Repentance and Forgiveness

Many times in life, you come across certain individuals who persistently commit sins and do not seek the forgiveness of Allah, they believe with full certainty that they will not receive His mercy and consequently choose to increase in evil deeds. This is a grave mistake and misunderstanding. Allah assures us in the Quran that no matter what sin we commit, He subhanahu wa ta’ala will forgive. For example, most of us grew up knowing that shirk (associating partners in worship with Allah) is an unforgivable sin, we don’t actually know that it is only unforgivable if we die having commited shirk without repenting, if we commit even this sin, Allah can forgive us as long as we repent.

“And those who, when they have committed Fahishah (illegal sexual intercourse) or wronged themselves with evil, remember Allah and ask forgiveness for their sins; – and none can forgive sins but Allah – and do not persist in what (wrong) they have done, while they know.” (3:135)

During this month especially, it is paramount that we constantly repent to Allah and seek His forgiveness. There are numerous ways in which we can do that, feom simply uttering words of forgiveness on our tongues, to praying two.

Shaddad bin Aus (May Allah be pleased with him) said: The Prophet (PBUH) said, “The best supplication for seeking forgiveness (Syed-ul-Istighfar) is to say: `Allahumma Anta Rabbi, la ilaha illa Anta, khalaqtani wa ana `abduka, wa ana `ala `ahdika wa wa`dika mastata`tu, a`udhu bika min sharri ma sana`tu, abu’u laka bini`matika `alayya, wa abu’u bidhanbi faghfir li, fa innahu la yaghfirudh-dhunuba illa Anta. (O Allah! You are my Rubb. There is no true god except You. You have created me, and I am Your slave, and I hold to Your Covenant as far as I can. I seek refuge in You from the evil of what I have done. I acknowledge the favours that You have bestowed upon me, and I confess my sins. Pardon me, for none but You has the power to pardon).’ He who supplicates in these terms during the day with firm belief in it and dies on the same day (before the evening), he will be one of the dwellers of Jannah; and if anyone supplicates in these terms during the night with firm belief in it and dies before the morning, he will be one of the dwellers of Jannah.” [Al-Bukhari].

Throughout the year we all fall short and drown in sins, constantly disobeying our Creator and transgressing the limits of Islam. If He has blessed you to witness another ramadhan, He is giving you the opportunity to repent, seize it! Know with full certainty that Allah swt is full of Mercy and Compassion towards His servants, life is short and we must use our time wisely to grow towards Him. Allah swt knows that we are a people who sin, so do not feel shy to repent to your Creator. Do not allow shaytan to delude you into thinking that Allah swt will not forgive you as this is simply not true, and remember to always keep this hadith in mind:
Abu Hurairah (May Allah be pleased with him) said:

The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said, “By the One in Whose Hand my soul is! If you do not commit sins, Allah would replace you with a people who would commit sins and seek forgiveness from Allah; and Allah will certainly forgive them.” [Bukhari]
Now, the same way we love that Allah should forgive us, we must also get into the habbit of forgiving others. Humans are imperfect by nature, we all fall into mistakes, to look past somebody’s mistake and to forgive them is something very noble and important to do. It is a gift only a few possess.

Forgiving someone can be very difficult to do when you are fuming with anger. It can be that this person has hurt you in a profound and unimaginable way through words or actions. Perhaps this invidual has been abusive. Nonetheless, life is too short to not forgive. In our lives, surely we’ve made mistakes, and do we not appreciate it when people accept our apologies? It is also important to take into consideration that by forgiving someone, even if they’re not concerned by your act of forgiveness, you are actually helping yourself. To hold grudges and sustain ressentment hurts nobody else but you, we know this from our religion, but it is also something emphasized by psychologist. To forgive is to heal your wound by yourself, not depending on someone to do it for you. So in shaa Allah (by the will of Allah) let us strive to forgive one another and accept that we are all flawed and can commit mistakes. Let us also strive to repent to our Lord and often as possible, especially before the inevitable comes.

Tahajjud: its excellence and benefits

Abu Huraira (may Allah be pleased with him) reported that the prophet sallallahu alayhi wasalam said: “The best month for observing fast after Ramadhan is muharram, and the best salah after the prescribed salah is salah at night”

As servants of Allah, we should be always seeking ways of getting closer our Lord, and Islam teaches us that one of the easiest ways in which we can ignite a connection with Allah and grow closer to Him, is through the night prayer. When is the last time any of us left our beds for the sake of Allah, and stood in the depths of the night to pray? Last Ramadhan? Before an exam? Maybe there hasn’t even been a first time, and yet it is a beautiful act of worship with a huge amount of reward.

Salah, in general, is one of the most important actions a servant must perform in our religion, we know, it is the second pillar of Islam after the shahada (testimony), and this highlights its significance. Tahajjud is one of the supererogatory prayers we are constantly advised to perform, it is one of those actions that, when performed, enables us to become amongst the individuals mentioned in this beautiful qudsi hadith: Narrated on the authority of Abu Dhar: Allah’s Messenger said that Allah said: “He who comes with a good deed, its reward will be ten like that or even more. And he who comes with vice, his reward will be only one like that, or I can forgive him. He who draws close to Me a hand’s span, I will draw close to him an arm’s length. And whoever draws near Me an arm’s length, I will draw near him a fathom’s length. And whoever comes to Me walking, I will go to him running. And whoever faces Me with sins nearly as great as the earth, I will meet him with forgiveness nearly as great as that, provided he does not worship something with me.” [Muslim]

This act is a beautiful deed which Allah swt loves. Just imagine, during the night when the world has settled and people are caught up in their sleep, you arise and begin to pray, you’re one of the very few servants of Allah who do this. Calmness and serenity settles within you because you are alone with Allah, you worship Him, remember Him, make dua to Him. Due to the night’s calm atmosphere and silence, you genuinely feel a sense of comfort. The Prophet (sallAllahu alaihi wa sallam) said: “The Lord descends every night to the lowest heaven when one-third of the night remains and says: ‘Who will call upon Me, that I may answer Him? Who will ask of Me, that I may give him? Who will seek My forgiveness, that I may forgive him?”. What an incredible hadith subhanAllah! It is sad to think that so many of us miss this amazing opportunity because we choose sleep over prayer, and contrary to what Muslims believe, this act of worship is not tiring or difficult in anyway, in fact once it becomes a habit, it will be something you will find difficult to live without.

Praying tahajud is also one of the most excellent ways of manifesting your gratitude towards Allah swt and the uncountable blessings He has bestowed in your life. One of the best hadith that illustrates this is the one that follows: Aishah (May Allah be pleased with her) reported: The Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam) kept standing (in prayer) so long that the skin of his feet would crack. I asked him: “Why do you do this, while you have been forgiven of your former and latter sins?” He said, “Should I not be a grateful slave of Allah?” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim] This hadith teaches us so much, the prophet sallallahu alayhi wasalam, despite not possessing much, acknowledged the blessings of Allah swt upon Him, and stood in prayer until his skin got affected to show his gratitude to His lord, what excuse do we have? Our blessings are so much that it is impossible to count them,  “If you were to count Allah’s favors, you would not be able to number them; most surely humanity is very unjust, very ungrateful.” [Sūrah Ibrāhīm: 34] this verse should soften our hearts, and make us feel ashamed when we compare our ungrateful attitude towards Allah’s generosity towards us. Even though it would realistically impossible to thank Allah for all His blessings, let us implement the action of the prophet sallallahu alayhi wasalam, and pray tahajud as way of showing some gratitude towards Allah.

The Miracles of the Prophets: Part I-Prophet Musa (Moses)

Man has a natural distaste towards submitting to another and only does so if he is forced by the latter’s physical strength, mental superiority or if he has shown feats far beyond the abilities of other men. In the first two cases he yields reluctantly, while in the third he yields because of his belief in a higher force or power defying all human comparison. For this reason, Allah, Exalted is He, has favored His messengers, not only with revelation but with miracles, clearly proving the divine origin and truthfulness of their messages. The inability for people to imitate these divine miracles of the Prophets made their societies willing to bear witness to Allah’s Unity and obey the commandments of the Prophets.

The early Prophets were sent to a specific time and people due to the difficulties involved in communication and transportation. Thus, their miracles were particularly suited to the areas of knowledge in which their people excelled in, in order for the miracle to have maximum effect. There are three main examples which I would like to share that clearly demonstrate this point. First of Prophet Musa (Moses), the other of Prophet Isa (Jesus), and lastly that of Prophet Mohammed, peace and blessings be upon them. Their examples go into great length and therefore I will divide them into three articles.

Prophet Musa, peace be upon him, was raised amongst the Egyptians, a civilization that was far advanced in its time and home to some proud and mighty people. It was ruled by Firaoun (Pharaoh) who thought he was mightier than God and greatly oppressed his people. In this time the people were well noted and versed with the knowledge of occult arts, sorcery and magic. Hence, Allah, Exalted is He, bestowed upon Prophet Musa, peace be upon him, related miracles that would prove to these people the truth of his message.

The following is a clear example, right from the pages of the Quran: Prophet Musa, after having received his message was ordered by Allah, Exalted is He, to return to his people, despite being a fugitive, to confront the vicious Firaoun and implore him to follow the truth.

[Pharoah] said, “If you take a god other than me, I will surely place you among those imprisoned.”

[Musa] said, “Even if I brought you proof manifest?”

[Pharoah] said, “Then bring it, if you should be of the truthful.”

So [Musa] threw his staff, and suddenly it was a serpent manifest. And he drew out his hand; thereupon it was white for the observers.

[Pharaoh] said to the eminent ones around him, “Indeed, this is a learned magician. He wants to drive you out of your land by his magic, so what do you advise?”

They said, “Postpone [the matter of] him and his brother and send among the cities gatherers.”

So, magicians were assembled for the appointment of a well-known day. And it was said to the people, “Will you congregate That we might follow the magicians if they are the predominant?”

And when the magicians arrived, they said to the Pharoah, “Is there indeed for us a reward if we are the predominant?”

He said, “Yes, and indeed, you will then be of those near [to me].”

Musa said to them, “Throw whatever you will throw.”

So, they threw their ropes and their staffs and said, “By the might of Pharaoh, indeed it is we who are predominant.”

Then Musa threw his staff, and at once it devoured what they falsified. So, the magicians fell down in prostration [to Allah]. They said, “We have believed in the Lord of the worlds, The Lord of Musa and Harun [Aaron].”

[Pharoah] said, “You believed Musa before I gave you permission. Indeed, he is your leader who has taught you magic, but you are going to know. I will surely cut off your hands and your feet on opposite side, and I will surely crucify you all.”

They said, “No harm. Indeed, to our Lord we will return. Indeed, we aspire that our Lord will forgive us our sins because we were the first of the believers.” Ash-Shu’araa 29: 29-59

These magicians, who were the best and most powerful in their land, had clear motivation to win and gain the favor of the tyrannous Firaoun, yet when they saw the miracle of Prophet Musa, peace be upon him, his message was clearly and undeniably the truth. They displayed this by falling in prostration, disregarding and having no fear of the Pharaoh’s punishment, bearing witness to Allah’s unity. The Pharaoh’s plan of gathering the people and having them bear witness that Musa was a joke and a mere magician completely backfired as they must’ve watched in awe and amazement as these great sorcerers abandoned the Pharaoh and bore witness to the truth.

In the coming article, I will discuss another example, that of Prophet Isa (Jesus), peace be upon him, and how he too had a miracle that was tailored to the areas of knowledge in which his people excelled. Afterwards I will move on to the last Prophet’s, peace be upon him, miracle, a miracle that is still at work and can be seen in our lives today.

Staying away from Music

Music. Something that the youth is freely hearing these days, sometimes we come up with excuses like: “it is just a song” or “what is the big deal?”, ignoring the fact that it’s haram without exception in Islam.

Growing up in Saudi Arabia, I’ve noticed that Music is something which both adults and youth listen to, which is a shame considering Saudi is a Muslim country.

I’ve spoken to people who talk about Allah and the Quran, prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings he upon him) but at the same time they’ll say things like “I’m not sure why when I was growing up my teacher would say Music is haram” eventhough Islam provides a clear explanation for this issue.

The point is, as Muslims we have to try our best to obey the rules of Islam, not taking the ones we agree with and leaving the ones we disagree with. It is not a matter of opinion, but it is what Allah has told us to do.

So if you are somewhere or with someone, and music is being played, do not be afraid to say: “can you please turn that down” or “can you please turn that off” and explain why you are making this request. Dawah is something we are obligated to do, and it is not solely for non-muslims, we too are in need of the remembrance. Do not feel embarrassed or awkward, and do not feel concerned about them judging you, we are here to worship Allah swt, and we should continuously strive enjoin the good and forbid the evil regardless of the situation we are in.

We should encourage ourselves to develop a relationship with the Quran, as when we have the words of Allah with us, we will find that they suffice and we need nothing more.

This is an Ayah that always sticks with me when I am thinking or talking about this subject –

﴿شَهِدَ عَلَيْهِمْ سَمْعُهُمْ وَأَبْصَـرُهُمْ وَجُلُودُهُم بِمَا كَانُواْ يَعْمَلُونَ﴾
(their hearing (ears) and their eyes and their skins will testify against them as to what they used to do.) means, all their deeds, earlier and later; not a single letter will be concealed.

The Noble Qur’an – Luqman 31:6

And of mankind is he who purchases idle talks (i.e. music, singing, etc.) to mislead (men) from the Path of Allah without knowledge, and takes it (the Path of Allah, the Verses of the Qur’an) by way of mockery. For such there will be a humiliating torment (in the Hell-Fire).

And this hadith:

Hadith – Bukhari 7:494

Narrated Abu ‘Amir or Abu Malik Al-Ash’ari that he heard the Prophet saaws saying,

“From among my followers there will be some people who will consider illegal sexual intercourse, the wearing of silk, the drinking of alcoholic drinks, and the use of musical instruments as lawful. And (from them), there will be some who will stay near the side of a mountain, and in the evening their shepherd will come to them with their sheep and ask them for something, but they will say to him, ‘Return to us tomorrow.’ Allah will destroy them during the night and will let the mountain fall on them, and Allah will transform the rest of them into monkeys and pigs and they will remain so till the Day of Resurrection.”

Arrogance: A hated characteristic in Islam

There are several characteristics that are looked down upon and detested in Islam, one of the greatest being arrogance. Undoubtedly, arrogance is a sin that is hated by Allah swt, and has no place in the religion of Islam. Muslims are constantly encouraged to be humbled and modest before their Lord and with other human beings too. In an authentic hadith, the prophet sallallahu alayhi wasalam said: The one who has an atom’s weight of arrogance in his heart will not enter Jannah” [muslim] SubhanAllah! This alarming hadith shows the severity of this sin, contemplate the size of an atom for a minute, it is tiny! And yet the prophet sallallahu alayhi wasalam is warning us that even if we possess such a tiny amount of arrogance, we will not be amongst the inhabitants of paradise.

The reasons why arrogance is a toxic characteristic and sin are many, I will highlight a few below to enlighten us on this issue, and remind myself primarily, and other servants of Allah swt to beware about being arrogant.

Arrogance as a disease:

It is no secret that many diseases, although present within our bodies, are manifested externally. For example, an individual may have a cold or flu, and although it is a sickness from within the body, its symptoms and effects are visible outside too. One would be able to detect someone who has a cold due to the person sneezing, perhaps looking visibly weak, coughing and so forth. Arrogance is a disease amongst the diseases of the heart. Like soot, arrogance covers the heart in darkness once it penetrates it, and its symptoms and effects begin to manifest themselves. A person with arrogance isn’t appreciated in any community, they are perceived as being haughty and proud, ungenerous and neglectful in many regards. Arrogant people are careless about what they say and how they act, hurting many others in the process. Such a disease doesn’t affect a believer in this life only, but in the hereafter too.

Why is arrogance despised in Islam?

Arrogance is one of the sins that can lead to kufr (disbelief). The one who is too arrogant fails to realise what he or she was created for, and doesn’t fulfil their objective in life. They consider themselves too proud to worship Allah swt as commanded. The one who has arrogance is generally too caught up in his narcissistic self and trapped within his vain desires to adhere to the commands of Islam, arrogant people are constantly disobeying Allah swt, and too proud to seek His forgiveness.

Arrogance corrupted those before us.

As we know, the prophet muhammed sallallahu alayhi wasalam is the final of many messengers and prophets sent by Allah before him. Among them were Ibrahim alayhi salam, Musa alayhi salam, Nuh alayhi salam and so forth. If you read and ponder over their incredible stories, you will find that their primary goal was to make their people worship Allah swt alone without associating partners with Him. Many of the people who denied or rejected the clear claims of these messengers did so out of arrogance, they refused to single out Allah swt in worship, and chose the actions of their forefathers over their intellect. Arrogance is also a characteristic of Iblees, as we know from the Quran, he was too proud to obey the command of Allah swt and prostrate before Adam. So when any of us are behaving arrogantly, we must remind ourselves of where this sin might take us, and Allah’s protection is sought.

I hope that this short reminder has instilled fear within us, and reminded us on the importance of abstaining from being arrogant Muslims. Many of us have and can fall short on this aspect, and the way to cure it is through worship of Allah swt, humbleness, piety and gratitude. We must reflect upon our weaknesses and deficiencies, and realise the Greatness of our creator. We mustn’t look down upon others, keeping in mind that they could be better and more beloved in the sight of Allah than us.

The sin of Backbiting

IMG_2673Backbiting is something that is hated by Allah, and this is evident in our religion. Sometimes we may talk about someone and think: “Oh they are not here so it is okay for me to say this”, or “they cannot  hear me so there will be no consequences”; but this does not matter, even if the person is not here, the most important thing is that Allah can see and hear us, He Witnesses everything. Backbiting is really bad characteristic and leads to many bad deeds being written. It is also very two faced and can lead to lying.

If you say something to someone, or act a certain way around them, and then behind their back you are speaking badly about them or insulting them, what type of person does that make you? Trustworthy? Loyal? Or infact a two faced and dishonest individual?!

Prophet Muhammad sallallahu alayhi wasalam said :”Do you know what backbiting is?” They said, “God and His Messenger know best.” He then said, “It is to say something about your brother that he would dislike.” Someone asked him, “But what if what I say is true?” The Messenger of God said, “If what you say about him is true, you are backbiting him, but if it is not true then you have slandered him.” (Muslim)

Just as Allah states: “Do not kill yourself.” Hence, if you kill others, they will try to kill you. Allah also says in the Qur’an: “Woe to every slanderer and back-biter!” (Surah Al-Humazah, 104: 1)

So we have to be very very careful about what we say and do without someone being aware behind their back. Also, we must treat people how we would like to be treated. Anyone of us would hate it if someome spoke negatively about us behind our backs. Is it fair to treat someone in a way that would upset or offend you? The answer is no. So then what gives you the right to do that to them?!

Please think again the next time you think to say or do something you know is wrong. And remember – “Whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day should talk what is good or keep quiet.” (i.e. abstain from dirty and evil talk, and focus on saying good and worthy things only).

Hijab: trends or Islam?

One of the most beautiful things legislated in Islam for Muslim women is hijab. Contrary to what many people believe, the hijab is not merely a piece of cloth that we drape over ourselves as a symbol of oppression. It is not something we wear because we are forced to by male guardians, or because we have no rights. The hijab is worn because Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) has commanded us to wear it, it a reflection of our inner faith, and manifestation of our Islamic identity.

For many of us young women, wearing the appropriate hijab is a struggle. Sadly, we are not replicating the attitude of the female companions, who instantly wore it upon having the ayah of Quran revealed to them: “And tell the believing women to lower their gaze and guard their modesty, and not to display their adornment except that which appears ordinarily thereof, and to draw their veils over their necks and bosoms…”. Rather, the hijab has become a kind of fashion statement for us. Many Muslim women observe it in a way that completely contradicts its intended modest purpose. Scholars (may Allah have mercy upon them) have written at length concerning hijab and how it should be worn, we have no excuses nor are we deprived of the knowledge; rather we are purposely making the choice and jumping into the bandwagon of trends, allowing societal standards to corrupt our Islamic identities. We have become ashamed of being distinguished, modest women.

Knowing Allah, and understanding some of the wisdom behind laws in Islam is essential if we want carry out the actions commanded by Allah. When you learn more about hijab, its revelation and benefits, you will be drawn to wear it always and proudly.

Observing the hijab enables us to become closer to Allah, we are performing a good deed by wearing it for His sake, and Allah loves that His slaves obey Him. Hijab symbolises liberation and freedom, we distinguish ourselves from other women. We don’t abide by fashion trends which other humans have decided, nor do we feel the need to copy or imitate. We are proud to wear that which the Creator has ordained, and not the creation.

By wearing hijab, we are judged by our intelligence and intellect because our beauty is shielded. In a society that is so fixated on ensuring that women look good, and judges you by your appearance, we are an exception to rule. People have no choice but judge us based on our conduct and speech, and not appearance.

Hijab is a type of shield and barrier against evil. We do not put ourselves in a vulnerable position by wearing immodest clothing and displaying too much of our body, thereupon looking appealing to men, being looked at or worse than that. We treat our bodies like jewels concealed in treasure boxes, they are not displayed whatsoever.

Another benefit is that our Islamic identities, which we should be very proud of, are manifested. Anyone can distinguish a doctor or policeman for example, because of the outfit they wear. Likewise, people can distinguish Muslim women based on their hijab. I once read a quote that goes as follows: “So what if their beauty is a topic in magazines? yours is a topic in the Quran!”, subhanAllah! If we understood the Greatness of Allah, and valued Islam as it should be valued, we would strive to expose our Islamic identities as ordained in the Quran and sunnah. We would not be afraid nor embarrassed about wearing other than what fashion commands, knowing that our brand is straight from the sunnah.

And so I remind myself, and my sisters to take care about Hijab and how we treat it, as mentioned above it is not merely a piece of cloth which we drape upon ourselves, it is a command from our lord. An outfit decided by Allah Himself, we should take care to wear it exactly as He wants, and encourage other women in the ummah to do so as well.

Gratitude: The Key to Happiness

Going through life can seem like a blur. Especially at our age where we are overwhelmed with the uncertainty of the future. Most of us don’t know what we want to be or why. Yet we’re being pressured from all sides to decide.

What do you want to be?

Some would say famous, others would say rich. Then you’re asked what career? Lawyer, doctor, soccer player, teacher…the options are unlimited and hard to narrow down. However, no matter what we do or do not decide, at the end of day, we are all aiming for happiness.

Happiness is the mysterious wonder of the world, some could call it the eighth wonder. Everyone is looking for it yet few find it or even know where on earth look. It’s the hidden elephant in the room, there but invisible, seemingly out of our reach. If you were to ask any millionaire if they were happy most of them would say no.

Take Jim Carrey for example, who said: “I wish everyone could get rich and famous and have everything they ever dreamed of so they would know that’s not the answer.”

So, what is happiness then? A wise friend once told me to close my eyes and imagine that the only thing that I would be able to bring into today were the things that I was grateful for yesterday. What would I have?

This got me thinking, would I have my home, my mom and dad, my siblings, as annoying as they can get, my car? What about things even more basic than that? Would I have my eyesight, my hearing, the ability to walk, talk and eat even. Would I have my knowledge, the ability to think? I started racking my brain, becoming distressed, what would I have?

When thinking of all the things that I couldn’t imagine living without, the thought of wanting more seemed impossible. How could I want more when I wasn’t even sure if I would have the things I had yesterday?  It was at that moment that an Ayah of the Quran rang through my mind: “And He gave you of all that you asked for, and if you count the Blessings of Allah, never will you be able to count them.” [Surah Ibrahim: 14:34]

In that instant I truly realized that the key to happiness wasn’t money or fame but rather gratitude and contentment. Being grateful and content with what you have right now in this very moment. When you stop, and take this approach you easily recognize the true favors that Allah, Exalted is He, has bestowed upon us.

However, what’s even more amazing, as if that weren’t enough, is that Allah says in the Quran: “If you are grateful, I shall certainly increase you (in favor) …” Surrah Ibrahim: 14:7

Allah, Exalted is He, in all His Mercy has guaranteed, that’s right guaranteed, to increase the things we are grateful for. So not only will you be blessed with things you couldn’t imagine living without, Allah will increase them.

When you wake up every morning think about the exercise above, bring the things that you are truly grateful for to the surface. You will find that your day will be much brighter. Instead of filling your thoughts with what ‘could be’, you’ll be taking a step back and acknowledging the blessings that are. This will give you the chance to start your day with a clean slate and work on the person that you aim to become with the ‘eighth wonder’ of the world directly in your heart and Allah, Exalted is He, with you every step of the way, bith’nillah.

“… And we will reward the grateful.” (Āl ‘Imrân 3:145)

Hope and fear in Allah: Establishing that balance

Ibn Qayyim (may Allah have mercy upon him), once articulated something beautiful concerning a believer and our stance towards love, hope and fear in Allah Exalted is He. He said: “The heart on its journey towards Allah the Exalted is like that of a bird. Love is its head, and fear and hope are its two wings. When the head is healthy, then the two wings will fly well. When the head is cut off, the bird will die. When either of two wings is damaged, the bird becomes vulnerable to every hunter and predator.” [Madarij as-salikeen].

He employs the beautiful example of a bird to illustrate how significant it is for a believer to balance these three powerful emotions correctly. He shows us that we must not allow one to take precedence over the other, such that we become engulfed by fear or too neglectful. If, for example, a believer fears Allah too much, practicing Islam might become overwhelming for him. He will lose hope in the Mercy of Allah. Likewise, if a slave becomes too hopeful in Allah’s Mercy, and ignores His punishment, he might fall short in some obligatory acts of worship, believing that Allah will definitely admit him to paradise even if he leads an unfulfilling life, constantly disobeying his Creator.

Often, growing up, I come across certain individuals who stress the importance of igniting a balance of both fear and love of Allah within their children. Sadly, this is a principle often dismissed. We always hear, and some of us have experienced this ourselves, that if we do not fulfil a particular Islamic obligation, or we do not abide by a certain way of life, then we will go to hell. Parents will teach their children things like, “You must pray or else you will go to hell”, or “You must wear hijab or else Allah will punish you severely”. Rather than constantly threatening believers with fear, we should emphasize the Merciful attributes of our Creator too. Instead of threatening children with hell, parents should choose a different approach at times, saying something like: “You must pray because it is a command from Allah, and look at all He has blessed you with. Do not perceive salah as a chore, but rather a unique opportunity to connect with your Lord, pray so that He can be merciful towards you, for salah is one of the keys of paradise.” And concerning hijab, we can outline the benefits of wearing hijab, reinforce that it is not an object of oppression, but rather freedom; that Allah, in His Infinite Wisdom, commands His female slaves to observe hijab because it serves as a shield from many dangers we may not perceive. A different approach, and reinforcement on the love of Allah as well as fear makes all the difference. If you think about it, when we love someone, we desire to please him or her always. So developing love in Allah would push us towards willingly obeying him (not because we are forced or our parents told us), we would delight in committing good deeds, whether obligatory or recommended, knowing that it will please our Creator. We would rush towards obedience, and abstain from evil sins as much as we can, we would rectify our intentions, find happiness in practicing Islam and developing pride in our Islamic identities.

You may be struggling with Islam and your identity as a Muslim presently, perhaps because you are one of those individuals who was taught Islam in this threatening and scary way. You were deprived of knowledge concerning your Kind and Merciful Lord. For me, reading and understanding the Quran, as well as studying this deen was the way through which I managed to eliminate any bad thoughts, and develop love in Allah balanced with fear. I urge the youth to do the same, as developing love for your Creator is one of the most beautiful feelings, your worries and struggles will gradually disappear, your primary focus and concern will be Allah. Fearing Him will enable you to quit crossing the boundaries of this religion and strive harder to attain paradise. Loving him will make everything in practicing Islam easier, and we will delight in committing good deeds for His sake.

It’s never too late

So, we’re at that time of year again and you’re thinking: “I didn’t get that done last year, so it’s going to be the same this year” Well that is in Allah’s hands. It’s entirely up to us to push for the things we want to do, and achieve our goals. Don’t sit around thinking you can’t do it, when you can! Don’t let the past affect your future. Try and make the best of what you have and in shaa Allah with time you’ll be where you want to be and achieve what you want.

Even if you don’t get it done on the first day, first week or even first month you just have to believe in yourself and know that you can do it, and there is nothing wrong with taking your time. All it takes is patience, motivation, trust and belief. Allah (SWT) is the best of planners and you just have to put your trust in Him, and know it will work out and be fine in the end, in shaa Allah.

This past year, I’ve learnt so much about reaching goals and achieving them. In my experience, I find it really helps to plan your days and even keep a checklist of things you want to get done to keep yourself accountable. I’ve found that it’s also extremely important to not be too hard on yourself, and assign too many tasks or goals to accomplish in such a short time when you’re first starting out. It’s best to take things step by step and have a couple of things during the day and achieve them, and as you work up the motivation and habit of fulfilling your goals, you can then broaden your horizon to achieve more each day.

Another great tip is to wake up early. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) prayed to Allah to grant abundance to the Ummah in their early mornings:”O Allah, bless my nation in their early mornings (i.e. what they do early in the morning)” (Sunan Ibn Majah)

We can attest to this as the early mornings are much more productive and rejuvenating, and it is so much easier to get the work done, having more hours in the day and a bright start. Doing this won’t only kick-start your day, it’ll also leave you with a feeling of accomplishment, as you’ll then have time later that day to do things that you enjoy.

Also, pull your friends and family into your goal. Tell them your ideas and include them in on your plan. This will motivate you to get it done and will also help you keep yourself accountable to achieve your dreams, as they can help give you that push you need every once in a while!

Remember do not despair as you have not failed until you quit trying and always remember to put your trust in Allah as Allah states in the Quran: “And in Allah (Alone) let the believers put their trust” 14:11