Tag Archives: death

My Ramadan Diary: Abort Mission NOW!

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By Umm Ibrahim

Physical intake should decrease in Ramadan; spiritual intake should increase. One of the best ways to increase spiritual intake is to connect to the Quran, to recite it and reflect on it, individually and in a group. Both modes have their own benefits and virtues.

Alhamdolillah, I’ve been trying to attend Quran sessions daily. The 20-min journey to and fro provides quiet time to think and reflect. One of the things that I always think about during this journey is: death. The reason being as straightforward as this: I pass a huge, sprawling graveyard on the way.

As the car zooms by, I recite the Prophetic dua for the occasion. One of the versions say:

“Peace be upon you all,
O inhabitants of the dwellings (i.e. the graves),
amongst the believers and the Muslims.
Indeed, we are soon to follow (i.e. to die as believers also) inshaAllah,
We ask Allah for well-being for us and for you.”

(Muslim, an-Nasai, Ibn Majah)

This is truly an amazing dua. See how it shifts focus from the dead to the living, from the grave-dwellers to us- the travelers of the dunya, who are about to hit the grave one day too.

It is just as if the dead are telling us through their condition:

We were like you one day
You shall be like us one day.

Yes, the graveyards are full of ‘indispensable’ people. Young mothers, busy professionals, university students- all had met the angel of death suddenly, at the appointed time and place. They thought they still had plenty of time. They thought they would do better tomorrow. Except that the command came from the Highest Authority for their mission to be aborted; and for them to be unceremoniously plucked out of the examination hall, to be sent to the waiting room/internment center until the results are formally announced.

Death is enough as a reminder. Whenever I feel lazy to go to class, or follow the commandments of Allah, or matters in life seem heavy upon my soul, death is enough as a reminder. For those who procrastinate and kill time, death is sufficient as a shocker.

This could be our last Ramadan. Where’s the guarantee that it isn’t?

The graves might already have been dug while we are heedless.
The cloth for the shrouds might already have reached the marketplace.
Who knows?

We were all manufactured with an expiry date. Make hay while the sun shines.

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11 Ways To Overcome Grief and Worry

By Umm Ibrahim

It’s raining. My mind is working on overdrive. It seems to be the perfect time to write! I need to pen down some things- some things I really need to reiterate to myself and that you really need to know too. Let me tell you something: I seem to be stuck in a rut since years. There’s this problem that refuses to solve itself, it gets better for a while- and then returns to just being more complicated. There have been countless nights crying in the pillow or on the musalla, or just pacing around in the bedroom.

Think of your own problems- a loved one’s death, a disease, a rift in the family, a divorce, that rishta, that job, that opposition, those cutting remarks, the repeated failures- whatever it is, when we brood on our troubles, we start to feel really down and depressed. I’m going to share some cutting-edge techniques with you to cope with sadness, to fight your depression, to chase away the blues and live a happy and contented life, despite things going wrong as they often will. I’ve tried and tested them all over the years. They work. So here goes:

1- Complain to Allah only:

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Acknowledge the problem; acknowledge the way you are feeling and describe it to Allah. It’ll make you feel lighter. When you need to complain, turn only to Him, and put your trust and hope in Him. As Prophet Yaqub said in troubled times,

  “I only complain of my distraction and anguish to Allah, and I know from Allah that which ye know not.” (Surah Yusuf: ayah 86)

Resist the temptation to whine in front of people. Ibn al-Qayyim quoted an Arab poet in his book al-Fawaid, who said:

When you complain to a son of Adam

Verily you complain about the Most Merciful

to the one who does not pity

2- Read the Quran

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If you could just leave the other 10 things and do this one- read the Quran with understanding, it would suffice. In it, you will find all the answers and all the solutions. Let Allah speak to you and realign your thoughts and emotions. I sometimes open the Quran at a random page and read for a few lines until an ayah comes which seems to jump out at you, console you and light your way and give you renewed hope.

My personal favourite Surahs in times of sadness are: Surah ash-Sharh, Surah at-Talaq and Surah Yusuf. (They merit another post inshaAllah)

For now, I’ll just share some of my favourite verses from these Surahs. Allah promises in Surah ash-Sharh:

“So, verily, with every difficulty, there is relief:

Verily, with every difficulty there is relief.” (Surah ash-Sharh: ayah 5-6)

And in Surah at-Talaq, He makes the promise:

..And whoever fears Allah – He will make for him a way out. And will provide for him from where he does not expect. And whoever relies upon Allah – then He is sufficient for him. Indeed, Allah will accomplish His purpose. Allah has already set for everything a [decreed] extent. (Surah at-Talaq: ayah 2-3)

As for the extremly beautiful and moving story of Prophet Yusuf, it just leaves me stunned and bedazzled by the Mercy and Power of Allah every single time.

These are just a few sneak-peaks. The point is: there is no better anti-depressant in the market, no exercise, no strategy, nothing that can come close to the healing power of the Quran.

3- Dua and Istighfar

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Seeking Allah’s forgiveness in tough times calms your heart. It saves you from the “Why me?” victimhood mentality. As you remember your sins, and admit that He is the Most Merciful, and that whatever befalls you is a product of your own deeds, you reap multiple benefits- one of which is described in the Hadith:

If anyone continually asks pardon, Allah will appoint for him a way out of every distress, and a relief from every anxiety, and will provide for him from where he did not reckon. (Abu Dawud)

Call out to Him in prostration and in the last third of the night; He will respond. Remember to be sincere and stay connected to Him in the good times as well as the bad times. To turn away in the good days is very fickle.

4- Fast- Forward Technique

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This is something very useful that I learnt from the Productive Muslim website (http://productivemuslim.com/the-fast-forward-technique/). Basically, I mentally fast-forward 5 or 10 years, (time flies anyway) and see how bad this situation would seem at that time. Better still, fast forward to the Day of Judgment, or to the gardens of Jannah where you’re chilling with the Sahaba, sipping Salsabeel! Would this trivial, stupid problem matter then!?

Another variation is the ‘Zoom Out’ technique, in which instead of staring at the cause of grief and worry, you zoom out to focus on the aspects of life that are working out well. And then further zoom out to see the millions of lives, with their sorrows and joys, around you that Allah is nurturing and taking care of perfectly.

5- Spend Time with Good Friends

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Resist the urge to stay home and brood. Take your personal time for worship and introspection. But also hang out with good friends who can lift your spirits. Have a good time. Don’t feel guilty about it. Don’t be bogged down by your problems and worries. You need to re-energize and rejuvenate. Give yourself a break! According to the Hadith,

“A good friend…is like a perfume-seller… He might give you some perfume as a gift, or you might buy some from him, or at least you might smell its fragrance.” (Sahih al-Bukhari)

6- Throw in the Humour

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This is also a good way to cope. If you can laugh despite your problems, or better still if you can laugh at your problems, you will find it very difficult to be overwhelmed by troubles. Try to see the lighter side of life. Smile often. Try to keep a cheerful countenance even if you don’t feel like it. the Prophet (Sallalahu alaihi wasallam) had to deal with immense grief, yet one of the Companions, Abdullah ibn Harith says:

I did not see anyone who smiled more than the Messenger of Allah. (Shamail Tirmidhi)

7- Live in the moment

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Most of the time we’re either grieving (about something that happened in the past) or worrying (about something that might happen in the future). The most important time- the present- is wasted in this process. If you just forget the past and the future for a moment and live in the present, your grief and worry will evaporate. Grab the little moments of happiness: the smell after rain, the taste of fresh oranges, the laughter of a baby, the blooming of a flower, the Eman rush of sujood (prostration). Tune your mind to live in the present. Make peace with your past; let bygones be bygones. As for the future, entrust it in Allah’s Hand. His Plan will work out perfectly.

8- Remember Death

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Your death is a calamity that makes every other calamity pale in significance for you. It also puts things – happy and sad- in perspective. What will matter then? What will benefit you after the death?

Similarly, the Day of Reckoning is a worry that makes all other worries seem laughable. Preparing for it makes you gain your focus and prioritize and take control of your life.

9- Get busy in Productive activities

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The idle mind, as they say, is the Devil’s workshop. Instead of moping around, get up and do beneficial things that you enjoy doing. Keep yourself busy. Make a positive difference in the world. Volunteer for Youth Club. 😉

Volunteer at an orphanage or a hospital. Help others out. One of the many benefits of this activity will be, as described in the Hadith:

“Allah will help the slave so long as the slave helps his brother.” (Mishkaat al-Masaabeeh)

10- Look at those below you

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This is an added benefit of visiting orphanages and hospitals. When you see the sufferings of others, you realize how blessed you are, and how less of a right you have to whine. People are being killed, tortured, and raped this very moment. Children are dying because of hunger and thirst. You, my friend, are better than millions on the face of this planet. Will you take all this for granted? Will you dismiss the hundred blessings and feel sad and worried because of just one problem, one trial that Allah tested you with? Allah’s Messenger (sallalahu alaihi wasallam) said:

“Look at those who stand at a lower level than you but don’t look at those who stand at a higher level than you, for this would make the favours (conferred upon you by Allah) insignificant (in your eyes).” (Sahih Muslim)

11- See the positive side

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If you lost one limb, you could have lost both. If one child has become wayward, the others could have followed too. If your love ditched you, your faith could have departed too. Whatever you are facing could have been much worse. Thank Allah. Keep hope alive. Stay Strong.

Oh, and #12 would be: write. Writing is therapy. I feel much better actually. If you have benefited too, that is just an added bonus! 😛

It has stopped raining too. The sun is shining brightly. Glorified and Exalted is Allah. He can change the night into the day when He wills. He can bring forth a new and brighter day whenever He wills.

Writing Wasiyah – A Forgotton Sunnah

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By Zaki Imtiaz

Bismillah, walhamdulillah was-salaatu was-salaamu ‘ala Rasulillah!

I begin with the name of Allah, all praise is due to Him alone, and I send peace and blessings upon the Messenger of Allah, Muhammad (Salallahu alaihi wa sallam)

I have seen several families fighting over the issues of Virasat (inheritance) and Wasiyah (will) after the death of important people from among them. Wouldn’t it be great if people would follow the commandments of Allah in such affairs? There would be no fights if the wealth of the deceased was distributed according to the law of inheritance laid out in Islam. If the deceased left a will explaining each aspect in detail, there would be no dispute over family issues. There would be so much ease in fulfilling the missed obligations, promises and other commitments of the deceased by his surviving family.

A couple of weeks ago, I came across the following Hadith.  I was already aware of it but it had never struck me so strongly.

” ‏ “‏ مَا حَقُّ امْرِئٍ مُسْلِمٍ يَبِيتُ لَيْلَتَيْنِ وَلَهُ مَا يُوصِي فِيهِ إِلاَّ وَوَصِيَّتُهُ مَكْتُوبَةٌ عِنْدَهُ

“It is not right for a Muslim man to spend two nights, having what he would will, without having his will written with him.”

[Tirmidhi]

I thought to myself, “Do I know when I’m going to leave my loved ones and carry on with my journey towards Allah?” Of course, I didn’t know! No one does. So, I decided to start writing my will, no matter how few my possessions may be. Surely, Allah will question me about the smallest of matters; and if my responsibilities and peoples’ rights were not discharged properly, it would be a great matter in the sight of Allah.

I grabbed a book [1] on this topic and found three areas in which every one of us needs to define our will. I have tried to explain them very briefly here:

1. The Rights of Allah:

وَلَقَدْ وَصَّيْنَا الَّذِينَ أُوتُوا الْكِتَابَ مِن قَبْلِكُمْ وَإِيَّاكُمْ أَنِ اتَّقُوا اللَّهَ

“We have recommended to the people of the Scripture before you, and to you (O Muslims) that you (all) fear Allah.”

[Surah an-Nisaa: 131]

Man is born on Fitrah (a pure nature) and the recognition of good and bad is inherently present in him.  But society, parents and whispers of the devils from Jinns and men distort his Fitrah to make him commit sins.  If you have an idea about certain of your sins that can be expiated by following Islamic injunctions, then the details of these must be a part of your will.  If you have any obligatory fasts pending completion, if you have not offered Hajj, if you have violated any promises with Allah, all such things comes into the category of the rights of Allah.  If there are any other responsibilities given to you by Allah that you have been negligent about, (like being responsible for your family’s provisions, religion etc.) include them as in your will as well.

The Prophet (Sallalahu alaihi wasallam) is reported to have said,

‏ أَلاَ كُلُّكُمْ رَاعٍ، وَكُلُّكُمْ مَسْئُولٌ عَنْ رَعِيَّتِهِ

“Surely! Every one of you is a guardian and is responsible for his charges…”

[Sahih al-Bukhari]

Make sure that you start remembering such matters and write them down one by one.  You may consult scholars if you don’t know the expiation of specific sins; after all they have from the inheritance of the Prophets: knowledge!  One should also advise the heirs to follow the rules of Shari’ah and all the Sunnahs associated with the final rites in Islam, while forbidding them to do anything prohibited by Shari’ah.  One should particularly explain the matters which one fears that the heirs may overlook.

It should be noted that there are some obligatory acts (e.g. prayer) which cannot be performed as a compensation by the heirs on behalf of the deceased.  However, the family should do whatever is prescribed in the Sunnah like giving charity on behalf of the deceased or making du’a to Allah to forgive his sins.

2. The Rights of the Creation:

إِنَّ اللَّهَ يَأْمُرُكُمْ أَن تُؤَدُّوا الْأَمَانَاتِ إِلَىٰ أَهْلِهَا وَإِذَا حَكَمْتُم بَيْنَ النَّاسِ أَن تَحْكُمُوا بِالْعَدْلِ ۚ

“Verily! Allah commands that you should render back the trusts to those, to whom they are due; and that when you judge between people, you judge with justice. ”

[Surah an-Nisaa: 58]

These rights include money that you owe to someone, or that someone owes to you.  It also includes all those promises and vows that you have not fulfilled yet, any remnants of inheritance that you were to distribute, any testimony that you have to make for/against someone in order to benefit the Muslim Ummah.

Any debts that are due on the deceased, as well as any Zakah that he/she has to pay must be deducted before the inheritance wealth or property can be distributed. Further clarification of specific cases should be sought from the scholars.

3. The Rights of the Deceased:

One should write about anything that benefits one after their death, like advising the family to stay firm on the true religion of Islam.  One may leave guidelines for the executor of the will as to how it should be executed.  The executor of the will should be a God-fearing and knowledgeable person.

You may also make two Muslims witnesses to your will to ensure that no tampering takes place.  You can get a simple printout, that can be read and signed by the witnesses.  After your departure, these witnesses are charged with reproducing this will and ensuring its execution.  An exemplary will is presented below.  You may edit it in order to fulfill this obligation in a manner that best suits you.

I sincerely hope that once you’ve read this article, you will prioritize the matter of composing a draft for your will, insha Allah!

SAMPLE WILL:

I do indeed make this testament that upon my death, the following be observed:

1. Some righteous people should visit me to remind me of my Lord’s blessings upon me; to encourage me to have a good opinion about Him; and that they should exhort me to recite the Shahadah (Testimony of faith) in a gentle manner, saying to me “0 so and so, say, ‘There is no god but Allah.“’

2. They should pray much for my good, and they should not utter anything except what is good and right. When my soul leaves my body, they should close my eyes and tie my lower jaw in place.

3. My clothes should be taken off and I should be wrapped in clothes other than the ones I died in (if possible).

4. Preparation for the burial of the body must be expedited, unless this is prevented by some legitimate or compelling reason.

5. Loud wailing, slapping the face, tearing clothes, and any supplications like those used in Jahiliyah (pre-Islamic ignorance) which incite mourning or cause loss of patience should be avoided.

6. All my debts must be paid and trusts in my care be restored to their owners as explained in my attached financial testament.

7. I should be wrapped in three white cloths, unsewn and inexpensive.

8. Women should be forbidden to accompany the funeral procession (as commanded by the Prophet Salallahu alaihi wasallam)

9. Silence be observed at the time of burial; there should be complete calmness, and people should ponder over death and over the greatness of Allah, the Exalted, the Supreme.

10. My funeral should be expedited and as many people as possible should participate in my funeral prayer; the one who is most knowledgeable about Allah and most learned among those present, should lead the prayer.

11. I should be buried in a grave and the person placing me in the grave should say “Bismillahi wa ‘ala sunnati rasulillah (In the name of Allah and in accordance with the Sunnah of the Messenger of Allah). There should not be any gravestone carrying my name because the Prophet (Salallahu alaihi wasallam) has forbidden this.

12. People should sit by my grave and make du’a for me for a while so that their company should render me at ease before I am questioned.

13. The Qur’an should not be recited for me on the day of my death or on any other day. No special place should be appointed for people to come and offer their condolences on my death, because this is also a sort of mourning for the dead. The correct procedure is that my relatives should carry on their usual pursuits and people may offer their condolences to them when they meet them or whenever they visit them.

14. My death should not be announced from pulpits or in newspapers etc., because the Prophet (Salallahu alaihi wasallam) has forbidden such announcements, except if there is no one available to undertake the preparations for my funeral and burial.

15. I should be buried in the place where I die, and my body should not be transferred to any other country, in accordance with the advice of the Prophet (Salallahu alaihi wasallam), and in the hope of gaining the reward therefore, for making things easy for the people, and increasing the heritage of my lawful heirs.

16. My household should not prepare food for the people on the occasion of my death. They should rather occupy themselves in the obedience of Allah and in enjoining patience to each other.

17. Anyone who is present at the distribution of my estate should be treated with respect and spoken to in kindly and gentle terms.

18. I have appointed (name of the executor) to look into and execute the whole of this testament. It is his responsibility to seek help from the leader of the righteous people who follow the Sunnah (Ahl as Sunnah) in the place of my death. In short, I admonish everyone with the admonition that the Prophet (Salallahu alaihi wasallam) gave us.  If there is anything in my will that is against the teachings of the Shari’ah, then the law of Shari’ah will take precedence over my will.  I declare myself innocent of all that the Prophet (Salallahu alaihi wasallam) renounced.

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[1] Write your Islamic Will – Published by Dar ul Tawheed

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The writer is a Software Engineer and can be contacted at zakiimtiaz1@gmail.com and fb.com/page.z.imtiaz

If HE Forsakes You, Who Is There That Can Help You?

I realized that every time there is rain and thunder and lightning, I start remembering the sins I have done. It makes me remember what end I would have, whether I would end up in Jannah or …… The darkness seems mysterious and scary. It makes me want to know what lies beyond all of this that we see, but at the same time makes me think if I’m even ready for it. Most of the time, the answer is no.

But all of this fear is only for a while, isn’t it? I’m sure many of you have experienced it. We remember Allah when we are in trouble. We remember Allah when there is something that scares us and we know we do not have the power to save ourselves from it; we remember Allah only in these times. In normal routine, our days go without any thought of HIM being forever watchful. Even if we do remember that, we choose to ignore this fact because the world is just too pretty for us. That moment that we are enjoying is just too good to remember our end. We wouldn’t want to spoil our fun by remembering that Allah is watching us. We wouldn’t want to remember death – the destroyer of pleasures.

It reminds me of these verses of Surah Yunus:

22. He it is Who enables you to travel through land and sea, till when you are in the ships and they sail with them with a favorable wind, and they are glad therein, then comes a stormy wind and the waves come to them from all sides, and they think that they are encircled therein, they invoke Allâh, making their Faith pure for Him Alone, saying: “If You (Allâh) deliver us from this, we shall truly be of the grateful.”

23. But when He delivered them, behold! They rebel (disobey Allâh) in the earth wrongfully. O mankind! Your rebellion (disobedience to Allâh) is only against your own selves, – a brief enjoyment of this worldly life, then (in the end) unto Us is your return, and We shall inform you that which you used to do.

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How hypocritical are we? Whenever there’s an earthquake, a big storm, a flood, we remember Allah. He, being extremely Merciful, when takes us out of that problem, we immediately start disobeying HIM.

But imagine for a while what would happen if Allah didn’t help us? What miserable state would we be in? I get scared when I see a strong flash of lightning knowing that the sound is going to be very loud. I fear that it might fall on my house and the roof might fall and I might die within a second. Allah can do anything, can He not? It makes me remember when Allah mentions the hypocrites in Surah Al – Baqarah and says:

20. Or [it is] like a rainstorm from the sky within which is darkness, thunder and lightning. They put their fingers in their ears against the thunderclaps in dread of death. But Allah is encompassing of the disbelievers.

21. The lightning almost snatches away their sight. Every time it lights [the way] for them, they walk therein; but when darkness comes over them, they stand [still]. And if Allah had willed, He could have taken away their hearing and their sight. Indeed, Allah is over all things competent.

We forget this don’t we? We forget the fact that if Allah is Ar-Rahman and Ar-Raheem (Extremely Merciful and Especially Merciful) He is also Al-Jabbaar (The Compeller) and Al-Qahhaar (The Subduer). What would we do if Allah decides to punish us? Would we go on some other earth? Would that be out of Allah’s reach? Then why do we always forget that if Allah abandons us there is no one to help us? As Allah says in Surah Al-Imran:

160. If Allâh helps you, none can overcome you; and if He forsakes you, who is there after Him that can help you? And in Allâh (Alone) let believers put their trust.

Just think about this for a second. Weren’t you scared last time when there was an earthquake or big storm? Didn’t you ask Allah for forgiveness and decided you would obey HIM from now on? Did you keep up to what you said? If not, then what if the next time Allah forsakes you? Whom would you go to then……? Can’t think of anyone right? Then it’s high time we start fearing Allah even when we are not in any trouble.

I pray that Allah makes us truly understand the message in these verses and helps us implement it in our lives, Ameen.