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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!

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Ramadan Challenge: Pray For Them!

By Yasha Humayun

When we make dua we often fail to realize how powerful it is. You’re calling on to the One Who’s the Most Glorious (Al-Majeed) and The Responsive (Al-Mujeeb), what act can be more powerful and more beautiful than this?

Dua is the best gift you can ever give; it’s undoubtedly the only gift that benefits the one who receives it and the one who gifts it. What other gift can you think of that would fulfill this criteria? None!

I’ve often stumbled upon quotes that say that if you truly love someone, you pray and make dua for them and also that if you want to know who you really love, look at who you pray for in your duas. Undeniably, both of these ring true.

Often, by the grace of Allah, when we set out to help our loved ones, we are only able to do so much, for us humans are limited in our capabilities, in our influence over things. The time then is to call to the One who is Al-Muqtadir (The Powerful) and Al-Qaadir (The Able), the one whose power and control encompasses everything, and to say to Him, ‘Ya Allah, this person is in dire need of Your help, You’re the only One that ever helps us, You’re the only One that can help us, please be merciful to him and aid him.’

Often we do pray for our friends and relatives, but what about those loved ones who’ve left this world? They’re in as much need of our duas as those who are with us.

Once when I was sitting after prayer, I wondered, ‘Ya Allah, are there people who have died, passed away in a calamity, and no one knew they existed? Are there people on this Earth that have no one to make dua for them, no one to cry for them in sujood (prostrations), no one to ask for forgiveness for them?”

Make dua for them too, their book of deeds has closed and one can only pray for their  forgiveness. Especially, making dua for parents who’ve passed away is a very rewarding act.

Sahih Muslim

The Prophet  said: “When a person dies, all his deeds come to an end except three: sadaqah jaariyah (ongoing charity, e.g. a waqf or endowment), beneficial knowledge (which he has left behind), or a righteous child who will pray for him.” (Reported by al-Tirmidhi, no 1376)

He  also said: “A man’s status will be raised in Paradise and he will ask, ‘How did I get here?’ He will be told, ‘By your son’s du’aa’s (prayers) for forgiveness for you.” (Reported by Ibn Maajah, no 3660; see also Saheeh al-Jaami’, 1617)

The beauty of dua is that you can ask for anything, as long as it’s halal, and you can add as much people as you want to it. It’s best to add the entire Ummah. It’s one of the reasons why I absolutely love the dua of Ibrahim A.S, especially the second part of the dua, “O Lord, make me and my children steadfast in prayer, Our Lord accept the prayer. Our Lord, forgive me and my parents and the believers on the Day of Judgement.” (Surah Ibrahim 14:40-41)

Make a list of the individuals you want to pray for and what you want to pray for for them; it doesn’t strictly have to be a written one, it can be a mental list too. A list will allow you to be more specific.

This is the blessed month so make your duas for your loved ones today, make them right now. You never know, this could be the hour of acceptance of duas!

If you have true concern for your friends and relatives, if you make abundant and consistent dua for them, then with the Will of Allah, He will open doors of blessings and mercy for you, because He loves those who love His creation.

 

Chapter 30: The Waning Dusk (series)

Chapter 30: The Waning Dusk (series)

indexMyth: Let’s kill time

It’s the time that’s killing us.

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

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

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

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

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

Chapter 27: The Waning Dusk (series)

Chapter 27: The Waning Dusk (series)

Myth: It’s family. Everything works.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Chapter 23: The Waning Dusk (series)

Chapter 23: The Waning Dusk (series)

The-Indispensable-Qur’an-300x212

Myth: That book was a gripping page-turner…

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

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

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

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

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Chapter 22: The Waning Dusk (series)

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Myth: She probably likes me.

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

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

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

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

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

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

My Ramadan Diary: Friends!

My Ramadan Diary: Friends!

Good-Friends-Nice-Greeting-Image

By Umm Ibrahim

All things come to an end. So shall Ramadan in just a few days. One thing that we all fear, or should fear, is turning back on our heels after Ramadan, and nullifying whatever of good actions and habits we have maintained. Here is a golden tip to keep you keep steadfast after Ramadan: good friends! Yes, your friends can make or break you. We are informed in the Hadith that:

“A person is on the way of his close friend. Therefore, he should think very carefully whom he is making a friend with.” (Tirmidhi, Abu Dawood)

Many of the sins we fall in are because of the kind of friends we have. Backbiting, gossip, cursing, watching movies together, discussing rubbish literature etc. would not be possible if your friends were good, Allah-fearing people. Many of the sins would automatically be deleted from your life. They would be replaced by remembering Allah, racing in good deeds, giving good advice to each other. This is not a light matter as it affects the state of your heart and your nearness to Allah.

“Do not speak much without mentioning Allah, for too much speech without mentioning Allah hardens the heart, and the hard-hearted are the farthest of all people from Allah Most High.” (Tirmidhi)

Take a good, hard look at your friends today. Maybe you need to distance yourself from some of them. Maybe you need to look for other people to include in your circle of friends. Good friends, who uplift you spiritually, can make your life very beautiful.

Rasulullah (sallalahu alaihi wasallam) said:

“The example of a good companion (friend) in comparison with a bad one is like that of one who sells musk and the blacksmith. From the first, you would either buy musk or enjoy its good smell, while from the blacksmith you would either get burned or smell a bad scent.” (Bukhari)

A good friend, a perfume-seller is the one who meets you with a cheerful countenance,
the one with whom you can chill out without displeasing Allah,
the one who genuinely celebrates your happiness and victories,
the one who feels for you and consoles you on your sorrows and losses,
the one who reminds you of the wisdom behind trials you face,
the one who reminds you to be patient,
the one who makes you feel hopeful and grateful,
the one who uplifts you emotionally and spiritually,
the one who defends your honour and interests in your presence and absence,
the one who cares enough to notice and pinpoint your faults,
the one who does not shy away from scolding you when you need and deserve it,
the one who is so selfless that he prays for you in tahajjud while you have no idea,
the one who spends quality time with you, smiling, joking and relieving you of your cares and worries,
the one who flatly refuses to collaborate with you in any sinful matter and reminds you to fear Allah,
the one who inquires when he sees you falling short in good deeds,
the one who invites you to taraweeh and qiyaam rather than frivolous late-night iftar parties,
the one who is always coming up with plans for the two of you to advance spiritually.

Find that one. Find the person who is much better than you in his religion and character. Look for that bright-eyed, radiant-faced person in the halaqahs and masajid. Go talk to him/her, befriend him. You will find the response warm and welcoming inshaAllah. Stick to their company. Stay in touch and meet throughout the year. Come next Ramadan, and you might find that their colour has actually rubbed off on you!

And if you just can’t find that one, then be that one!

“Your friends are a reflection of yourself. Who your friends are is indicative of who you are or who you’ll become if you continue to be with them.” (Abdul Bary Yahya)

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