of Allah—manifested in the internal and external reminders of guilt, others’ words, and the storms of life—have only Allah Himself as their teacher, when He calls them back to Him one final time.’


—from the journal of Umm Zakiyyah