Category Archives: Waning Dusk Series

Chapter 30: The Waning Dusk (series)

indexMyth: Let’s kill time

It’s the time that’s killing us.

I (swear) by the Time, Man is in a state of loss indeed, Except those who believed and did righteous deeds, and exhorted each other to follow truth, and exhorted each other to observe patience. (103:1-3)

There can be no fitting ending to this series than Surah Al-Asr, the summary of the entire Quran. I started off with a post that made a reference to it and I will converge everything here too. It’s a whole comprehensive chapter in itself and according to Imam Shafa’i, it can substitute for the whole Quran and suffice everyone. There can be no greater lesson to be picked from Ramadan. That if nothing else, we have learnt how quickly time flies by. And that tiny tinge of regret, that state of loss that it leaves us with– it’s going to be amplified when life leaves us for real. And with each passing day we are heading towards the end of our timeline. Not a day goes by when you aren’t getting closer to death, or your friends aren’t nearing their ends; some faster than others. Now that you know what loss feels like, don’t let another day pass by without making the most of it.

Allah starts with swearing by Time that is running out to make a point that we are drowning in a state of loss. But that’s not it. Allah did not just swear by time. He used all the emphasis in the second verse to make the thunderous statement. And He made the emphasis thrice! Now you don’t normally do that– unless you’re mad or Shakespeare (as Sh. Abu Abdissalam puts it). So if there’s one thing you’ve got to get out of Surah Al-Asr– it’s respect for time.

And those who believe and doing righteous deeds are the only ones not losing out. The word Saalihaat implies a handful of good deeds. Not a lot. And we can’t even do a lot after Ramadan. So Allah is not asking for much either. Except a few good deeds and a constant show of support to encourage people on the track and pulling in back those who are losing track. Find good company to check up on you and do something productive with the free time slots you’ve got.

Nothing damages faith more than free time. It’s when you decide to watch a film, play video games and go on a heedless spree. Keep yourself busy with things. Either study something interesting, memorize portions of the Quran, learn new skills or find a job. Just don’t be idle. Time is all you’ve got now. As Hasan Al-Basri had said, “Son of Adam is but a number of days…”

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Chapter 29: The Waning Dusk (series)

Tahajjud

Myth: Keeping Qiyam-ul-Layl for Ramadan only

Last iftar of Ramadan 2014 was one of those moments when you wanted time to stop. Watch read 7:20 pm and you wanted the world to stay still, just for a moment. The seconds ticked by and you squeezed in all of your duas in that frame, both stupid and meaningful and whatever came to your head. And when you heard the call for azan go up, there was some odd finality in the cry like fates being sealed, barakah being lifted and the heavens being restored to their natural order. It does feel off when you break your last fast. Like you’re holding on to last magical moments and they are being gently pried apart from your fists. Gone is a sad word.

But nothing is supposed to change. Ramadan was here to make you accustomed to long qiyaam and to put you on constant vigilance of your actions all day long. Those habits are to stay. I found these verses to be the most beautiful when it comes to establishing prayer in the closing of the night. Though it was obligatory upon the Prophet (pbuh) to perform them daily, tahajjud prayers are the next best thing after our five fard and they are a special fragment from the spell of Ramadan too that you can hold on to, in a way that Allah Himself descends down in the last quarter of every night to give you all that you ask for–

Stand at night (for prayer) except a little –Half of it, or make it a little less, Or make it a little more; and recite the Qur’an clearly with tartil (in a distinct and measured tone). We are going to send down to you a weighty discourse. Truly, rising by night (for prayer of tahajjud ) is the most effective way to subdue (one’s base self) and to make speech more upright. Surely, in daytime, you have a lengthy work to do. And remember the name of your Lord, and devote yourself to Him with exclusive devotion. (73:2-8)

So it’s not just in Ramadan that you get special attention. The blessings continue if you seek them out. Now that our routine will shift back to what it used to be before, there’s all the more reason to integrate qiyam-ul-layl in our lives. As the verses suggest, they help us be upright, and are a source of barakah in our work and time during the day. “Hectic” routine will feel a shade lighter, you’ll find yourself adept at multitasking and most importantly, your conduct throughout the day would be better. Before the habit slips away, set your alarms, call it a day and sleep early so you manage to seize the night!

Chapter 28: The Waning Dusk (series)

haramMyth: Let the “Haraam” game begin

O Prophet, why do you ban (on your self) something that Allah has made lawful for you, seeking to please your wives? And Allah is Most-Forgiving, Very-Merciful. (66:1)

Though the story behind this verse is different, the gist is the same– declaring something haraam upon yourself when it might not be. People, in particular Facebook users, have a lot of time on their hands. There’s some sort of “this-brand-is-haraam campaign” going on over Facebook, usually flaunted by low-res, shoddily photoshopped images of widely-consumed products telling people to freeze chewing candies midway.

Breathe.

Before you are compelled by your moral obligation to hit ‘Share’ just because the picture has haraam written on it– stop. Just pause for a moment and do your own research. It does not befit an educated Muslim to fuel a rumor mill without verifying sensitive information before spreading panic and mass hysteria all over the place. It is the position of the scholars and relevant organisations to give their stamp of approval or disapproval. Run your info through them. When you are done with your background check, list your sources and cite your references if indeed something is haraam and not in common knowledge. Make your information easily verifiable and authentic with sound proofs instead of a hybrid between spam and baseless E-911 jargon.

That said, happy sharing. Stuff could be halal or haraam for all we know. But on principle– verify it before freaking out.

Chapter 27: The Waning Dusk (series)

Myth: It’s family. Everything works.

It’s usually people close to us who get to see us unleash our full-blown tirade on them. Nonsensical quotes like, “If you can’t handle me at my worst, then you certainly don’t deserve me at my best” are partly the reason why we justify expressing our cranky side.

In this part of the Quran, the people of Paradise are engaged in a conversation about their worldly matters. When I read this verse, I knew I had a situation there:

They will say, “Indeed we were afraid (of Allah’s punishment) when we were amidst our family,  But Allah did favour to us and saved us from the torment of Fire’s scorching breath. (52:26-27)

I can give up music, I can give up TV-series, movies, can even try not to backbite but putting on the best conduct with family– that was just overreaching. Get your folks and friends in one place and when they’ll get around to discussing you, they’ll realize they’re not talking about the same person. You are just a fraction of your private self in public. Had a bad day– the family gets it, exam next day—moms get to dodge the mood swings, fight with a friend—passive-aggressive-serial-killer attitude all day long. It’s our families who have to tiptoe around our sensitivities while we go blasting our tempers off.

We borrow stuff from friends, and we pay it off penny by penny. Though with family, there’s some unwritten rule number 42 that whatever belongs to your sibling is yours by birthright and they spend weeks asking for it and we wriggle out waiving it off some way or the other. But yeah, it’s family. Can’t live with them, can’t live without them. Can’t stay mad at them for more than a few minutes. But that doesn’t mean you bake them in the heat of your moments.

And this is exactly what the people of Jannah had not done. They feared Allah in their dealings with their family. And no matter how many praises and compliments you get, you will never have truly nailed it unless your family testifies your good conduct. May we be as nice in our homes as other people believe us to be.good_family_quotes_for_pictures

Chapter 26: The Waning Dusk (series)

5128670_origIn a session with a scholar, he pointed out something that I had never thought of before. And this probably why I like listening to different speakers because they always offer a fresh perspective on “stuff we’ve heard so much about”. Addressing all the volunteers, he said, “Allah chose you. Just like He selectively chose the companions around the Prophet. Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) could not have spread the Deen without his companions’ unwavering support, loyalty and sacrifices. Similarly, Allah hand-picked you all to carry Deen forward in this age. So, whenever you feel demotivated or insignificant, just think of that. It could have been someone else in your place.”

Indeed, We have sent you (O prophet,) as a witness and as a bearer of good news and as a warner. So that you (O people,) believe in Allah and His Messenger, and support him and revere him, and pronounce His (Allah’s) purity morning and evening. (48:8-9)

What’s different about this verse is that Allah has addressed both the Prophet and his people in the same flow, a style that’s called “iltifaat” in Arabic. The companions did their bit (a pretty colossal bit actually) in their lives. And the command is now directed at us. So this goes out to all da’ees serving Islam in their own small ways or linked with organizations. The verse begins and ends with Allah, and everything in between is interlinked. Belief in prophet-hood demands that you revere and respect the prophet (pbuh) and hold him in such high esteem that it drives you to help him spread the message (the emphasis is behind the Arabic words that I wish I could expand on without taking too much space). It’s a beautiful play of positive emotions building up progressively. And all of this is akin to glorifying Allah day and night.

So all your sleepless nights, urgent tasks, critique that you took, finicky revisions… ending in dark circles and a creaking neck that happened while you helped spread Allah’s word were counted as tasbeeh and as an execution of the command stated in the verses. Most of the times, the results don’t turn out as expected, but results were never in the equation. It’s just the struggle that will be accounted for.

Carry on, whether you’re behind the mic or unnamed behind the screen or under the sun handing out flyers. The task is never too small so long as it leads to the desired cause: spreading the Word.

Chapter 25: The Waning Dusk (series)

imagesMyth: The fault in our Imaams

“By the power vested in me, I dub thee jaahil!”

So you are an average know-it-all preacher surveying the common room in your university. Between a person who’s not praying and another praying in a corner but her ruku’ and sujood are not agreeable to your madhab, who would you choose to admonish? No points in guessing. The praying person gets it.

Hanafi vs. Shafa’i vs. Maliki vs. Hanbali. And none of the contestants would have read their own Imaam’s biography or their conduct when they had a clash in opinion. Some of them were in fact, students of the one another.

The scholars of the past had all been noble in their quest for recording and transmitting knowledge. And their efforts are unparalleled to date. It is not the Imaams who were at fault when they differed in their opinions, for they had enlightening intellectual discourses where they either accepted the other’s opinion or entertained it without taking an ego trip. Quite unlike ours where we end up branding each other “kaafir” or “deviant” or we bad-mouth a scholar who could be closer to Allah than you would ever be and incur Allah’s wrath upon us in more ways than one. The fault is in our minds that are religiously uneducated. We memorize chunks but we don’t take any of it in spirit. We think we’ve seen it all and done it all after a couple of year’s worth of studies and that gives us a license to interfere in and disrespect contrasting schools of thought.

He has ordained for you people the same religion as He had enjoined upon Nuh, and that which We have revealed to you (O prophet,) and that which We had enjoined upon Ibrahim and Musa and ‘Isa by saying, “Establish the religion, and be not divided therein.” (42:13)

There are far more common grounds between the four madhahib than there are conflicting rulings. But we always aim at the cracks. Not a single soul on this earth can claim to have completely mastered the Deen. The Prophet (pbuh) did for it was revealed unto him and he passed it on to his companions. Even the companions had their disagreements but they had the true essence of the spiritual knowledge that never caused them to split up and divide into groups and sects. And neither did they trash-talk one another.

Be open to all authentic sources, respect other madhahib and do not restrict your understanding of Deen with specific books. That’s kind of like choosing either Newton or Einstein when studying physics.

Chapter 24: The Waning Dusk (series)

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Myth: Allah is going to write me off.

Don’t confuse what people think of you with what Allah thinks of you.

We are usually one of the two types of sinners. We either take it all very lightly and shrug it off thinking no harm done; or we can’t forgive ourselves for the awful sins we have committed. And we sentence ourselves to misery assuming there’s no way we can face Allah after what we have done and said and the lines we crossed.

But Allah hasn’t given up on us. He never does.

Say (on My behalf), “O servants of Mine who have acted recklessly against their own selves, do not despair of Allah’s mercy. Surely, Allah will forgive all sins. Surely, He is the One who is the Most-Forgiving, the Very-Merciful. (39:53)

There’s hope even for the hypocrites who have been shunned into the lowest, deepest pit of Hellfire as Allah says in the Quran. But even there He makes an exception for those who turn back later. If there’s redemption for the potential bottom-most level dwellers of Hell, then there’s redemption for us too. There are people who only pray Friday to Friday. For some, it’s just Eid prayer that is left. Most of them only try to pray and fast in Ramadan. That’s all the doors they have.

Tonight is going to be another long one. Give Allah a chance and you’ll find Him waiting at the door you left open. Talk to Him. About anything and everything. His Mercy is greater than the monstrosity of our sins that we did deliberately, unintentionally or in full-blown rebellion. So long as you backtrack to His doorstep. What happens when you turn back? All of your sins will be forgiven. No conditions, no questions asked. Clean slate.

The month is closing out. The night will soon break into dawn. It’s about time we have that talk. Pour out the inner turmoil that you have held back over the years. You will realize that those tears were the only ones that were worth your distress.

Chapter 23: The Waning Dusk (series)

The-Indispensable-Qur’an-300x212

Myth: That book was a gripping page-turner…

You get goosebumps from watching a certain movie that you could relate to. That fills you with such an intense fervor that you brood on it for another hour so. Or it was a song in sync with your melancholy. So you listen to it over and over again till it takes over. Then you tell your friends to watch that movie so they could feel what you felt. So that your souls share the same two-hour rush from a motion film that was very well-directed. And you want this person to breathe in that same song too as you split the earphones and cozy up in a corner. And maybe you spent your time together reading the same books and loving the same characters. You collected years and wisdom from the tales of those in the yellow pages and shared their moments as if they were yours. And you gasped and laughed and cried at the right places.

But very few of us have friends with whom we shared some spine-tingling moments together in a revered gathering about Allah. Where hearts are turned over. Where we mentally resolved to make a fresh start or turn over. Where we let the lives of companions consume us into an odd stillness and the battles past had us awestruck and thinking. Because the bond strengthened with each passage of the Quran as it was read and delved into. So hold on to these little moments that had more joy and meaning than the rest of your time together, spent in a cause that is unlike any other.

Because there’s divinity in the shivers you get reading about real people and real parables and glimpses from your own sequel that will follow.

Allah has sent down the best discourse, a book containing subjects resembling each other, mentioned again and again, shivered from which are the skins of those who have awe of their Lord. Then, their skins and their hearts become soft enough to tend to the remembrance of Allah. This is the Guidance of Allah with which He brings to the right path whomsoever He wills. As for the one whom Allah lets go astray, for him there is no one to guide. (39:23)

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Chapter 22: The Waning Dusk (series)

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Myth: She probably likes me.

“She giggles every time I answer a question. Does she like me or is this some kind of game?”

Men are clueless. But I had no idea they were THAT clueless. A guy asked me this a long time ago and I had to struggle to give an answer that didn’t sound half as scathing as the ones in my head. Won’t go into the foreground or background of my opening lines that must have raised some eyebrows by now. The point you need to chew– is in this verse.

So, do not be too soft in your speech, lest someone having disease in his heart should develop fancies (about you); and do speak with appropriate words. (33:32)

This is something every parent should tell his or her daughter before sending her off to co-ed school. Your non-verbal cues, gestures, tone and choice of words are some of the most important things you need to keep a check on when interacting with the opposite gender. Contrary to popular belief, it’s not just women who spin fantasies in their heads, though their khush fehmiyan are arguably well-grounded. It’s usually men who tend to pick up the wrong signals. In my defense– I’m not generalizing here. Only talking about the ones this verse has singled out– men who have a disease in their hearts. And you will find most of these in your college/university.

As for females who habitually giggle every time a guy asks them something, I hope they choke on it. It’s frustrating to have your lectures and Q/A sessions punctuated by joint heads in the back seats with their message beeps timed with a combo giggle explosion.

And there are some who go extra-soft in their conduct with people. Honestly, a no-nonsense, cut-the-crap tone can curb many societal evils (no kidding) and spare both sexes from a lot of over-thinking, reading between giggles, figuring out subtext and a deluded conclusion: “she’s totally into me”.

Chapter 21: The Waning Dusk (series)

promise

Myth: It’s all Yahudi saazish

Yes, stuff and bother. But Allah is the best of Planners.

With Allah’s help. He helps whomsoever He wills. And He is the Mighty, the Very-Merciful. It is a promise from Allah. Allah does not fail in His promise, but most of the people do not know. (30:5-6)

Will our glorious days repeat themselves?

‘Umar bin Khattab (ra), the first liberator of Jerusalem, says that history does repeat itself. He said that the latter generations of this Ummah would not prevail except by means of that by which the first generations prevailed.

If we try to seek honor through anything other than Islam, Allah will cause us to suffer from humiliation. Earlier generations of Muslims ruled and prevailed by following the Deen. And at the time of decline and during crusades, Salah ad-Deen Ayubi drew the same conclusion– that Islam was the only way to reclaim their glory. And henceforth, he conquered Jerusalem from the crusaders again. And none of it happened overnight.

We see the death toll rising in Gaza and the chaotic, haphazard affairs of the Muslim Ummah. People are calling for immediate and long term solutions while the skeptics smirk meanwhile. It’s amazing how we still manage to squabble, neck-down in a quagmire of problems– suffocating and dying a slow death. Snide comments like, “How many tweets have you all collected for Gaza?” or “What about people dying in your own country?” are thrown at anyone who shares related content online. First off, what kind of a human are you if someone’s concern about organised and funded butchery of your own brethren irks you? Second, let’s not make it a competition about where people are dying more.

Muslims just don’t know what to do in a state of crisis.

The only sane road out of this chaos has already been taken before. Not once, but twice. We need to rebuild ourselves from ground up. It’s not unheard of. It’s a long, strenuous, painstakingly slow process but what Muslim Ummah really needs is a generation of real men and women– not overprotected, impressionable, wannabe sissies awestruck and hypnotized by the Western lyre. Muhammad bin Qasim lead his army when he was 17. If he were from this generation, he wouldn’t even have gotten his driver’s license or considered to be an adult for that matter. And even when it comes to religious obligations (where you’re officially a responsible adult after puberty), we don’t think our 13 year old is man enough to fast or pray regularly. And the negligence continues to the point of damage beyond repair. A domino effect– the result of which we can see everywhere.

Unfortunately, we don’t have the general upbringing to lead ourselves anywhere sensibly let alone command an entire army. And this wisdom, maturity in character and clarity of thought only comes from following the Quran and the Sunnah. ‘Cause it gives you a moral compass. It makes you headstrong enough to decide for yourself where you could best invest your capabilities in. Otherwise, the status-quo is never going to change. It will be blind leading the blind to the ditch we are in now. And instead of climbing back up, we are burrowing further in because that’s where Uncle Sam keeps his gold. Or so he says.

O you who believe, if anyone from you turns back from his Faith, then Allah will bring a people whom He loves and who love Him, humble toward the believers, hard on the disbelievers, who fight in the way of Allah and are not afraid of the reproach of any critic. (5:54)

The promise of Allah will come to pass.  A generation will be borne from the ashes, like a phoenix rising from the flames. Islam will prevail. Though not necessarily through us. Above-mentioned is the class of people who have brought changes before. Yep, that is THE class. And if we don’t qualify, we will be wiped out like the others before us. Insignificant, unremembered, nameless and lost in the dark parts of history.

Still insisting that it’s a yahudi saazish?

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