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. 

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