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Ramadan Challenge: Seeking Forgiveness

By Dr. Sonia Mohsin 

Have you ever been in a situation where you find yourself giving up, letting go and just forsaking the idea of worship, or being righteous, or thinking of Allah; just because there lies upon your shoulders a heavy burden of sins? How many times have you wondered that this is it? I am just not good enough? If like all other human beings, you too have ever been on that stage where you felt that there can never be a sinner greater than you – then congratulations! You have arrived at the gates of salvation – the door to istighfaar (seeking forgiveness).

This is Allah talking to you:

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)

And what can get better than the fact that the month of Ramadan is here! The month of seeking forgiveness! This was  the advice given by our beloved Prophet ﷺ in his sermon before Ramadan* :

“Do repent in this month to Allah for your sins, and supplicate with raised hands at the time of prayer as these are the best times, during which Allah Almighty looks at his servants with Mercy. Allah answers if they supplicate, responds if they call, grants if He is asked, and accepts if they entreat. O People! You have made your conscience the slave of your desires. Make it free by invoking Allah for forgiveness. Your back may break from the heavy load of your sins, so prostrate (sajdah) yourself before Allah, for long intervals, and make this load lighter.”

Let’s shed our excess baggage this Ramadan, because we are never too bad, never too impure, never too late to say those powerful words of repentance. Here are a few practical things that can be done to bring in istighfaar (seeking forgiveness) into our lives:

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It only takes a moment. Close your eyes and think of the sins that you did today. Do it right now and utter the word “astaghfirullah” with all your heart accompanied with the thought of each sin.

Find yourself some quite time each day when there is no one to disturb you. Evaluate yourself in that time. Repentance is your cleanser. Seek Allah’s forgiveness for all the things you think you should not have done and promise yourself never to do them again. It might be just words but if delivered with emotions & commitment, it can work wonders. Try it for yourself!

When repenting remember the three tenses – past, present and future. Past: regret the time you sinned in the past and feel the remorse. Present: abandon the sin immediately. Future: Promise to never do it again.

Do the 100 Istighfaar. Prophet Muhammad ﷺ used to say astaghfirullah 100 times each day! Even though he didn’t have any sins. Make it a regular part of your routine – while going or coming back from work/school, before or after any obligatory prayer, while driving or cooking. A scholar once told us that it only takes 1 minute to say it a 100 times! Can you believe that? So little effort to gain a clean & healthy soul for the entire day.

Cater to the big ones. There is always that one big sin that bogs us down the most. Either we did it in the past or find it hard to let go of in the present. Either ways, big things require big measures.  Arrange to offer the 2 rak’ah dedicated to that one big sin.

Cry your eyes out! It’s about time that something other than the sloppy soap operas and movies made us cry. It is time to shed our tears for our Lord. Prophet ﷺ said that the two eyes that shed tears for the fear of Allah will never be touched by the hellfire [al-Nasaa’i]. What more incentive do we need? When you think of your sins, think of the dominion of Allah Almighty. Think how small & insignificant you are as compared to the entire universe & galaxies that Allah owns, and yet you dared transgress? And although Allah could have crumbled you when the first time you faltered, yet He nurtured you, fed you, took care of you, why? Because of His Mercy. “When Allah created the universe, He decreed for Himself: ‘My Mercy prevails over My Wrath.’[Sunan Ibn Majah: 4436]

Remember to never leave a bad deed without an astaghfirullah attached with it. Repent as soon as possible. We don’t know how long we will live, do we?

Make “astaghfirullah” a regular part of speech replacing it with the often used, meaningless bad words that crowd our vocabulary. So next time your shoe breaks or your car has a flat tire, what come to you should be “astaghfirullah”, implying that all bad that comes my way is the result of my own bad deeds and hence I need to repent.

Challenge yourself this Ramadan to break free from the vicious cycle of sinning. Drop those sins before they engulf your life and drown you into neglect. Make that change and move forward because life is too short to waste it on remorse. With the power of repentance – not even the sky but Jannah is the limit. No sin is too big or too small to be forgiven by the Almighty. All you need to do is ask!

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*[It is reported in At-Tirmizi, An-Nisaa-i and in Mu’jam At-Tabaraani, upon the authority of ‘Abdullah Ibn ‘Umar (ra) that Muhammad (ﷺ) said to his companions (during the last few days of Sha’baan)]

Ramadan Challenge: Little Dua- Big Benefit

By Ahmarin Zahid

So you’re exhausted by what the world demands of you. Maybe you’re a teenager scrambling to prepare for your entry test, F.Sc exam or A-level exam; or a newlywed who has to cater to the needs of his/her new family; or a young parent who has to balance a new set of responsibilities. Maybe your nafs (self) gets in the way of productive usage of what free time you have. After all, you need time to unwind, right? You feel tired, burdened by the seemingly insurmountable distance between you and your worship.

Oh! If only there was an easier way!

What if I told you there was- As easy as the sudden flick of your hand as you brush aside your hair?  Or the quick glance you give the clock to read the time? Instant, effortless yet effective and full of barakah (blessings). Sprinkling your entire day (and by extension your life) with little dollops of noor (light). It’s as if Allah SWT knew of our burdens and tailor-made a solution for our weary souls.

Ready?  Here it is: “THE DAILY DUAS”

14123697-288-k302514Scientists say that the best way to incorporate a habit is to attach it to something that is routine. So by appointing a dua for each daily habit Allah (SWT) made our lives that much easier. Imagine something as trivial as changing your clothes can be made into worship by the utterance of a few words and a slight adjustment of intention.

And what better time to sow a new habit than during the blessed month of Ramadan?

Imagine waking up and the first words to leave your lips are:

الحَمْدُ لِلهِ الَّذِي أَحْيَانَا بَعْدَ مَا أَمَاتَنَا وَإِلَيْهِ النُّشُورُ

‘All praise be to Allah, who gave us life after killing us (sleep is a form of death) and to Him will we be raised and returned’ (Muslim 2711)

When you sleep you are cut from the world. Its comings and goings no longer concern you. You are helpless to protect yourself from any harm, neither could you go to your family’s aid if they need you. You are dead to the world unless Allah (SWT) allows your soul to return to your body.  Allah (SWT) does this for you every single day of your life without your even asking. So it’s only befitting we thank Him for His gift of a new life.

Next you stand in front of the mirror to get ready and you say:

 اَللَّهُمَّ كَمَا أَحْسَنْتَ خَلْقِي فَحَسِّنْ خُلُقِي

“O Allah, just as You have made my external features beautiful, make my character beautiful as well” (EDITOR’S NOTE: this dua can be said at any time, and not specifically when standing in front of the mirror) (Ahmad, Ibn Habban (1999))

In a single sentence Allah (SWT) reminds you that HE created you and you are as He intended- beautiful; as well as the fact that beautifying your character should be your main goal. And for that you make a quick dua before your day has even properly begun!

You say salam (Islamic greeting) to your family and leave the house for work, university or a religious class. As you exit the door you say:

بِسْمِ اللَّهِ تَوَكَّلْتُ عَلَى اللَّهِ وَلَا حَوْلَ وَلَا قُوَّةَ إِلَّا بِاللَّهِ

“In Allah’s Name I begin with, I place my (full) trust in Allah and there is no Might and Power except with Allah.” (Sunan Abi Dawood – da’eef/weak)

Now you consciously acknowledge that it is Allah (SWT) who manages your well being. Thus you are confident that your affairs are well handled by Allah.

Within the short period of 30-40 minutes you have remembered Allah, praised Him, and made dua to Him for your character and well-being. All by short duas that takes less than 1 minute total. As you expand your dua list and add more duas, the amount of reward you can earn is endless!

Ramadan is a month of change. Allah (SWT) has made it easier for us to inculcate new habits by chaining the devils. So sow the seed of dua now and reap its rewards for the rest of your life.

 

 

 

Ramadan Challenge: Rise & Shine at Fajr!

By Zahra Nayyer

We have spent more than half of Ramadan, and by now we’re used to getting up for suhoor, albeit with difficulty, but as soon as we’re done with our prayer, many if not all of us dive back headfirst into our comfortable beds. As I researched on this topic I came to realize that an essential sunnah is being eradicated from our routines by sleeping at Fajr; one which the Companions engaged in even though they too had busy work/life routines.

In the hadith of Sammaak ibn Harb, who said: “I asked Jaabir ibn Samurah, ‘Did you used to sit with the Messenger of Allaah ﷺ?’ He said, ‘Yes, frequently. He would not get up from the place where he had prayed Subh (Fajr prayer) until the sun rose. When the sun rose, he would get up. They used to talk about things that had happened during the Jaahiliyyah (times of ignorance), and they would laugh and smile.’” (Sahih Muslim :1/463)

How many of us can say that we have revived this sunnah today in our routines? Let’s motivate ourselves to stay up after Fajr by looking at some of its amazing benefits first:

Recitation of the Quran at Fajr

“Establish prayer at the decline of the sun [from its meridian] until the darkness of the night and [also] the Qur’an of dawn. Indeed, the recitation of dawn is ever witnessed.” (Surah Al-Isra 17:78)

We learn from the explanation of this verse that at the time of Fajr the angels are audience to our recitation and we are among those who are in honourable mention when Allah asks about us from the angels (though He is Most-Aware of what we do) (Ibn Kathir)

The Huge Reward

Al-Tirmidhi narrated that the Prophet (ﷺ) said: “Whoever prays Fajr in jamaa’ah (congregation), then sits and remembers Allaah until the sun comes up, then prays two rak’ahs, will have a reward like that of Hajj and ‘Umrah.” He said: the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said, “Complete, complete, complete.” (Sunan al-Tirmidhi, 480)

The word “complete” being mentioned here thrice emphasises the enormity of the reward and that it is a sure thing that a person will receive this much reward if he adopts this sunnah.

Apart from these, there are other benefits as well: it is your one-on-one time with Allah with no interruptions and no worries about the looming work related commitments. Post-Fajr time is a peaceful time where it feels like time has almost slowed down or stood still, till the rising sun signals the start of a new day and you find that you’ve rejuvenated your iman (faith), sought protection from the evils and challenges that lie ahead and spilled your heart out to the One who is All-Hearing, All- Knowing. Staying up after Fajr gives you that head-start you need to be successful not only in this life but in the next one too.

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To reap such awesomeness, there are a few steps we can take to truly benefit from this special time:

The Core Ingredient – “Dua”

We need Allah’s Help in all that we do because it is only with His Help and Mercy we are given the opportunity and the ability to worship Him. So, make a lot of dua for yourself to be able to inculcate the habit of staying on the prayer mat after Fajr and fully benefit from this time.

Managing Sleep

Staying up unnecessarily at night can ruin your chances of availing this time properly. Try sleeping a bit early then you usually do and if possible take a short nap in the afternoon, this will also help in making you feel fresh at Fajr time.

Have a Prayer Corner

Dedicate a corner in your room for this purpose where there are zero distractions. Make sure you have you favorite dua book and copy of the Qur’an next to you so that when you are done with prayer, immediately you can pick them up and start reciting and gaining the rewards.

Make Things Interesting

When it comes to adopting lifelong habits, we tend to slack off when it becomes a routine thing for us. So, instead of always reciting the same duas, azkaar and verses, aim to add new duas to your post-Fajr routine. Explore new Chapters of the Quran by reading the translation or explanation after you recite them. This will motivate you to actively participate in the process and keep your mind alert. Alternatively, you can also keep a small journal where you can pen down a small reflection from the verses you have recited.

Challenge yourself to stay put on the prayer mat after Fajr these last few days of Ramadan!

May Allah grant us all the ability to stay on the prayer mat after Fajr and pray those 2 rak’ahs to reap its numerous benefits for life! Ameen.

Ramadan Challenge: Why Start With Bismillah?

By Fatima Asad

Do you take “Bismillah” for granted? You are not alone if you do. There are many types of Bismillahs that we say throughout the day.  The kind you say before eating or drinking.  Then there’s the kind you say before reading the Quran or at the start of wudu.  Then there’s the one you read with sincere passion at the beginning of the dreaded Chemistry exam.  Oh don’t forget the Bismillah that escapes your lips when you trip on your shoe laces.  Most of us can trace back the origin of our Bismillahs to a Qari sahab, a dedicated auntie at Sunday school or our kindergarten teacher who taught us “Before we eat, we must say Bismillah, Bismillah!” (Tune stuck in my head now)

If you do take most of your Bismillahs for granted, please don’t. Saying the blessed phrase has become second nature- like riding a bike.  However, we need to refresh its meaning and renew our commitment to it from time to time.

I, for one, am always greedy to turn a “normal” act of life into an act of worship.  This is the power of Bismillah.  It’s the wonder that turns any act you do into an act of worship.  But it doesn’t stop there.

When you consciously say “In the Name of Allah” you are forcing yourself to go through a quick self-check.  These are the few seconds in which you undergo an intention change.  What you might have been intending to do for another reason (such as making your mom happy), you just ultra-purified your intention by reminding yourself that everything I do is first for Allah, then for someone else i.e. mom.

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This is the beauty and power of Bismillah. It is a powerful spell. I use the word spell here on purpose because we all have in one point or another wished for a magic wand or Harry Potter-inspired spells that would make life simpler.  Well, we already have these ‘spells’ – for every occasion, actually- known as du’as.  Yes, I said it.  But please don’t get a wand or turn your black abaya into Hermoine’s witch robes and start waving the wand while reading the dua before drinking mango lassi, hoping the calories won’t attack the wrong places.  That would be sad. Not to mention utterly not Halal.

The reason I label these duas as “spells” is only to show you that they are powerful! We are instructed to read them for a reason.  That reason is to get that extra help from Allah SWT on a regular basis because we as humans are helpless without His aid- even when you don’t read these duas for various occasions, Allah SWT continues to help you.  Imagine the help we will get when we actually ask for it.

So back to Bismillah…Start reading it with high alert.  Make sure you turn as many seconds of your daily routine into worship as possible.  That includes waking up, sleeping, eating, taking a shower, going to school, doing chores, baking a cake for your best friend, wrapping Eid gifts, swimming, etc. Do you notice something with this list? I didn’t write things like stalking people on Facebook, chatting on Whatsapp non-stop, watching 3 hours of cricket, calling your girlfriend/boyfriend, visiting your best friend so you can complain about your other best friend, going to a hookah bar, etc.

That’s another power of Bismillah. If you can’t say it comfortably before a certain action you are about to do, it is a strong indication that it will not count as worship. In fact, your gut might confirm that the action is actually a sin.

So listen to your gut.  That’s Allah SWT sending you a red signal. Just say Bismillah before anything and everything you do.  Try it for 3 days and you will have undergone some serious self-evaluation without ever going to a therapist or writing in a journal.

 

Ramadan Challenge: Animal Rights!

Islam encourages kindness to not only fellow human beings but also other living creatures. We are told:

“Verily, Allah is Kind and He loves kindness” (Muslim)

Kindness should be shown to all of Allah’s creatures specially animals because they can not complain back to you about their problems, they are powerless in many ways.

We encounter animals in our daily lives, sometimes we have pets, oftentimes we deal with astray or wild animals and then we have animals for Baqra Eid.

Below are a few easy steps to show kindness and mercy to animals.

1. If you have Pets

  • Take the responsibility to feed your pets timely and properly with a proper pet specific food.
  • Clean areas of pet or if you have fish clean up the fish tank often.
  • Pick them up calmly and correctly by avoiding their sensitive areas.
  • Teach young kids to show empathy to pets. Remind them that they cannot pull the tails or harass the animals in any way.
  • Play with your pets.
  • Wash/clean/brush your pets often.
  • Take care of their health, ensure their vaccination is properly done. Have routine checkup of pets.
  • Ensure their safety. Make sure they are not left alone where they can be hit or harmed by other animals/people.

And remember, keep the birds out of cage – they deserve flying.

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2. If you have an Animal Farm

  • Taking all the care mentioned above along with making sure that they are not overloaded or over exploited. e.g loading a horse or a donkey in excess to its capacity would be zulm (oppression).

3. Stray Animals/Birds that Visit your Home

  • Drop food for cats/dogs often.
  • Make & hang bird feeders, fill with food & water and hang out for birds.
  • If there are astray chicken (like we have plenty where I live) drop some food for them – they might return the favour by leaving fresh eggs at your doorstep.
  • If an animal lays eggs/make nest/give babies – do not disturb & offer food instead.
  • If you find an animal hurt/bruised – take care of it, try to heal them/take it to a vet if required.
  • If any animal is taking refuge in your home and you are not disturbed by it, let it stay.

4. Wild Animals

  • Children often have natural curiosity and they might want to bring any insect, in a jar, home. Or they might want to catch lizards and caterpillars. Wild animals are usually dangerous and not tamed, they should be allowed to live in their natural habitat and not be disturbed or offer food etc. That’s the best way of being kind & respectful to them.
  • Be careful when you are driving, do not hit any animal.
  • Be careful when you walk around because you dont want to kill a bunch of ants. (remember ants are REAL creatures and they might be warning other ants about you – the monster, who would come and kill them, sounds strange? remember story of Salam Alahe salam)

5. Animals for Slaughter at the Time of Eid ul Adha

  • Be compassionate and gentle with the animal.
  • Offer fresh grass/hay and water.
  • Pat and stroke them so that they feel loved.
  • Do not allow kids to abuse the animal in any way specially by riding it.
  • Make sure they are not left unattended beneath the open sky during winters and in sun during summers.
  • Clean up often. Animals like cleanliness too.
  • Use a proper sharp knife while slaughtering.
  • Make dua for the animal.

GENERAL GUIDELINES

  • At your home allow animals to thrive without disturbing you, like set up a garden where birds and butterfly can visit and insects can love.
  • Making sure we live in a earth-friendly and animal-friendly life by not polluting or harming nature, is another way to show kindness to fellow creatures including animals.
  • Keeping the waters like rivers, lakes, ponds and seas clean and by not littering beaches will ensure marine life will thrive and grow.
  • Fear Allah when you are dealing with animals and be mindful of your actions.

Choose what applies to you from the above and start today! A little something! Better now than never! May Allah (SWT) reward you for your kindness. 🙂

reward in serving animals

Ramadan Challenge: The Dip!

By Nasser Ijaz Moghal

Contrary to popular belief this article is not about a new Ramadan chip-dip recipe. What I’m about to uncover is the basis of success for the entire Muslim Ummah!

Iman (faith) is not stagnant. Faith increases and decreases during certain times, conditions and as a result of certain actions. As Allah says in the Quran:

“The believers are only those who, when Allah is mentioned, their hearts become fearful, and when His verses are recited to them, it increases them in faith; and upon their Lord they rely” (Surah Al-Anfaal 2)

This verse tells us that for a believer, his iman (faith) increases when Quran is recited to him. Although it’s very hard to judge the level of iman as a whole of the Muslim ummah but a good indicator is the number of Muslims showing up at taraweeh prayer. When Ramadan starts, you would see 5-7 rows filled in the Masjid and as soon as we cross the 5th of Ramadan, this number begins to dwindle to 2 or 3. This remains the case for most of Ramadan until we reach the 27th of Ramadan. The time when suddenly all these people start sprouting up from nowhere and you’re like: ‘Man! I never knew we had so many people in the neighbourhood!’ That is the night in which we reach 50 rows in the masjid for taraweeh prayer. As for the rest of the year, the masjid is only occupied for Jumu’ah (Friday prayer) and Eid. As a visual representation of this phenomenon check out the iman graph below:

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As an analogy, it’s like a marathon. There are many people at the beginning and end of it, but they are only the spectators. During the middle of the marathon, you see only a few people who are, in fact, the participants. Have we also become silent spectators and resigned ourselves to mediocrity rather than excellence in execution?

Allah says in the Quran: “and Allah loves those who do good with perfection.” (Surah Al-Maa’idah 93)

Just imagine! Allah loves those who do the most perfect and beautiful actions! We need to strive to bring actions to level of ihsaan (excellence) in our lives and not settle for less. We should bring forth actions of superior quality to Allah in both this life and the hereafter.

Ramadan is a boot camp for Muslims to prepare them for the challenges of the entire year. But when the boot camp fails to achieve the intended level of ihsaan then our entire year turns out to be bad. Therefore, we need to take a proactive approach to ensure that are faith is maintained throughout Ramadan so that we can survive the harsh winter that is to come. Ideally we should always have high iman throughout the year. Taking baby steps, we can aim for this milestone and then iterate to reach greater levels of iman in the Ummah.

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In this way you will have an overall high level of iman throughout Ramadan. Then through the year the iman will increase and will be further renewed in Ramadan once more.

So, this is all theory. What practical steps can we take to ensure to remove the Ramadan dip from our lives?

1. Iftaar Party Management

With the coming of Ramadan, there is a massive influx of Ramadan iftaar deals. Say no to all of them and safeguard your iman. ‘But what if I am invited by a friend to an iftaar party by a friend?’ Politely refuse and invite him/her to your place for Eid.

There is a catch though….How would you handle when your family invites you to an iftaar party? You could always politely refuse and they’ll sooner or later get to know that you don’t come. It would become your thing. Or you could play on the front foot and invite them to an iftaar at the masjid. This way no one can run away from Maghreb or taraweeh prayer.

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2. Portion Management

The worst thing that people do during iftaar is that they think they are a camel. A camel can store water in its body. So the person during iftaar fills himself with so much food and water that there isn’t even room left for him to breathe. Then what does such a person expect he will do after eating and drinking so much? Taraweeh prayer? More like bed, if not hospital! What do you think would happen to the Imam of the masjid if he ate so much during iftaar? He would literally throw up and die during taraweeh! So have small portions of food in a tea saucer. You can have more, but limit each helping that you take.

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3. Sleep Management

1/3rd of our entire life is spent sleeping! If we can manage this, indeed we can become successful individuals. As soon as you come back from taraweeh, go to sleep. Do not Facebook! Do not stay up late on your phone! Use the  time after Fajr for work and then once you come back from office or school/college/university, go to sleep for 1-2 hours so that you remain fresh for taraweeh!

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4. Soul Management

“Indeed, in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find peace”. We may deprive our body of nourishment but we would truly die if we mal-nourish our souls by not even attempting to read or understand the speech of Allah, the Quran. This Ramadan is special because it is the month in which Quran was revealed. So the biggest association we should have with Ramadan is Quran rather than fasting and most definitely not feasting. This Ramadan make an active effort to renew your connection with the Quran by going through the tafseer (explanation) of the Quran and pondering over its meaning.

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5. Energy Management

Normally there is a great deal of effort placed on managing your time, but what good is time, when all the time you feel drained and exhausted? That’s where energy management comes to play. The higher the levels of stress, frustration and anger you feel will directly impact your energy levels leading to diminishing productivity. Therefore, whenever faced with a situation triggering your pressure points, always remain calm and say “Ana Saaim” (I am fasting). The dude might be shouting at your face but when you say this with a smile on your face, so what can he do possibly? Furthermore, when sad or stressed, remember the rewards that Allah has placed for the believers in Jannah and let a smile beautify your face. Choose to forgive and forget rather than fret.

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Have I missed out on anything? Make sure you comment and share any ideas that you might have on eliminating the “Ramadan Dip” from the lives of Muslims.

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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