Category Archives: Spirituality

Missing Ramadan? Worry not, the BEST 10 are here!

By Nadeem Ashraf

It’s been more than a month since the blissful time of reflection and prayer that is Ramadan has come to a swift end.
You tried your very best to get rid of niggling addictions and minor sins. You woke up even before Fajr for Tahajjud and Suhoor. You paid attention to your Salah and perhaps, read the Quran more deeply and with more reflection. In the very last days of Ramadan, perhaps you were worried about maintaining this momentum of good deeds and this serene peace of mind.

This worry is something to use as an initiative, dear reader. Revel in the fact that being worried about doing good deeds means that you crave Allah (SWT)’s forgiveness and acceptance. Indeed, it is said that even the slightest bit of guilt that comes from not doing our ordained acts properly is a blessing from Allah (SWT). It pushes us to do better next time.

So, what to do that keeps the momentum gained in Ramadan thriving?

“We are what we repeatedly do,” Will Durant observed in summarizing the ancient Greek philosopher, Aristotle.

(Will Durant, The Story of Philosophy)

Repetition is key if we want to maintain a state of a continual good habits. The Ramadan momentum is itself gained through repetition of key acts like salah, reading the Quran, and avoiding bad habits. Many psychologists agree that it takes 21 days to form a habit. (Charles Duhigg, The Power of Habit). Ramadan is indeed a blessing then to help us form good habits and take us away from our bad ones.

The only problem is that we happen to do these habits in a ‘Ramadan-frame-of-mind’. As soon as Ramadan ends, we revert back to our everyday routine and the habits we had formed fade away. The challenge is to keep up the habits gained in Ramadan and strengthen them even after Ramadan ends.The ramadan momentum (1)

In fact, our deen has made this very task of maintaining our Ramadan ‘momentum’ easy. During Ramadan, we set a routine for ourselves. We know when we have to wake up and what we like eating for Suhoor. We know how to structure our day so as to not miss one single Rakah of our prayers and we take out time to read the Quran. With that routine set, half the battle’s won already. All you have to do is concentrate on making it a regular part of your lifestyle. Along with the following Sunnah of the Prophet,
you will be relieved to learn how easy it is in fact to never let Ramadan and its goodness fall back too much.

Right after Ramadan, Muslims are enjoined to fast six days in Shawwal which carry numerous blessings. The Prophet ﷺ said: “Whoever fasts Ramadan and follows it with six days from Shawwal it is as if they fasted the entire year.” (Muslim). Similarly, it’s also Prophetic tradition to fast on Monday and Thursday each week.

It was narrated that ‘Aa’ishah (may Allaah be pleased with her) said: The Prophet ﷺ was keen to fast on Mondays and Thursdays. al-Tirmidhi, 745.
Think about this. Try to apply it. And with the right amount of effort, you will never be out of that Ramadan ‘momentum’ again. InshaAllah.

But wait, here’s the good news, you’re in for a treat! The BEST 10 days are here already! It is indeed a blessing from Allah SWT that He gifts us the first 10 days of the month of Dhul-Hijjah just when we need them the most. You retain the Ramadan feels a bit after it has passed and by this time when you’re starting to feel the dip badly, comes a lot of incentive and the opportunity of a spiritual uplift.

Ibn ‘Abbaas (may Allaah be pleased with him and his father) reported that the Prophet ﷺ said: “There are no days in which righteous deeds are more beloved to Allah than these ten days.” The people asked, “Not even jihaad for the sake of Allah?” He said, “Not even jihaad for the sake of Allah, except in the case of a man who went out to fight giving himself and his wealth up for the cause, and came back with nothing.” (Reported by al-Bukhaari, 2/457).

So now is the time to increase in fasts, charity, zikr (remembrance of Allah SWT), Quran recitation, extra prayers and all other good deeds that you can think of. And this time make an intention to continue some of these deeds, if not all, even after these days have gone so your year’s fuel is taken care of. Keep doing one little action you did consistently in Ramadan and are now planning to do these days after this time ends.

Indeed, the most beloved deed to Allah is what is done regularly even if it is small. (Musnad Ahmed).

It could be as simple as giving daily charity in the form of few rupees in the masjid’s charity box or committing 15 minutes to read a verse of the Quran and reflect on its meaning.

Keep your chin up and keep doing your best to please Allah (SWT). May Allah (SWT) grant us the taufeeq (ability) to do acts that are pleasing to Him and that He blesses us with Ramadan 2019 and other blessed days. Ameen.

the best ten

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Happiness – a state of mind or a milestone?

By Maha Amjad

Everyone is searching for happiness; but is happiness really a destination or a journey?

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Standing in front of the university crowd, all glammed up for the farewell, she was asked to give a word of advice. All her thoughts about prompting them to understand the word of God went out of her mind amidst the discussion about their search for happiness.

She stated in a matter-of-fact tone, “happiness should not be associated with events and moments, rather it should be a consistent way of life.” This stirred up another round of debate; an inconclusive one at that because all participants were still searching for happiness.

A few days later, she heard this verse of the Quran:

 وَإِذَا أَذَقْنَا النَّاسَ رَحْمَةً فَرِحُوا بِهَا ۖ وَإِنْ تُصِبْهُمْ سَيِّئَةٌ بِمَا قَدَّمَتْ أَيْدِيهِمْ إِذَا هُمْ يَقْنَطُونَ

And when We let the people taste mercy, they rejoice therein, but if evil afflicts them for what their hands have put forth, immediately they despair. (Sura Ar-Rum, Ayah 36) (Sahih International).

Allah SWT is describing the behaviour of the general populace. They usually swing between two extreme emotions. They are either rejoicing over the blessings that Allah SWT has bestowed on them or they become depressed over that which they don’t have. 

There is another set of people who are excluded from the addressees, they are the Mumineen; those who are grateful over their blessings and are patient over their hardships. They are rewarded for their patience (Sabr) and this makes them content and happy even during the difficult patches of their life.

This Ayah dispels all ambiguities surrounding the concept of happiness. As long as everything is going according to what man aspires for, he tends to be happy. But this does not always happen. Life is a test and we are tested through people and situations. And the moment someone states something against our liking, we tend to become unhappy. Similarly, if we had a blessing; the perfect job or the perfect relationship and according to the plan of nature it was taken away from us at its destined time, we become depressed. So how can we overcome this human weakness of associating happiness with material things and perfect situations?

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Ask yourself truthfully, when was the last time you were truly happy?
Was it the day you received your degree?
Or the day you got that specific award?
What happened next? Where did the bubble of happiness go?  

Yes, it was just that a bubble, a facade. That was not true happiness. Happiness is in fact not a destination to reach one day. It is a product of how we live our lives and what our actions make us feel.

Happiness stems from gratitude; the more we realise our own blessings, the more content we shall be. We need to look at what we have rather than focusing on that which we don’t have.  

Your happiness should not be based on what you do not have

This can be understood by the example of two families travelling on the same highway. They are both having fun within their own cars with their respective families. The moment the driver of one car starts racing with the other car, he/she forgets all the happiness they have, and the focal point of their drive became getting ahead of the other driver.

Imagine if the one of the drivers’ cars has a better engine and the other doesn’t.  He is neither going to be able to beat the other car and nor is he enjoying the journey. Isn’t that a complete loss of an opportunity to be happy on the car ride?

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Similar is our case when we compare our blessings with others, we lose focus from what we have. In either case we reach the destination that we were destined to reach but the quality of the journey  depends on the focus of the driver. The journey is analogous to life and the driver is you. 

وَمَن يَشْكُرْ فَإِنَّمَا يَشْكُرُ لِنَفْسِهِ ۖ
… whoever is grateful is grateful for [the benefit of] himself. (31:12).  

Dear reader, gratitude is the key to happiness. 

Another fact to realise is that wealth cannot buy happiness and peace (sakoon).  

A 2008 study concluded that how people spend their money may be as important for their happiness as how much money they earn – and that spending money on others might represent a more effective route to happiness than spending money on oneself. (1)

In this social experiment, 46 people were given either $20 or $5, some spent it on themselves and the rest spent it on people other than themselves. Those who spent the money on others felt happier at the end of the day. 

Happiness is, therefore, not the end-product of materialistic fulfilment; rather, it is the act of spreading joy among others which results in true happiness. Moreover, there are very simple things that we can practice that increase our happiness as well as that of others. A simple smile on our face or a quick ‘thank you’ can brighten someone else’s day. A pleasant tone, small acts of kindness, giving simple gifts are all tokens of spreading joy among our fellow humans and most of all, though they may seem like small things, they have the power to make us happy in this world and in the hereafter.   

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1. Elizabeth W. Dunn, Lara B. Aknin, Michael I. Norton, ‘Spending Money on Others Promotes Happiness’ (2008).

Ramadan Confession #2: I have this type of Ramadan guilt every year

By Fatima Asad

Many things change in your life when you become a mother.  (Wait! This is not just another mama post; I need to tell you when I truly felt this guilt for the first time.)  In fact, you meet another person in the mirror when you are blessed with motherhood.  It was the first Ramadan after becoming a mama- I wasn’t fasting since the two-month old demanded to suck out my entire essence (along with the breast milk).  If you’re a mama who has nursed, you know the seemingly eternal hours you possess to write to-do lists (without getting anything done, subhanAllah), read that book (yes, that book that you attempted to read during the last trimester), stare at the walls, questioning your interior designing judgement, or contemplating life- really going deep within the mind’s avenues.

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It was during one of these must-feed-the-little-human sessions that a realization struck my heart chords hard. It was an overwhelming feeling of guilt that shoved me to such an extent that I felt myself freeze, choke and gasp simultaneously.  I couldn’t breathe during those moments, and I wanted to cry, but there were no tears.  I really wanted the tears to flow out so I could rid myself of this overpowering force, but there were none.  That in itself was another terrifying realization: why am I not crying? Why can’t I cry? Has my heart hardened to such an extent? Then, as I gently laid the baby on the bed and kissed her chubby little cheeks, I couldn’t let go of this affection.  As I reached for her tiny fingers, tear drops pattered on her palm.  There they were.  This miracle would continue to awaken an array of emotions I never knew were possible in the future years.

The guilt was because of this: I sadly realized that I had not been the best representation of Islam in the past and to think that I may have been the cause of even a single person missing out on this astounding blessing of Ramadan jolted me to the bone.  Having lived in America all my life, it had been a constant tug of war between faith and culture.  Most of us will confidently claim that Islam doesn’t contradict culture, but do we really believe it? Have we lived by it? Islam does not contradict culture, but I, like countless others, failed to be educated about this until it was too late in many aspects.  I had spent most of my youth years unconsciously trying to become a follower, trying to impress people through fading trends and false doctrines.  This is because I failed to understand my own identity, allowing others to pick and choose how they defined me rather than holding the reins myself.

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This guilt comes back every year, stronger each time.  I should have done more, I could have done more, I should have learned about my deen earlier, I could have paved a smoother road for myself and others, I should have embraced the real me more…ultimately: I could have painted a better, more authentic picture of Islam if only I had known it myself.  Even though the guilt increases, so does the hope.  In fact, the hope is slowly but surely outgrowing the despair and that is what being a Muslim is all about.  It’s about accepting your mistakes and circumstances, pairing hope with determination, and moving forward.  The past is just that: the past.  Look back to learn not to turn into stone, eternally frozen with despair over what can never be alive again.

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Reflect and Refresh – Purify your soul and mind with the teachings of Qur’an

By Suha Mishal

The month of forgiveness and mercy is upon us.  

This Ramadan, while treating yourself to samosas and chaats, why not also treat your soul. Ramadan is the best time to treat your inner exhausted self to a deep cleanse. Does that seem hard? Worry not, you will find inspiration to do so in this Ayah: 

 “He has succeeded who purifies the soul, and he has failed who corrupts the soul.” (Quran, 91:9-10) 

This success ultimately means success in the hereafter. So, let’s remember in this Ramadan to:  

Pause. Reflect. Purify. Restart! 

I’ve had encounters with people with a lot of money, countless other blessings and everything they’d ever wish for, yet their hearts and souls are not at peace. They constantly are in a rush for something they don’t even know themselves. And what use is money if it cannot buy you the peace and contentment that you still, after having everything, long for?  In the Holy Qur’an, Allah Almighty says, 

“Their hearts relax at the remembrance of Allah” (Quran, 39:23). 

Our heart is not just a tissue mass that is pumping blood; it’s much more than that. It is the center of all our feelings, desires, and emotions. It is the inner self; it is that boss of us that tells us what do to. Purifying your heart with the remembrance of Allah (SWT) will automatically purify your soul and bring you inner peace.  

Listed below are some tips that are guaranteed to make an impact on your journey to purify yourself spiritually:  

1: Pause.  

Imagine driving at a fast speed nonstop, without any breaks without pause for a very long period of time? What will happen? 

Eventually you’ll end up exhausted, starved, and thirsty, both a danger to your own health as well that of others.  

That is exactly how we are living our lives nowadays. We have so much stuff on our plate already that we do not bother taking a pause in that high-speed drive to even notice the beautiful sceneries that have passed us by.  

Likewise, we are so caught up in our lives that we’re forgetting WHY  we are in this Dunya (this world) in the first place. 

One of my favorite verses that really steers me back every time I lose track is:  

فَأَيْنَ تَذْهَبُونَ
So where are you going?
[Qur’an: Chapter 81, Verse 26] 

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Qur’an has, like always, made things so easier for us. Allah has instructed us in the Qur’an and He Himself has created pauses that can rejuvenate our souls and our hearts:  

  • PAUSE IN DAY – 5 Daily Prayers   
  • PAUSE IN CONSUMPTION – Fasting in Ramadan 
  • PAUSE IN SPENDING – Zakat
  • PAUSE IN LIFETIME – Hajj 

Following these pauses carefully could be your shortcut to the purity of the soul and a source of peace for the heart.  

2: Reflect  

Look back on things when you pause; reflect on all the things that you’ve done this year.  

To make it easier for you, make a list. Jot down all the times you went wrong, and the times you went right. This will give you an insight of into yourself, and all that you need to improve. 

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I find that reflection is very essential to a healthy soul. It gives you an opportunity to count your blessings and rejoice in the favours that Allah (SWT) has granted us.   

(While you’re at it, why don’t you take some time and pray two nafl rakats as gratitude for Allah’s blessings upon you?)  

3: Purify:  

After you’ve made the list, think of the ways you need to improve. 

If you’ve hurt someone, think of how you can make them happy. Or if someone has hurt you, learn to forgive them. Forgiveness is one of the keys to purification. It allows you to let go of grudges or ill-feelings and start afresh.  

Butif someone pardons and puts things right, his reward is with AllahCertainly, He does not love wrongdoers. (Surat Ash-Shura, 40) 

For all the sins and bad deeds that you’ve intentionally or unintentionally committed this year, you can always repent to Allah (SWT) for it is better to TURN to him before you RETURN to him. Indeed, Allah is Al-Ghaffur “The Oft-Forgiving” and the original source of forgiveness. 

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Allah has said in Qur’an:  

It may well be thatAllah will pardon them. Allah is Ever-Pardoning, Ever-Forgiving. (Surat An-Nisa, 99)

4: Restart 

Always remember, it’s only YOU who can make a change. You can set yourself on the right path. Once you know your mistakes from the past year, keep them in your mind and ensure you don’t repeat them.  

Avoid things that lead you into the things that don’t please Allah.  

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Start fresh with a clean slate and clear heart. You can maintain your purified state by:  

– make pledges with yourself to do good deeds.  

– keep small punishment if you break them  

– keep small incentives if you fulfill those pledges.  

– remember to reflect and purify throughout the year and not just in Ramadan. 

InshaAllah, if you follow the tips in this article, this Ramadan will prove to purify your heart and your soul, leaving you refreshed for a new step on your journey to please Allah (SWT).  

Taraweeh Optimization

By Nasser Ijaz Moghal

Ramadan is here and you want to make the best out of it. When you think of Ramadan nights you think of Taraweeh and Laylatul Qadr. They were MIA throughout the year but lo and behold they too come to pray taraweeh and then it’s like see you next year. The biggest regret that 90% of the Muslims have at the end of Ramadan is that they hear the Quran recited but can’t internalize the message. The Quran doesn’t touch them, it doesn’t soften their hearts. So, this Ramadan I am going to tell you what practical things you can do to make connect with the words of Allah on a deeper level.

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1. Purify your Intentions:

It is common knowledge that actions are based on intentions as per the hadeeth of Rasul Allah. We often focus on the what in our lives rather than the why. This Ramadan I want you to step back and reflect; Why am I going for taraweeh? Is it because just everyone’s doing it and it would be weird if I didn’t follow the crowd? Is it because my parents said I need to go? Is it because it’s a cultural thing? Is it because if I don’t go people will think less of me? Is it because after tarweeh I can socialize with friends?

Now here is what your intention should be this Ramadan: I want to listen to the words of Allah so that it softens my heart, changes my life, in order that I may please Allah.

Once the basis is strong the results will surely follow.

2. Dua

Undoubtedly, you’ve had a long day at college or work. You’ve been fasting in the hot weather. You are still digesting the pakoras and samosas of iftrari and you are sleep deprived. But you still wish to drawer closer to Allah through non-obligatory prayer; taraweeh. In such times supplicate to Allah to ease the hardship and allow you to focus on your Salah. Rather than be distracted by other thoughts. Then never give up as Allah will provide His help in ways you cannot imagine.

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3. Select the Masjid

There are Masjids out there where the Imam recites the Quran at lightning speed. The tarweeh is more of a workout rather than a soul touching activity. Go to a masjid where the Imam’s recitation touches your heart and makes you cry. The Imam has adequate speed such that you can hear the word properly. Furthermore, they have a Quran tafsir session where you can at least know what was recited. It’s very important that the conducive for understanding of the Quran as well because if there isn’t an AC, there are mosquito’s everywhere, the sound of the imam from the speakers is unclear, the masjid itself smells awful of sweat, chances are that you won’t be able to concentrate on your salah. Choose a masjid that is convenient for you and has at atmosphere to enable you to focus on your salah.

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4. Prepare

If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. It is essential that we make an effort to prepare for Taraweeh. What you should do is join a Daur-e-Quran course online or in person which should be in sync with your masjid. So at least during the Salah you can pick some Arabic words and get certain contexts that can better help you to understand. Furthermore, always take an afternoon nap otherwise you would be so sleepy during tarweeh you would be literally be dosing off in and out of Salah. Take a shower before you go for prayer. A cold shower is helpful in sharpening your senses. Don’t eat too much during iftari. Do you know what would happen to the Imam if he over ate during iftari and then attempted to pray taraweeh? He would vomit and die. And the person following the Imam is not better off either. Bring a bottle of water to the masjid. It is very important to keep hydrated as it prevents person from tiring too quickly. Don’t stick to one place during the entire tarweeh change places or move to another row after each 4 Rakaat to bring that freshness to your salah.

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5. Make it a family thing

There are certain acts of worship that a person needs to do on a personal level. However, make plans with the entire family to go for taraweeh. And then after tarweeh each person should share their experiences and motivate each other to improve themselves. So rather than going on iftar parties your rocking at the Masjid with your loved ones at tarweeh.  So, bring your fathers, mothers, daughters, sons, brothers, sisters and all and enjoy together as one family.

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6. Drive Self Accountability

Make a calendar and set a daily target for yourself for taraweeh. For example, you plan and set the target that you will pray 20 Rakat on the 5th of Ramadan. If you meet this target, then right down on the calendar 20 and say I am Awesome MashaAllah and if you don’t then write the amount that you prayed for example 12 and say I will improve inshaAllah. Now you need to be a detective of your life and figure out what stopped you from achieving your goal and then take an action to prevent its re-occurrence. Maybe what stopped you from completing your target was that you felt sleepy and back tracing you realize that you normally sleep for an hour in the evening but today you only slept for 30min because you spent too much chatting with your friend on facebook. Red flag! Take an action to limit your facebook time in the evening and go to sleep for 1 hour. Remember the golden words of Umar bin Al Khattab:

“Hold yourself accountable before you are held accountable and weigh your deeds before they are weighed for you.”

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7. Never lose hope

Many people lose faith in themselves and think it’s too late for them to understand the Quran. That it’s something that should be left to scholars. They then resign themselves to a life of mediocrity where rather than becoming an educated Muslim they choose to become a cultural Muslim.  Allah inspires us with a passion to win:

Say, “O My servants who have transgressed against themselves [by sinning], do not despair of the mercy of Allah. Indeed, Allah forgives all sins. Indeed, it is He who is the Forgiving, the Merciful.” (39:53)

8. Focus

Make a conscious effort during Taraweeh to focus on the words and listen to the Imam with all five senses. Make sense of the meaning and allow the what you learnt in tafsir to flow into your heart. If stray thoughts come your way, say Tawwuz and push them away. At first it will be a struggle to pull your attention back however with practice this can become easier. You need to totally immerse yourself in the moment, now. Forget about the past and forget about what you need to do next. And pray with the level of Ihsaan as if you are seeing Allah otherwise one should know that Allah sees them.

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Things are not perfect and often things don’t go as per plan and Allah is the best of planners. So even though you don’t see the results immediately but Allah knows your efforts and you will be rewarded inshaAllah based on your intentions and hard work. Understanding Quran and living it in our lives is not secluded to Ramadan; it’s a life long journey. Ramadan is here to facilitate but we need to carry the learnings forward.

How to manage Ibadah along with daily activities during the month of Ramadan

By Minahil Hasan

When we look around us, all we see is people who are endlessly busy; busy in their jobs, busy at school or even busy wasting their time. Time is now a commodity that people are constantly short of. More importantly, when we are so busy in our dunya, where do we find time for our Akhirah?

The blessed month of Ramadan has dawned upon us which is the month in which the Shaytaan is chained, the doors of forgiveness are opened, and the reward for every good deed is tenfold or more. In this month, Muslims try their utmost to perform as many good deeds as possible to gain the pleasure and forgiveness of Allah. Yet people still find it difficult to find time to do their ibadah.

The most important thing to do is to understand the FOCUS of our life. Is it to please Allah, gain his forgiveness and attain Jannah in the hereafter or is it some worldly aim? Having worldly focuses is not forbidden but the foremost focus should always remain gaining the pleasure of Allah. If your focus is clear, then no matter how busy your life gets, you will always manage to do your ibadah. But to make it easier for you, here are some practical tips:

The first thing to do is to keep the correct intention in mind while doing anything. For example, if you are cooking in Ramadan, think about how your efforts will result in an iftar for your family. If you entertain your younger siblings, have the intention of helping your parents, and even when you go to sleep, keep the intention that you are doing this so that you can wake up for Fajr refreshed. The reason for this is that keeping the correct intention can also be rewarded. So even if you are doing worldly things, you can still attain rewards from Allah (SWT).

Secondly, you should prioritize good deeds over others. For example, if you have school work to do, and you still haven’t read the Quran for the day, read the Quran first. You will be doing a good deed and completing a task which will make you feel more productive and motivated to do your school work.

You should make sure that you are never wasting time if you have an opportunity to do a good deed. If you feel like surfing the net, why not surf the net for interesting lectures by Islamic scholars or a Islamic documentary? If you want to read, why not read a biography of a notable Muslim or a book of Seerah? Repurposing your time this way will ensure that you remain connected to Allah (SWT).

You can also multitask so as to make the most of your time. Listening to the Quran or a lecture can be a soothing activity to do while you are cooking, cleaning, or doing something else.

In short, you have to correct your intentions, prioritize your good deeds and do your best to STOP wasting time. This life has been given to us by Allah (SWT) to first and foremost worship Him. To do so, we need to retain a connection with him, regardless of how hectic and busy our lives get.

To Be Grateful…

By Hooriya Ikram

Gratitude is a trait that is admired by all religions and philosophies and is also deemed valuable by every individual. The term ‘gratitude’ means to acknowledge the benefit of something that grants value. In a broader sense, it doesn’t only mean to value something at heart or verbally rather it also means being content on whatever you have either more or less and to use that very blessing in an appropriate way.

It helps one lead a healthy and content life full of merriment. As we know that today’s corporate worldview has changed the whole perspective of our lifestyles, we do not earn to live rather we live to earn and hoard wealth in order to boast about our achievements. In such an individualistic society, we can never be satisfied even if we get mountains of gold until we learn to feel grateful on our little achievements. The era we are living in is full of vulnerabilities and economic threats as technology is replacing manpower and consequently job opportunities are growing lesser than ever before. We hear about these issues every now and then through media. Though we are badly being enveloped by day-to-day emerging problems, we need to consider them, ensure to prevent them and take measures to counter them, and not to prattle and complain about them all the time. In my view, our approach to problems is extremely counterproductive as our talk shows are loaded with the discussions on national issues but they aren’t adequately devising implementable solutions to them. From a bird’s eye view, the biggest problem of the contemporary world is that the focal point of everyone is to gain more and more and to ignore, belittle and be thankless on what is already there. If we, as a nation, learn to be positive by focusing on the blessings we have and by holding discussions about how to exploit them in a productive way, believe me, we can excel with a far greater pace than that of developed countries.

Many researches were conducted to determine the effects of gratitude on psychological emotions. Most of them have shown that grateful people are less prone to depression, anxiety, stress, sadness etc. One of such researches was conducted by a well-established psychology expert Martin Seligman from the University of Utrecht, Netherlands in which he sampled a group of students and asked them to remember those people of their lives whom they are grateful for and to list three things they are blessed to have. As a result, an apparent increase in the contentment of students was observed.

gratitude

Gratitude is given a lot of importance in the Divine religion of Islam as it has associated it with incentives that instigate its followers to observe it. For example, Allah, the Exalted stated in the Holy Quran;

“…if you give thanks, I will give you more..”  [14; 7]

“…soon We will reward the thankful..” [03; 135]

Throughout the Quran, Allah, the Exalted repetitively reminds us of His blessings and then incites in us the very spirit of gratitude.

“If you count Allah’s favours, you will not be able to enumerate them.” [14; 34]

We owe a lot to our Creator. Although we can’t pay His right at all, we may acknowledge His favours in true sense of words and actions. Every blessing we have, no matter how diminutive, is worth all we seek to achieve, yet we keep on whining about things we don’t have and ignore what we already have. The moment of whine is actually the time for gratitude. For instance, a scholar named Sa’di was once heading somewhere barefoot. He complained to his Lord about his state of deprivation. As soon as he arrived, he saw a man without feet. There and then he acknowledged the sublime blessing of feet and regretted his whining. Therefore, we infer from this very incident that we need to keep on going with fortitude and gratitude by seeking Allah’s help.

A relevant verse from the Holy Quran states;

“If you are thankless, Allah is in no need of you, yet He is not pleased by the ingratitude of his servants….” [39; 7]

This life is a test, we cannot lead an ideal life here. So we are supposed to learn to be happy regardless of what circumstances we face and accept ourselves the way we are, which cannot come true until we stop comparing ourselves to others.

The Prophet ﷺ said;

“When one of you sees another who is superior to him in point of wealth and creation, let him look to him who is below him. That is more appropriate that you hold not in contempt the favor of God towards you.” {Recorded in Bukhari, Muslim and Tirmidhi}

We are reminded of Allah’s eminent slaves so that we learn from their examples. These people, His renowned prophets, were tested either by hardships or by good times, but they remained grateful and patient at the same time, Allah extols them in His book with unrivalled words that shows his deep love for this trait. Our trials are incomparable to those of them, but they are there to set difficult examples for us to seek guidance relevant to our conditions. The most important thing we learn from these people is that only grateful people can sustain in difficult times and ingratitude is detrimental altogether.

Lastly, I would suggest a practical tip from the Quran that can help us remain grateful all our life. It is stated in the Quran;

“And do not extend your eyes toward that by which we have given enjoyment to (some) categories of them, [its being but] the splendour of worldly life by which we test them. And the provision of your lord is better and enduring.” [20; 131]

To conclude, I’ll say that In order to revel the fruits of gratitude, we are obliged to be satisfied on what we have and not to think wishfully about others’ blessings as it arouses envy and ingratitude.

 

 

 

 

6 Tips For Practising Islam Better

By YC Street Dawah Team

Does Practicing Islam Mean Losing Friends? – 2

A question was posed, “Are there any tips for someone who wants to begin practising Islam?”

This is a big question and the answer probably deserves books upon books to answer. However, I will attempt to offer some ideas which could help in the ‘journey’ towards Islam as a way of life, Insha’Allah.

1- Righteous Company!

Probably the biggest barrier to fully immersing ourselves in the practice of Islam is the company we keep. You have to willingly change your company, and you can do that by the following:

By constantly sharing your thoughts on the purpose of life with the group of friends you hang around with. This might serve as inspiration to others and lead them to switch to a positive lifestyle too, so that you may not have to find new friends!

Alternatively, you can leave this group of friends and find new company. And since that is easier said than done, you can change your mindset, to start thinking along these lines:

“Do I really need friends that would only cause me harm? Can’t I survive and live a wholesome life without friends? When you begin thinking like this, you find all sorts of options.

We have this saying amongst those involved in dawah, “When you begin practising Islam, you may lose friends but you gain brothers/ sisters!”

There is an amazing Hadith on the matter:

“The example of a good companion and a bad companion is like that of the seller of musk, and the one who blows the blacksmith’s bellows. So as for the seller of musk then either he will grant you some, or you buy some from him, or at least you enjoy a pleasant smell from him. As for the one who blows the blacksmith’s bellows then either he will burn your clothes or you will get an offensive smell from him.”

[Muslim]

2. Invest in Alternative Hobbies or Interests

If you are someone who is addicted to drugs, smoking, clubbing, music, haram relationships, pornography or any other such activities and want to get away from them, don’t think that your life will become boring and dull without them. This is a huge misconception. In fact, having an Islamic lifestyle gives you all sorts of stimulation, which you won’t gain from haram activities. Islam brings peace to your heart, like nothing else. Not dance parties, nor flirting on Instagram.

Other than actively seeking knowledge by attending courses and meeting other enlightened souls, you can opt for hiking, sports, travelling, reading books and so many other activities that are perfectly allowed in Islam. With Islam embedded in your heart and mind, you begin to look at a universe of options, as opposed to the limited set available when away from an Islamic lifestyle.

3. Access to Knowledge

A few decades ago, or even 9, 10 years ago, you could argue that to gain access to Islamic knowledge, be it with scholars, short or long courses, halaqahs, one had to travel to the Middle East or to another locality. With that, came many other hardships & inconveniences.

However, now we have all sorts of mediums to begin our learning! There are thousands of hours of Islamic content available online. Be it YouTube or Facebook, essays, articles or audio recordings. We can access them all through our social media platforms.

So, start following beneficial & productive pages and scholars! You can also find and befriend a scholar or a specialist of their field and have Skype sessions with them!

Furthermore, you can also join numerous WhatsApp/ Telegram learning groups! There really isn’t any excuse to not learn. You can begin your journey of knowledge from the comfort of your own bed!

4. Unfollow/ Unfriend Boys/Girls

Yes, this may sound hard to do, but before actually unfriending those that share nonsense on your Instagram/twitter/ Facebook feeds, start by using the unfollow button. This will be a start to ‘cleansing’ your social media platforms and will directly impact your own thinking. You can filter out useless information and not be influenced by those that encourage non-Islamic content. Social media plays a huge part in forming our opinions in life, and you really do have to work on it!

5. Hang Around Du’aat

If and where you can, hang around those involved in Da’wah to those that are away from Islam. Even if you feel ‘hypocritical’ for still indulging in haram activities, hanging out with those who are practising and inviting towards Islam will be of great benefit to you. You will hear words like ‘destructive’ and ‘foolish’. You will listen to the anecdotal stories of how they changed and will gain great inspiration from their experiences!

6. Talk to Your Creator

If you truly are sincere about changing to begin practising Islam, then turn to Allah and ask him:

” Oh Allah, I want to change! I want to leave this lifestyle behind. I want to become close to you and follow your commands. But how? How do I do this? Where do I start? Can I change? Am I too deep into sin/kufr?! Please show me the way! Please guide me! Please fix my heart and remove these diseases.”

If you can ask this and have a deep conversation with the Turner of Hearts, then I am sure Insha’Allah, you will begin your journey of change.

 

A beautiful, encouraging hadith goes:

“Oh son of Adam, were your sins to reach the clouds of the sky and were you then to ask forgiveness of Me, I would forgive you. Ask & I will not mind”

[Al-Tirmithi].

Have a strong intention, add will power and try your best to get on the path to Allah!

Story of a Revert Muslimah

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YOUTH CLUB: Asalamualaikum, welcome to Islam, sister — may you introduce yourself?

REVERT SISTER: Walaikumasalam, thank you.  My name is Samiha. I was raised in Germany but I am originally from Hong Kong. I became Muslim in 2011 while I was a university student in the UK. I have, therefore, been Muslim for 6 years, Alhumdulilah. I became a Masters student for architecture in Australia but right now I am currently gaining work experience as an architectural assistant in Hong Kong before returning back to complete studies.

YOUTH CLUB: What was your life before Islam and what do you think was the turning point for considering to read about Islam?

REVERT SISTER: My life before Islam was nothing extraordinary and was rather very standard. I was a normal teenager who never really gave much thought about life. At the same time I was never into what my peers were doing. I abstained from dating, clubbing, drinking or other western lifestyle. I guess people would consider me as a studious teen that stayed away from trouble. The turning point for me considering Islam was when I started university in the UK. This was where I encountered Muslims for the first time. I was additionally going through personal issues and was thus in a very low period in my life. I hit rock bottom and was completely lost. I furthermore found my degrees in firstly chemistry and later mathematics totally unsuitable where that made me feel more lost. I was, therefore, really low and questioned a lot about my purpose and outlooks in life. This also led me to compare my Muslim friends’ lifestyle to my own where I surprisingly found many similarities. They were modest and disciplined and I really liked that so I started to dig deeper.

YOUTH CLUB: What caused you to embrace Islam?

REVERT SISTER: There were many factors that led me to embrace Islam. Firstly, reaching rock bottom certainly made it easier to accept the truth. I was in a state where I wanted to find meaning and make sense of the world. Islam, however, appealed me on a more rational level. I tend to observe things from a rational and calculated standpoint, especially with my background in chemistry, and mathematics. I, therefore, analyzed and compared Islam to other religions that I was exposed to — religions such as Christianity and Buddhism. I was previously an atheist, but the scientific accuracy within Islam was flawless, and undeniable. The scientific and logical approach in the Qur’an towards the meaning of life, therefore, struck me. I was even more awestruck over the cosmological explanations found within the Qur’an and it aligning with the opinions of modern day scientists. It was too undeniable to ignore and I also felt like Allah (swt) was protecting me in my teens in preparation for Islam. It was, therefore, easy to embrace Islam, Alhumdulilah.

YOUTH CLUB: How do you think Islam has transformed your life for the better?

REVERT SISTER: Islam has transformed my life for the better because it has given me a clear purpose in life and a sense of direction. The detailed teachings over how our intentions matter guides my actions and speech. Islam has, therefore, guided me into decisions fueled with purpose where I think that also led me to my current degree. I am passionate about architecture — more specifically sustainable architecture — because I hope to give back to humanity by building what is sustainable and good not only for mankind but Earth. Islam has thus made me conscious and has increased my accountability. The feeling of accountability has not only given me a clear sense of direction but pushed me to strive for excellence in whatever I do.

YOUTH CLUB: What in Islam helps you cope with life’s difficulties especially when facing non Muslim parents?

REVERT SISTER: Allah (swt) says in the Qu’ran that He will test every believer according to their sincerity and see if they are indeed true believers. This is a teaching that I cling to whenever going through difficulties. I know very well that my parents love me and that their opposition is due to this love. This is, however, a test for me and I know that Allah (swt) has promised not to give me tests beyond my capacity. The knowledge of how what we are going through is temporary helps me cope and the duty within Islam towards parents gives me direction on how to be towards them.

YOUTH CLUB: What message would you like to send Muslims that were born with Islam and that have Muslim families?

REVERT SISTER: Cherish and be grateful for your family whether they are religious or not. It is a tremendous blessing if your family is practicing, but if they are not, it often helps to think from the shoes of others because your family loves you at the end of the day. Allah (swt) will reward you for obeying His religion and being kind to your family — your family will see how Islam has transformed you for the better even if they do not fully understand why you are practicing Islam.

YOUTH CLUB: What further advice would you give born Muslims that start to become practicing but face opposition from cultural parents?

REVERT SISTER: My advice is to be patient. Be consistent when showering kindness and persevere for Allah (swt)’s sake. Allah (swt) will bless you and you will see the fruits. Your parents will ultimately appreciate how Islam has transformed you for the better.

YOUTH CLUB: How do you think born Muslims can be there for reverts and what can they learn from reverts?

REVERT SISTER: I think just being there makes a huge difference. There are many that are quick to judge when you are new Islam and also there are many that preach whatever they know about Islam without looking at your circumstance. There are few that are actually there especially when things get tough. Reverts tend to go through a huge change and face opposition from family. They sometimes do not feel safe at home that support from the Muslim community makes a huge difference. The simple act of reaching out to reverts to ask how they are or how to help makes a huge difference.

YOUTH CLUB: Jazaki Allah khair sister for your time and for sharing with us your experience — we are very pleased to have you as our sister and have lots of prayers for you.

The Cure to Diseased Hearts

This is part 3 in a series of 3 posts under the category of:

انواع القلوب فى القرآن الكريم The Types of Hearts in the Noble Quran

There are a few simple points which can help you to check and cure your heart:

1 – Purify your intention, and a lot of these diseases will go away by the mercy of Allaah.

I would like to put only one question here for discussion: I want to do it, and you want to do it, so how do we make our intentions pure?

There are 4 ways of it:

First: If when someone praises you, you feel good, and when someone insults you, you feel bad or angry then know that there is a problem with your intention.

‘Adi ibn Arta’ said, “When one of the Companions of the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) was praised, he said in supplication to Allah:

اللهم لا تؤاخذني بما يقولون ، واجعلني خيرًا مما يظنون واغفر لي ما لا يعلمون

O Allah! Do not call me to account for what they say and forgive me for what they have no knowledge of – Allaahumma laa tu’aakhithnee bimaa yaqooloona, waghfir lee maa laa ya’lamoona

Reference: Al-Bukhari, Al-’Adabul-Mufrad no. 761. See Al-Albani, Sahih Al-’Adabul-Mufrad (no. 585). The wording is slightly different to the above  and is perhaps taken from another narration. Allaahu ‘Alam.

And whoever said it said the truth:

If people would know how sinful I am they would not even want to say Salam to me, they wouldn’t even want to sit near me. But O Allaah it is your Rahmah (mercy) that you have hidden my sins.

It is narrated in Saheeh Muslim from Miqdaad (may Allah be pleased with him) that a man began to praise ‘Uthmaan (may Allah be pleased with him) so Miqdaad proceeded (towards him) and went down on his knees and began to throw the gravel on his face. So, ‘Uthmaan (may Allah be pleased with him) said: ‘What’s the matter with you?’ So, he said: Indeed, the Messenger of Allah (sallAllaahu alaihi wa sallam) said:

“When you see those who praise people (to their faces), then throw dirt in their faces.”

Muslim in Az-Zuhd War-Raqaaiq…(Vol.4, No.3002, page 2297)

A person who loves to be praised can never be pious in his life.

 

Second: Do a good deed and forget it.

A sincere person hides his good deeds just like he hides his sins.

Remember this principle: In the worldly life, everything that has a witness is valued. But in the sight of Allaah, the most valuable deeds are the ones whom no one has witnessed on earth.

 

Third: Give the best of your things in charity.

Today when we want to gather charity, we have to give all the proofs to a person to convince him. People have forgotten that whoever spends in charity his wealth does not decrease, but only increases!

But the Sahabah were on a different mindset.

Imam Ahmad reported that Anas bin Malik said, “Abu Talhah had more property than any other among the Ansar in Al-Madinah, and the most beloved of his property to him was Bayruha’ garden, which was in front of the (Messenger’s) Masjid. Sometimes, Allah’s Messenger used to go to the garden and drink its fresh water.” Anas added, “When these verses were revealed:

لَن تَنَالُوا الْبِرَّ حَتَّىٰ تُنفِقُوا مِمَّا تُحِبُّونَ

(By no means shall you attain Al-Birr unless You spend of that which you love,)

Abu Talhah said, “O Allah’s Messenger! Allah says,

(By no means shall you attain Al-Birr, unless you spend of that which you love;) No doubt, Bayruha’ garden is the most beloved of all my property to me. So I want to give it in charity in Allah’s cause, and I expect its reward and compensation from Allah. O Allah’s Messenger! Spend it where Allah makes you think is feasible.” On that, Allah’s Messenger said,

(Well-done! It is profitable property, it is profitable property. I have heard what you have said, and I think it would be proper if you gave it to your kith and kin.)

Abu Talhah said, `I will do so, O Allah’s Messenger.’ Then Abu Talhah distributed that garden among his relatives and cousins.”

This Hadith was recorded in the Two Sahihs.

 

Fourth: While working for a cause, if a person keeps working whether someone praises him or scolds him then that is a sign of sincerity. But if he works only when he is praised and sits down when he is scolded then he is not doing it with sincerity.

May Allaah allow us all to purify our intentions and make them sincerely for Him.

 

2 – Start respecting the scholars if you want your heart to be cured.

Ibn Al-Qayyim Rahimahullaah used to say that the religion is taught by 2 things: The mosque and the person in the mosque.

The day you get disgusted by the mosque or the scholar, then that day you have lost your Emaan.

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said a beautiful thing (mentioned in Sahih Bukhari/Muslim) that out of the 7 people who will get the shade of Allaah’s Throne on the Day of Judgment, one is he whose heart is attached to the mosque.

What does this mean? This means that when he prays one prayer he is constantly waiting for the next one. This Hadith is about a person who stays outside the mosque. So what about those who dedicate their whole day to the mosque and stay in it all the time?

In fact I would like to say, if a person takes even a single step towards a scholar Allaah can grant him Jannah for this. You must be thinking this is a big claim? It is narrated in Sahih Al-Jami’ that a person did 99 murders. He then went to a priest asking if he could be forgiven. The priest said no there is no forgiveness for you. So he killed the priest as well. Then he went to a pious person who told him that yes you can be forgiven but for future you must leave this place and go to another town where there are pious people of Allaah. He was on his way when he passed away. Allaah sent angels to take his soul. The angels started arguing whether he would be an inhabitant of Heaven or Hell. Allaah sent another angel to measure the distance from where he had started to where he was going. If he was closer to his destination he would be forgiven but if he was closer to the starting point, he will go to Hell. Allaah ordered the earth to shrink and upon measuring he was only a span (approximately 9 inches) closer to the pious people and was forgiven because of this (ONLY a step!).

So until you have a good relation with the true scholars, you can never remove the diseases from your heart.

 

3 – If you can’t guard your tongue, you cannot cure your heart.

A person’s Emaan cannot be corrected until he corrects his heart, and the heart cannot be corrected until he corrects his tongue.

Lying, Backbiting, Slandering: these things cannot let you be pious.

Therefore the Prophet (peace be upon him) advised a Sahabi to read this Du’a (mentioned by Imam Bukhari in Adab Al-Mufrad, Hadith 660):

اللَّهُمَّ عَافِنِي مِنْ شَرِّ سَمْعِي ، وَبَصَرِي ، وَلِسَانِي ، وَقَلْبِي ، وَشَرِّ مَنِيِّي

O Allah, protect me from the evil of my hearing, my seeing, my tongue and my heart, and the evil of my sperm.)” – Meaning his sexual organ.

Also see: Sunan an-Nasa’i 5484.

 

4 – You cannot cure your heart, until you have Haya (Modesty).

We know that Ayesha (radiAllaahu anhu) is the mother of the believers. It is Haram for any man to marry the wives of the Prophet (peace be upon him). Even then when the Sahaba (radiAllaahu Anhum) used to go to her to study there would be a curtain between them.

Modesty is not only limited to interaction with other people. Today’s youth thinks that if we have closed the door of our room no one can see what we are doing on our computer. Have they forgotten that Allaah sees everything?

When Luqman Al-Hakeem’s son asked him for advice, he had him write this:

O my son: If you want to sin you may do it, but only those (sins) for which you have the strength to bear the punishment. If you want to sin you may do it, but only there where Allaah cannot see you. If you want to sin you may do it, but not on Allaah’s earth. Go to a place which does not belong to Allaah.

Everything belongs to Allaah, so where will he go?

Remember when you will stand in front of Allaah, and Allaah will talk to you. No one will be able to say that I cannot speak for myself so I want to hire a lawyer. What will be the answer there? How will we face Allaah if we are not modest?

Last thing I would like to mention is:

 

5 – A heart that has Jealousy and Malice cannot be cured.

Sa’d ibn Mu’az (radiAllaahu anhu) became a Muslim at the age of 30 and died at the age of 36. The ‘Arsh of Allaah shook when he died. How many years did he spend as a Muslim? Only 6!

What did he do? After the Prophet (peace be upon him) told the Sahabah that Sa’d is one of the inhabitants of Heaven, one Sahabi decided to stay with him at his home. He spent 3 days with him and at the end of the term said that I have seen you and every good deed you do, is done by me as well. When he was about to leave Sa’d (radiAllaahu Anhu) called him and told him that I have never kept jealousy or malice in my heart against a Muslim.

Let us decide today to take all sorts of jealousy and malice out of our hearts.

This brings us to the end of this series.

May Allaah cure the diseases of our hearts and allow us to enter Jannah. He who promised Jannah to Sa’d bin Mu’az (radiAllaahu anhu) is able to gives us Jannah as well. Ameen.