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Ramadan Challenge: Your Mega Mind!

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While talking about controlling our hands, feet, tongue, eyes etc. from committing sins, I feel we often ignore the source from which all our actions stem. How about controlling, or rather managing and training, the source first? Where it all begins… Yes, “the mind”! All throughout the day, our mind keeps a steady stream of thoughts whirling in our heads. From actively processing what the person in front of you is saying to remembering that neighbour’s dog who barked at you 5 years ago.

Why do we even need to control our thoughts, you ask? Because our thoughts  not only give rise to our actions but also determine our whole outlook on life. There are many kinds of thoughts that need to be checked, following are some of the major types. How many of them can you relate to?

The “I’ll-Make-Them-Payback-Somehow” Thoughts

This is where you can’t go to sleep despite being very tired because you’re fuming inside, ‘how dare he say that about me at the party?’ And then you indulge in the pleasure of imagining the scene where “he” is standing meekly and you’re telling him exactly what you think about him and a crowd is applauding you in the background.

The “But-What-Could-It-Be?” Thoughts

This is where you’re dying to know ‘why did they go to that place? What secret could it be? And why didn’t she call and tell me, huh? I’m sure “xyz” knows and is not telling me’. Your life depends on what someone’s doing in their life without telling you, for example, finalizing a rishta of their son, getting a new job, buying a new car, going to the doctor. The problem being: they didn’t consult you.

The “I-Will-Assume” Thoughts

You see him entering the park with a girl and you’re suddenly on your best Sherlock Holmes “I must deduce by putting two and two together” behaviour.  ‘What’s going on? Hmmmm… Is that… his cousin? Colleague? Second wife?’ So you decide that the safest would be to assume the worst and thus spring into action and send a Whatsapp broadcast message without losing any time, announcing the scene with your detailed deductions.
Also includes, ‘she said that, but I think she meant this in reality’.

The “I-Hope-No-One-Finds-Out” Thoughts

These are a result of the constant bombardment on our brains of obscene or haram images that pop-up as ads while browsing on the internet, that we see on the billboards on the road, that get imprinted on our minds because we forgot to lower your gaze. Now in seclusion, that pretty sister with the purple hijab or that tall brother with the curly beard or the latest movie’s hero/heroine or even worse, that really obscene picture ad comes to your mind and you feel a tingling and forget yourself for a few moments while pursuing the thought further.

The “Oh-No!-Where-Did-That-Come-From” Thoughts

These are thoughts about Allah, your Deen, your faith, that make your cringe from inside as soon as they hit your mind and you are horrified, where did they come from? Unfortunately, sometimes you go on to pursue them and end up losing your faith, not knowing that they were whispers from Shaytan trying to detract you so you turn away from your faith or at least feel very bad about yourself.

The “Everything-Sucks” Thoughts

You’re drowned in a pool of “I don’t have this in my life” kind of thoughts. You can’t stop thinking of the happy life your friends are leading. XYZ has a brand new car and a 6-figure job. ABC has a glamorous and accomplished wife plus three well-mannered kids. And you? You have all the leftover scraps of everyone’s goods. Sigh! The worst family, the worst job, the worst looks, the worst house etc.

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Now,

that you’ve placed yourself in one or more of the above mentioned categories, decide to put a stop to them. That’s it! Yes, it is that simple! Know that the very first wrong thought that comes to your mind will not make you sinful as it was not in your power (provided you did not will that thought to come by not protecting your eyes and ears etc. at all). But pursuing that wrong thought, thinking that now since it’s in my head I might as well build the whole scene, will make you accountable for it. Surprised that even thoughts can be sins?

“O you who have believed, avoid much [negative] assumption. Indeed, some assumption is sin.” (49:12)

Yes, we are the believers alhamdulillah, yet we all slip and we are all humans, it’s okay. The important thing is to keep improving.

The Way Forward

We can stop ourselves from pursuing a specific thought. It’s an exercise that you can get used to with the Will of Allah SWT. You can do the following when bugged with a bad thought:

  • Immediately seek refuge in Allah from Shaytan and from the evil of your nafs.
  • Tell yourself firmly I will NOT pursue this. Loudly, if possible.
  • Change your position or situation.
  • Distract yourself and get busy in some other thing.
  • Memorize duas to be recited when troubled by the whispers of Shaytan.
  • Offer 2 nafal whenever a bad thought comes. Soon Shaytan will be stopping the bad thoughts in order to save you from offering 2 nafal (read the nafal anyway now that you’re in the habit, it’s okay).
  • Make sincere and heartfelt dua.

Long-term Solutions

  • Involve yourself in healthy and productive activities that do not give time to your mind to wander.
  • Keep your input of religious knowledge continuous, join a Quran class nearby or online.
  • Stay in good company, make righteous friends.
  • Avoid obscene talk. What you say has an effect on your skin and thus your whole body.
  • Do not binge watch TV, movies, seasons etc.
  • Practice lowering your gaze.
  • Install pop-up ad blocks on your browser.
  • Keep revising the blessings you have and be grateful for them every single day. It will stop the negative, self-piteous thoughts.

CHALLENGE: What better time to practice all of the above than the last 10 blessed nights of Ramadan? When Shaytan is all tied up and Mercy is abundant inshaAllah. May your life be beautified immensely by learning to manage your thoughts. 🙂

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Peace!

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Peace! The whole world’s hankering after it. Today we have peace conventions, peace rallies, peace slogans, and yet, there is no peace. We are insecure in our own minds, in our own homes, in our own homeland.

Amazing though it may sound but we don’t really need to go into that much hullabaloo to get peace in our lives. That is because its perfect recipe was given by a great leader years ago. A new state had just been formed, he entered it and said,

Spread Salaam...” *1

Just like that! So simple.

Yes, you guessed it. The great leader was none other than our beloved Prophet Muhammad sallallaahu ‘alaihi wassalam.

Salaam is the salutation that Muslims greet each other with, when they meet. In effect, they say: Assalam u ‘alaykum, which means ‘peace be upon you’.

This great leader didn’t just state, ‘say’ salaam, rather he said, ‘spread’ salaam. Do you see the depth in his choice of words? Spread means to disseminate widely. Imagine that! Imagine us wishing peace to any and everyone we met. Would there be any discord or bad feelings left, let alone insecurities? Because if you just had to wish peace to everyone, you couldn’t hate them at the same time. That would be a contradiction in and of itself. Today we’re scared of our own neighbors. We don’t even know them. Why? We never talked to them. If we followed the rule of saying salaam to everyone, we’d come to know them, right? Communities would come together and unite peacefully. But alas! Where does salaam stand today?

According to scholars, it is obligatory to reply to the greeting of salaam. If you don’t reply, it’s a sin. Because we have been ordered in the Quran,

And when you are greeted with a greeting, greet [in return] with one better than it or [at least] return it
[in a like manner]. Indeed, Allah is ever, over all things, an Accountant
.”  (An-Nisa 86)

Etiquette of Salaam

> When you meet someone, it is the right of the other person that you initiate it.

> Pronounce it properly. Do not mumble.

> Say it loudly. It should be loud enough to wake a sleeping person.

> Don’t say it as if to show arrogance in front of the other person. Mean it.

Benefits of Salaam

> One of the best things is that you get reward just by saying such a simple thing as Salaam. Isn’t that cool? You get 10 or 20 or 30 rewards depending on how you say it. *2

> You can enter Paradise! Isn’t Paradise our ultimate goal? Imagine getting the thing you strove for and wanted all your life through Salaam, forever and ever. *3

> Through Salaam, you come to love one other. Lovely, yeah? ❤ *4

Know that Salaam is one of the Names of Allah. You’re taking His Name! It should connect with your heart. Say it beautifully. 🙂

Salaam

*1 “O people! spread Salaam, feed the hungry, be in touch with your kin, and pray while people are asleep (at night), you shall enter paradise peacefully.” [Tirmidhi]

*2 Imran bin Husain (radi Allahu anhu) reported: “A man came to the Prophet (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) and said, ‘As-Salamu Alaikum’ (peace be upon you). The Messenger of Allah (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) responded to his greeting and the man sat down. The Messenger of Allah (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam said, ‘Ten’ (meaning the man had earned the merit of ten good acts). Another one came and said, ‘As-Salamu Alaikum wa Rahmatullah’ (peace and the mercy of Allah be upon you). The Messenger of Allah (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) responded to his greeting and the man sat down. The Messenger of Allah (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) said, ‘Twenty.’ A third one came and said, ‘As-Salamu Alaikum wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuhu’ (peace and the mercy of Allah and His blessings be upon you). The Messenger of Allah (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) responded to his greeting and the man sat down. The Messenger of Allah (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) said, ‘Thirty.’” [Tirmidhi]

*3,4 Abu Huraira RA narrated: Allah’s Messenger sallallaahu ‘alaihi wassalam said, “You will not enter Paradise until you believe; and you will not believe until you love one another. Shall I not guide you to a thing which if you do, you will love one another? Spread (the greeting of peace) Salaam amongst yourselves.” [Muslim]

Light of Dawn

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This piece of poetry was written on the theme of SIST ’14: Revive the light within; let the change begin

I gaze at the moonless sky, covered with black clouds
The darkness piercing my eyes, I close them with a frown
I hear the cry of jackals, oh what an eerie sound!
Rest is as still as death, I sit there as if spellbound

Staring at the shadows of trees, hopelessness grips me
Innocent eyes brimming with tears, in my memory, I can see
Small hands, rough and dirty, plead for just one meal
This is not the story of a single child, it’s of millions in my country

There are those who talk of change yet their walk remains the same
With a fake face, they help society, but their hearts are in plague
The ones who persist in evil, corruption and bad fame
Are no good either from those who play the game without a name

Tired of failing to earn an honest penny is the young man who ends his life
Same goes for the pretty damsel, through whose broken heart pierces the knife
This depression, is it due to a lack of purpose, among the youth, rife?
Is all the education and those degrees really not worth the strife?

Thinking such desolate thoughts, with a heavy head, I fall asleep
Only to be waken by a ray of light, that through the windows peeped
The next day had come and the sun had risen, looking strong and sweet
Despite the darkness every night, resolute to spread the light, through every crack and creep

Sunlight through the trees

Suddenly I felt the hopelessness seeping out of my very soul
It’s true that our situation is bad, but certain things we can control
The sun rises every day, determined to fulfill its role
Nature stares in our face all the time, meant to inspire, so we too set firm goals

After all, darkness and evil prevailed even worse in the Prophet’s times
But in a few years, the picture displayed peace and conquests, with hardly any crimes
It was one man who became the agent of change, with only a few people by his side
Allah’s Word, the Glorious Quran, was what helped them spread the light

So my dear brothers and sisters, pay heed to these signs in nature therein
This Quran has been called An-Nur by the Lord, so it will revive the light within
The depression and frustration will end only if you turn to Him
So understand His Words with an open heart, enlighten yourself and let the change begin!

Gratitude – An Attitude

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Gratitude – An Attitude

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For quite some time, I’ve been noticing a trait that is very common amongst us, irrespective of whether we’re religious or not. We all have, more or less, ingratitude! We don’t have gratitude. The reason I use the word ‘have’ and not ‘show’ is that gratitude is an attitude, it’s a whole different paradigm.

If you have the blessing of gratitude in you, you feel it in your very veins. Your heart feels ‘alhamdulillah‘; you don’t just say it like a ritual. You’re less concerned with what’s missing and you’re thankful for whatever you have. We can’t ever have enough anyway. But we’re always complaining, sometimes with our words, but more often with our attitudes and body language. Maybe we want things to be perfect and when they remain imperfect (as they’re meant to be, this isn’t Jannah), we start complaining. If only we remember that this world is temporary and meant to be stressful.

Just have a look around today and see what people talk about; observe their tones. You’ll see they’re complaining most of the time. I’ve noticed that when I’m in my worst lows, I’m not grateful enough; enough to be thrilled about moments, about the littlest things in life, and to feel content and happy from within.

Being happy in situations you’re put in and being content is gratitude too. Just saying ‘alhamdulillah’ isn’t enough; specially if it’s followed by a ‘but’, it is highly unacceptable. However, it is true that you’re unable to enjoy all the time, specially when you’ve gone through a trauma or when you’re ill. When your body is weak, your emotions weaken and you feel down naturally. That is where righteous companions come in. They will facilitate you and help you remain positive. They won’t just lecture you rather they will make you feel good about yourself. Pray that you’re blessed with such companions and friends throughout your life.

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Islam is the perfect way of life, it’s not just a boring set of do’s and don’ts. It teaches us to be content and happy and grateful and to enjoy life. We remain stressed, always on the go and feel responsible for things that aren’t in our circle of control. What we don’t realize is that if we’re having some off time in order to be refreshed and to feel better about ourselves, that too is good as it will bring the bounce back in us and increase our productivity.

Just remember, ingratitude is catching, and so is gratitude. I make this statement on personal experience. So stop complaining and comparing; you’re in the best situation you could possibly be in. Try to be cheerful and grateful and make others feel better around you. Also, make dua for companions who have a positive outlook towards life.

If we don’t feel good and happy with ourselves, how will others be happy with us? And guess what? Gratitude’s a way to get more blessings. 🙂

Allah says in the Quran:

 “If you are grateful, I will surely increase you [in favor]; but if you deny, indeed, My punishment is severe.” [Surah Ibrahim: 7]

P.S. It is a complete coincidence that the makers of The Happy Page have now made The Gratitude Page on Facebook. They weren’t inspired by this post. Lol.

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The Barbecue Pit

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Bismillah.

I was standing by the barbecue pit, staring at the juicy tikkas (pieces of meat) and the glowing coals. As the fat from the skewers dripped on the coals, the flames roared and rose higher. At that moment, the fire looked angry and scary, crackling more brightly with each fat dripping. A strange visualization came to me for a fleeting instant and my mind envisioned those pieces of fat as human skin. The more it burned, the more the fire blazed…

Barbecue pit

No, I’m not crazy to be thinking of such vampirish thoughts right on Eid day, the day of joy and celebration. It is something that we’re never supposed to be heedless of yet tend to forget, and so Allah reminds by such scenes. Harsh though it may sound, but such an end might be awaiting us forever and ever.

Allah says in the Quran,
“Indeed, those who disbelieve in Our verses – We will drive them into a Fire. Every time their skins are roasted through We will replace them with other skins so they may taste the punishment. Indeed, Allah is ever Exalted in Might and Wise”. [An-Nisa 56]

Right below the human skin is the layer of fat. Just like any oil or fat of this world, maybe that is what will ignite the fire of Hell. As Allah says, “…  then fear the Fire, whose fuel is men and stones, prepared for the disbelievers.” [Al-Baqarah 24]

The question then is, am I living my life such that I’m offering myself as fuel for that Big Fire? Do I disbelieve in His verses and commands? Do I disobey Him? Do I become heedless of Him on occasions of festivity? Or do I repent and turn to Him every moment?  What have I learned this Eid?

Wassalam.

P.S. Here’s an interesting story that relates to this post.

The Blessing Called Wudu

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There are some moments in life that touch you forever! They make your heart thump loudly with ecstasy and excitement… And you want to live that moment and do not want it to end, ever!

I live such moments about five times a day. When the first drop of water touches my hand, I feel a thrill pass through me. I wash my hands, rinse my mouth and nose, wash my face and arms, wipe my head with water and wash my feet. Oh bliss! It’s the wudu (Muslim ablution). Every organ of my body feels that happiness as water caresses it. It’s not just because it is summer, even in winter I get the same feeling of joy.

I wondered what could be the reason of this, do I feel the same whenever I wash my hands/face or take a bath? I realized that this was not the case. Then I thought, maybe Allah puts this special feeling of freshness, revitalization and joy only in performing the Muslim ablution. Yes, this must be it!

There’s another thing that I’m sure of. There must be some very deep wisdom hidden in washing only the organs that we’re meant to wash during wudu. If the western scientists haven’t started searching on it, they’re missing on it big time. We could have been told to wash the feet without including the ankles; or wash them, including the legs till knees; or not wash the arms. But the Creator fixed the body parts to be washed. There must be huge health benefits associated with this that would be mind blowing. Even the sequence of washing must have something deep in it, that we know not.

Just these refreshing feelings would have been enough, but then, I’m rewarded for it too!  But whaaa’?! I enjoy it and then get reward for it too? Amazing!

I pity those wretched people who don’t know this blessing, who don’t perform ablution. How poor are they! 😦
Read on to know why.

My sins are forgiven,

‘Uthman ibn ‘Affan said, “I saw the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, do wudu’ like I am doing wudu’ now. Then he said, ‘Anyone who does wudu’ like that, will be forgiven his previous wrong actions, and his prayer and his walking to the mosque are an added bonus.'” [Muslim]

All the doors of jannah will open up for me,

‘Umar ibn al-Khattab reported that the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, “No one among you does wudu’ and does wudu’ thoroughly -– or adequately – and then testifies, ‘There is no god but Allah Alone with no partner and I testify that Muhammad is His slave and Messenger’ without the eight doors of the Garden being opened to him so that he can enter by whichever of them he wishes.” [Muslim]

And then, I’ll be recognized by my beloved (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wassalam) by traces of wudu on me? Ultimate!

Narrated Nu’am Al-Mujmir: Once I went up the roof of the mosque, along with Abu Huraira. He performed ablution and said, “I heard the Prophet saying, “On the Day of Resurrection, my followers will be called “Al-Ghurr-ul-Muhajjalun” from the trace of ablution and whoever can increase the area of his radiance should do so (i.e. by performing ablution regularly).’ ” [Sahih Bukhari, Volume 1, Book 4, Number 138]

I feel awesome! O Performer of Ablution, do you?

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Gone with the Wind

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Sometimes when I’m alone, I let my imagination run wild,
My mind wanders through deserts, I let the sand be my guide

I hear the hooves of horses, impatiently stamping the ground
They wait for the command of the leader, awaiting just a sound

I see in the eyes of warriors, bravery and determination
Their fearlessness comes from fear of the Master of creation

They conquer land upon land, pursuing no personal gain
Persia, Rome, Egypt, all for establishing Allah’s name

I also see the rulers in streets of these great kingdoms
Dressed in rags, nothing to eat, yet their hearts brim with wisdom

Both rich and poor of the nation, lead such simple lives
Working for an honest penny, they don’t know the meaning of lies

I see seekers of knowledge everywhere, thirsty and eager
Striving to learn night and day, though resources are meagre

One man travels 700 miles, just for listening to a single Hadith
He does not have a car or camel, he travels without any ease

Corruption and dishonesty, their dictionary has not these words
Muslims they are, they submit, they do not mock or curse

Pleasing the Lord of the Worlds is their only goal
They do not bow in front of humans, free are their souls

Suddenly I snap out of my vision, I wake up to today
‘Where have those Muslims gone?’, I cry out in dismay

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