Archive for the ‘Spirituality’ Category

What’s in a number?

Recently I read a book that explained word choice and how listing our 10 most favorite words would be a way of deciding how to categorize word choice in writing.  Next, I read someone’s blog highlighting suggested things to do within a 10 minute time to remember Allah. Okay, so now I wonder is 10 just a number that limits our list of things to do?  Anyway, I would like to post the following:

10 Things We Waste

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Guiding by sacrifice

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  Love of the Sahaba(RA): Abu Bakr & Ali(RA)

 The noble Sahaba ra of Rasool Allah proved their love by sacrificing their own selves, their lives and their properties for him. They loved him more than their own selves, their parents and their family. The Seerah is filled with display of this utmost love. Some incidents are being mentioned below.

Abu Bakr Siddiq
The Quraish of Makkah made a plot to murder the Holy Prophet. Allah had given the order for migration to Medina. At night, in the cover of darkness, the Holy Prophet and Abu Bakr left Makkah and arrived at a Cave called Thor where they decided to take refuge.

(The shoes of Abu Bakr) were worn out; some said he used to walk tiptoe in order not to leave a trail behind him. Abu Bakr, first entered to explore the cave and be sure that it was safe, closed all holes with pieces torn off from his clothes, cleaned it and then asked the Prophet (saw)to step in. The Prophet went in and immediately laid his head in Abu Bakr’s lap and fell asleep. Suddenly Abu Bakr’s foot was stung by a poisonous insect, but he did not stir or move despite the pain, fearing Muhammad saw might wake up. (Mubarakpuri, The Sealed Nectar)

This was how much the Sahaba loved Prophet Muhammad (saw), they were willing to sacrifice their life and bear so much suffering and pain.

Ali ibn Abi Talib
The Quraish of Makkah had made a plan to assassinate the Holy Prophet (saw) and they had laid siege to the House of Rasool Allah.

The Prophet told ‘Ali to sleep in his bed and cover himself with his green mantle and assured him full security under Allah’s protection and told him that no harm would come to him. The Prophet [pbuh] then came out of the room and cast a handful of dust at the assassins and managed to work his way through them reciting verses of the Noble Quran (36:09) and went towards Medina with Abu Bakr. [Mubarakpuri]

Despite grave danger of attack from the Quraish, Ali slept in the bed of Rasool Allah, endangering his own life, for the sake of Rasool Allah.

Seeking an understanding

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“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.”
– John Fitzgerald Kennedy

I am always trying to be on the look out for short, simple stories that I can learn from and then in turn share with my family. I hope that this gift of a story can bring an abudance of meaning in our lives as we live through our tests and decisions that only Allah is the best of planners for what we go through day in and day out. Because of such sacrifices made by the companions of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), I find that remembering these kinds of events can be a source of comfort whenever we too are faced with difficulties regarding our practices and beliefs.

 A Gift After Hardship

The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) dispatched towards the sea-shore an expedition of three hundred men, under the command of Abu Ubaidah (ra) in 8 A.H. He gave them a bag full of dates for their rations. They had been hardly out for fifteen days when they ran short of rations. In order to provide the contingent with food, Qais (ra) began buying three camels daily from his own men, to feed the Mujahideen, with a promise to pay on return to Madinah. The Amir seeing that the slaugther of camels would deprive the party of their only means of transport, prohibited him to do so. He collected the dates that had been left with each person and stored them in a bag. He would issue one date to each man as his daily ration. When Jabir (ra) later on narrated this story to the people, one of his audience inquired:“How did you manage to live upon one date only for the whole day?” He replied: “We longed even for that one date, when the whole stock was exhausted. We were on the verge of starvation. We moistened the dry tree-leaves with water and ate them.”When they reached this stage, Allah had mercy on them for He always brings ease after every hardship, provided it is endured patiently. A big fish known as “Ambar” was thrown out of the sea for them. The fish was so big that they lived on it for eighteen days altogether. They also filled their satchels with the remaining portion, which lasted them right up to Madinah. When the episode was narrated to the Prophet (peace be upon him), he said: “The fish was a provision arranged for you by Allah.”

Source: From the book “Stories of the Sahabah” by Shaikh Muhammad Zakariyya Kandhalvi.

Our Life: reminders

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Living Islam Daily
By Sister Iman bint Johari
The Prophet (salAllahu alayhi wasalam) said,

‘Take benefit of five before five: your youth before your old age, your health before your sickness, your wealth before your poverty, your free-time before your preoccupation, and your life before your death.’

[al-Hakim, al-Baihaqi]

Indeed, we all, at some point in our lives, are reminded of the passage of time… It may be due to an affliction that has befallen us, a word we have read or an incident that we have witnessed. We literally feel the seconds ebbing away from our lives and we are filled with a sense of desperation. What have we achieved? What have we done with our lives?

We are reminded of our aspirations we had once had that have lain dormant… buried… while we are engrossed with building our lives in this dunya. We are reminded of how we wanted to be the true and successful servants of our Creator and we become sick with worry and shame. We see how we have not moved an inch closer to this goal.

We want to make amends …
we KNOW we can do it.

And so we start all over again. We begin to piece together our ideas and resolutions. This time we will not forget and we will not fail, inshaa Allah. We will fast more, pray more, recite the Qur’an more… we will change the world and make it a better place.

We set out with promise and enthusiasm but as the months go by, our determination fizzles out and our good actions are forgotten. Our resolutions once again remain in the realm of good intentions… until the next time something prompts us into introspection.

How do we avoid this? How do we convert our good intentions to consistent actions?

I do not dare to say I have all the answers. I can only share what I have learned in my own struggle with good intentions and resolutions.

Here are some tips that I hope you will find useful in trying to live Islam daily:

[1] Purify your intentions and remember that you wish to seek the pleasure of Allah

Sincerity in all we do is a commandment of Allah (subhanahu wa ta`ala):

“Say, ‘Indeed my prayer, my rites of sacrifice, my living and my dying are for Allah, Lord of the worlds. No partner has He. And this I have been commanded, and I am the first (among you) of the Muslims.'”

[Surah al-An’aam, 6: 162,163]

He also says:

“So worship Allah (alone) by doing religious deeds sincerely for Allah’s sake only, (and not to show-off and not to set up rivals with Him in worship). Surely, the religion ( i.e. the worship and the obedience) is for Allah only.”

[Surah Az-Zumar 39:2-3]

Ibn Al-Qayyim (rahimahullah) said,

“Deeds without sincerity are like a traveler who carries in his water-jug dirt. The carrying of it burdens him and it brings no benefit.”

[2] Seek His help through du’a

Allah has told His Messenger (salAllahu alayhi wasalam) that He is close and answers the supplication of any servant who calls to Him. He said:

“When My servants ask thee concerning Me, I am indeed close (to them), I respond to the prayer of every supplicant when he calleth on Me.”

[Surah Al-Baqarah, 2: 186]

Indeed, when we are faced with distress, it is He whom we should turn to:

“Or, who listens to the distressed (soul) when he calls on Him, and who relieves his suffering?”

[Surah An -Naml: 62]

[3] Do not procrastinate

It is easier for one to put off a goal until tomorrow so that one can rationalize not disciplining oneself today. How often have we said, “Inshaa Allah, I will make a change tomorrow” but never actually get around to doing it? One of the early scholars said, “Beware of procrastinating. It is the greatest of the soldiers of Satan.” Do not make half-hearted promises – you are fooling no one but yourself. Carry out your resolutions with zeal and optimism.

[4] Take baby steps and set realistic goals In our zeal

We often chart ambitious plans only to be discouraged when we cannot sustain our efforts. Remember that no good deed is too small – the Prophet (salAllahu alayhi wasalam) was asked, “Which deed is most beloved to Allah?” He said, “The one that is continuous, even if it is little.”
[Sahih al-Bukhari, Fath al-Bari 11:194].

Small changes work a great deal better than giant leaps, so don’t bite off more than you can chew. Start out with small deeds and you that you can accomplish easily and consistently before moving on to more challenging ones. This will motivate you and make you feel more successful. Insha’Allah, you will find that over time, you will have made a big difference.

[5] Build a good support system

Ibn Hazm said,

“Anyone who criticises you cares about your friendship. Anyone who makes light of your faults cares nothing about you.”

It is said that reminders benefit the believers, so surround yourselves with good companions who will give you sincere advice and who will support you with your resolutions. Avoid those who will chip away at your self-esteem or who will tempt you away from your resolutions.

Bear in mind what ‘Ali radhiallahu ‘anhu said:

“Mix with the noble people, you become one of them; and keep away from evil people to protect yourself from their evils.”

[6] Track your progress and be consistent

Write down your goals – hang this list up on the wall, keep it in your notebook, fold it into your wallet or stick it in your locker. You can even keep a log or journal of how you are doing – start a web log even! Be honest with yourself and recheck your goals. The idea is not to slacken. Indeed, when the Prophet (salAllahu alayhi wasalam) did something, he kept it up.
[Muslim].

Take a look at the hadith Qudsi in which Allah says:

“… ‘My slave keeps drawing nearer to me with naafil (supererogatory) deeds until I love him.'”

[Sahih al-Bukhari].

The phrase maa yazaalu [“keeps (drawing near)”] gives the impression of continuity. The Prophet (salAllahu alayhi wasalam) also said,
“Continue doing Hajj and ‘Umrah.”

[7] Avoid burnout

It is inevitable that we sometimes feel as if our iman has hit rock bottom or that we lack the spirit to continue in our striving.

The Messenger of Allah (salAllahu alayhi wasalam) said,

“Iman wears out in one’s heart, just as the dress wears out (becomes thin). Therefore, ask Allah to renew iman in your hearts.”

[at-Tabarani and Al-Hakim]

Continuing to do acts of worship and good deeds does not mean one exhausts oneself to breaking point. We continue with the obligatory acts. When we have the energy and inclination, we strive to do more and when we do not, we do as much as we can.

The Messenger of Allah (salAllahu alayhi wasalam)said:

“Religion is very easy and whoever overburdens himself in his religion will not be able to continue in that way. So you should not be extremists, but try to be near to perfection…”

[Sahih al-Bukhari]

According to another report, he said:

“Be moderate, and you will reach what you want.”

[Sahih al-Bukhari]

[8] Seek inspiration

The best sources of inspiration are in the mighty Qur’an, the Prophet (salAllahu alayhi wasalam), his companions, the pious predecessors and the scholars.

Look at Abu Musa al-Ash’ari. He used to apply himself so much in worship at the end of his life that he was told, “Why don’t you slow down and be gentle with yourself?” He replied, “When the horses are released for a race and are close to the finish line, they give all the strength they have. What is left of my life is less than that.” It is said that he maintained this level of devotion till he died.

Look at Amir ibn Abdullah who was once asked, “How can you tolerate being awake all night, and thirsty in the intense heat of the day?” He replied, “Is it anything more than postponing the food of the day to nighttime, and the sleep of the night to daytime? This is not a big matter.” When the night came, he would say, “Remembrance of the heat of hellfire has taken sleepiness from me.” And he would not sleep until dawn.

Look at Ar-Rabi’ ibn Khuthaym. Abu Hayan related that his father said, “Ar-Rabi’ ibn Khuthaym was crippled and used to be carried to the congregational salah. So people told him, “You have an excuse (for not coming).” He said, “I hear ‘hayya ‘alas-salah’, the call to salah; so if you can come to it even by crawling, do so”, paraphrasing a hadith.

[9] Do a variety of acts of worship

Allah in His Infinite Mercy has blessed us with a variety of acts of worship to do – some are physical such as prayer; some are financial such as zakat and sadaqah; some are spoken such as du’aa and dhikr.

Perhaps the wisdom behind this provision is that it addresses the different inclinations and abilities of the people. Some people may enjoy some kinds of worship more than others. Indeed, Allah has made gates of Paradise according to the different types of worship.

According to a hadith narrated by Abu Hurairah (radhiallahu anhu) the Messenger of Allah (salAllahu alayhi wasalam)said:

“Whoever spends on a pair for the sake of Allah will be called from the gates of Paradise, ‘O slave of Allah, this is good.’ Whoever is one of the people of prayer will be called from the gate of prayer. Whoever is one of the people of jihad will be called from the gate of jihad. Whoever is one of the people of fasting will be called from the gate of al-Rayyan. Whoever is one of the people of charity will be called from the gate of charity.”

[Sahih al-Bukhari]

[10] Do not waste even a minute

As mentioned earlier, there are a variety of deeds one can do. There may be days when one is busy with chores, work or commitments to family and friends. This does not mean that one does not have time to incorporate one’s resolution to live Islam daily. One can make dhikr while cooking, one can memorise a du’aa while waiting for the bus, one can listen to an Islamic lecture when driving home from work… the list goes on. The bottom line? Do what you can when you can.

May Allah give us steadfastness and may He give us the best in this world and the hereafter
Aameen.

Alahumma infa`ni bima `allamtani wa `allamni ma yanfa`uni!

OH ALLAH! Make useful for me what You taught me
and teach me knowledge that will be useful to me!

(Aameen)

Share this article with the maximum number of people you can.

Guiding one soul to knowledge and faith is a momentous achievement.
It is what will earn us great blessings…
(Insha Allah)

A living reality

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I found the following article entitled: The Quranic Journal: Why to keep it, how to do it as a beneficial reminder of how I can better spend my time. I feel these days that I am always crunching for time to read the Quran. I do make it a point that when I get up for fajr not to go back to bed right away. This can be difficult and especially since the weather is cold and to give up the comfort of our sleep and warmth is a BIG sacrifice. A while back ago at a sisters blog http://adikbongsu.wordpress.com/ where she mentioned an article in September entitled “What prayer means to me” by Velma Cook gave me some valuable information. In this article there were many things that helped me better understand the importance of spending my time wiser. In the end it is concluded that “we should continue in prayer whether well or ill, tired or wakeful sad or hopeful, I continue, knowing that success doesn’t lie in the amount of money, weapons or strength one thinks one has, but in one’s morality.

In saying this I have found that reading the Quran is just as important and in this fast paced culture we live in, TIME is always of essence. Children, spouse, job obligations, university projects, home environment and other duties we have are important and huge but I am not spending enough time as I wish I could reading the Quran. I hope that the following article can be of benefit and I have tried already some suggestions.

http://www.soundvision.com/Info/quran/journal.asp

Everyday Life

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… They should rather pardon and overlook. Would you not love Allah to forgive you? Allah is Ever-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” (Qur’an, 24:22)

As I was walking passed some co-workers this week, I never expected to witness an intense arguement between two individuals. Hostility in actions and words flared from one side and tension was left in the air. Some days later, neither one is speaking to each other.

It’s human nature for our words to get in the way of our actions and nevertheless it can take some of us a long time to free the hatred and anger in the heart.  We are tried in this world, and learn by our mistakes and some of the great qualities that are difficult to acquire is to be sincere in our forgiving,  and tolerant to the anger that may overtake a person’s behavior. Moreover, we should be capable to accept forgiveness even when they are in the right, and the other in the wrong.  This is can be hard but the following research made left me astounded that forgiveness is not only of human value but there are benefits to our health.

According to recent research, American scientists established that those capable of forgiveness are healthier in both mind and body. Dr. Frederic Luskin, who holds a Ph.D. in Counselling and Health Psychology from Stanford University, and his team, studied 259 people living in the city of San Francisco. The scientists invited the subjects to attend six one-and-a-half-hour sessions, and aimed to instruct the subjects in forgiveness during their conversations.

The subjects of the experiments stated that they suffered less after forgiving people who had wronged them. The research showed that people who learned to forgive feel much better, not only emotionally but also physically. For example, it was established that after the experiment psychological and physical symptoms such as stress-related backache, insomnia and stomachaches were significantly reduced in these individuals. (Resource: Jennifer Desai, “Stanford Forgiveness Project’s Dr. Frederic Luskin studies why learning to forgive might be good for the body as well as the soul,” Almanac, 9 June 1999, www.almanacnews.com/morgue/1999/1999_06_09.forgive.html.)

In an article,  titled “Anger Raises Risk of Heart Attack,” published in The Times, stated that a short temper might be a short cut to a heart attack, and that young men who reacted to stress by becoming angry were three times more likely to develop premature heart disease, and were five times more likely to have an early heart attack.

All the available research shows that anger is a state of mind that seriously damages human health. Forgiveness, on the other hand, even if it comes hard to people, is pleasing, an aspect of superior morals, that eliminates all the harmful effects of anger, and helps the individual to enjoy a healthy life, both psychologically and physically. Forgiveness, of course, is one of a form of behaviour by which a person can stay healthy, and a positive virtue everyone should live by. However, the true aim of forgiveness—as in all else—must be to please Allah. The fact that the features of this sort of morality, and that the benefits of which have been scientifically identified, have been revealed in many verses of the Qur’an, is just one of the many sources of wisdom it contains.

For that reason, believers are forgiving, compassionate and tolerant people who, as revealed in the Qur’an, “control their rage and pardon other people.” (Qur’an, 3:134)

The repayment of a bad action is one equivalent to it. But if someone pardons and puts things right, his reward is with Allah… (Qur’an, 42:40)

A day of reward

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I came across this conversion story and it made me remember some of my personal experiences. Everyone has a story and I especially enjoy reading other individual’s testomonies, reasons, challenges and final day when shahada was accepted.

http://www.islamfortoday.com/scottish30.htm