In response to the recent violence. What would Prophet Muhammad (SAW) do?

I woke up on Tuesday, September 11, 2012 knowing that it was yet another anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. A day when many people, myself included, can remember exactly where they were and what they were doing, on that very day eleven years ago.

A day when Americans, and millions of others across the globe, reflect on the lives that were lost that day, on the families that were impacted by this loss, and by the sheer magnitude of how that day has affected us all, forever.

I know that, as a Muslim woman (even though I am an American, born and raised here), unfortunately I must expect some additional “awareness” of my presence in the community on the anniversary of 9/11. And, I must have a more “heightened” awareness of my surroundings. Although no one made any comments to me on that day (well, comments that did not make it to my ears anyway), I did experience a bit of discomfort (no harm) from others actions.

Once the media started reporting on the violence (ironically the violence began to occur on the anniversary of 9/11?) erupting in some middle eastern countries due to a stupid, disgusting, and ignorant low-budget film that was made in the USA depicting a blasphemous, ridiculous, slanderous, vile, and disgusting portrayal of Islam and Prophet Muhammad (SAW), I suddenly felt so let down (once again) by people who immediately choose violence over Islam! People who certainly do not understand Islam, or who have been very misguided due to their lack of knowledge.

As a Muslim woman, I felt that these people could actually be putting my safety at risk from across the world.  Why did I feel like they could be putting my safety at risk and that I may be a target of others comments or violent actions? Because, I am identified as a Muslim woman. Because I cover my hair and body.

God willing, I will remain safe but I am certainly becoming a bit hypervigilant while out and about by myself.

And, God willing no one, no law, no group, will ever take away my right to identify myself as a Muslim woman.

That being said, I am so deeply disheartened by all of the hate that I continue to see in the world today.

Growing up in a small community, predominantly white, with very little diversity, I was sheltered from much of what happens in the rest of the world. I am thankful to my parents for instilling me with values and morals that include love for all of humanity, not just those who were in my local community that I saw everyday.

As students, we are all taught of how far we have come since the days of slavery, the days of people of color having no rights in this country, the days of women having no rights in this country, etc.

Really? We have come so far?

Sure, laws were passed to “give equal rights”, but laws did NOTHING to remove the hate and prejudice! It is still here, and it is very widespread.

Such arrogance! Yes, it is arrogance! How can one person feel that they are better than another? Show me the proof that this is true! Where is that found?

Now that I am an adult (a female, white, American adult), an adult who has embraced Islam as my way of life, I am no longer part of that sheltered community that I was raised in, and let me tell you, it is like seeing the world through a different lens. Not just MY lens, but the lens that OTHER people are looking through when they look at me. To some, I instantly go from the American female that I am, to someone from another country, someone who can’t speak English (so I don’t understand their snide, hateful, ignorant, comments), or someone who must be oppressed because of how I dress. Throw in that social media has gotten so huge that “Freedom of Speech” has taken on a whole new level of acceptance.

There is so much HATE, MISINFORMATION, RACISM, VIOLENCE, INTOLERANCE, MISGUIDANCE, IGNORANCE (on so many levels), HYPOCRISY, DISHONESTY, SLANDER, shall I go on…?

Free speech…..free from what exactly?

I AM IN NO WAY CONDONING THE RECENT ACTIONS OF THOSE WHO HAVE BEEN SO OFFENDED BY THE ACTIONS OF “THE HATERS” THAT THEY HAVE TURNED TO VIOLENCE (which by the way, is not found in Islam and they are not acting according to what is taught to us).

I am offended myself, very offended, but I know that patience, sharing the truth, and acting in accordance with what Islam really teaches, is what I will do, God Willing.

Take away lesson: BE NICE, BE KIND! I’ll take that kind of “free” speech any day!

Pretty simple right? Why is it so hard to do?

Let me share something on the character of Prophet Muhammad SAW. As Muslims we should all know that he was the best of mankind! His noble character is a model of excellence that we should all strive for in our own lives. It amazes me that so many people believe the slander! I urge those of you who do not know of the remarkable human being to learn about him. To learn the truth about him from those who know the truth and are not making up lies and taking things out of context and spreading hatred!

Let me share a short example of  what the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) had to endure during his years as a prophet and his response. About ten years into his prophet hood, the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) set out on foot to the town of Ta’if to spread the word of Allah and invite people to Islam. When he arrived there, he was met with hostility. He endured this hostility for 10 days, staying in Ta’if and delivering his message.  The people of Ta’if did not welcome him, in fact, every day that he was there they literally tried to drive him from their town by pelting him with stones. He was so wounded that blood from cuts that he received was filling up in his shoes and overflowing. He endured this violence for 10 days. Once he had left the boundaries of Ta’if, he sought refuge and began supplicating to Allah SWT.

He said, “O Allah! To You alone I complain of my weakness, my insufficient ability and insignificance before the people. You are the Most Merciful of the mercifuls. You are the Lord of the helpless and the weak. O Lord of mine! Into whose hands would You abandon me: into the hands of the unsympathetic distant relative who would angrily frown at me, or to the enemy who has been given control of my affairs ? But, if Your wrath does not fall on me, there is nothing for me to worry about.”

Your pardon is ample enough for me. I seek protection in the light of Your Face, which illuminates the darkeness, fixing the affairs in this world as well as in the Hereafter. May it never be that I should incur Your wrath, or that You should be wrathful to me. And there is no power nor resource, but Yours alone.”

SubhanAllah, he had just endured days of suffering and pain and he complained of his own weakness and sought forgiveness and safety from Allah’s wrath. He complained of his own inability to convince the people of Ta’if of the truth.

Upon hearing this supplication, and knowing what the people of Ta’if did to the Prophet Muhammad SAW, Allah SWT sent down the angel Gabriel who said to Muhammad SAW “Allah has heard what your people said to you, and their reply to you. Allah has sent the angel of the mountains to you so that you may order him to do whatever you wish to these people.”

Do you know what Prophet Muhammad did next? He could have had the entire community crushed between the mountains, but instead, he left them alone. SubhanAllah. His response was, “No. I hope that Allah will let them beget children who will worship Allah Alone, and will worship none besides Him.” (Al Bukhari).

Alhamdulillah, the Prophet was certainly upset, and certainly offended by the response of the people of Ta’if, but he did not act out in violence, nor did he ask for them to be punished. His only wish was that they continue to have children in the hopes that some from that community will embrace Islam.

SubhanAllah!

Another hadith about his character is related by Aeshah (may Allah be pleased with her). She narrated “When the Messenger of Allah (SWT) was enabled to choose between two things, he used to choose the easiest of them if it was not a sin. If it was a sin, he used to evade it. The Messenger of Allah (SAW) did not take revenge for himself, except if the lawful commands of Allah were violated. In this case he used to take the revenge for the sake of Allah SWT)” (Al-Bukhari).

During these troubling times, we need to ask ourselves:

How would the Prophet have dealt with this insanity?

How would he address the Ummah?

Were the lawful commands of Allah violated? That will be for Him to judge!

I know who creates this evil, this hate! We all need to be aware of who is stirring up this trouble. After all, didn’t Iblis say  that he would create havoc among us.

“Then I (Iblis) will come to them from before them and behind them, from their right and from their left, and You will not find most of them as thankful ones (i.e. they will not be dutiful to You).” (Surah Al Araf: 17)

We need to stay strong, don’t cave to the Shaytaan’s whispers!

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Ramadan Reminders: Du’a is the Sunnah!

 Bismillahir Rahmanir Rahim

Praise be to Allah, we seek His help and His forgiveness. We seek refuge with Allah from the evil of our own souls and from our bad deeds. Whomsoever Allah guides will never be led astray, and whomsoever Allah leaves astray, no one can guide. I bear witness that there is no god but Allah, the One, having no partner. And I bear witness that Muhammad is His slave and Messenger.
 


~~

The Month of Ramadan is upon us.

Are you ready for this most Blessed Month?

Have you gathered your thoughts and put together your Du’a list?

Are you prepared?

Time is passing!

~~

Why must we make Du’a?

  1. Du’a is a command of Allah, Subhannahu Wa Ta’laa. Du’a is Ibaddah!

In the Qur’an, Allah (SWT) says:

“Invoke Me (believe in My Oneness and ask Me for anything) I will respond to your invocation.

             Verily! Those who scorn My worship (do not invoke Me, and do not believe in My oneness, they will surely enter Hell in humiliation” (Ghafir:60)

       2. Du’a is the Sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad, Sallallahu Alaihi Wa Salaam and his companions (RA).

3. Du’a is the practice of the believers.

“And when My slaves ask you (O Muhammad SAW) concerning Me, then answer them, I am indeed near (to them by My Knowledge). I respond to the invocations of the supplicant when he calls on Me (I answer the call of the caller)” (2:186)

 


4. Du’a increases our Emaan and proves that we are powerless over our destiny and proves our desperate need for Allah (SWT).

5. Du’a to Allah (SWT) proves to us His Great Mercy, His ongoing Mercy, and His ongoing Generosity!

~~ 

How does one make Du’a:

  • Always begin your Du’a with praise for Allah (SWT), praise him by calling out to him using his Blessed Names. Allahhumma” (O Allah)

As Sami: All Hearing – only He can hear the whispering plea

Al-Aleem: All Knowing – only He understands what is best for us

Al-Qawi: All Powerful – the Only One with the Complete Power

Al-Karim: The Ever Generous

Anas (RA) reported: The Messenger of Allah (SAW) said, “Recite frequently:            

‘Ya Dhal-Jalali wal-Ikram!” (O You, Possessor of Glory and Honor) (At-Tirmidhi)

  • Raise your hands up (a gesture of begging and of receiving Allah’s (SWT) Blessings)
  • Be firm in your conviction, do not be doubtful in words or in body language. Be convincing and insistent!
  • Show your desperation, cry to Allah (SWT).
  • Seek out the recommended times for making Du’a:

In the last third of the night

When we break our fast

After every salah

Day of Jumu’ah between Asr and Maghrib

  • Always end your Du’a  by sending Peace and Blessings to our Most Beloved Prophet, Sallallahu ‘Alaihi Wa Salaam.

“Whosoever is in the heavens and on earth begs of Him (its needs from Him). Every day He has a matter to bring forth”

(Ar Rahman: 29)

It is very important to be sincere in your Du’a and  humble in your Du’a. Have a conversation with Allah (SWT) in private and quietly, and share with Him your desperation of your needs. Share your frustrations, share your weakness, and be confident that your Du’a will be answered.

~~

For your Du’a to be accepted:

  • Do not ask for haraam (for something sinful), and don’t speak inappropriately to Allah (SWT).
  • Do not make Du’a for something that would cut family ties.
  • Do not become impatient and say that your Du’a  has not been answered.

“The supplication of a slave continues to be granted as long as he does not supplicate for a sinful thing or for something that would cut off the ties of kinship and he does not grow impatient.” (Muslim)

  • Be firm in your conviction that Allah (SWT) will answer your call.

If you do this, with full sincerity, your Du’a will be accepted. It is up to you and it is not a matter of “if” it will be accepted, it is a matter of “when” it will be accepted. Barriers to your Du’a being accepted are caused by you alone. Avoid the consumption of haraam!

There are three outcomes of Du’a made in sincerity:

  1. Allah (SWT) will fulfill your request in this life.
  2. He will save it for you in the Hereafter (because it was not good for you in this life).
  3. He will avert some harm from you in exchange for the Du’a (your request was not good for you here or in the hereafter).

Subhan’Allah. Alhamdulillah. Allahu Akbar

Allah (SWT) knows what is best for you and he is the best of planners!

~~

Be ready for the most Blessed Month, a Month to seek forgiveness. Take advantage of this by making Du’a repeatedly.

Make a du’a list! Include in that list:

  • Seeking forgiveness for all of the believing Muslim men and women.
  • Make du’a for those who have hurt you.
  • Make du’a seeking forgiveness for those whom you have wronged
  • Make du’a for your needs in this life (be specific)
  •  Make du’a for your needs in the hereafter (be specific)
  • Make du’a for the needs of your family (be specific)
  • Make du’a for the needs of family and friends (be specific)
  • Make du’a for those who have helped you gain knowledge of your Deen (friends, family, and any individual/organization)

~~

One Du’a that we should all learn, which should be made over and over again, especially during this most Blessed Month is:

“Allahumma innaka ‘afuwwun  tuhibul ‘afua fa ‘fu ‘annee”

“Oh Allah. You are forgiving, You love to forgive, so forgive me.” 

~~

A Beautiful Dua’a, SubhanAllah:

“O’ the One Whom eyes cannot see, conjectures cannot grasp, and describers cannot describe;

Whom events cannot affect and Who does not fear calamities;

Who knows the weights of the mountains and the volumes of the oceans and the counts of the raindrops and of the tree leaves, and the counts of everything on which night brings darkness and day brings the light;

(O’ the One from Whom) a heaven cannot hide another heaven, nor the earth hide another earth, nor an ocean can hide what is in its depths, nor a mountain can hide what is behind its ruggedness-

Make the last part of my life its best, my last deed my best one and the day I meet You my best day.”

[This is a du’a that was made by a Bedouin, in the presence of the Prophet (peace be upon him). The Messenger of Allah loved these words so much that he gave the man a gift of gold. Abu Bakr as-Siddiq used to make this du’a and when asked why he did this, despite being a companion of the highest status, he replied, ‘(Sometimes) a servant keeps on doing pious deeds for a lifetime but they are ended with the deeds of the people of the Fire. And (sometimes) a servant keeps on doing sinful deeds for a lifetime but they are ended with the deeds of the people of the Garden.’]

 ~~

Most of the information I have written in this post is from a wonderful lecture that I watched as I began to prepare for the Month of Ramadan, a lecture by Abdul Nasir Jangda.  This is valuable information that all can benefit from, Insha’Allah. The lecture is below (approx 1 hour in length) and will provide more in-depth detail.

~~

May Allah (SWT) accept all of our Du’a and may all of our Ibaadah, our Fasts, and our seeking of forgiveness during this most Blessed Month be accepted by Allah (SWT). Ameen.

If I have said anything here in this post that is wrong it is from me alone, and all that is right is from Allah (SWT).

The Blessed Month of Ramadan. A Purification of the Soul.

For some, this will be learning and for some, refreshing, Insha’Allah.

Ramadan is the most blessed month for Muslims. It is the month in which the Qur’an was first revealed to Prophet Muhammad (Sallallahu Alaihi Wa Salaam). It is a month of mercy, of forgiveness, and of freedom from the fires of Hell.

On the authority of Abu Huraira (RA), Allah’s Messenger said, “When the month of Ramadan starts, the gates of Paradise are opened and the gates of Hell are closed and the Shayteen are chained.”

~

This is a month that gives us the opportunity to increase our knowledge of the Qur’an and of the Sunnah of our most beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAW), and to put it into practice. It is our opportunity to become closer to Allah (Subhannahu Wa Ta’ala) by increasing our ibadah (worship), increasing our knowledge of this beautiful Deen, increasing our self-restraint, and increasing our charitable acts, Insha’Allah.

Alhamdulillah.

Ramadan is the 9th month of the lunar year. Since we follow the calendar according to the phases of the moon, each year Ramadan falls a bit earlier than the previous year.  This actually balances out our experiences so that Muslims from all over the world, over a period of years, will experience Ramadan during both winter and summer months, SubhanAllah.

During the month of Ramadan, Muslims observe fasting through the entire month, each and every day, from just before the break of dawn until sunset. We not only abstain from eating and drinking, but from sexual relations with our spouse, from backbiting and foul language (which we should avoid always), and we refrain from looking or listening to anything that will turn our attention away from Allah.

Bismillahir Rahmanir Rahim

“O, you who believe! Observing As-Saum (fasting) is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you, that you may become Al-Muttaqun (the pious). (2:183). 

 In this day and age, where media and advertising are everywhere, it can be very challenging to not look as it is put right there in front of our eyes! Giant billboards cover our highways with degrading pictures. Stores and television shows highlight uncovered bodies, sex, and violence, and the world itself is in turmoil!

During this month, we make an extra effort to stay away from these worldly desires by refraining from activities that may invite them, such as participating in social events that are not beneficial for us, and refraining from television, movies, and  Internet usage that is not beneficial.

The mandatory fast of the Muslim are straightforward. No food, drink, or sexual relations during the daylight hours.  We also strive to stay away from anything that turns our attention to material things. Our most beloved Prophet Muhammad (Sallallahu Alaihi Wa Salaam), stayed away from his wives for the entire month of Ramadan, and spent hours upon hours in worship seeking forgiveness and seeking the blessings of Allah (SWT).

~~

I recently heard a wonderful lecture on “Ramadan Preparation” given by Mufti Ismail Menk. In this lecture, he gave a down to earth description of the prescribed fast and he defined the “prescription” as similar (in its formula) to the prescription given by a doctor to cure an illness.

Our prescription is: To Fast. 

Prescribed by: Allah (SWT).

Remedy for: Achieving piety, and to be forgiven for our sins.

Course of prescription: Fast from dawn till dusk (Abstain from food, drink, and sexual relations with spouse).

Duration:  For the entire month of Ramadan. Be sure to fulfill the entire prescription; Do not stop until complete!

Here is the video  just in case you need some Ramadan inspiration:

Through fasting of food and drink, we do experience some hunger during the day, but this only increases our awareness of those who are truly suffering and who experience real hunger each and every day. I have learned over the years never to say, “I’m starving” (which we have all said from time to time if we haven’t eaten for a just few hours). Whenever I have slipped up and said this, I immediately feel so ridiculous, I have no idea of the true feeling of hunger! I know that my hunger, my MINOR discomfort from fasting, is trivial compared to true hunger that is experienced by people, all over the world, each and every hour of every day.

Besides the minor hunger and discomfort that we experience, fasting also provides us with a much more transformational effect. The following explanation, found in the book Islam- Religion of Life, is quite powerful. It states that fasting “ engenders a sense of detachment from the world. Physical separation, as a powerful symbol, brings about in the mind and the heart that appreciation of distance which is one of the states most cherished by spiritual seekers everywhere. When Fasting, the Muslim acts with a new sense of confidence, able more fully to concentrate his attention on his material as well as his spiritual life. Temporarily despairing of food and drink, he is able to devote himself more fully to the One who is the source of all his sustenance. Thus during Ramadan, the Muslim finds that he religious life takes on new meaning. The Qur’an yields new secrets and treasures; in fact, every devotional practice functions more efficiently during the Fasting months. Thus the optional acts of worship are practiced more consistently, until the whole day becomes infused with religious meaning (Shalabi, 1989).”

~~

My very first Ramadan experience seemed quite uneventful. If I remember correctly, I had embraced Islam about 2 weeks before Ramadan knowing that I would have to fast; however, I did not truly understand the true meaning of the blessings of this wonderful month and missed out on much of the ibadah as my focus was mainly on fasting. The month went by rather quickly, and I went “with the flow”, not really grasping any understanding of this blessed month.  Alhamdulillah, by the time the next Ramadan came, I was much more prepared and more knowledgeable and gained much more insight.

Now, although I still continue to learn of the blessing of this month (and will always continue to seek knowledge, Insha’Allah), I always look forward to it with anticipation and, once it is here, I do not want the month to end.

I want to continue to keep my focus on my salah, on increased worship and praise, and on continued blessings; however, when Ramadan is over, I find it so hard to stay on track once the daily grind, the dunya, and the shayteen, quickly creep back into my life.

This Ramadan it is my intention, to improve my fasts, my Ibadah, my knowledge, and my acts of charity, and Insha’Allah I will be able to carry over these acts, with stronger conviction, throughout the rest of the year.

One of my Duaa’s during this most blessed month will be to ask Allah (SWT) to help me to work towards the highest form of fasting, “the fast of the soul.”  It is this highest level of fasting that will allow me to become closer to my Creator, to help me to think only of Allah (SWT), and to increase my ibadah during this blessed month. I understand that this form of fasting may take me many years to obtain.

Insha’Allah I will be able to get to this level.

~~

This year, in my neck of the woods, Connecticut, USA, Ramadan will fall during the hottest and longest days of the summer; however in other parts of the world, Muslims will be in fasting in much hotter climates while others will be experiencing winter and much cooler weather.

Insha’Allah, during this most blessed month, I will wake up very early in the morning, before the sun begins to rise, to eat a small meal called Suhur (at approximately 3:30am depending on the date). This small meal will consist of some fruit, a protein (maybe a hard-boiled egg or some oatmeal), and water or juice. I will not eat again until the sun begins to set for the evening (approximately 8:15-8:30pm).

There will be a bit of time between when I eat Suhur and when I pray the early morning, Fajr, Salah. Insha’Allah, I will take advantage of this time to read some chapters of the Qur’an and listen to some Qur’an recitation. This is a beautiful way to start the day, and I strive to do this often throughout the year. The world is quiet and peaceful at that time, and I feel so much more connected to what I am reading. Each time I open this book, each time I read or re-read a Surah, I gain new wisdom and insight into the beautiful meanings of each and every ayat. Each time I listen to tafsir of a Surah in the Qur’an, I am amazed by the beauty of this book and of the Arabic language.

Insha’Allah, when I break my fast in the evening, I will typically do it with dates and water. If no dates are available, then  I will have just a few sips of water. And, SubhanAllah, I usually feel full and quite satisfied from eating just 3 dates and a glass of water.

When I break my fast at sunset each day it feels so wonderful to know that I do this all for the sake of Allah (SWT) and that I break my fast with the sustenance that only He has provided me.

There is also a special salah, the Taraweeh salah that is done during the month of Ramadan. This salah can be done in the home, or it can be done in congregation.  This prayer occurs after the last salah of the day, the Isha salah (Usually around 10pm). When I offer this salah at home, I only am able to recite the few Surah’s that I know, however, in congregation, the entire Qur’an is recited from beginning to end starting with the very first evening of Ramadan and lasting through the entire month. This salah, if done in congregation, takes quite a while to complete each night, but the rewards for standing in salah are amazing.

SubhanAllah.

Alhamdulillah

Allahu Akbar

According to Hadrat ‘Abdullah bin Umar (RA), the Prophet said, “The Fast and the Qur’an will intercede for the believer (on the Day of Judgment). The Fast will say: ‘My Lord! I stopped this person from eating and drinking and gratifying his desires during the day and he abstained from these, so do accept my intercession on his behalf’; and the Qur’an will say: ‘I stopped him from seeking ease and comfort during the night, and he abstained from sleep and kept standing in Thy presence, reciting the Qur’an; so my Lord! Do accept my intercession on his behalf’. So Allah will accept the intercession of both.”

As you can see from the above Hadith, both Fasting and Qur’an recitation, if done correctly with the proper intention, are filled with blessings and great rewards from Allah (SWT).

Alhamdulillah

~~

In the lecture by Mufti Menk that I mentioned above, he discussed the need to seek knowledge of Islam and knowledge of our Creator, and that we should take the opportunity to do this often during this most blessed month. He suggested that we attend lectures, read Qur’an often, and seek knowledge!

He mentioned that he has had the opportunity to help many brothers and sisters who have reverted to Islam. SubhanAllah. He tells them “My brother/my sister, Islam is a religion. The more you know about it, the more you will love it, the more you will want to put it into practice. The less you know about it, the further away you will drift. So, remember, it is up to you to make an effort to look that which is from the Qur’an and Sunnah.”

This is so true. Without continually seeking true knowledge and understanding, from an authentic source, one will never know the true greatness of Islam and of our duty to our Creator. One can be so easily misguided if he or she does not become educated, especially today when there is so much corruption of this religion by fanatics and by people who have been misguided themselves. It is our duty to Allah (SWT) to learn!

As I seek knowledge during  Ramadan, I will have many sources available to me, Insha’Allah. I always have the Qur’an, Hadith information, Tafsir of Qur’an, and a variety of books available. I will also listen to lectures on the internet that are from trustworthy sources and I plan attend Taraweeh salah to hear further explanation of Qur’an, Insha’Allah.

There is so much information available (both good and authentic and bad), due to the internet (especially YouTube and Google) that one needs to have the ability to know what information is true and what is false. One needs to be extremely careful! This is why we have the Qur’an and the Sunnah to follow. If it is not in the Qur’an and not part of the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad, then we should stay away from it. And, if we have any doubt, the Prophet (SAW) has said:

Leave that which makes you doubt for that which does not make you doubt.” (Tirmidhi)

And,

What I have forbidden to you, avoid; what I have ordered you [to do], do as much of it as you can. It was only their excessive questioning and their disagreeing with their prophets that destroyed those who were before you.”(Bukhari/Muslim)

Fairly simple, huh?  This is one of the reasons that Islam appealed to me at first, everything is spelled out for me and if I have doubt about something, and I cannot find any clarification according to the Qur’an and Sunnah, I stay away from it!

SubhanAllah!

~~

Bismillahir Rahmanir Rahim 

The month of Ramadan in which was revealed the Qur’an, a guidance for mankind and clear proofs for the guidance and the criterion (between right and wrong). So whoever of you sights (the crescent on the first night of ) the month of Ramadan, he must observe Saum (fasts) that month, and whoever is ill or on a journey, the same number of days which you did not observe Saum must be made up from other days. Allah intends for you ease, and He does not want to make things difficult for you. (He wants that you) must complete the same number of days and that you must  magnify Allah (i.e. say Takbir (Allahu Akbar; Allah is the Most Great) on seeing the crescent of the months of Ramadan and Shawwal for having guided you so that you may be grateful to Him. (2:185)

My intentions during the upcoming blessed month of Ramadan, along with mandatory fasting, Insha’Allah:

  • Increase my charitable efforts
  • Increase my Ibadah
  • Read the entire Qur’an (in English and some Arabic)
  • Perform Taraweeh Salah and attend Taraweeh at the masjid when I am able to go
  • Learn and memorize more Duaa
  • Learn and memorize more Verses of Qur’an
  • Continue to develop my Khushoo in Salah
  • Limit my time on daily “dunya” activities. Television and Internet are full of distractions that I should not be viewing. Keeping them off will curtail the things that sometimes catch my eye that I could have done without seeing!
  • Eat light and only eat a full meal if I am hosting or attending a gathering. You have to try everything that is offered right?  So, I will try just a little, Insha’Allah!

~~ 

The days are passing, the month of Ramadan is near.

My dear brothers and sisters in Islam, may Allah (SWT) reward you with all that is good and may your fasts and ibadah during this most Blessed month be accepted. Ameen.

 

Sources:

The Qur’an

Hadith of the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) various sources

Shalabi, Abdul Wadod (1989) Islam: Religion of Life. Starlight Press: England

Understanding My Faith. My Islam. A reminder to some and to others, knowledge.

Bismillahir Rahmanir Rahim

In the name of Allah, The Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful.

~~

I am a Muslim woman, a Muslimah, Alhamdulillah!

I am not oppressed by others!

I follow the Qur’an, (the Book of Guidance, the Word of Allah [SWT]) revealed through the Angel Jibreel to Prophet Muhammad (SAW) and I adhere to the Sunnah (teachings, manners, and ways) of the final Prophet, Muhammad (SAW).

And, this is my attempt to share Islam with others, Insha’Allah.

This is a basic overview of my faith, my beliefs, and my obligations to Our Creator!

I urge my Muslim brothers and sisters to read this as a reminder of our beliefs and of our obligations to Allah and to each other, InshaAllah. I also urge my non-Muslim friends and family to read this to gain a true understanding of Islam. I fear that many of you have been duped by the media and by anti Islam groups (yes, there are many financially supported groups here in the USA) that are portraying Islam as something that it is not.

It is my hope, InshaAllah, that you will come away from reading this with a different perspective, or at least, a better understanding of Islam.

~~

Verily, all praise is due to Allah. It is due to Him, and to Him alone. We praise Him and we seek His help and forgiveness. We seek refuge in Allah from the evil of our own selves and from the evil of our actions. And whomsoever Allah guides, there is none to misguide him, and whomsoever Allah leads astray none can guide him aright. I testify that there is no god worthy of worship except Allah, alone with no partner, and I testify that Muhammad (SAWS) is His slave and messenger.

“Ash hadu an la ilaha illa Allah was ash hadu anna Muhammadan Rasool Allah”

“I bear witness that there is no deity except God (Allah) and I bear witness that Muhammad is the final Messenger of God.”

I profess my faith in Islam and I strive to live by it each and every day, Insha’Allah, as opposed to those who claim to live by Islam and do not, or those who are Muslim in word, but do not adhere to the commandments of Allah (SWT), or those  who claim to be Muslim who are killing or oppressing others in the name of Islam!

Astaghfirullah (I ask Allah for forgiveness)

~~

I understand that Allah (SWT) is the Creator and Sustainer of all things, which exist. And He is the Provider of all our sustenance.

~~

I understand that there is a realm that unseen, a realm that is beyond my limited human perception. Yes, as humans, we are blessed with intelligence, however or intelligence is not infinite. It is finite, it is limited.

~~

I understand that Islam is complete submission and obedience to Allah (SWT).

~~

I understand that there is absolutely no compulsion in Islam, and although I would love for all of my family, friends, and all of humanity to believe, part of my responsibility as a Muslim is just to share the Truth!

Everyone has freedom of choice! Allah (SWT) has provided us with freedom to do as we choose, however, we have a duty to worship Allah (SWT). That is our main purpose.

We can choose to submit to Allah (SWT) and be obedient to His Commands, or to be disobedient to Allah (SWT).

“And verily, this is my Straight Path, so follow it……” (6:153)

Allah (SWT) has blessed us with the best of all of mankind, The Prophet Muhammad (Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon him), as our role model. The Prophet (SAW) and his companions were of the best of men, there will never be a group as great as they were.

We have the Qur’an and the teachings and manners of Prophet Muhammad (SAW) as our guide.

~~

Islam is not a new religion. In fact, Islam is the original message sent by all of the Messengers of Allah.

Say (Oh Muslims), “We believe in Allah and that which has been sent down to us and that which has been sent down to Ibrahim (Abraham), Isma’il (Ishmael), Ishaque (Isaac), Ya’qub (Jacob), and to Al-Asbat (the twelve sons of Ya’qub, and that which has been given to Musa (Moses) and “Isa (Jesus), and that which has been given to the Prophets from their Lord. We make no distinction between any of them, and to Him we have submitted (in Islam).” (2:136)

~~ 

The basic beliefs of Islam are:

  1. Tawhid. Belief in Allah (SWT) alone.

Belief in the Oneness of Allah (SWT). No partners are associated with Him.

  “Say, He is Allah, the One. Allah is Eternal and Absolute. The Self-Sufficient Master (Whom all creatures need, He neither eats nor drinks). He begets not, nor was He begotten; And there is none co-equal or comparable unto Him.” (Qur’an, 112)

       2.  The Angels of Allah.

Angels are a creation of Allah (SWT), which have no free will. They perform special duties and always obey Allah (SWT). They are always in praise and glorification of Allah. Angels also aid us in our use of our free will. All of us are attended by two angels who record our deeds, both good and bad, right up until our death.

      “But verily, over you are appointed protectors (angels), kind and honorable, writing down your deeds. They know all that you do.” (82: 10-12) 

“ He sends down His angels with the Ruh (Revelation) of His command to such of His servants as He pleases, (saying) “Warn (man) that none has the right to be worshipped but I, so do your duty to Me.” (16:2).

One of the most honored angels, Jibreel (Gabriel), revealed the Qur’an to Prophet Muhammad (SAW).

      3.     The Books of Allah. The revealed scriptures.

 I believe in all of the original scriptures:

  • The Tawrah of Musa (AS) (Moses),
  • The Zabur of Dawud (AS) (The Psalms of David)
  • The Injil (Gospel of Isa (AS) (Jesus)
  • The Qur’an, revealed to Prophet Muhammad (SAW).

The Qur’an is the only divine book that remains unchanged, and will remain unchanged, in its original form. The message of the Qur’an is for all of mankind, and for all times. The Qur’an remains the only scripture that was compiled during the lifetime of a prophet who had received it directly from the divine source.  The Qur’an, a Miracle from Allah (SWT), the Word of Allah, is the final book of Guidance. 

“This is the Scripture in which there is no doubt. In it is guidance for the God-conscious, who believe in the Unseen, and are steadfast in prayer, and spend in charity out of what We have provided for them; and those who believe in what was revealed to thee (Muhammad) and in what was revealed before thee, and are certain of the Hereafter. These are on the true way of guidance from their Lord, and these are they who will be successful.” (2:2-5)

 

4.     The Messengers of Allah.

The Qur’an states that Allah (SWT) sent a warner and a guide to every people. The first Prophet was Adam (AS). Other messengers include Nuh (Noah), Ibrahim, Ishmael, Isaac, Yaqoob, Yusuf, Musa, Dawud, and Isa (May Allah be pleased with them all).

There are 25 Prophets named in the Qur’an.

“Say (O Muslims): ‘We believe in God and in what is revealed to us, and in what was revealed to Abraham, and Ishmael and Isaac and Jacob and the Tribes (of Israel), and in what was given to Moses and Jesus, and in what was given to the prophets from their Lord. We make no distinction between any of them (in believing them all to be God’s messengers), and to Him do we submit ourselves.” (2:136, 3:84-85).

Muhammad (SAW) is the final Messenger of Allah (SWT). He left behind the Qur’an and his Sunnah (teachings and ways) for all of mankind.

   5.     The Day of Judgment (The day of Recompense).

On this day, all of mankind will be accountable for their deeds. This day will come.

“Then how can you disbelieve in Allah? seeing that you were without life and He gave you life. Then He will cause you to die and will bring you to life again (on the day of Resurrection), and then unto Him you will return.” (2:28) 

“O mankind! If you are in doubt concerning the Resurrection, then, verily, We created you from dust, then from a drop, then form a clot, then from a lump of flesh, both shaped and shapeless, that We may make it clear for you. And We cause what We will to remain in the wombs for an appointed time, and afterwards, We bring you forth as infants; then you attain your full strength. And among you there is he who dies (young) and among you there is he who is brought back to the most abject time of life so that, after knowledge, he knows nothing. And thou seest the earth barren, but when We send down water on it, it thrills and swells and puts for the every lovely kind of growth. That is because God is the Reality, and it is HE Who gives lift to the dead, and it is He Who has power over al things, and because the Hour of Judgment will come concerning which there is no doubt, and because God will raise those who are in the graves.” (22:5-7)  

  6.     Divine Decree.

Everything is governed by Allah’s (SWT) will. Nothing takes place, not even a fallen leaf, without His permission.

“The Prophet believes in what has been revealed to him from his Lord, and so do the Believers. They all believe in God, His angels, His scriptures, and His messengers, making no distinction among His Prophets. And they say, “We hear and we obey. Grant us Thy forgiveness, or Lord, and unto You is the return (of all).” (2:285)

 7.     Life after Death, The Hereafter. 

The abode of Jannah (Paradise)

“Those who believe and do righteous deeds, they are the best of creatures. Their reward is with their Lord: Gardens of Paradise beneath which rivers flow. They will dwell there in forever, God well pleased with them and they with Him. This is for those who hold their Lord in awe.” (98:7-8)

Or of Jahannam (The Hellfire)

“And on the Day those who disbelieve will be placed before the Fire, (they will be asked), Is not this real? They will say, Yes, by Our Lord. “ He will say, “Then taste the punishment because you disbelieved.” (46:34).

 ~~

My duties as a Muslimah:

  1. Shahada.  My declaration of Faith:

“Ash hadu an la ilaha illa Allah was ash hadu anna Muhammadan Rasool Allah”

“I bear witness that there is no deity except God (Allah) and I bear witness that Muhammad is the Messenger of God.”

2. Salah.

I perform my 5 obligatory daily prayers at dawn, after midday, late afternoon, after sunset, and in the later evening. There are other prayers that I perform as well to increase my worship of Allah. As a Muslimah, I use my Salah as my personal conversation with Allah (SWT). This is my time to praise Him, to thank Him, to seek His assistance, and to ask His forgiveness.

“Indeed, I am Allah; there is no god except Myself; so worship Me and establish Salah to remember Me.” (20:14)

3. Zakah

Giving to those in need, or money spent in the cause of Allah. An annual due, a purification of the heart, which prevents greed and selfishness.

When I am blessed with enough money to offer the annual Zakat, I do so. I also provide charity throughout the year in the cause of Allah. Alhamdulillah.

“You will not attain righteousness until you spend out of that which you love. And whatever you spend from (your) possessions, indeed Allah is aware of it.” (3:92)

4. Sawm (Fasting):

A total abstinence not only from food and drink, but from marital relations, from backbiting, from worldly pleasures that are not good for us, and from sin!

Muslims fast during the month of Ramadan (the ninth month of the Islamic calendar) as an exercise in self-discipline and in worship and obedience to Allah’s (SWT) commands. We fast for the entire month of Ramadan, InshaAllah. We begin our day with our intention to fast and with a small meal which we eat before dawn arrives. We break our fast at sunset with water and a few dates, InshaAllah.

I always seem to become hungry about 2 hours before I break my fast and I feel like I can eat anything and everything put in front of me, but, Alhamdulillah, when sunset arrives,I break my fast with water and dates and I feel full!

It is amazing, SubhanAllah!

The first day or two of fasting may be somewhat difficult as our bodies adjust, but after that it is much easier to fast (although over these next few years, Ramadan will fall during months of long days and of hot weather). There are Muslims all over the world, in areas that are hot always, who fast during the month of Ramadan. Alhamdulillah, it is a great time for all Muslims.

The Qur’an was first revealed during the month of Ramadan. There is a special evening during the month of Ramadan which “is better than a thousand months” (97:3). It is called Lailatul Qadr (Night of Power). This night is presumed to occur as one of the last 10 nights of Ramadan and it is believed that the Qur’an was first revealed to Prophet Muhammad during this night. Muslims worship Allah (SWT) as much as they can during this night, it is a night of great blessing, InshaAllah.

Ramadan is a wonderful, greatly anticipated month for Muslims all over the world. We strive to worship our Lord even more during this month. We fast, we share, we seek more knowledge, we do self-reflection, and we increase our devotion to Allah (SWT) in many ways during this month.

O you who believe, fasting is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you in order that you may become the pious. Observe fasting for a fixed number of days, but if any of you is ill or on a journey, the same number (should be made up) from other days. And as for those who can fast with difficulty, they have a choice to either fast or to feed a poor person for every day. But whoever does good of his own accord, it is better for him. And that you fast is better for you if only you know.

The month of Ramadan, in which the Qur’an was revealed as a guide to mankind and as a clear evidence for guidance and judgment. So whoever among you sights (the crescent on the first night of the month of Ramadan, he must observe Saum that month, and whoever is ill or on a journey, the same number of days must be made up from other days. Allah intends ease for you and He does not intend hardship, and (He desires) that you should complete the prescribed period, and that you may glorify Allah for guiding you and that you may be grateful to Him.” (2:183 -185).

5. Hajj (Pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia to visit the House of Allah, the Ka’bah) is obligatory once in a lifetime for Muslims who can afford to go while leaving provisions for their family behind. Hajj is performed annually during the 12th month of the Islamic calendar (Dhul Hijjah). The Ka’bah was originally built by Prophet Ibrahim (AS). It is the first house built for the purpose of Worship of Allah (SWT).

“And remember Abraham and Ishmael raised the foundation of the House, saying “Our Lord, accept this from us, for Thou are the All-Hearing, the All-Knowing. Our Lord, make us those who submit to Thee and of our descendants a people who submit to Thee. And show us our rites, and forgive us. Indeed, Thou are the Forgiving, the Mercy-Giving.’ (2:127-128)

Hajj is an amazing life changing experience for those who perform it. No words can describe it other than:

SubhanAllah, Alhamdulillah, Allahu Akbar.

“And (remember) when We made the House a place of resort for mankind and a place of safety. And take you (people) the Maqam (place) of Ibrahim (or the stone on which Ibrahim (AS) stood while he (in worship) to Him.” (2:116)

As pilgrims head towards the Ka’bah, they recite:

“Here I am O Lord, Here I am, Here I am, You have no partner, here I am, surely praise, blessings and the kingdom are for You. You have no partner.”

There are many rites performed during one’s Hajj and many blessings given to one whose Hajj is accepted by Allah (SWT).

There is a “lesser Hajj” called Umrah that can be performed at any time of the year.

Alhamdulillah, I was able to perform Umrah in 2011 while I was working in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, and I was able to bring my husband to Saudi Arabia for Umrah during this time as well. InshaAllah, we will be able to perform Hajj someday and experience the Greatness of Allah (SWT) with thousands of other Muslims

SubhanAllah.

                                                    

~~

I am still learning about my faith, each and every day, InshaAllah. I have learned so much already, and I admit that I still know so little. I know that I will continue to seek knowledge so that I can benefit from my worship, InshaAllah.

Islam is a religion of peace, of unity, of brotherhood and sisterhood, of justice, of fairness, of equality, of abundant blessings and of just punishment.

It is not what is being portrayed by the media, or by extremists who promote violence.

For those of you who are curious to learn of this truth, do not learn from the news, from the internet, or from ignorance. Learn from those of us who are truly practicing our faith each and every day, InshaAllah. Ask us or seek knowledge from a local masjid!

 Brothers and Sisters in Islam, “Assalamu Alaikum Wa Rahmatullahi Wa Barakatu”

Peace and Blessings of Allah Be Upon You!

Follow the Qur’an and Sunnah, InshaAllah.

Live by the prescribed teachings and be an example to others, InshaAllah.

Alhamdulillah              SubhanAllah            Allahu Akbar

Sources:

The Qur’an

Islam, Beliefs and Teachings

The  Spiritual Cure

Towards Understanding Islam

What everyone should know about Islam and Muslims

Desires of the Dunya, My Jihad.

“The mutual rivalry of piling up worldly things diverts you.” (Surah At Takathar, 102:1)   

~

 It was reported by Ibn Umar (RA) that once while he was traveling with the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) the Prophet (SAW) placed his hand on Ibn Umar’s (RA) shoulder and said:

“Be in this life as if you were a stranger or a traveler on a path.”

After hearing this, Ibn ‘Umar (RA) used to say,

“If you survive till the evening, do not expect to be alive in the morning, and if you survive till the morning, do not expect to be alive in the evening, and take from your health for your sickness, and (take) from your life for your death.”  

 

This particular Hadith (an account of the saying or actions of Prophet Muhammad (SAW) or his companions) is a favorite of mine and I find it to be very thought-provoking. This Hadith sheds some light on man’s weakness towards the desires of  this life and of just how temporary this life truly is.  It is, in reality, short-lived (although we do not see it as such)!

This Hadith speaks of the importance of not becoming so comfortable in this life, of not being so content that this life is guaranteed to be here tomorrow, that we lose sight of our path, our ultimate destination.  We should strive to live within our means and fulfill the commands of Allah SWT and not become attached to the desires of the Dunya because these desires will not truly benefit us in the future.

In this life, we have a choice. Do we waste our time continuously occupying ourselves with useless attractions/distractions that will not help us attain entrance into Jannah? Or, do we exchange our worldly attractions for the attractions of Jannah, Insha’Allah?

Some definitions before I proceed:

Dunya is an Arabic word that can be defined as “this life, this life here and now on earth, and all of its earthly concerns.”

The opposite of Dunya is Akhirah, the Hereafter.

The Hereafter consists of Jannah (paradise) and Jahannam (hellfire).

~

The Hereafter that I strive for, in my struggles, is entrance into Jannah (paradise), Insha’Allah.

The Hereafter (both Jannah and Jahannam), is what I truly need to be concerned about throughout my daily activities in this life.

The Hereafter is what you should be concerned about!

The Hereafter is unavoidable!

The Hereafter is everlasting!

~

The Dunya, this life, this day-to-day mundane world, is full of distraction. We, as members of this world,  are constantly being drawn to the Dunya because of all of the attractions it contains. The Dunya can literally become an attraction park, or an amusement park, for us if we allow it.  There is no need to take the family on an outing to an attraction park!  The attractions/distractions are all around us, on our TVs, on our computer, in stores, in our schools, in our homes, in our hearts, in our desires, and in our minds. Our “entertainment”, our possessions, our wants and our desires seem to continually lurk within our thoughts.

Would you like to take a guess at who loves the fact that we are being distracted from our actual purpose?  Think about this as you continue to read.

We must remember that Allah SWT provides us with all that we need in this world, and He has also given us free will to choose our path. The obvious choice is the straight path, the path that will lead us to Jannah in the Hereafter, Insha’Allah.  However, along this path there are many distractions, many worldly attractions, many desires that pull us from that path.

The Shaytaan, fully aware of this predicament, constantly whispers in our ears and tempts us with these desires and attachments to the Dunya. These attachments are both tangible attachments as well as attachments to people, places, past events and memories, and thoughts of the future, which we truly have no control over.

We need to shift our focus from the attachments of the Dunya, to the attachments of Jannah, Insha’Allah. Jannah, an absolutely beautiful place (beauty beyond our understanding) where ALL of our wants, needs, and desires are guaranteed from Allah SWT…..forever.

Allah SWT provides those who enter Jannah with anything and everything that they could ever possibly desire along with never again experiencing any hate, jealously, anger, hunger, fear, loneliness,  repulsion, hurt, impurity, pain, or any kind of discomfort…..EVER!

But, Allah SWT does not give us a free ticket to Jannah. He tells us, over and over again, of our purpose: To worship Him alone by following His commands, by following the Qur’an and the Sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad (SAW).

Abdullah ibn Umar (RA)reported that Allah’s Messenger (SAW) said, “None of you can be a (true) believer unless his desire become subservient to what I have brought (of guidance and teachings)”.  

As humans,  we have been given free will to choose our path. Often, we become distracted from our path and we choose to amuse ourselves with all of this worldly nonsense that will give us very temporary joy and happiness. Most of the time, this “stuff” gives us false happiness,  or short-term happiness, that fulfills our immediate cravings or wants, but distracts us and allows us to pass the time away carelessly.

Time, critical time,  which we should be spending in worship of Allah SWT.

~

In the name of God, Most Gracious, Most Merciful



 By (the Token of) Time (through the ages), 
 Verily Man is in loss, 
Except such as have Faith, and do righteous deeds, 
and (join together) in the mutual teaching of Truth, 
and of Patience and Constancy. (Qur’an. 103)

~

This does not mean that we need to become monks and seclude ourselves from the Dunya.  We are here, and we can enjoy all things that are permissible, as long as we do not overindulge, Insha’Allah.  We need to be comfortable living in the Dunya as though we are just travelers, just stopping by for this short life to spend our time doing good in worship of our Creator, Allah, the Most Merciful, the Most Beneficent.

To benefit fully from our time here in the Dunya, we need to be conscious, actively conscious,  of how we continue to develop our relationship with Allah SWT. We must understand that our actions here will account for our wellbeing in the Hereafter.  We need to be mindful of the link between the Dunya and the Hereafter. We need to be mindful of our interactions with others and with the world around us.

We must always be asking ourselves:

  • Have we thanked Allah SWT today, have we praised Him, have we remembered Him often during the day?
  • How we are caring for ourselves today (how we are treating our bodies)?
  • How we are relating to others today (at work, in the community, with our spouse, and in raising our families)?
  • How we are caring for our environment today (be mindful of our waste)?
  • How we are spending our money today (spending on extravagance or living simply and spending in the way of Allah SWT)?
  • How we are spending our time today (are we wasting precious time on meaningless activities?)

If we do all of this properly, as prescribed by Allah SWT, and only do what is permissible and turn away from all that is not permissible and we are content with what Allah SWT has provided us…..this  will be part of our Worship of Allah SWT.  Our good deeds will be added to our “Jannah account” (Our book of deeds, good deeds! Insha’Allah).

Narrated Abu Huraira: The Prophet said, “Riches does not mean, having a great amount of property, but riches is self-contentment.”  

We need to constantly ask ourselves, “Is what I am doing right here and right now benefiting me for the Hereafter?” If the answer is “no”, then maybe we need to stop, assess the situation, and ask Allah SWT for guidance and forgiveness.

~

I bought into this Dunya hook, line, and sinker before I embraced Islam. Why…..because “that’s what we do.” That is what society has told us is important and if we don’t have it….we are sad and feel like we have failed at life!

Now, as a Muslim, I am working hard to change my relationship with the Dunya. This relationship is my jihad, my struggle.  It is my personal struggle within myself, to not waste my time on things that are not going to benefit me in my future, in the Hereafter, Insha’Allah. Each day I struggle with how I am going to fill my “Jannah account” with good deeds and worship, while being a productive member of this society.

There are times when I feel that I could use an “impulse/desire free aisle” for my every day life. But then, I would never experience the temptations that lie in wait and this would not benefit me nor allow me to struggle and to learn how to live my life according to Allah’s SWT plan.

My jihad, my struggle,  is with how I spend my free time. I no longer spend hours watching TV (although I am a self admitted TV addict) and every now and then will have a marathon TV day. And, I do spend time procrastinating!

I think that in many respects I try to limit my worldly attachments. I am not a big spender, and I no longer feel the need to have some of the things that were so important to me not so long ago.  I do feel that I have “stuff” that I do not need and as I move on to another chapter in my life, I will do my best to de-clutter and donate, to people in need, items that I no longer need.

My mind can get the best of me and my thoughts, often thoughts related to negative experiences and emotional hurt, enter my head during my Salah and distract me from my purpose.  Or, thoughts of my work, or my next task, or my “to do” list distract me in my Salah.

The Shaytaan has a way of reminding me of these thoughts to distract me from my conversation with Allah SWT. I cannot let this happen and continue to ask Allah for help in developing complete attention, devotion, and focus during this time.

“I seen refuge in Allah SWT from Shaytaan, the Rejected One.”

I must never become complacent and allow myself to think that I am “OK”, that I will be allowed entrance to Jannah. There is always room for self-improvement, self-reflection, and continued effort to add to my “Jannah account”, Insha’Allah.

I can never allow myself to become so comfortable with this life that I expect that I will wake up tomorrow and be able to seek forgiveness from Allah SWT for a sin that I may have committed today!

We can make the best of plans, however Allah SWT is the best of planners and what he has planned for us may not be what we have desired.

~

The time is now!

The clock is ticking and I do not want to add to an account (of bad deeds) in Jahannam (Hellfire). Jahannam is a indescribably horrific place to end up.

Astaghfirullaha wa atūūbu ilai(hi)

“I seek the Forgiveness of Allah and repent to Him”.

~

“I seek Allah’s forgiveness, besides whom, none has the right to be worshipped except He, The Ever Living, The Self-Subsisting and Supporter of all, and I turn to Him in repentance.”

~

Each day I strive to use my time wisely, in remembrance of Allah SWT, and to spend some time reading Qur’an, or  listening to a sermon or lecture on Islam, or practicing my Arabic learning, or acts of charity or good deeds, or educating myself on Islam in some way, Insha’Allah.

I need to ask myself:

How often does the Shaytaan win by distracting me or causing me to act on my whims/desires?  (Did I delay my Salah today in order to do something else? Did I purchase that item that I really didn’t need? Did I spend time watching endless TV shows rather than spending some time with the Qur’an or learning more about my Deen? Did I desire something I should not desire? Did I risk my modesty? Did I argue with a loved one? Did I backbite? Did I sin?)

How often am I seeking the enjoyment of this life, the attachments of the Dunya, through unnecessary consumption of time?

~

These attachments start when we are very little. (Yes, Shaytaan was working hard back then as well!)

Have you ever sat and watched Saturday morning television with your child? Although the shows are geared for children, which is debatable, (cartoons, children’s shows, etc),  the children are inundated with commercials about toys, games, fast food, clothing, and music. It is ridiculous. and around the holidays advertising is even more intense.

As we are growing up, we find that the desires of this life, this Dunya, surround us. As we reach the age of maturity, we are hit with our dreams for the future. We are spending our time on our career, finding Mr. Right, buying a home, buying a car, keeping up with the Joneses, our children, everything that is being forced upon them by the media, and social pressures. We are constantly bombarded by peer pressure in our youth, pressure to keep up with the Joneses as we mature, and pressure to have the latest gadget or latest technology.

Does any of this benefit us in the Hereafter?

“The mutual rivalry of piling up worldly things diverts you.” (Surah At Takathar, 102:1)   

Are you beginning to get how slick Shaytaan is? How unrelenting he is at causing distraction and havoc?

If we are not cautious, we will end up in a vicious cycle. A cycle that was also mentioned in a Hadith:

Narrated Sahl bin Sa’d: I heard Ibn Az-Zubair who was on the pulpit at Mecca, delivering a sermon, saying: 

 “O men! The Prophet used to say, “If the son of Adam were given a valley full of gold, he would love to have a second one; and if he were given the second one, he would love to have a third, for nothing fills the belly of Adam’s son except dust. And Allah forgives he who repents to Him.”

Unless we are able to be in this life as a stranger, we are destined for failure. Don’t get comfortable with the Dunya! Don’t fall prey to the Shaytaan! We will be questioned about our time here. This we know. We need to add to our Jannah account, fill it with good deeds and worship. Our possessions and worldly desires will be of no benefit to us beyond this Dunya.

Do not fall into the Dunya trap and end up worshipping the creation instead of The Creator!

We need to seek Allah’s SWT assistance to make us strong and keep us from falling into this Dunya trap. And, if we are already deep in the trap and Shaytaan has us by our ankles, we need to ask Allah SWT to help us get back on the straight path.

Remember, Allah SWT is Most Merciful, Most Beneficent, Ar Rahmanir Rahim.

Subhan’Allah (How amazingly Perfect is He)

“Know that the life of this world is only play and amusement, pomp and mutual boasting among you, and rivalry in respect of wealth and children, as the likeness of vegetation after rain, thereof the growth is pleasing to the tiller; afterwards it dries up and you see it turning yellow; then it becomes straw. But in the Hereafter (there is) a severe torment (for the believers, evildoers), and (there is) Forgiveness of Allah and (His) Good Pleasure (for the believers, good doers), whereas the life of this world is only a deceiving enjoyment.” (Al-Hadid 57:20)

The Defining Moment

Today, I have been gazing out my window and taking in all of the signs of spring.  The new growth, the blossoms all around, the sound of birds chirping, the changing weather patterns, and the smell of imminent rain showers.  I do love the spring season! In fact, I love that I have the opportunity to experience all four seasons, the new beginnings of spring, the lush greens and abundant vegetation of summer, and the fresh cleanness from new fallen snow in the winter, but my favorite time of year….the fall…. Autumn in New England!

When I was  young, I used to call it “crunchy leaf season” because of the sound the leaves made as you walked through them, kicked them, jumped into the big leaf piles, and stuffed handfuls of them into old jeans and shirts for scary Halloween decorations.

Today, I still love the smell of  the autumn air and the fallen leaves, the change in the air from the summer heat and humidity to a nice crisp coolness. I love to watch the trees changing colors and I love driving through the hills and hiking through the many trails I grew up near, to see the foliage.  And, I love to catch the most fabulous sunsets of the year.  Subhan’Allah. (How glorious and amazingly perfect is God)

Several years ago, during the fall season, I was in my first semester of graduate school, heading from one end of the campus to other end for class with fellow students.  The wind was gusting lightly causing a “whirlwind effect” of leaves spiraling down to the ground. “Oh, its such a beautiful day, I love this time of year”, I said. “Just smell the air, feel the crispness. Its sweatshirt season again! I love this!”

Just then, a fellow student, a Muslim brother said to me:

“You know what is beautiful? That not one leaf falls without the permission of Allah (SWT).”

I stopped suddenly, unable to move, and I looked up towards the sky as I watched one leaf break from a branch and slowly fall to the ground ever so gently. Then, another gust of wind came along and hundreds of leaves came down.  I thought, Oh my God……what?  What was that he just said? That was so beautiful. I was suddenly filled with an emotion that I had never experienced before. I felt a sense of overwhelming gratitude and awe and I actually began to cry.

What just happened? Why did that statement have such a profound effect on me? What did I just experience?

Alhamdulillah. (All praise is for Allah)

You see, I had been struggling with my beliefs, or non-beliefs, for several years. I was raised Catholic, but it never made sense to me. What I was learning seemed to contradict itself all the time and I never got any clear cut answers to my questions that made any sense to me.  I stopped going to church as soon as I could figure out a way to do it without my parents catching me (although, I am sure that they figured it out).

I wasn’t kidding anyone, especially myself.

As I grew and matured, I kept experiencing the feeling that I had a purpose in life, and that purpose was definitely not linked to what I was doing, or how I was living during that particular period of my life.

What was my purpose? Was it to be a good mother, a good wife, what was it?  I, along with most of the other people I hung with, was not concerned with anything but that very moment in time, not what occurred yesterday, or what may or may not occur tomorrow.

I started to notice that the people I surrounded myself with would do the same things over and over again, having fun doing stuff of course, but I soon began to view things from outside of this cycle of “sameness or purposeless.” What I once considered fun did nothing for me anymore. I would rather sit home and do nothing than go out and party with friends.  I struggled with depression and often felt alone and sad.

Through all of this, I had this inner drive to find my purpose, but I was too wrapped up in my own stuff to even know where to begin. I often brushed off my feelings as “being to analytic” or “come, on, just snap out of it.”

I knew that there was this “truth” out there somewhere. I just didn’t  know where or what it was. I knew that there was something to believe, some purpose, but what was it?

Well, believe it our not, the remark that the Muslim brother said: “Not one leaf falls without the permission of Allah (SWT)” was probably THE defining moment of when I began to realize that this, this emotion that I just experienced, has something to do with my purpose in this life.  If something so simple, so insignificant (or so I thought) as a leaf does nothing without the permission of Allah, then what is my purpose? What am I supposed to be doing?

It was that day, that one brief moment in time, that I began to understand the Greatness of Allah (SWT).

Allahu Akbar. (God is the Greatest)

I began to listen to this brother talk a bit more. Things he said made so much sense, yet they were so simple! How could something so simple and easy to understand be IT, be part of my purpose?  I began doing some research, and was encouraged to seek information from an individual with much more knowledge.  I met with him twice, each time learning more and more about the pillars and basic beliefs of Islam.  Each time being given things to read and opportunities to ask questions.

Now, with all of this information, I had to make a choice. I could go on living the way I had been, rather recklessly and with no clear direction or purpose, or based on my new knowledge, embrace the fact that there is No deity worthy of worship but

God (Allah), and that I am a servant of God. That was my purpose, to worship Allah SWT alone. If I wanted any chance of true peace I had no choice but to embrace Islam.

Alhamdulillah. (All praise is for Allah)

I love to observe all of the natural beauty I see surrounding me. I am in awe over the sighting of an animal in the woods, the sound of water as rivers flow past, the beauty of a sunrise or sunset, and the beauty that lies within our landscapes. It is when I am experiencing these natural wonders, that the Greatness of Allah is so apparent.

I have always, since I was little girl, found little treasures that I would bring home. Some piece of nature, whether I had a pocket full of sea shells, a pocket full of rocks, a piece of driftwood, or a snapshot of something beautiful I stumbled upon on my hike. I am so drawn to these little items. I now know that they are my small tangible representations of a much larger truth. Right now, I have a little pile of rocks in the car from a beach on the Cape, that haven’t yet made it in the house, As I sit on my couch right now I see the piece of birch wood bark that I found and I just had to bring home. I see the cool rock I found along one of my favorite river paths, and the little tiny beginnings of an avocado plant that I started from saving the pit from the fruit and allowing it to sprout a small root!

I look at all of this beauty with absolute amazement and thankfulness to Allah (SWT). Every ant that crawls through the grass, every butterfly that soars by me, every step that I take on this earth that sprouts vegetation, every rain drop that falls from the clouds, every animal searching for food in the early morning hours, every waterfall, every mountain, every gorge……..all here because of the Greatness of Allah (SWT).

Allahu Akbar

All of this beauty that is found all over this earth, beautiful waters, beautiful forests, beautiful deserts, beautiful scenery, the many animals, the sky, the stars, the sun, and moon, all beautiful creations, all on a set course. All of these creations of Allah SWT are in perfect harmony and there is no disorder. Each has a purpose, to obey and worship Allah (SWT).  And…we are able to experience this beauty because of Allah (SWT). Allah (SWT) created this beauty for our enjoyment in this world too!!

Subhan’Allah

All of this vast beauty…which also has a purpose! The same purpose as me! To Worship Allah (SWT)!

As humans we have to make a conscious effort to stay on the straight path and to turn to all that is halal (permitted) and turn away from all that is haram (forbidden).  We must be thankful to Allah, (SWT) ask only of Allah (SWT), and believe in the Oneness of Allah (SWT).

He provides all that we need, Alhamdulillah.

The beauty of this world is just a small glimpse of what is to come for those of us who truly have faith and knowledge and follow the guidance of our Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and worship Allah (SWT) alone.

“Ash-hadu an la ilaha il Allah Wa Ash-hadu anna Muhammad-ur- Rasul-Allah.”

I bear witness that there is no deity worthy of worship except Allah. I testify that Muhammad (PBUH) is the final messenger of Allah”

Tie Your Camel

One day Prophet Muhammad (Peace and Blessing of Allah SWT be upon him) noticed a Bedouin leaving his camel without tying it and he asked the Bedouin, “Why don’t you tie down your camel?” The Bedouin answered, “I put my trust in Allah.” The Prophet (PBUH) then said, “Tie your camel first, then put your trust in Allah” (At-Tirmidhi).This amazing hadith is so powerful, yet so simple. So many of us forget to do our part and take the approach that God will protect us even if we go about our day taking risks or making choices that may affect us negatively. We cannot walk about with blind faith, thinking that God will take care of us (and not let anything happen) when we are neglectful and careless and don’t do for ourselves.Not a day goes by that I don’t think about this hadith (not just because I adore camels!!) and try to act accordingly, InshaAllah.

And, if something happens to goes wrong…..well maybe I did or didn’t do something to prevent it from happening. And, if something does not go according to my plans, I remember that God is the best of planners and has better plans for me.

Alhamdulillah

This hadith can be compared to things people may do today such as:

Leaving the keys in the car and then being upset with God for their car being stolen!

Driving recklessly because “God is protecting me” and getting into an accident.

Sitting home and complaining about how bad life is, but not doing anything to better ourselves.

We MUST take an active role in our life! Then, and only then, should we be asking God to provide and protect us.

And, we must not forget to thank God for everything that has been provided to us.

I recently watched an epidose of Dr. Phil where he said to a guest on his show: “Pray to God, but row towards the shore.” I sat up and said. OMG…Dr. Phil is talking about Tying Your Camel!!

Tie Your Camel ~ Habibi Halaqas.