Choosing Allah

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 2-Prophet Isa (Jesus)

After Prophet Musa (Moses), peace be upon him passed away, those who had witnessed the divine miracles sent to him also passed. Thus, the tales of those miracles faded into stories told by the people of old, not holding the same weight as it did when observed in person. Therefore, Allah, Exalted is He, in His Infinite Wisdom and Mercy sent another Prophet, Isa (Jesus), peace be upon him, to the people as a reminder and to incite the return of submission back into the people’s hearts.

Isa, peace be upon him, was sent to witness to the Jews, who at that time were noted for their exceptional abilities in the field of medicine. They were highly respected and revered for their seemingly magical abilities to mend bones, heal wounds and cure the sick. Thus, Allah, Exalted is He, favored Isa, peace be upon him, with the divine miracles that made the masters of that time submit to the truth of Allah’s Unity due to the undeniable miracle that defied all human comparison. An example of this can be illustrated in a few single verses from the Quran:

She said [Mary], “My Lord, how will I have a child when no man has touched me?” [The angel] said, “Such is Allah; He creates what He wills. When He decrees a matter, He only says to it, ‘Be,’ and it is.

And He will teach him writing and wisdom and the Torah and the Gospel

And [make him] a messenger to the Children of Israel, [who will say], ‘Indeed I have come to you with a sign from your Lord in that I design for you from clay [that which is] like the form of a bird, then I breathe into it and it becomes a bird by permission of Allah. And I cure the blind and the leper, and I give life to the dead – by permission of Allah. And I inform you of what you eat and what you store in your houses. Indeed, in that is a sign for you, if you are believers.

Aal Imran(3): 47-49

Isa’s birth was a divine miracle in itself, as he was born to a mother who was chaste and pure. Likewise, during his lifetime, by the permission of Allah, Exalted is He, he was able to make the blind see, the lame walk, heal lepers and bring the dead to life. These abilities were clearly beyond that of the Jewish doctors. You can imagine that when they saw this it was clear enough proof that he was a prophet of Allah and they too, like the great magicians in Musa’s time, submitted to the worship of Allah alone, Exalted is He and free of partners.

The miracle of the last prophet, Mohammed, peace and blessing be upon him, will be made clear and evident just as the miracles of these two great prophets that proceeded him, in part three, the final part of this series.

Read The Miracles of the Prophets: Part 1-Prophet Musa (Moses)

 

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.

Salah: The Reminder of the Muslims

It’s no secret that we live in the 21st century. We now live in a demanding world where we have smartphones buzzing every couple of minutes as we run to school or to our jobs, we are extremely busy with distractions popping up every single second of our day. In today’s society, it’s extremely easy to get caught up in the moment and forget our purpose or the fact that life is short, slipping away and that this dunya’a, this world, is a mere test, a blip of our existence, a mere blink of an eye.

Allah, Exalted is He, says in the Quran: “And I did not create the jinn and mankind except to worship Me.” Adh-Dhaariyat (51):56

As Muslims, we’re well aware that our purpose in life is to worship and please Allah, Exalted is He. We also know that the second pillar of Islam is Prayer, an obligation on us five times a day. Unfortunately, there are a lot of Muslims who hold the thought that Salah is a burden, that it is something for Allah and not for us and that we don’t need it. However, the fact is that this mentality is completely twisted, because the truth is that your worship is not a gift to Allah but rather, it is a gift from Allah to you.

Allah says in the Quran: “…Allah is free of need, while you are the needy…” Muhammad (47):38

For some, the average Muslim, it can be hard to wrap your mind around this concept. How is it a gift to us? That question is one with a lofty explanation. I could write hundreds of pages on how exactly Salah benefits us. However, I want to touch on one specific concept, the very tip of the iceberg.

As I stated before, we live in the buzz of the 21st century, but our purpose is still to worship and please Allah, Exalted is He, and the fact is, that this dunya’a is still a test. So, this begs the question: how does praying five times a day help us, in our busy lives, to fulfill our purpose?

The key to this answer is that one of the reasons why salah is required, is because it is a reminder.  A reminder to the Muslims to wake up, take a step back from all the bling and distractions this world has to throw at us. It is a time to reevaluate our position on where we stand with Allah, and how exactly we plan to fulfill our purpose.

To be honest, it grieves me to hear that the average Muslim feels that they have no time for Salah and that they feel it is a burden. Because let’s be real, for the average Muslim, Salah takes about 30 minutes out of our day, divided by five, that’s five minutes at different times a day, out of the 1,440 minutes that our 24 hours hold. With those five minutes, at different times of the day, it’s our reminder that yes, even though we are busy we can’t allow ourselves to be so caught up in this dunya’a that we become too busy for our Creator and forget the eternity that we’re all striving, hoping and praying for.

However, not only is Salah a reminder, but it’s also an open opportunity where Allah is asking you to turn to Him and relieve all your hardship and sorrows and ask for anything you desire. It’s your one-on-one conversation with Allah, the All Knowing, The Most Forgiving.

Allah says in the Quran: “And your Lord says: Call upon Me; I will respond to you…” 49:60

As I’ve mentioned, this small fact about Salah is just the tip of the iceberg. It doesn’t even begin to cover the hundreds of gems within Salah. However, what I really hope and pray to Allah, Exalted is He, for the Muslims who do have a hard time getting up to pray and find themselves missing Salah, that this will help you realize that it really and truly is a gift from Allah, Exalted is He, to you and not the other way around. Take advantage of this gift, of this reminder, and make a conscious effort to take just 5 minutes out of each part of your day to take a breather and return to your Lord, reassess your situation and reset your intentions.

Realize that Allah has created us as imperfect beings so He does not expect perfection from us. However, He does expect us to try our best and when we slip to turn back to Him. For Allah said in the Quran: “Surely Allah loves those who turn unto him in repentance and loves those who purify themselves.” 2:222.

The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, also said: “Every son of Adam is a sinner, and the best of sinners are those who repent.” At-tirmidhi.

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.

United We Stand

As humans, it is not an odd thing to ponder over our existence. Not only do we ponder over the reason why we’re here but also why now? In this specific time? Perhaps we wonder why we couldn’t have been born in another era. Like in the medieval times with all the cool knights and posh ladies or maybe even in the Prophet’s (peace and blessings be upon him) time and era. Maybe practicing Islam would’ve been easier in that time, surrounded by his greatness and his message. Being able to see his blessed face and hear his invaluable wisdom with our own ears. Imagining just beings able to sit with the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) makes our heart yearn and wish we could’ve been there as we wonder if he (peace and blessings be upon him) would’ve loved us. However, if we take a step back and truly contemplate the reason why we’re in this era, we would realize that Allah SWT has put us here because we are the people who are best suited for our times and trials.

In the Quran Allah states: “Allah does not burden a soul beyond that it can bear…” (Al Baqarah, 2:286)

It’s safe to say that Allah, Exalted be He, with His Infinite Wisdom has placed us in our time because we are the ones best suited to face the problems that are going on in our world right now. The people of our times are the only ones who can face the trials and tribulations that are occurring outside our doorstep. What’s even more interesting, is that not only were we placed in this world, the 21st century, but we were also led and guided to Islam in this very critical time.

Few ponder over that fact. Why are we Muslims brought into this time? Some would chalk it up to chance, however, we know as Muslims that everything Allah SWT does is for a reason. Allah has guided us to Islam with our specific talents and capabilities because we have a purpose to fulfill in our Ummah that has now become divided.

It is our responsibility as Muslims to wake up and realize that we do have a purpose. First and foremost, our ultimate purpose is to worship Allah as He SWT states in the Quran: “And I (Allah) created not the jinns and humans except they should worship Me (Alone).” (Adh-Dhaariyat, 51:56)

Allah also stated in the Quran: “And hold firmly to the rope of Allah all together and do not become divided…” (Al Imran, 3: 103). As we take a look at the condition of the Muslims today, it is easy to deduce that we have mostly become ignorant of this Ayah in practice, and are indeed in a dire state as we are truly divided. It’s easy to get overwhelmed and use the fact that we are youth to get away from the responsibility that this revelation brings.

However, if we were to look at the Sahabah’s stories, we would find that many were youth; great and mighty youth who were active in spreading Islam and keeping the Ummah from becoming divided as ours has now become. One of the things that we can do today is work on ourselves, get yourself educated and then turn to your family and educate them. When you have started to do that, work outside and educate other people about Islam, including the Muslims.

Use your talents and capabilities that Allah, Exalted be He has blessed you with, and make a difference in the era that we share. Also, take pride in the fact that even though you weren’t born in the era of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him), that he did indeed love you and yearned to meet you as well and by working hard to fulfill your purpose in this world for the sake of Allah you are indeed pleasing Him, bithnillah.

The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said: “I wish I could meet my brothers.” The Sahabahs then asked: “Aren’t we your brothers?” To which he replied: “You are my companions, but my brothers are those who will believe in me without having seen me.” (Musnad Ahmed).

 

The Secret of Today

When we’re young we’re often asked a seemingly simple question. What do you want to be when you grow up? As kids we can think of a million things we want to be: superheroes, firefighters, veterinarians, doctors perhaps even florists, nothing was impossible to our little minds. Then we grow up and the reality of the world hits us as we’re asked the same question—that used to fill us with joy and games to play for hours as we ran around the house roleplaying our destiny—but now the same question freezes our mind. Sure, we may have a slight idea, a dream, but then we’re plagued with doubt.

Is it really right for me?

Can I actually accomplish it?

Will I really get there?

These thoughts, unfortunately for many, often lead to anxiety and stress, as we envision who we want to be…but we don’t know how to get there, how to achieve it, and again can I? We spend all day worrying about it, which naturally leads us to taking no steps at all because we can’t think of anything but the next step, which still remains a mystery. Then after some time passes, a week, a month, sometimes a year we look back and realize all the time we’ve wasted worrying, being anxious and realize that we’re not any closer to becoming that person we dream to become. However, what most don’t recognize is that the secret of becoming that person starts with our today.

We tend to live in this dilemma of regret of the past and anxiety of the future and we forget to live in our today. We fret over what we can’t change (yesterday) and we stress over what may never happen (tomorrow) to the point that we no longer have a today. Today is a gift from Allah SWT with no promise of tomorrow as stated by Ibn Umar:

When morning comes don’t expect to live until evening and when evening comes, don’t expect to live until morning.”

Meaning: Take advantage of the time you have in your hand and don’t worry about tomorrow until/if it comes.

One of the things most people take for granted is their youth. As youth, we are mostly free from major responsibilities, like heading a household and paying the bills, and are full of energy, completely capable of doing so many things for the sake of Allah SWT and reaching our maximum potential. And yes, to answer your unspoken doubt, you can reach your maximum potential! See the secret is taking that goal, dream, potential, whatever you want to call it, bite by bite and doing a little bit of it today. Because when you spend your time making the best of the time you have in front of you, you’ll see that little bit you do today will build up and that over time will lead to those goals and that potential.

Anas ibn Malik reported: A man said, “O Messenger of Allah, should I tie my camel and trust in Allah, or should I leave her untied and trust in Allah?” The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “Tie her and trust in Allah.” At Tirmidhi

In Islam, we’re taught to use our time wisely and to tie our camel, do our part and put your best effort in. Put in your best effort and work on your goal today and trust in Allah SWT. Trust that He will take care of that future that you are working so hard for.

And in Allah (Alone) let the believers put their trust” 14:11

Stop beating yourself up and realize that you are a work in progress, which means you will get there a little at a time and not all at once. Take note that the struggle that you’re going through today is indeed building the strength that you need for tomorrow and that no matter how hard we try, it’s impossible to escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today. Make the most of your today because as they say: “yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, and today is a gift, that’s why it’s called the present.”

Take hold of that enthusiasm that you had when you were a kid and make this year’s resolution one to put your best effort in, trust the future to Allah SWT and make the most of your today.

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