Monday, March 18, 2013

Unknown Names of Allah

In order to love someone, you have to get to know them.
It is a very difficult task to truly love someone, and be in awe, and have respect, and care for them or be conscious of them if you have no idea of who they are. Just the way this applies to people and our relationships in this world, this applies to our relationships with Allah. If we have no idea of who Allah is, then our worship isn't as meaningful and our relationship with Allah is not very strong.

"Allah - there is no deity except Him. To Him belong the best names." [20:8]

Allah has helped us get to know him, subhana wa ta'ala, through 99 very powerful names to help us get to know more about our creator. There are some names of Allah that most of us are familiar with such as Ar-Rahman, Ar-Raheem, Al Alim but then there are also some names that many of us may not be familiar with. The goal of this short series is to familiarize ourselves with the less commonly known names of Allah, inshAllah, so that through them we can develop a more personal relationship with Allah and add more quality in our du'as by calling out to Allah with these names, inshAllah.


…But is it not sufficient concerning your Lord that He is, over all things, a Witness?” [41:53]

Ash-Shahid is one name of Allah that many people are not familiar with. In the above ayah in the Qur'an, Allah uses this name of His to give us a reminder that is so tremendous. A simple question is being posed, Is Allah not enough of a witness? Today, what do people do to hide themselves of a crime? They’ll put masks on, they will impersonate someone else, they will bribe people into not telling. They will go through such lengths to make sure that something stays hidden or stay a secret, but why? Because guess who already knew your every move? Ash-Shahid, the one that witnesses everything.

We all know this. We were all taught this in Sunday school. But how often do we practically apply this? *Reminder to myself first. Whether its when that guy sends you a message on chat at one o clock in the morning for no reason, or whether you are backbiting that person with your friend even though no one else is there…Allah is Ash-Shahid. When it comes to thoughts, we are not held accountable for the things we think, or the things that cross our mind, but what if Allah did play out all our thoughts? What a scary thought, right? Yet at this very moment Allah knows our thoughts.

Another thing that this name reminds me of is when we reflect on all the oppression and torture that is taking place in the world today. Whether it is the ongoing struggle in Palestine, or the uprisings in Egypt, or the situation in Pakistan, Bangladesh, or Burma or Syria...there is so much bloodshed of the Muslims, so much oppression going on and sometimes we start to question how these eveil dictators are just getting away with it? These kinds of oppressors are just sitting around while their victims, often times innocent women and children are being slaughtered but we have to remember that Allah is witnessing there every move, their every murder, their every arrogant thought. Nothing is going unnoticed by Allah. No pain, no ache, no injustice occurs except that Allah has witnessed it and it will be brought to account and that's very comforting...Allah is always witnessing everything- your voice is never unheard.


That is because Allah is the Truth and because He gives life to the dead and because He is over all things competent” [22:6]

This name of Allah is mentioned in the above ayah that is in Surah Hajj. What is really amazing about the ayah above where Allah mentions that he is the truth, is that right before this, Allah had described the human development in such beautiful detail...

"O People, if you should be in doubt about the Resurrection, then [consider that] indeed, We created you from dust, then from a sperm-drop, then from a clinging clot, and then from a lump of flesh, formed and unformed - that We may show you. And We settle in the wombs whom We will for a specified term, then We bring you out as a child, and then [We develop you] that you may reach your [time of] maturity. And among you is he who is taken in [early] death, and among you is he who is returned to the most decrepit [old] age so that he knows, after [once having] knowledge, nothing. And you see the earth barren, but when We send down upon it rain, it quivers and swells and grows [something] of every beautiful kind.” [22:5]

Allah describes the way we develop into the forms that we are today and how we once started out so small...we get older, start to think we know so much...and then Allah returns us to a state of old age, where we start acting childish and go back to nothing again. SubhanAllah. And then Allah mentions in the next ayah that he is the truth. When you read this description of how we were created and the whole cycle of life, you cannot help but realize that there is no truth but God. There is not a human being that controls our development and controls death but it is only Allah that is in control of those things and just like that, we will be resurrected again. So seeing this process and reflecting on it, helps us come of the conclusion and helps us realize that Allah truly is as his characteristic states...Al-Haqq, the truth. 

Another things about this name is that it is opposite the meaning of falsehood- it is the opposite of that. Allah is the Haqq, the only real truth. And think about this, you know Allah is the real Haqq? That through everything and anything, Allah is the one that exists. What is the haqq of us humans? We are here one day and the next day we’re not? What is the haqq of us humans? We are friends one day, the next day we’re not. One day we’re merciful, the next day we’re not. But Allah, the Haqq is ALWAYS there, ALWAYS merciful, ALWAYS is hakeem, is wise. All the names of Allah ALWAYS are true about Allah where as we humans, our characteristics may waiver from time to time.


“And rely upon Allah ; and sufficient is Allah as Disposer of affairs.” [33:3]

Wakeel is sometimes translated is trusting, or lawyer and what does a lawyer do? A lawyer takes care of something on your behalf right? Like you want them to do something for you, you pay them, and they try to take care of that matter or that problem for you right? So Allah, Al-Wakeel is trusting, he is a lawyer, He does everything for us, yet asks for nothing monetary, all Allah asks for is some sincerity, some gratefulness.

Allah is wakeel over anything. Allah fulfills all our needs, maybe not that very second because we have to remember that at the same time Allah is Al-Hakeem, the wise so maybe you going to that conference on that weekend wasn’t best for you so Allah didn’t fulfill that because maybe he was protecting you from something else. Blessing in disguise. So, thus, Allah still is taking care of all of our needs.
In times of distress, upon who else will you call other than Allah, who will actually make a difference? Ranting to your friends might maybe help you share it with someone, maybe get some advice but at the end of the day, who can actually bring about change…Allah. And upon Allah we need to leave our trusts. Upon Allah we need to rely on and leave our affairs.


This name of Allah describes Allah's characteristic of being the ever lasting, the ever enduring. 

"Indeed, we have believed in our Lord that He may forgive us our sins and what you compelled us [to do] of magic. And Allah is better and more enduring.” 20:73

As humans, the concept of infinity and everlasting, although we know its meaning, cannot be fully understood because everything on this earth has its appointed time. On that day that the horn will blow, everyone will pass away but Allah will remain. Allah will never come to an end as he has no beginning. Time is of no relevance to Allah, Allah created time. All of creation is brought to life, lives and dies. Anything that has been created will come to an end, except for the one who created all of creation, Allah, Al-Baqi.

This name is hard to elaborate on because our minds cannot go past what we know and there is nothing that we know equivalent to Allah. We have understanding of the created but Allah is not created, he is the creator.


The root word of the Attribute “al-Warith” is “waratha,” which means inherited. Allah will inherit all beings after their extinction, He is the only one who remains when all else comes to an end, the one whom all returns, the one who has ownership of all that has ever been created ,

“And indeed, it is We who give life and cause death, and We are the Inheritor.” [15:23]

 Allah is the sole Inheritor of Earth. Until the day we die, we strive for dunya-things such as wealth and success but when we face the angel of death, this will be all gone. Today we put so much emphasis on becoming a successful individual, no matter what field, as long as we grow up to own our own house, with our own car and our own things. Success, Success, Success! And this ideology of success triumphing everything else has also lingered into the Muslim community. Some parents care more about their child becoming a doctor than they do about obligatory Islamic acts. A child will come home with a “C” and the parent will scold him, telling him that “muslims are not dumb” but when the child misses multiple prayers, the reaction is not the same. Personally I have met students whose parents would not let them fast during school although it was Ramadan because the student needs to concentrate. What messages are we sending our children? That success is more important than Islam? That achieving the highest degree comes before the decrees of our lord?  This way of thinking produces people, who believe that they will live their young life to be successful and become religious when they are old, people who care more about things that give no benefit to them on that faithful day, and people who do not understand that Allah is Al-Warith, the sole inheritor. 

We think we own something but all of these things that we are sacrificing our Islam for will not come with us but will be left behind on this earth. All of the wealth, status, and respect enjoyed in this world is temporary. You can’t take your money, purses, or cars in the grave with you, you are a bare body in the earth. Allah is the sole inheritor of all that is created.


"Allah is the Light of the heavens and the earth. The example of His light is like a niche within which is a lamp, the lamp is within glass, the glass as if it were a pearly [white] star lit from [the oil of] a blessed olive tree, neither of the east nor of the west, whose oil would almost glow even if untouched by fire. Light upon light. Allah guides to His light whom He wills. And Allah presents examples for the people, and Allah is Knowing of all things." [24:35]

 This name alludes to Allah being the ultimate light, a light that is not from any other light, a perfect light. Allah is a light that is free from any such defects. Light is the purest things we know and one of the most precious, without light everything we know would be nonexistent. Imagine life without light, there would be no light. Even the light of a fire is a blessing, because it is a source of heat as it is a source of light. But this is only physical light which is not perfect, it is dependent on space and time. The light of Allah is perfect, it is not kindled from other lights and free from any defects. Allah is An-Nur, Allah provides the light to the entire universe, faces, minds, and hearts to his creation. Allah is the source of all light in the heavens and on earth, there is not a light that is not from Allah and Allah alone. And everything from Allah is a source of his light such as the Quran and his messengers. These are sources of light that have been sent to us to guide us to the ultimate light, Allah, because only through his light can we reach the ultimate sustenance-JANNAH.

“Allahumma: Put light in my heart, light in my tongue, light in my sight, light in my hearing, light on my right, light on my left, light above me, light beneath me, light in front of me, and light behind me. Put light in my soul, and give me great light.” (Sahih Bukhari and Sahih Muslim)

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Let the Past be the Past

Everyone has a past. We are all humans, not angels. So making mistakes is human and it is what makes us, us. A great example of this, is Prophet Musa (as) who has a past of his own, although a mistake, it was something done in the past that was not praiseworthy. If a Prophet of Allah, a servant chosen by God, made a mistake in his life, what would make anyone think that we wouldn’t? What gives us enough arrogance to believe that there is even the possibility of the perfect human being?  There really does not need to be a page written to get this point across, everyone is going to make mistakes and everyone is going to have something lingering in their past. This is what gives us the building blocks to change, knowing that we are not perfect it is what gives us the basis to grow and become a better person. And we can never let our past become out future. We have to remember that Allah is Ar-Rahman, Ar-Raheem, and there is nothing we can do that we cannot build from. We cannot reach a state in which we have passed Allah’s mercy, so although, we make mistakes, we can go from the worst of sinners to the best of believers. 

Ummar ibn Khattab is considered one of one hundred most influential people to ever live. “He was a pioneering figure in the Islamic world. He was a leader, a statesman, a pious and God conscious Muslim who showed respect for all individuals including non-Muslims and he ordered the Muslims to treat non-Muslims with respect. He showed us how to apply the Quranic injunction "there is no compulsion in religion. Under the leadership of Umar ibn Al-Khattab Islam spread widely not by the sword but by virtue of its beauty, simplicity, transparency, openness and the leadership provided by him.” But this  is the same man who tried to kill the Prophet (sws) and would kill Muslims just because they are Muslims yet he grew to become one of the most influential men to ever live and not by just Islamic standards, but world-wide. He went from the worst of sinners to a man promised Jannah. There is not a sin that we cannot rise from and become the inhabitants of Jannah. We pave our own paths and are the leaders of our own future. 

One very important thing to focus on when discussing the topic of having pasts and change is how, we, as individuals treat others who are trying to turn around, and are trying to return back. And the best way to look at this, is from the Story of a woman that lived during the time of the Prophet (sws), named Hind. Hind was one of the elites in the Quraysh, coming from a family of royalty. Her family was one of the biggest opposers of Islam and when the Prophet (sws) made the message public, her family was one of the foremost in opposition to the message. During the Battle of Badr, Hind's family was fighting against the Muslims and in battle, Hind's father, brother, and uncle all were killed. When Hind's husband came home and told her that, she was furious. She hated Islam, and she hated the Prophet, and she hated the message. At the next battle, the Battle of Uhud, she hired an assassin named Wahshi to go and assassinate the Prophet (sws)'s uncle, Hamza (rA) whose sword was the one that had killed her family in the Battle of Badr. Wahshi goes onto the field during the battle, and kills Hamza (rA) but even after that, Hind is still so full of hate that she goes on to the battlefield and starts stabbing the body of Hamza (rA). Some narrations say that she cut his nose off, cut his ears and his tongue, took his intestines out and even started chewing them just to show how much she hated him. Awhile later, during the conquest of Makkah, Hind's husband converted to Islam after the Muslims offered him protection, which made Hind extremely furious that she publicly humiliated her husband. That same night, however, she noticed how even though they, as the enemy of Muslims had caused so much grief to the Muslims, now that the Muslims were back in Makkah, there was so much peace and quiet. The next day she cloaks herself and goes to the Prophet (sws) and confesses that she wants to accept Islam. 

And what does the Prophet (sws) do? He welcomes her to Islam happily and tells her about the rites and duties of being a Muslim. This was the same women that had chewed out and killed his uncle but look at the way he treats her, with so much kindness and respect, without ever mentioning anything of the past. Even Wahshi, the assassin who Hind had hired, the Prophet (sws) would send him letters telling him to become Muslim. Look at the way the Prophet embraces people who had done such great sins, yet welcomes them and not once undermines them. This is the way we should treat people. If we know something about someone, we know how they were back in the day, and now we see that they are truly trying, instead of pulling them under again, instead of talking about them and pushing them away, we should always be welcoming towards everyone. When we see a Muslim that is truly trying to return back an change their ways, we should not be the "Haram Police" or the make snide, rude remarks once they start and integrate into the masjid or try to start something good. Instead, we should help them, facilitate their journey back to Allah, and make sure that we try always keep our arms open to our brothers and sisters in Islam. 

Everyone makes mistakes, everyone has a past. But just like that, everyone has the potential to change and turn back as well. And when that does happen, we should be the facilitators for people to turn back and we should help people rather than hinder their journey. 

Friday, February 1, 2013

Don't be Sad, Allah is with us

In the Qur’an Allah says,

“…This day I have perfected for you your religion and completed My favor upon you and have approved for you Islam as religion.” [5:3]

Allah tells us that he has done us a favor; Allah has given us something, a gift that many people do not have.  Sometimes we don’t realize what blessing we have, what kind of gift we hold in our hands and hearts, a gift that no one can take away from us.

And strive for Allah with the striving due to Him. He has chosen you and has not placed upon you in the religion any difficulty.”  [22:78]

Allah says that He, subhana wa ta’ala has chosen us, He has CHOSEN US. We have been chosen. Allah says in another verse in the Qur’an, that the angels are chosen to do certain duties, the messengers are chosen, and just like that we are chosen as well.

Usually if you are looking to get hired for a job or a high-end position, you don’t just apply and get it. If you get it, there were probably other candidates and you become the one that was chosen because of your qualifications that set you apart from the rest. To those of us that are Muslim, Allah chose us for this job, for this responsibility. We have been given a huge blessing. Sometimes we tend to wonder what we did to deserve such an honorable thing, such a gift, or do we even have the qualifications to uphold this job and honor, but Allah says…that he CHOSE us. Allah sees potential in us that even we might not even realize ourselves. There is potential of good inside all of us, its just us who have to tap into that and use that to make good changes and leave an impact that will be beneficial to the Ummah.

This religion gives us a profound purpose. Islam gives meaning to life. You see people today just walking around doing the same old routine- hanging out with friends, school, career, relationships, break ups, parties, night clubs, drinkning, “having fun”- yet how satisfying is it really? How happy are the celebrities on TV? How happy are the people that live life like this? Do they sleep contented; do they feel full? Usually the answer is no. Why? Because that’s not what we were here for to begin with. “And I did not create the jinn and mankind except to worship Me.” [51:58]

In a recent discussion, Ustadh Nouman Ali Khan discussed the difference of mindsets from two different angles: the non-Muslim angle and then the Muslim perspective. In the first cast scenario, Ustadh Nouman described a man that he knew who was writing his thesis for psychology as part of his post-doctorate at NYU. He was a very smart fellow and he had been working on this thesis for over five years. This thesis and working on it had become his life. He was typing it out, and did not have it backed up like we do things now a days, and did not have any other copy except the one that he was typing out. The day he turned the copy in, was the day that he was giving away his only copy of his years and years worth of work and effort. What happened to that thesis? The department ended up losing the thesis and the guy who had spent so much time on this thing, fell over the edge. He became mentally unstable. Ustadh Nouman was saying that years and years later, even when the man had become old, he could be found on campus every once in awhile going around warning people to not trust the department etc etc. Because that thing had become his life, when he lost his thesis, it shook him so much that it changed his mental condition.

On the flip side, Ustadh Nouman told the story of another man that he knew who was a Muslim. This Muslim brother owned a car dealership and sold luxury cars. They mashAllah used to make about 100-200,000 dollars just in profit from their business. However, there was a flood that hit and the entire dealership and the cars were destroyed over night due to the flood. The man overnight lost everything that he had except for his own car. Now, the brother delivers pizza in his luxury Lexus car that was still his and feeds his family that way. Even though he lost his wealth over night, him and his family are living content, and still counting the blessings of Allah. This is what Islam does. It changes your perspective. It makes you realize that nothing in this world is your destination or goal.

At the end of the day, even if you have nothing, you have Islam.  Allah gives and takes but no one can take away Allah from your heart. Because Taqwa isn’t materialistic. Taqwa isn’t physical. It’s in the heart. It’s something no one can snatch from you. Even if you are to lose everything in this world, you still have something that is more valuable than any thing that can be named: Islam.

And this realization itself helps us navigate through all the bumps and roadblocks in our life. No matter what difficulty you may be facing, no matter what sticky or low phase you may be in, realize that through Islam, you have submitted to the one that will never abandon you, never leave you. Everything is to prepare you for something greater.

In the Qur’an, Allah tells the narrative of Musa, alayhisalam in many different place but in one instance, after Allah tells Musa (as) the different things and tests that he went through- him being put down the river, returning back to his mother, him accidently killing someone, the tests he faced after that period- Allah tells Musa (as): “…Then you came [here] at the decreed time, O Moses. And I produced you for Myself.” [20:40-41] Allah flashes Musa’s life before him, letting him know that Allah was always there, Allah was always watching and tells Musa (as) that all of that was for Him, all the tests and difficulties that he had faced were to prepare him for that meeting with Allah. Reading this passage brings a sense of comfort, that just like Musa (as), Allah has always watched over us, been there as we face different phases of our life, and every thing we go through is a preparation for us to return back to Allah and meet him in the hereafter.

We are never alone; we can never feel abandoned. When Musa (as) was standing with his people with the sea in front of him and Pharoh and his soldiers coming up behind him, and Musa’s companions are getting afraid, scared that they’re about to face their end, that all doors are shut, Musa (as) remains firm: [Moses] said, "No! Indeed, with me is my Lord; He will guide me.” [26:62] And we know that he is asked to strike his staff and the sea parts and they are saved. Allah also tells us in the Qur’an that “And We have already created man and know what his soul whispers to him, and We are closer to him than [his] jugular vein.” [50:16] Allah lets us know how close His presence is…closer to us than a major vein of body that if harmed, our existence would be put in jeopardy. Allah is even closer to us that that. Allah knows us better than we know ourselves, Allah is the all-hearing, all-seeing, the just, the loving, the giver of all things, that one who answers the call of his slaves. Allah never abandons us, Allah never withholds anything except to give much greater. Allah plan is the best of plans. We never face a struggle that we are completely alone in…Allah knows the difficulty, Allah knows what we go through and lets us know how near he is to us in Surah Baqarah: And when My servants ask you, [O Muhammad], concerning Me - indeed I am near. I respond to the invocation of the supplicant when he calls upon Me. So let them respond to Me [by obedience] and believe in Me that they may be [rightly] guided.” [2:186] 

This world with everything in it…it’s a means and a journey to something greater: a place where phases don’t exist, a place where pain doesn’t exist, a place where nothing is lost and nothing ends. We were made in Jannah, we were made for Jannah and that’s what we are striving to get back to. This place is tempory and the bargain that Allah asks for is so so simple. For a little while, do good, submit to Allah, pray, develop a relationship with Allah, get through the rough patches, be grateful in the good & the tough times and then for those that are sincere and submit to Allah…for them is a reward that is eternal. How does something temporary even compare to the bargain that Allah is making? We just have to get through this test. Jannah is not free, its not just handed down. We have to live like Muslims with sincerity to attain Jannah.

Or do you think that you will enter Paradise while such [trial] has not yet come to you as came to those who passed on before you? They were touched by poverty and hardship and were shaken until [even their] messenger and those who believed with him said,"When is the help of Allah ?" Unquestionably, the help of Allah is near.”  [2:214]

 In the Qur’an, Allah makes comparisons of the things in Jannah to the things of this world. We are familiar with cars in this world, there will be cars in Jannah but better, beyond our imagination. There are fruits and food here, there will be fruits and food there but better, beyond our imagination. There are houses and mansions here, there will be mansions in Jannah, but better beyond our imagination. The whole list of things that you remembered above, it will be in Jannah but way way way better.

For those who do good in this world is good; and the home of the Hereafter is better. [16:30]

Life is a beautiful struggle. Hold the dunya, hold this world in your hand. Don’t let it delude you or throw you off course. & Keep the Akhirah in your heart. Yearn & strive for that meeting of Allah and that paradise that awaits the believers! In the end, it will all be worth it. 

Monday, January 14, 2013

Soul Searching

In the Prophet (sws)’s  last khutbah, the Prophet stood on the valley of Mount of 'Arafat and left his last reminders to the Ummah. Among many other important reminders, the Prophet concluded by saying: “I leave behind me two things, the Qur’an and my Sunnah and if you follow these you will never go astray.”

Human beings naturally have physical needs. We need food, water, comfort, protection, stability, a roof over our heads, and partners in life. These are physical needs that need to be fulfilled. However, human beings aside from physical needs also have spiritual needs. The physical needs sustain the body of the human being but what sustains the soul? What fills that empty feeling inside of us? What do we feed out soul?

These questions are answered in the Prophet (sws)’s khutbah: the Qur’an & the Sunnah. These two ingredients, these two vital nutrients are food for our soul. The Qu’ran, we all know is the book of Allah- it is Allah speaking to us through his words and the Sunnah is the tradition, the example of the last and final messenger, peace and blessings be upon him.

Allah says in Surah Ibrahim, “Alif, Lam, Ra. [This is] a Book which We have revealed to you, [O Muhammad], that you might bring mankind out of darknesses into the light by permission of their Lord – to the path of the Exalted in Might, the Praiseworthy –“ [14:1]

In this ayah, Allah is reminding the Prophet (sws) but at the same time we are being reminded today about the power and purpose of the Qur’an. Allah says that this is the book that brings people out of multiple shades of darkness into the singular light. The word that’s used is not a singular darkness- it means multiple shades- different kinds of darkness’ to the light by means of the Qur’an. Today we are surrounded by different types of darknesses. Today, faith is being questioned in classrooms which we think are protective, safe haven for our children, today little kids are being exposed to shamelessness, to filth. We live in a time where the industry of pornography makes big bucks, and even the Muslims are not safe from it. We live in a time where wearing less is better, where we are losing our identity as Muslims and are after this chase of fitting in no matter if that means we have to sacrifice our beliefs and duty to Allah. Today we live in a time where parents have no respect anymore, where as soon as an argument or two starts bubbling the kids think of running away. Today, we’re in a time where little girls that have barely turned teenagers are committing zina, where we have so many conveniences yet we feel like we never have enough time because the time we do have is sucked up by entertainment and socializing and dunya dunya dunya.

But the Prophet (sws) said that if we held onto the Qur’an and the Sunnah, we would never go astray but how many of us are chasing in all the wrong directions today, towards more and more darknesses? That is because we have primarily abandoned the Qur’an. We don’t even care enough to figure out or find out who the Prophet (sws) is. In so many households, the Qur’an remains on our bookshelves, getting dusty unless a funeral comes around or we face some trying times and finally want to open it up. The Qur’an was revealed to the Prophet (sws) and used to be so heavy on him- when he would receive revelation, beads of sweat would form on his forehead, it’s said that his body would get very heavy and one time you could hear a buzzing sound coming from him. It took a huge toll on him and he went through so much and sacrificed his whole life to make sure that the message gets to us, and left behind his practice and example for his Ummah- and that same Ummah, us, we have abandoned it.

Allah says this book has the potential to bring us out of the shades of darknesses that we may be in and bring us into the light. How so?
·       Through the Qur’an we get to know who Allah is- “He is Allah, besides whom there is no god, the Soverign, the supreme in holiness, the one safe from all defects, the giver of peace, the guardian, the all mighty, the all repairer, the sublime. Pure is Allah from what they associate with Him” [59:23].
·       The Qur’an reminds us of our purpose- “I did not create the Jinns and the human beings except for the purpose that they should worship me” [51:56].
·       The Qur’an reminds of accountability- “Whoever acts righteously, it is for his own benefit, and who does evil, it is against his own soul. Then towards your Lord will you be returned” [45:15].
·       The Qur’an reminds us of a day that is bound to come, a day when we will face Allah. The Qur’an heavily focuses on warning us, on reminding us of resurrection- the last two juz are heavily based with the Day of Judgment as their theme where Allah swears by various things that the Day is near. “About what are they asking each other? About the great event in which they dispute! Indeed they will soon know. Again, indeed, they will soon know” [78:1-5] 
·       The Qur’an presents many examples, many case studies, and stories of people of the past that were destroyed for the wrong that they were doing, and on the other hand many role models for us to take examples from.  And We have certainly presented to the people in this Qur'an from every [kind of] example.” [30:58]
·       The Qur’an presents various characteristics of the believers and full descriptions of their qualities as well of those of the disbelievers and hypocrites as well. One can even make like a checklist of the do’s and don’ts based on the characteristics that Allah presents of those type of people.

The Qur’an heals hearts, the Qur’an transforms lives. There are prisoners who pick up and open up the Qur’an and it completely turns their lives around, a whole 180 degree turn, and they come out to be better people, why? Because the Qur’an reconnects us with our Fitrah, it reminds us where we came from, and where we are headed towards and gives us a wakeup call. But in order for the Qur’an to heal us, and to change us, we have to make the effort to understand Allah’s words, start small, maybe one ayah a day but read it with full understanding, and relate it to one’s life and try to implement it. It is said that the sahaba would take the Qur’an ten ayahs at a time and would not move on until they had implemented those ayahs. The first step to developing a relationship with the Qur’an, is to take small but consistent steps towards understand what Allah is telling us.

The Qur’an is one side of the balance and the other side is the Sunnah- the tradition and example of the beloved Prophet Muhammad (sws). The Sunnah is our travel agent-the way he prophet peace be upon him lived. A lot of the times when we think of Sunnah, we think of little action items or practices that we have to implement to “follow the messenger”, which is important, but before that how much do we know about the Prophet (sws)? How much do we know about his character, about who this man was, about what he did and the sacrifices that he made for us? He (sws) would cry out worry for US, he had the biggest responsibility on his shoulder, and he would worry to the point where Allah reminds him through the Qur’an that he’s going to kill himself out of grief for worrying about these people. How much do we know about this man? The more you read about his life, the more you learn about the way he treated people and the way he interacted with them, you cannot help but fall in love with this man.

Once this love is established, once a person gets to know his character and familiarizes themselves with who he was, then we go to learn about his daily routine and practices and we can all implement little by little into our lives.

And whatever the messenger gives you and take it and whatever he forbids you leave it and fear
Allah: truly Allah is severe in punishment” [59:7].

There is indeed a good model for you in the Messenger of Allah- for the one who has hope in Allah and the last day, and remembers Allah profusely” [33:21].

“Say (O Prophet): If you really love Allah, then follow me, and Allah shall love you and forgive you for your sins. Allah is most forgiving, very merciful” [3:31].

Some sunnah practices that are very easy to employ into our lives are:
·       Smiling, yes its Sunnah : )! Even though the Prophet (sws) went through many difficulties in his life, lost many of his childen, was rejected and humiliated by family and was even tortured sometimes, the Prophet would bear it with patience and remained optimistic. Every day is a new day, learn to let go, be happy, and count your blessings!
·       Visit the sick, take care of the poor and the needy.
·       Speak politely, not harshly.
·       Give the greetings of “Assalamalaikum” those those you know and don’t know
·       Pray the Night prayer during the last third of the night. This is as simple as getting up five minutes before Fajr and praying even one rak’ah! Allah actually swears by this witr prayer in the Qur’an. During the Prophet (sws)’s life, the Prophet never missed the night prayer.
·       Accepting Invitations
·       Drinking water sitting down and from the right hand
·       Using miswak
·       Eating from that which is closest to you
·       Saying Bismillah before you eat, if forgotten, recite: Bismillah Awal-wa-akhir

This may seem to be an overwhelming amount of things to immediately add to one’s routine and implementing all of them is unreal and unpractical. The Prophet (sws) related to us that the deeds that are the best and those that are the most consistent. So start slow, take it one at a time, maybe employ one small sunnah habit into your routine a month and make it consistent inshAllah!

One thing to remember is that the Qur’an makes up one side of the balance and the sunnah makes up the other. We cannot pick and choose whether we want to follow one or the other. The Prophet (sws) prescribed both things and with the Qur’an and the sunnah, the Ummah would never go astray. The Qur’an gives the basic big picture and lessons and the Sunnah and seerah provide details and explanation and specific instances. The Qur’an gives basic reminders whereas sunnah provides details. It’s important to remember that the Qur’an is the word of Allah whereas the hadith and narrations need a deeper understanding and in depth study to really get what’s being narrated and the authenticity of what’s being said etc. Abandoning the Qur’an but engrossing oneself in hadith study actually doesn’t logically make sense. The Qur’an is the foundation and the hadith and seerah help in the understanding of it. It’s all about taking both and moving forward.

You are the seed. 
The soil is the Quran, the sun is the sunnah, and the water is hard work. You need the soil no matter what, you need the sun to grow, and it all means nothing unless you have water. 

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Belief, Hope, Fear: the Balance

Ibn al-Qayim said: "On his way to Allah, a [believer's] heart is likened to a bird: love is its head, fear and hope are its wings. Hence, when the head and wings are sound, the bird will perfectly fly; if the head is cut, the bird will die and when he loses the wings, he will be inevitably objected to hunting". 

Hope & Love are very powerful emotions but fear balances it. Fear is not a counter to hope, it is a balance to it. Islam is not fire and brimstones but it does mention fire and brimstones in a balanced way. Islam is not all gardens and happiness even though it does mention gardens and palaces of Jannah. Islam is balance and a Muslim is one that realizes the balance between hope & fear.

A lot of the times when we have a very busy schedule or we become more active, whether that may be getting into graduate school or working towards a program, or working in a volunteer organization or serving people in some kind of Muslim community, or even taking care of the kids at home, & sometimes when you get caught up in all this, you forget about yourself. We forget to reflect on ourselves.

On one hand there is hope: “Say, "O My servants who have transgressed against themselves [by sinning], do not despair of the mercy of Allah . Indeed, Allah forgives all sins. Indeed, it is He who is the Forgiving, the Merciful." [39:53]

And on the other hand there is fear: “Rather, man, against himself, will be a witness,” [75:14] “So whoever does an atom's weight of good will see it And whoever does an atom's weight of evil will see it.” [99:7-8]

Some reasons why we lack this sense of fear:
-Lack of reflection on one’s own problems and getting caught in other people’s problems. Especially when we become active or part of organizations, it becomes very easy to always complain and discuss the problems of others but sometimes we forget to reflect on our selves: what do I need to focus on, what do I need to change about myself, what do I need to improve on? When you don’t reflect on your faults and sins, that fear of Allah isn’t there anymore because you feel like every one else has problems, but you yourself are okay. Humbling one’s self can lead to developing and instilling fear.
-Overstimulation from movies, from video games, from stories and then when you read ayahs about the hell fire, it’s like oh okay, eh. Our culture today and entertainment has released lots of horror films, themes like hell and end of times have become almost a joke to the point when a person who watches a lot of movies and tv shows like that is not moved when Allah paints those scenes in the Qur’an. The hearts are not moved anymore because those topics have become entertainment. Rather than the scenes of the hereafter and day of Judgment instilling fear and developing an urgency to change, they leave us unmoved.
-Uncomfortability with the idea of fear. Many of us are sometimes scared of the idea of fear. We are uncomfortable with fear. Sometimes we perceive it as a bad thing. But sometimes fear is necessary to create urgency, to create importance and as stated before, Islam is not all fear nor all love. Islam is the balance, a beautiful balance of both. There was a sister once who came to Nouman Ali Khan who had left Islam and her reason for leaving Islam is because she read Surah Rahman, and her argument was if god is so merciful why are people being burned and being dragged into hell? She said, what kind of mercy is this? One reason for this is a much deeper problem- it’s a spiritual problem of arrogance. We are the slaves of Allah, not a reviewer of the Qur’an. These words are the words of Allah, of God, of our master. But we want things our way and just because we are uncomfortable with the idea of something- we want to leave it all together? We cannot pick and choose with religion, we cannot pick and choose what we like and don’t like from the Qur’an. At the end of the day, those are Allah’s words and both the mercy and the fear and explained for our own benefit. Another thing on the point of being uncomfortable with the idea of fear is that fear is natural. Why are we trying so hard to avoid what’s natural? If a child didn’t have fear, they would kill themselves, they would jump in front of cars,

There are many graphic descriptions of hell are mentioned in the Qur’an.  One such surah which many of us are familiar with is Surah Rahman. In the middle of this surah, Allah describes the hell fire and the state of the disbelievers. Allah says, “This is Hell, which the criminals deny. They will go around between it and scalding water, heated [to the utmost degree].” [55:43-44]

Graphic descriptions, boiling water is being poured down their troats and they are switching between tortures and boiling water being poured down their throats. And in another part of the Qur’an, Allah says how when the disbeliever’s skins will be burned, new skins will be grown and burned again. Why? Once the skin burns off to a certain point, the person does not feel any pain because the nerves have died.  But in Surah Rahman after these ayahs mention this vivid description of the hell fire, Allah says” But for he who has feared the position of his Lord are two gardens –“ [55:46]

For those have this fear of Allah, Allah says that for them there are two gardens! Even Allah instilling this fear in us is a means of Allah helping us get to Jannah. Even Allah mentioning these ayahs and these warning are a blessing from Allah, a mercy from Allah. Allah never presents just one side of the picture- fear is never presented by itself. The hell fire isn’t mentioned by itself, descriptions of Jannah usually balance it. Allah always balances both out.

There are many different words that are used in the Qur’an for fear.
-Khawf: This is one of the words that used for fear. This type of fear is a type of fear that’s like a state of an emergency like if there is a hurricane approaching, you realize its coming and prepare. This is Khawf. Khawf means to see the danger and be afraid and prepare. When it is mentioned in the Qur’an, Allah says that those who fear standing in front of their Lord- those who realize that there is day of accountability coming, those who realize that they will meet Allah, and they get up and prepare. This is khawf.
-Khashiya: This is another word that is used to describe fear. This type of fear, however, is when you are afraid of the harm of something. Ex/ being scared of the harm that a poisonous snake might bring to you. When it comes to the hell fire and the existence of this place, we should have khashiya, we should be afraid of its harm and take heed of the warnings that are presented in the Qur’an.
-Khushoo’: this word also has an element of fear in it even though its often translated as focus. It’s the element of fear that effects your limbs and muscles and you feel it throughout your body. When you are standing in front of Allah, praying, in salah, this feeling takes over because you are standing before your Rabb, impoverished to Allah.
-Taqwa: Often times, this word is translated as fear but linguistically, it actually means actions that are taken out of fear, in a precautionary manner. Taqwa is before the fact- its taking the precautionary measures so that you stay out of trouble. Allah mentions taqwa over and over and over again. Why? So that we can become aware, we can become aware of our surroundings with Allah in mind, so that we take the precautionary steps to stay away from trouble, staying away from things that might displease Allah, to protect ourselves from being amongst the wrongdoers. There are certain things in the Qur’an where Allah tells us to stay away from, to not come close to- that’s being aware of Allah, taking the precautionary means. One such thing is zina. “And do not approach unlawful sexual intercourse. Indeed, it is ever an immorality and is evil as a way.” [17:32] Allah doesn’t say, don’t commit zina, Allah says, don’t approach zina, don’t come near zina, don’t even go near it. This, for us, is a reminder to stay away from anything that might even lead to that. Shaitan takes subtle mini steps, Shaitan isn’t gonna make a believer immediately jump to zina. It starts slow with mini steps from a slight smile, to the look, to chatting about an “Islamic” question, to chatting about how your day went, to hanging out to work on an MSA project, to hanging out and eating dinner, and on and on and on until the deed occurs. Subtle steps. But the one that has taqwa, stays out of the gravitational field, take the precautionary measures, stops at the first or second step- they stay away, they are conscious of Allah, they are aware of Allah, and take the precautionary steps to prevent from falling into something that will displease Allah. The person who has taqwa stays away from anything that will lead to sin, they stay away from being sucked into the gravitational field.
-Wajl: This type of fear is after a person has committed a sin. This type of fear is after the fact, after something occurs. This is where your heart starts trembling when you’ve done something wrong, when the guilt kicks in. This is a type of fear necessary for repentance.
-Ar Rahab: This type of fear is one that makes you lose the pleasures of this world. This is one of the most terrifying types of fear and its used in a Qur’an for a certain type people- for Bani Israil who were so immersed in this world and so engrossed in worldy pleasures and so the fear that Allah wants from them is one that will negate this type of addiction to the world. Its specifically used for people that are so engrossed in dunya that they have no motivations for the hereafter.

Sometimes, fear is a healthy start to get into the Deen. Usually for younger people like children, hope and mercy is a better approach, but for older people sometimes fear really works. “Don’t be afraid to be afraid”. We all need a balance of hope & fear. We all need a healthy fear of Allah, May Allah help us establish the balance.

*Notes from Nouman Ali Khan’s “Fearing Allah”