Wednesday, October 31, 2018

The Musk Seller: A good friend, a great teacher.

Narrated Abu Musa:
Allah's Messenger (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said, 
"The example of a good companion (who sits with you) in comparison with a bad one, is like that of the musk seller and the blacksmith's bellows (or furnace); from the first you would either buy musk or enjoy its good smell while the bellows would either burn your clothes or your house, or you get a bad nasty smell thereof." 
Sahih Bukhari 2101 
Beautiful relationships and friendships always fascinate me. I cherish and value good friends. The best of friendships are formed based on mutual trust and understanding. The best of friendships emerge from the best form of love, the Love of Allah. Friends who are together for the sake of Allah and His Book are the best of friends. This kind of friendship does not involve any other motive apart from loving each other just for the sake of Allah. Such friendships are not only long lasting rather they are everlasting. This is so because good friends remind you of Allah and keep you in constant remembrance of Him. They become the reason for you being on the Path of Truth. The fragrance of a good friend lasts forever. She might part with you due to some reason in this world but she leaves a pleasant aroma in your thoughts and in your heart whenever you think of her and remember her ways, her words and her actions. 

This world is a place of separation. No one lives with his or her loved ones forever. Due to some reason or the other we part with each other. One might part with a good friend physically but the spiritual bond with her lasts forever, Allah willing. 

Friendships and relationships especially between students and teachers are very powerful. You might remember your first grade teacher till date just because of her polite way of dealing with you. You might remember a class mate just because of one sentence that she said to you that had an everlasting impact on your life, in a positive way. 

Today, in my institution a very dear teacher, Teacher Asima,  gave us a farewell talk. She has been in Saudi Arabia for almost 30 years and now she is parting with us. She teaches the correct way of learning the Quran called Tajweed. She shares a beautiful friendship with another teacher from our institution. They have been together for many years running this institute, teaching the Quran and other subjects to thousands of ladies here in Saudi Arabia. Her talk was very very positive, motivating and inspiring. I thought of composing this post so that all the readers should take the gems and benefit from her talk. 

First of all what affected me the most was her positive approach on this change of phase in her life. She praised Allah the almighty saying that she is thankful to Him for everything in her life. She took this change in her life in a very cheerful manner and said that we should accept changes in our life saying that they are the Will of Allah. We should not complain over things that happen in life. She also emphasized on the fact that nothing is going to stay forever. This shifting from one place to another is just one reminder that one day we are going to part with this world as well. The preparation that she was doing for this journey from one country to another also involved the management of the material things that she has in her house. She told us that while disposing and managing her material possessions she thinks about the real things that we need while departing to the Next world. We should not collect too many useless material things that would later become a burden to those we leave behind. To the students of the institute she said very encouraging words. 

🌹She told us to give ourselves the value as we are the students of the Quran, the Book of Allah. It is no ordinary thing so we should learn to value ourselves. 

🌹The path of knowledge is the path to Jannah (Paradise).

🌹She advised us to give the Quran its rights:

🌹Read it daily

🌹Ponder on its signs

🌹Try to find something for yourself from the ayahs (the verses)

🌹Try to figure out what you learn from that particular verse, and now that you have learnt it how you need to react in different situations in life.

🌹Try to give the rights of the Quran

🌹Always be thankful that Allah has given you the chance to stay in this country where you had the chance to learn the Quran, the correct aqeedah. 

🌹Keep praying that Allah does not waste your capabilities wherever you go. Whether you stay here or go to your home country you should be thankful to Allah in all circumstances. 

🌹When you go back to your home country the people there will notice your manners in the light of the fact that you have come after learning the Quran. Therefore, it should be seen in your character and in your manners.

🌹We intended to pursue the knowledge for changing our life for good. Real knowledge is that which shows in your actions. 

Very beautifully she mentioned that 
🌹the Knowledge of the Quran is a light that will not let you stumble in life. Keep this light with you always. Never let this light go away from you. 

🌹This Book, Al Quran is a very noble and blessed book. When you will spread it, it will show you its fruits and its blessings in your life. When you will pay attention you will find that Allah will make way for you and make things easy for you just because of the blessing of this Book. 

🌹She also advised us not to become those who cry and complain. We should be strong and determined. We have a lot of potential to achieve many things. We can do a lot of things in life. 

🌹As the students of Quran we must learn to become the people of understanding (ulul albaab) 

🌹This world is indeed a place of parting. We should focus on what we are collecting as our luggage for the Hereafter and what we are leaving behind.

🌹There is no need to feel sad and remain sad, rather we should see how fruitful our stay in this world can be for us and others around us. 

🌹The reason we come to learn the Quran is to bring the teachings of the Quran into our lives.

It was a very emotional as well as spiritually refreshing talk.
I pray that Allah Almighty make her journey a blessed one and she brings goodness wherever she stays. 

💓Teachers are always very inspiring and encouraging to their students. We are blessed to have such amazing teachers in our life.

May Allah bless all the teachers! 💓

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Chained in freedom

People have always talked about freedom. There is an overall and broad perspective about freedom and then there are individuals who give their personal definitions about it. Let us see the dictionary definition of freedom:

 Definition of freedom (Merriam Webster)
1: the quality or state of being free: such as a: the absence of necessity, coercion, or constraint in choice or action b: liberation from slavery or restraint or from the power of another: independence c: the quality or state of being exempt or released usually from something onerous freedom from care d: unrestricted use gave him the freedom of their home e: ease, facility spoke the language with freedom f: the quality of being frank, open, or outspoken answered with freedom g: improper familiarity h: boldness of conception or execution.

This basically defines freedom as independence and liberation from any kind of outside constraints and the total absence of any restraint at the personal level.

Therefore, according to this definition a person is considered free when he or she is able to do or say (express) just about anything without any external or internal force prohibiting it.

When we speak of freedom to do or say anything we do not disregard the same right that others have. Therefore this freedom is not actually freedom when we still have to think of its repercussions on the individuals and the society that we coexist with. It is actually something that the people and groups have used as a handle to misuse their right to expression and action. If we think over it a little we can easily understand that no individual can claim to have the complete freedom from his surroundings which include humans, nature, animals and objects. He can never be free from dependency on all of them at various levels. So talking of freedom to express oneself is undesirable when one disregards the rights of others while practising it.
Freedom is just one façade. People hide behind it just to practice their whims and fancies and those who become slaves of their desires and uncontrolled thoughts. Actually those who say that they are liberated, free and independent are actually chained to their desires that have no direction and they function at the animal level.

What do they want freedom from? Where can they go when they are so-called free? They are actually chained in freedom. They wander with this chain and do not find any direction.

The real freedom is the freedom to choose. The freedom is to choose right from wrong, good from evil and lawful from unlawful. This is freedom. The real freedom is to have the choice to seek the Truth. When we believe in something we are free to live with it. There are numerous religions and ideologies in the world and each has its own values and beliefs. No one can be forced to believe in any religion or ideology but when one is convinced of his belief and the Truth he is free to practise it and to enlighten others about it.
According to the verse 256 in Chapter 2 of the Noble Quran:
There shall be no compulsion in [acceptance of] the religion. The right course has become clear from the wrong. So whoever disbelieves in Taghut and believes in Allah has grasped the most trustworthy handhold with no break in it. And Allah is Hearing and Knowing.
Let us see what some famous personalities have said about real freedom:  
“When a man is denied the right to live the life he believes in, he has no choice but to become an outlaw.”
― Nelson Mandela
“People demand freedom of speech as a compensation for the freedom of thought which they seldom use.”
― Søren Kierkegaard
“True freedom is impossible without a mind made free by discipline.”
― Mortimer J. Adler, How to Read a Book: The Classic Guide to Intelligent Reading
Freedom of Thought and Religion are Paramount
The Quran provides an environment where people can fully enjoy freedom of thought and freedom of religion and allows people to live by the faith and values they believe in. According to Islam, everyone has the right to live freely by his beliefs, whatever they may be. Anyone who wants to support a church, a synagogue or a mosque must be free to do so. In this sense, freedom of religion, or freedom of belief, is one of the basic tenets of Islam. There is always freedom of religion wherever the moral values of the Qur’an prevail.
That is why Muslims also treat Jews and Christians, described in the Qur’an as “the People of the Book,” with great justice, love and compassion. God says in the Qur’an:
“God does not forbid you from being good to those who have not fought you in the religion or driven you from your homes, or from being just towards them. God loves those who are just.” (Surat al-Mumtahana, 8)

So, basically freedom is not the license to do whatever you wish rather it is the choice of matters that you make about yourself keeping in mind the rights of others.

People think that they should be set free to do whatever they desire. This is not how it works. You are not living alone on this planet. You have to have the sensitivity for others. Moreover, what makes one think that he should be free to do anything when he did not have the freedom to choose when and where he will be born. He does not have the freedom to choose the date and day of leaving this earth. How can he suppose that he can live the period between his birth and death howsoever he fancies? The One who sent him to this earth and will take him back has all the right to dictate his life but despite that He says that there is no compulsion! You have been shown both the ways; the right course and the wrong one. Now the freedom of choice is yours. Choose your course. You are free but still chained in that freedom.

According to one hadith, this world is a prison for the believer and a paradise for the non believer. This is so because a believer knows that like in a prison one has to behave in a particular way, there is discipline, there are time limits, rules and laws to be followed, particular dress code and many such regulations; he has to do that in this world. You are free but inside certain laws of Allah. You do not have to cross those boundary walls. But the non believer does not believe in such set limits. He wanders wherever he wishes and feels like. No codes and no regulations. Life for him is to enjoy to the maximum because he is unaware of the promises of the Paradise that the believer gets due to his obedience to Allah. A believer puts aside all his whims and fancies for his later life when he will get whatever he wishes for.

The freedom that one enjoys here is limited but the freedom that one will enjoy in Paradise is never-ending and unlimited and even unimaginable!

Protect your Hijab

Yes you wear the hijab to protect yourself but how can you protect the hijab! The Hijab is worn as a sign of obedience to Allah. It protects you by giving you dignity and grace, it protects you by helping you maintain your modesty, it covers you and shields you, it hides your beauty from unwanted and undesirable glances. It also protects your hair, skin, body shape and clothes from unwanted exposure and harm.

Hijab does its job well if it is practised in the correct manner. It does protect us but do we protect our hijab as it should be protected? How can we protect our hijab?
The hijab is not a piece of cloth. It is your demeanour. It is your garment. It is your attitude. Even if you are taking hijab for ages you still need to review and revise the basic commandments on hijab that are mentioned in the Quran. If you are in doubt over the translations then try your best to find the literal meaning that those Arabic lines carry. Once you understand and feel the essence of the commandments on hijab you will get more serious on practising hijab the right way. Some of us think that hijab is just a small piece of cloth that is wrapped around our head and that’s it! No. Hijab is your overall garment and it is basically meant to cover you up. You have to cover yourself up from head to toe (some scholars exclude the hands up to the wrists and face) and the women who are convinced that a woman’s face is the most beautiful part of her personality they cover their faces very nicely and that is commendable.
There may be levels of taqwa and understanding of those commandments that lead to a woman’s doing the hijab the way she does. But there are some very basic things that cannot be excluded from hijab if you are really practising it. They are as follows:
·       to reduce [some] of their vision
·       guard their private parts
·       not expose their adornment except that which [necessarily] appears thereof
·       to wrap [a portion of] their headcovers over their chests and not expose their adornment
·       not stamp their feet to make known what they conceal of their adornment
·       bring down over themselves [part] of their outer garments.
Basically hijab entails that a Muslim woman should not display her beauty in public. She should cover and conceal it and display it only in the privacy of her home in front of the Mahram members of her family.
People have very courageously taken this topic of hijab to debates and arguments but a believing woman, who knows that Allah commands His servants what is best for them in this world and the Hereafter, has no qualms in accepting it as her way of life.
Nobody can deny the fact that today’s so called advanced world has become more and more unsafe for not just women but children and babies as well as young boys. This is due to the shamelessness that is prevalent in the society today.
Before commanding the Muslim women to observe hijab Allah commands the Muslim men to lower their gaze and to protect themselves from falling into immoral acts. This present day insecurity is due to the fact that neither the men nor the women are practising hijab the way it should be practised. Everybody is out there displaying their beauty, advertising their desires and inviting trouble.
Abu Mas’ud Uqbah reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “Verily, among the words people obtained from the prophets are this: If you feel no shame, then do as you wish.”
Source: Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī 3296
Grade: Sahih (authentic) according to Al-Bukhari
Ibn Rajab said, “The scholars interpret this saying in two ways. First, that it is a command of caution and warning, meaning if there is no shame then do as you wish, for Allah will repay you accordingly. Second, that it is a command of description, meaning that whoever does not have shame will do as he wishes, for it is shame that prevents evil deeds.”
Source: Jāmi’ al-Ulūm wal-Ḥikam 20
Lastly, do not consider someone who presents the Truth as your enemy as he or she is your most considerate friend. Warning and giving glad tidings was the duty of our Messengers in Islam and we as Muslims must carry out this duty for our brothers and sisters in Islam as well as for all the Children of Adam alayhissalaam.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Spiritually yours...(An interactive session with my Quran Teacher 2018-Jeddah)

The believing men and believing women are allies of one another. They enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong and establish prayer and give zakah and obey Allah and His Messenger. Those - Allah will have mercy upon them. Indeed, Allah is Exalted in Might and Wise.
Allah has promised the believing men and believing women gardens beneath which rivers flow, wherein they abide eternally, and pleasant dwellings in gardens of perpetual residence; but approval from Allah is greater. It is that which is the great attainment.
Surah At Tawbah 71-72

By the grace of Almighty Allah, once again the students, staff and their guests had a chance of having an interactive session with Ustazah Dr Farhat Hashmi. The programme started with a beautiful recitation of Aayaat from Surah At Tawbah by Abla Tahreem, in which Allah subhaanahu wa ta'aala mentions the qualities of the believers and He promises to reward such believers with the great rewards of His Pleasure and eternal happiness in Paradise.

Ustazah started her talk by mentioning the importance of Iman and how it affects and changes the hearts of the believers. She said that when Iman reaches the heart it makes it sensitive to things other than the immediate and worldly things. The condition of the heart changes considerably. She gave the example of the rising of the sun after a long dark night. How the light of the sun brightens up everything and one can see things clearly in broad daylight. The same things that seem doubtful in the dark of the night (like a rope can be mistaken for a snake) now are cystal clear and one can easily differentiate between the harmful and beneficial things. Similarly when Iman lights up the heart the person is able to differentiate clearly between what is right and what is wrong, what is bad and what is good.  In the light of Iman we can see the reality of things, the real colour of every matter. Therefore, basically Iman is likened to a light that shines the heart and it puts light on the truth of matters.

The sign of Iman is that one is able to make a difference between good and evil. This is a very strong feeling. One is now well aware and hence sensitive to carry out his or her duty of enjoining good and forbidding evil around him/her.
When someone takes the step to stop evil with his hand it is the highest form of Iman. The stage lower to this is when someone is verbally telling others to stop the evil. And the lowest form of Iman is when one is only thinking of something as bad and not capable of doing or saying anything to stop it.

When the light of Iman enters the heart it turns ones vision to a vision of wisdom (al baseerah) and it no longer remains just the physiological vision. It is an awakened heart now. The heart has started seeing things in depth, in their real form. 

Now this enlightened heart is no longer impressed by the glitter and glamour of this fleeting world. It is now more and more concerned about the place of return, the Hereafter.

Usually what happens is that people are afraid to do this duty of commanding good and forbidding evil due to the fact that their loved ones will get angry or will dislike them.
This is absolutely normal that one is careful about not making those whom he loves angry. What about Allah? Should one not be more careful in keeping Allah happy and gaining His Pleasure? This is exactly what Allah is telling in these aayaat from Surah At Tawbah that the Pleasure and Approval of Allah is the greatest achievement for the believers. We are afraid of people. We should be more careful about Pleasing Allah.

A conflict arises here that when one goes to Please Allah the people get angry. A believer decides whose happiness and pleasure is to be given the priority.

All of us must have experienced this situation that when any of our friend or relative gets angry our heart can feel a burden. Nothing seems delightful. Like when a husband is angry with his wife she is not able to feel happiness in anything. This is the test of Iman in life.

 A weak Iman takes you to please and seek the attention of the people around you but a stronger Iman lets you do things that Please Allah. When one is busy in gaining praise, attention and pleasure of the people the sweetness of Iman becomes less.

Each passing day is making our life shorter. The day of meeting Allah is coming nearer.
Those who are helping others for the sake of Allah are the really fortunate ones. We have to take care of the rights of Allah as well as the rights of the people around us. This is the best way to have a balanced life in Islam. This beautiful balance will come only with an increased Iman.

What kind of Iman do we have? Are we really the believers? The companions of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) used to fear hypocrisy and always strove toward pleasing Allah and making their Iman stronger.

And of the people are some who say, "We believe in Allah and the Last Day," but they are not believers. Surah Al Baqarah ayat 8

Is our belief and good deeds worth the appreciation in the sight of Allah? True believers keep striving to do good and to be amongst the Muhsineen, those who do good at the level of excellence.

The aayaat  from Surah At Tawbah that were recited in the beginning highlight the characteristics of the believers:

1    1. The believing men and believing women are allies of one another.

We must analyse ourselves if we really are the allies of each other as believers. There should be no group formations and segregation when this alliance is meant. Every believer should have love and care for the other believer regardless of his or her background etc.

2.       They enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong

This mutual and heartfelt love for the believers leads to the characteristic of commanding good and forbidding of evil. This comes as sheer concern for the believing brothers and sisters. How concerned are we for our children, for our friends and relatives and what kind of connection do we have with them as believers marks our initiative to command them toward goodness and warn them against the evil. This is purely to help them build their Aakhirah. What is a friend who does not feel concerned about your falling into sin and destruction?
3.       They establish prayer
4.       give zakah and
5.       obey Allah and His Messenger.

At this point Ustazah mentioned about her son in law’s meeting with Sheikh Saad bin Nasser Al Shathri, who delivers the sermon at the time of Hajj. The points worth learning from this meeting are as follows:

  1.       It is desirable to drink Zam Zam while being in Haram as this sacred water and sacred place have special significance and also because dua is answered when we drink zamzam and make dua.
  2.      The best dua one should always make is to be able to have the honour of seeing Allah subhaanahu wa ta’aala.
  3.       The greatest thing is to gain the pleasure of Allah.
  4.       Markets are the worst of places on the face of earth so one should avoid them as much as possible.
  5.       The sheikh told that he gives charity after every salah.
  6.       He does not keep social media apps on his phone because these waste a lot of time.
  This sheds some light and insight into the life of those who have knowledge. They have a lifestyle which is based on knowledge and wisdom and the understanding of deen that is bestowed upon them by Allah due to their increased Iman and taqwa. True aalim is the one who applies the ilm that he gains. He teaches by the way he walks and by the way he spends his life.

With the Iman in one’s heart the believer becomes a well wisher for all the believers.
At this point we are reminded that we must apply that which we learn.

Such believers who are allies of each other, commanding good, forbidding evil, establishing prayers, giving zakat and obeying Allah and His Messenger peace be upon him, those - Allah will have mercy upon them. Indeed, Allah is Exalted in Might and Wise. Allah will surely show mercy to them.  They will attain that both in the world and in the Hereafter.

Allah has promised the believing men and believing women:
  •     gardens beneath which rivers flow,
  •     wherein they abide eternally, and
  •     pleasant dwellings in gardens of perpetual residence; but
  •     approval from Allah is greater. It is that which the great attainment.

When it is promised by Allah it will surely happen. The need is to know what makes it possible to attain the approval of Allah and His Pleasure.

The consciousness about Allah is what is called Taqwa. A muttaqi is the one who safeguards himself from all those things that might earn him the anger of Allah.

During this talk ustazah gave a tip to engage children with us in reading the Quran. We should ask them to read out themselves and then ask them what they understood from that aayah. Also it is better to fix a little time to read and understand together in the family.

My friend named Lubna asked a question regarding the issue of teaching the elders about Islam and its commandments. Ustazah told that it depends on your relationship with them. It is better to first do the surahs like Al Hujurat and Al Mulk, which have direct commands on social etiquette and things to avoid like backbiting, slandering etc. This will be a good way to get the message across without personally saying anything.  

The words of the Quran surely touch the hearts. Also, those who know are not the same as those who do not know. It is therefore always better to keep seeking knowledge and sharing it with others.  We must keep the journey of seeking knowledge ongoing till our last breathe.

Who are the Muttaqeen and the Muhsineen? Those who apply taqwa in their practical life and keep doing good are the ones who are muttaqeen and muhsineen.

How does one come to know if he or she has taqwa?
Taqwa is an inner state. It lies in the heart. We can find out if we have taqwa or not by observing our dealings outside the house with others and our behaviour inside our houses. When we go outside and deal with people we would fear harming them or violating their rights. When in our house we will be careful about our tongues and our thoughts. Tears flow from the eyes when the hearts become soft due to taqwa and ihsan. One tends to take each step carefully. The dealing actual is with Allah. We are taking care not to do or say anything that might earn the displeasure of Allah.

If we want to find out what the condition of our heart is we should pay attention to the self talk that we might do if something bad happens to us or when someone offends us. It will showcase the amount of Iman and Taqwa that resides in our hearts. We will not let evil thoughts dwell in our hearts for even a few minutes. We would not like to entertain negative feelings about anyone in our hearts. This is what is called taqwa, because evil thoughts and negativity burdens the hearts and self analysis paves way for the true success that is self actualization.

During this talk some sisters from the audience shared their experiences and concerns about their children in teenage. Their experiences were very inspiring for the others. One of the ladies told how she changed her attitude with her son and stopped scolding or nagging him and eventually he himself started sharing his feelings with her and changed himself for the better. Another one told about how the gentle reminder from a mother and the beautiful words of Allah brought significant changes in her son.

Ustazah pointed out that the teenage children should not be scolded rather they should be dealt with firmness and wisdom. If we will scold them at this point of their life they might become repulsive and go far from us. The reason is that this stage of life is very trying for them due to the various changes that they encounter. They are overly sensitive in this age.  From us what they need the most is love. We should never become hopeless  if we are not seeing the change that we want in them. In sha Allah we will see them change for good soon as whatever we teach them and show them from our own examples will affect their hearts and mind. The key is to work with them with the help of the words of Allah; the Quran.  

We should be really patient and show perseverance and tolerance when it comes to dealing with our children, especially the teenagers. The key point is to change our own attitude if we want to see a positive change in them.

A teenager herself shared how giving sadaqah every time she goes through a tough time dealing with her worries helps her calm down.
Some sisters shared their experiences with their younger children as to how they have developed a strong connection with the Quran, the prayers and other pillars of Islam.
A sister named Noorjahan shared how she strove to get her in-laws into listening to the tafseer of Al Quran and how she noticed changes in some of her relatives when they showed interest in learning the Quran like her.

Alhamdulillah the session was very informative and it included many questions and answers from the Guest section as well.

Hope you all enjoyed reading about this amazing session with our Quran teacher (Ustazah; may Allah accept all her efforts in His way, I pray for her aafiyah. aameen).

Monday, October 2, 2017

The Fish and I: Ponder on this!

By a German Poet

The other day,
I went to the sea
And asked the fish,
 "Do you know who made the ocean and you in it, and for what?"
The fish gave me a puzzled look and said,
“I don’t know and I don’t care as to who made the ocean
And put me in it and for what.
Ho ha! I don't like such questions.
I have no time. Can’t you see how busy I am?
I have to run for food continuously
And watch myself day and night
That no one catch me or eat me alive.
Man! You can’t imagine how hard is life.
No, no. I have no time for such questions.
Why don’t you go and ask some man?
Over there, you see that man?
He does nothing but catch fish all day.
 I bet he has time.
And by the way, I have heard it said,
Man has a mind with which to think.
You see, I am just a fish,
A poor animal.
 I have no mind.
So use your brain.
Go ask the man and leave me alone.”
I went to the man and asked him,  
“Sir, do you know who made this world,
The earth, the moon, the star, the sky above,
 And the universe beyond
Floating in time and space.
Who began it all?
And put man in it?
There must be some purpose
And man must see His Maker?”
 The man got up from his slumber
And shouted at me angrily,
“Get away from here.
Go get lost somewhere.
With all your questions,
 You frightened my fish away!
What do I care?
 What good is there in such useless questions?
 What difference does it make
As to who made it all
And put man here?
 And as regards the purpose,
 Ho ha!
 What a silly question between you and me!
 What’s there in it for me?
 Can’t you see how busy I am?
 I have no time.
You know how hard is life?
 Or no one ever told you
About the rising prices,
The corruption,
 The scandals of heron and aids,
The rising flood of pollution and crimes?
 The hell they cry about in churches
May be far out there
But the one we have ourselves made
Is right down here!
With a thousand things to worry about,
 I can hardly sleep
And on top of all this
Here come you with your foolish questions!
Go! Get lost!
And think yourself all such thoughts
But leave me alone.
I have no time.”
 The man went back to sleep.
The fish went away.
 The ocean kept on rolling.
 It was getting dark on the deep.
 I came back home.
 What could I do?
 But somehow or the other
 The thought keeps on coming back
Again and again
That man has fallen to the level of a fish!
 Or even lower!
What a fall it is, my countrymen!
 How sad it is that a few are left
Who have the time and can still think
About such questions.
Let’s make a pause and think like men
While we are here.
For no one knows when the call may come
To depart from here.
Forever and ever.
 Let’s find some time to think of the One
Who made it all and put us here.
 His door is open and He is very near

 For everyone who seeks Him.

Monday, June 26, 2017

An Interactive Session with my Quran teacher (Dr. Farhat Hashmi)

It came as a pleasant and surprise Eid gift to me. Our teacher Dr Farhat Hashmi visited our Quran Institute today morning. We had an interactive session with her. A student recited the last verses from Suratul Hashr which touched the heart.  The translation is as follows: 

O you who have believed, fear Allah . And let every soul look to what it has put forth for tomorrow - and fear Allah . Indeed, Allah is Acquainted with what you do.And be not like those who forgot Allah , so He made them forget themselves. Those are the defiantly disobedient.
Not equal are the companions of the Fire and the companions of Paradise. The companions of Paradise - they are the attainers [of success]
If We had sent down this Qur'an upon a mountain, you would have seen it humbled and coming apart from fear of Allah . And these examples We present to the people that perhaps they will give thought.
He is Allah , other than whom there is no deity, Knower of the unseen and the witnessed. He is the Entirely Merciful, the Especially Merciful.
He is Allah , other than whom there is no deity, the Sovereign, the Pure, the Perfection, the Bestower of Faith, the Overseer, the Exalted in Might, the Compeller, the Superior. Exalted is Allah above whatever they associate with Him.
He is Allah , the Creator, the Inventor, the Fashioner; to Him belong the best names. Whatever is in the heavens and earth is exalting Him. And He is the Exalted in Might, the Wise.

Regarding these verses our teacher mentioned the hearts and their conditions while listening to the Quran. During Ramadan we all were in touch with the Quran in some way or the other. Some of us recited it more, some listened to it more, some read it with meaning and some tried to recite it in beautiful tajweed (proper way of reciting the Quran). Whatever way we kept in touch with the Quran, surely had an effect on our hearts. Some of us keep that effect ongoing by continuing with what we found beneficial for us, but some of us again start lagging behind and just restrict that to the month of Ramadan.

She asked us to put a question to ourselves: what is the condition of our hearts while listening to or reciting the Quran? What affects us the most and how? Do we cry with our eyes and our hearts? 

As she mentioned the condition of the hearts she shared with us some points from the book 'Dawa e Shafi' by Imam Ibn Qayyim al Jawzia. It was indeed a heart softening session! 

When we are unaffected by the things around us and live life like a log of wood we must know that there is some problem inside our hearts. Something is missing or not correct. The author has outlined some of the symptoms of a heart that is not sound. Just as the physiological symptoms  warn a person of a heart disease and put him on high alert and he panics and runs to get his heart treated, the spiritual symptoms too should be known to find out if our heart is spiritually sound or not. In the case of heart diseases the person accepts what the doctor tells him to do. He is ready to go through a lifestyle change or to get admitted to the hospital to be sure that his heart is functioning well. In the same manner a person must be aware of the soundness of his heart and must try to adopt the necessary measures to cure his heart of any spiritual weakness. 
The teacher mentioned in points what the author lists as some of the main symptoms of an unsound heart:
  1. The person is more worried about the affairs of the world as compared to the affairs of the Hereafter. All the time he is occupied with the worldly things and never thinks about the day of Judgment.
  2. The person is not able to cry. His eyes have become dry and his heart is unaffected by things around him. At this point the teacher mentioned what are the things people normally cry over. Sometimes only the eyes shed tears but the hearts are not affected at all. It is better that the heart cries even if the eyes do not shed tears as this is something which is hidden from people and it also prevents show-off. She asked us to correct the direction of our sorrows and crying. It should be for Allah. It should be over the affairs of the grave and the Hereafter. It should not be for the petty things of this world. It is much better if we complain of our grief and sorrow only to Allah and not in front of people.
  3. The third symptom that points toward hard heartedness or unsound heart is the fact that a person loves to be in the company of people; enjoying his best, laughing, forgetting the passage of time and just having a great time with them. Such a person only loves to meet people and never a thought crosses his mind that he is soon going to meet Allah as well. He has no desire to meet his Lord and no thoughts in this regard in this heart. 
  4. Fourth and the last point that the author mentions is that a person feels uncomfortable in the gathering where Allah is mentioned. He feels restless and does not find solace or peace there. 
When the discussion about an unsound heart was going on, one student mentioned Ibrahim Alayhissalaam who possessed a sound heart or Qalb e saleem. He was a focused and sincere servant of Allah who called his nation toward the oneness of the Creator and called people toward understanding that the man made gods were of no benefit or harm to them. 

After mentioning these points from Dawa e Shafi, our teacher asked us to do self analysis or muhasba to know and find out about our hearts. She also highlighted the importance of the daily supplications of protection and the significance of the remembrance of Allah. These daily supplications help us in numerous ways as they are a protection for us from all evil and they carry tremendous rewards as well. 

As human beings we will fall short and do mistakes but we must not lose hope. If sometimes we lag behind in doing our routine good deeds we must compensate that with the remembrance of Allah as soon as we remember it.
Those who do the work of Allah, spread goodness and the teachings of Islam are more prone to getting evil eye and hasad, therefore, they are required to recite the daily supplication with much more care and consistency. 

After her part of the session, our teacher Dr Hashmi asked the students to interact and share their experiences in Ramadan so that all can benefit. 

One of the ladies asked her that we learn so many weighty words and phrases like Taqwa (God consciousness), Ikhlas (sincerity) and Shukr (gratefulness), but how do we practically apply these terms in our lives.

Ustadha answered in a very simple way saying that we must reflect and ponder on each of our actions and try to see the outcome of what we do. 

She gave various examples like when we feel thirsty we drink water. This is a normal act and it is purely physiological and worldly. But as soon as we say "Alhamdulillah!" this simple act of drinking water becomes an ibaadah or worship! This way we have incorporated the concept of shukr or thankfulness in our life. Also if someone else is giving us the glass of water we can say Alhamdulillah as well as thank him or her by saying Jazak Allah Khair (May Allah reward you in good), this makes the act of drinking water alone a way of worshiping Allah and thanking His servants. The heart becomes filled with gratitude and the person acts upon the command of thanking Allah.

Another example she gave of our time while cooking. We can think about those who do not have much and are deprived of a life full of bounties. While cooking we can feel thankful to Allah for bestowing so much and feel deeply about others too.

As regarding sincerity we must ponder on our actions and see as to whom we are pleasing. 

There was one very beautiful point that was mentioned. We do not always need to call others toward the Quran and its teachings verbally or physically, it is our way of behaving calmly and being peaceful and patient in odd situations which can attract people and they are forced to ask us as to what has made us so peaceful and wise. This way they can get interested when we introduce to them the teachings and wisdom of the Quran that has led us to behave in this graceful and tranquil way. The akhlaq and manners of ahl e quran itself can do a great deal of work without giving extensive lectures and invitations toward Islam! 

Those who are devoid of the sweetness of guidance and do not listen to or crave for the Mercy of Allah such are the unfortunate ones. Some people are so heedless that they ascribe false things to Allah and His Messengers. This is a grave sin. Those who were heedless to the Truth and the teachings of Al Quran and those who forgot the remembrance of Allah will be raised blind on the day of Judgment and will be forgotten by Allah as they forgot Him in their life. 

"And whoever turns away from My remembrance - indeed, he will have a depressed life, and We will gather him on the Day of Resurrection blind." 20:124

Another lady mentioned that we must not let our children enjoy just the luxuries of life and not have them experience the hard work and the sweetness of exerting ourselves for doing good for others. She mentioned how her 6 years old child did the circumambulation of the Kaba (the house of Allah in Makkah) from the roof and did not get tired! Ma sha Allah! Also he was so keen on serving the pilgrims water and was running around giving glasses of water to people! She said that she could see how her child was the coolness of her eyes by being so enthusiastic regarding good deeds. 

Another student shared how we must work on our children for their religious education as well which is not contradictory to the modern education. She mentioned how her twin children are both memorizers of the Quran as well as good in modern education. Her daughter is herself keen on dressing up modestly and they enjoyed their Taraweeh prayers immensely during Ramadan due to their connection with the Quran. 

I also shared a couple of incidences in the session. One incidence was regarding my friend and neighbour who went to perform Umrah (minor pilgrimage) and forgot her phone on charging. She remembered only after they had gone too far to turn back. She started to feel upset without the phone as she thought she might need it very badly during her Umrah when she would get separated with her husband due to the huge rush there. But then suddenly the thought of the grave came to her mind and she thought that she can contact her loved ones on the phone here when she is in trouble or needs them but what will happen in the grave when she will neither have her phone nor any other means to contact her loved ones?

This made her heart at rest and she stopped being worried without the phone! 
The next thing I shared was regarding the extreme heat that we are experiencing these days in Jeddah. The weather is too hot these days. When I set out for the session in the morning with my husband,
we discussed the sun and how it is so hot even when the sun is so far away from the earth. My husband told me the facts about the distance of the sun from the earth and how it takes 8 minutes for the sunlight to reach the surface of the earth. Then I shared with him the Hadith in which it is mentioned that the sun asks the permission of its Lord to rise each morning and then one day it will not be given the permission as it will be the Last Day; the day of Judgment. We discussed how so many things are the affairs of the Unseen and we will only be able to know the reality of everything once we meet our Lord, The Almighty. The desire to meet the Creator is the most beloved thing for any creature, especially the human beings who have been given the highest faculties of reasoning and intelligence!

This was a very enlightening and reviving session after the long and hard journey of Ramadan. It increased the still sparkling light of the Quran in the hearts as it was just the second day of Eid. Meeting the Quran teacher and having this interaction was in fact a beautiful gift we enjoyed on Eid!
I pray that Dr Farhat Hashmi has good health, wellbeing and acceptance of all her good efforts in the way of Allah the Almighty and we continue to benefit from her wisdom and ilm and keep our journey on the path of Allah going on with pleasure and great spirit. Aaameen. 

Monday, May 1, 2017

The Big Question

The big question is why? Why in the whole world only one religion and its followers and its tenets are being targeted? Why every other ideology, religion and system is no threat to anybody but when it comes to Islam it is being presented in the most negative light by not just the media but even by other authorities? Why people readily listen to anything even if it is some meaningless rap but when they are told to listen to or read the Quran they feel offended? Why over the globe only the followers of Islam are being targeted, be it the issue of hijab, mosques, prayer call, beard or their struggle for their rights as citizens? Why no body questions the authenticity of the ideoligies presented by others as just theories? Why is there such blind following of non sense and no body bothering to look into that but such hurried opinions over issues that have complete authentication and historical and divine proofs?
Why doesn't anyone bother to challenge and raise the voices against the weird rituals and customs carried on in the name of belief and faith although such traditions clearly harm the society, the women and children and the animals too!?

I was trying to read about the various practices that take place in India in the name of religion and I came across numerous examples. Even in Christianity, Judaism, Jainism, Buddhism they have unbelievable customs and traditions which are being carried out very conveniently and there is no amount of threat to their existence. Some practices are carried out in the name of culture and without any fact or proof they are maintained with surprising ease and fearlessness. If you want to have a look at some of the awkward things found just in India you can visit the link below:

My big question still remains: Why Islam? Why has it been distorted and mispresented to the world? The teachings of Islam are crystal clear if you read the Quran and the Life of the Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him and learn direct from the sources. Do not judge the book without even looking at its cover! Do not judge Islam by looking at Muslims alone. They are not representing Islam as it should be. They are not completely and correctly following it many times! I agree this is a fault on our part. But there are many around who are there as the standard bearers of Islam. They are trying to represent Islam in the most correct way.

Why is adhering to the faith you proclaim is considered undesirable and living like someone who is open to everything considered being liberal? Why on earth then you proclaim some ideology or faith when you do not want to own its principles and values? What makes you a Muslim, a Christian or a Hindu, or a Sikh if you do not follow what your religion says? Is it limited to just your name?
Why a religion with a crystal clear history and a Book which has not doubt in its divinity rejected and hated so easily by many people even without taking a step ahead to know what actually the truth is?

The answer is not as complicated as the question.

The adherent of this religion have not made the required efforts to present its real picture to the world. Many are doing this work but still the message has not being conveyed satisfactorily. Many youth are just wasting their time on the net and are unaware of their own faith. Abusive languange, taking revenge and arguments have become a common practice. Islam does not teach all this. It is a religion that teaches forbearance and dealing with wisdom and patience even with those who differ from you. It is not a fight or competition as to who wins or who is right. It is a struggle to dye your heart in the colour of Truth and throw away the robe of falsehood and lies. It is the time people leave behind the prejudices and at least listen to or read what Islam actually is. The responsibility is in the hands of Muslims. They need to present Islam in the best manner through their good conduct. The Quran is not just a Book it is indeed the speech of the Creator. People tend to believe in all the weird things so easily but when it comes to truth they hesitate.

Every human has been created on the natural instinct that is the yearning for truth and the only truth is that there is only one God. Every soul has been created upon this nature. The soul has this thirst to know who created it and what is the purpose of it being here. People wander here and there in search of truth but they do not find solace because this need of the soul is not met. No other entity except the one true God can give this peace to the yearning heart. Islam calls towards this success. Islam is a call toward the worshipping of the true Creator and not assigning anyone or anything else that status.

Can we imagine anything that resembles us or that resembles any animal or object to be our Creator?
Can you imagine an ipad looking like person to be the inventor of the ipad? : ) weird example I know!

Is the Creator not capable of being self sufficient? He has created the earth and the skies and put everything on it and sent the human beings. He created the life and death to see who is best in deed. He created us to worship Him alone. If we do not worship Him He is not in loss only we are the ones who can suffer the loss. He is the Originator and the Creator and the Master of everything.

The big question revisited: why such a simple religion that has only One God a matter of discomfort for the people who believe in what not. I do not want to sound offensive to other ideoligies but my point is just this; Islam propagates monotheism, it has one clear Book which defines the laws and gives guidelines to live a successful life and build an everlastingly successful Hereafter, it helps its followers utilize the bounties of the Creator and asks them to spread the Message of Truth; why then it is the most chased after faith?

Are you curious to know? I would recommend you to read a good translation of the Quran in your language with a clear heart and mind and Allah willing, you will understand the big question and hopefully get the simple answer to it!

The Musk Seller: A good friend, a great teacher.

Narrated Abu Musa: Allah's Messenger (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said,  "The example of a good companion (who sits with you) in...