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Five practical steps to be a steadfast Muslim!

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Not a single person can deny the fact that human nature is notorious and censurable;  history is one unfortunate witness to this very fact!

But human beings are bound to err. They were never designed to be perfect, nor  do they run on pre-defined algorithms for pre-designed results. They are not machines- rather they are driven by their own feelings, challenges, successes and failures.

In this fast-paced  technological era, man needs constant guidance through sincere friends and families to help him weave a path of steadfastness. But most of all, man needs his own self. A living conscience that constantly awakens him to the realities of life. An untainted sound heart.

Islam came to protect individuals, and to give people a chance at a better future, and a better life in the Hereafter. But to actually benefit from this, one needs to learn how to ‘live the life’ of a Muslim.

As  Br. Mohammad Ali [1] says:

“No system of life can give you a better purpose than Islam. So follow Islam. Read about it. Understand it. And you have a great life in both worlds”

Our halls are filled with awe as different religious scholars and ‘daees’ glitter and glamour the world- when one feels his faith climb even the highest and most impossible of  mountain peaks. But in everyday life the situation of the Muslim community leaves much to be desired. There is a massive gap in our hearts, that yearns for Allah.  The match between Iblis and man still goes on, and Iblis is winning. He is not even letting us come close to the ball. The essence and the spirit of repentance, of keeping our duty to Allah 24/7 is like a black hole today in some distant corner of the universe. No one really knows what is inside; what to do, where to walk and what to say. We’re confused, and lost.

In all of this, the way forward is difficult to see. It is only through developing a number of good habits can we try to stay steadfast on the path of Allah- especially when it is so extremely easy to sin and comparatively difficult to do good.

Allah mentions the attitude of the believers in the Qura’n as follows

إِنَّ الَّذِينَ قَالُوا رَبُّنَا اللَّهُ ثُمَّ اسْتَقَامُوا تَتَنَزَّلُ عَلَيْهِمُ الْمَلَائِكَةُ أَلَّا تَخَافُوا وَلَا تَحْزَنُوا وَأَبْشِرُوا بِالْجَنَّةِ الَّتِي كُنتُمْ تُوعَدُونَ
Verily, those who say: “Our Lord is Allah (Alone)” and then they Istaqamu (stay steadfast), on them the angels will descend (at the time of their death) (saying): “Fear not, nor grieve! But receive the glad tidings of Paradise which you have been promised!” (S.Fussilat: 30)

With this, we begin going through an exclusive five item list to help us all develop beneficial habits (inshaAllah). You can copy the following points into your smart phone as a checklist and keep reviewing yourself every now and then to really benefit, insha’Allah.

Item 1: Al-Islah (Personal Reform)

A steadfast believer should always keep personal reform in focus. Instead of pointing out other people’s mistakes and blaming them for your situation, one should start from an inside-out perspective. If a believer is watchful over his own actions and remembers that every little action will be questioned about and every little good deed will be rewarded, he will remain steadfast upon the path of Allah.

ImageThe Prophet (pbuh) said:

“Unquestionably, in the body there is a lump of flesh; if it is sound, the whole body is sound, and if it is corrupt, the whole body is corrupt, and behold, it is the heart.” [Bukhāri and Muslim]

So, number 1- make sure you have sound, open heart.

Item 2: The path of the Prophet (peace be upon him) and His Companions

Remember the story of  the brothers who tried to break a bunch of sticks given to them by their father? Well, they were unable to break the bundle while the sticks were tied together. That is what the Quran says about our Muslim brethren:

وَاعْتَصِمُوا بِحَبْلِ اللَّهِ جَمِيعًا وَلَا تَفَرَّقُوا
And hold firmly to the rope of Allah all together and do not become divided.

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Anyone with basic Arabic skills will notice Allah has placed 3 words in the text in their plural forms in this verse- to stress upon the fact that we must stay together. OK. We’ve learned the lesson to stay together, but where to go, what to follow? Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) tackled this subject in a very famous saying:

“My ummah will split into seventy-three sects, all of whom will be in Hell except one group.” They said: Who are they, O Messenger of Allaah? He said: “(Those who follow) that which I and my companions follow.” Al-Tirmidhi (2641)

If we want the Muslim ummah to be successful in this world and in religion today, we need to work on our centre. The  path that we must follow should not be that of society, nor of our fathers and mothers, but of our Prophet and his Companions, may Allah be pleased with them all.

Item 3: The Intermediate path

People often say that we should strike a ‘balance’ between religion and life. That we should take a little bit of both- something from here, another thing from there. What they want to say is that one shouldn’t be so religious. One should pray , definitely- but there’s nothing wrong with an interest based banking system, eh?Fast in Ramadan- yes of course- but also dance at weddings with non-mehram cousins. Good treatment of your neighbors and elders is cultural only.A beard or a scarf- definite fashion no! Talking against the sins most prevalent in society is plain old negative thinking.

In short, completely following Islam is to lose yourself and your identity and to become an ‘extremist’.   We ask those peoplewere Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and his Companions terrorists? Were they extremists? Do their lives bear witness to the terror they struck in other people’s lives- or to something else entirely?

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Remember the Prophet’s path is the real  middle path. Learn Islam and its true teachings. You’ll truly get to see how Islam encourages us to be  productive, healthier and God-fearing believers.

Item 4: Pious company

A man is known by the company he keeps

How true it is. If you constantly find yourself in the company of a group of unproductive, lazy, good-for-nothing chain smokers, the first thing that you can start with is to find yourself better company. Friends who are God-fearing. Friends that you can trust- who you can expect to protect your honor  behind your back Just an idea: look for local Islamic communities in your area.

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا اتَّقُوا اللَّهَ وَكُونُوا مَعَ الصَّادِقِينَ
O you who believe! Be afraid of Allah, and be with those who are true (in words and deeds). (Quran 9:119)

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For those people in Lahore who are looking for new friends, come hang out with the YC brothers (and sisters) at our YC Community Center. For more details visit our Facebook page.

Item 5: Be a student of knowledge

Big seminars are held all over the world to help students plan their future careers. Where do we go to plan our Hereafters?

We’ve managed to produce such a lot of educated people within our society, but where is their education when it comes to matters of  the social life, morals, religious obligations and general ethics? Like a sea shell, beautifully adorned from the outside but empty from the inside- all of us except those who hold within the pearls of wisdom.

‘Uthman bin ‘Affan (May Allah be pleased with him) reported:

The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said, “The best amongst you is the one who learns the Qur’an and teaches it.”
[Al-Bukhari].

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Be a teacher or a student of Quran, constantly, all your life, regardless of what your age or your culture is. Brings to mind another saying of the Prophet (pbuh):

 “This world is cursed, and all that is in it, except for the zikr (remembrance) of Allah and all that is related to it, a scholar and a student of knowledge.” [at-Tirmidhi, 2322]

Again, for those people who live in Lahore and Islamabad- contact your nearest YC members for details of our  Qura’n study circles and our weekly class schedules (this is for both sisters and brothers)!

If one truly  incorporates these  five habits into his/her daily life and asks Allah for help in remaining steadfast, inshaAllah Allah’s help will come. May Allah help us in that.

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The writer is a software engineer and can be contacted at zakiimtiaz1@gmail.com

[1] Br. Mohammad Ali is a Mechnical Engnfrom GIKI, Pakistan and is currently presiding Youth Club Lahore chapter.
[2] The list is compiled based on a lecture given by Sheikh Abu Tayyab on the topic “Istaqamah” at Al-Wabil Center of Islamic Knowledge, DHA, Lahore.

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Would you like it Blessed or Wretched?

Would you like it Blessed or Wretched?

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Marriage is a colorful artwork gifted to you by Allah, specially designed for you to find repose in.  It is an institution where real love is nurtured for the family to bask in its warmth and light.  It is the building where the foundation of future is laid in the present.  It is falling in love with the same person over and over again each day.  Yes, over and over again with that beautiful creation of Allah with whom you sign the contract under His Eyes while you say, “Qabool Hai” (“I do”).  And, this bond is meant to give you sukoon (tranquility) which in itself is one of the greatest blessings of Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala.

Well, isn’t it ironic then to see that most of the marriages that take place these days turn out with negative results!  All the dreams get smashed in one go and turn into a nightmare.  The number of couples who can say that they are living in sukoon (tranquility) has reduced drastically.  Every second person you bump into these days seems to talk about their marriage related woes.  The reason is often plain and simple: being away from the Qur’an and Sunnah thereby incurring Allah’s wrath in all the affairs including those of marriage.  How can a journey that starts with disobeying Allah and displeasing Him be smooth and enjoyable?

If you are among those who are already married but did so while having crossed the limits set by Allah then know that the doors of repentance are still open and Allah will make easy your affairs if you turn to Him in sincerity.  And, if you are among those who are either looking for a spouse or counting the days left to your wedding, and you want to see unlimited blessings in your wedding, then read on carefully.

1. Check your intentions

Is it for the sake of Allah that you are taking this decision i.e., to safeguard yourself from Haram while wanting your wishes to be fulfilled in a Halal manner?

2. Plan it simple

If you’ve already ticked the check box about your intention then receive the glad tidings of Allah’s promise and know that Allah never breaks His promise!  Now, plan your marriage and get your parents and the parents of your potential spouse on board for this noble cause of simple Nikah.  Be sure that it is going to be in accordance with the Sunnah of the Prophet (may Allah exalt his mention).

3. Be strict and firm

When it comes to the limits of Allah, be strict and firm.  Don’t compromise with regards to the issue of inter mixing of opposite genders.  Ensure that there will not be extravagance.  You may already know that the spendthrifts are the brothers of Shaytan.  Say a big “No” to music.  Brothers, shaving beard isn’t a good idea either.  Sisters, be cautious of long hours of make up lest you should miss your Salah and you needn’t even boast about your Mahr.

4. Rely on Allah alone

If you are of those who have always lowered your gaze, given charity, offered voluntary prayers, fasted much then Insha Allah the time is near when you will peacefully lock your eyes with your spouse without any hindrance, get the provisions ceaselessly, find the absolute tranquility and enjoy the lovely relationship with her/him; but no matter what, you must always remember to rely on Allah alone without associating others for asking help in any of your affair.  You must trust His Perfect Planning and His Perfect Timing.  So, make sure that you begin the preparation for a journey filled with abundant blessings, a journey where the desired destination is always Jannatul Firdaus, and the eyes remain transfixed on the prize.

Let the journey begin! Bismillah.

So you think Islamic weddings are boring?!

So you think Islamic weddings are boring?!

Amazing ideas brought to you by the Youth Club Street Dawah Team

There is an outdated cliche with regards to practicing God fearing brothers and sisters that because they are so ‘boring’, then obviously their weddings will be drab too!

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People would complain:

Where is the pumping loud Bhangra music?!

Bhangra and Dhol apparently being the ultimate expression of human bliss!

Where are the funky dance moves?!

Where is the intermingling?!

I mean, don’t we dress to impress?  Didn’t we buy the latest designer Versace suit or the latest Sobia Nazir lehanga to get noticed by the opposing gender?!

Marriage between two people is indeed an occasion of great celebration.  Islam, in its this beauty and perfection, guides us how to express this happiness within limits- like everything else in life!

If the feeling of joy and ecstasy is not checked, things can quickly get out of control.  It can manifest itself in outrageous parties where morality is thrown out of the window and extravagance is practiced on an unbelievingly extravagant scale!

To get things straight, there is no concept of dance and music (in the name of Mehndi, Mayun etc.) before the sacred rites of matrimony.  There’s no baraat in Islam, just an elegant Nikah (at the masjid, if you prefer) attended by both men and women in separate quarters.  The bride’s ‘rukhsati‘ can take place from there and there is no baraat reception afterwards.  Ah! The beautiful simplicity and refreshing convenience of Islam.  It is only the people who have shackled themselves to the yokes of tradition and culture who find this strange and awkward.

Then comes the Walima function on which everyone can enjoy the Halal fun.  Yes, Halal fun.  No sir, that is not an oxymoron.  These two go together quite well.  We need to provide halal alternatives to the usual haram stuff that goes on at weddings.

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Here we’ve compiled some ideas that we’ve witnessed at different Walimas in Pakistan and UK, and being the innovative and creative souls that we are, we’ve added our own ideas too (Hopefully, this should help you to beat the Indian/Hindu influence on Muslim weddings):

1- You can invite  brothers to display their vocal skills by reciting the Quran; Have a ‘Quran recital night’ .

2- Somebody with an amazing voice can perform Islamic nasheeds.  You could even make the venue all colourful and comfortable, use big floor cushions, dim the lights, create an awesome ambience!

3-Instead of blaring out trashy music sung by idol-worshipping people with shallow lyrics, put on a beautiful soothing Arabic nasheed or even an English one.  Perhaps even have a designated DJ who could mix  and match!  There are actually a plethora of nasheeds available for us to choose from.  Or don’t play anything at all; just let the people actually talk to each other!

4- Have a cool dress code for the guests.

5- Share light hearted, interesting personal anecdotes of Dawah.  This creates a  jovial atmosphere.

6- And why does the food have to be almost the same at every Pakistani wedding?  Why not explore the vast Muslim world cuisine and what they have to offer?  Perhaps humous and falafel or a signature Malaysian dish!  The guests will surely remember your wedding by your bold attempt at trying something different.

7- A brother actually held a quiz at his walima. This created great laughter and was very pleasant altogether.

These are just a few ideas.  I’m sure if you think outside the box, then you can come up with your own brainwaves.

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A wedding is not an occasion to show off and display your arrogance through your clothing or your vehicles.  It is not an occasion to gloat over your power or wealth.  Instead of trying our utmost to impress people or to live up to their expectations; we should be concerned about what our Lord is thinking about our conduct!

The style of weddings needs to change.  If you really want the marriage to be supremely successful, then keep it halal!  Why take away the blessings by indulging in doubtful or explicitly haram activities?   Would you expect smooth sailing on a journey that begins with displeasing the Lord?

There must be separate halls arranged for ladies and gentlemen; and female waitresses for the women.  Oh, and please keep the video people off the premises.  What kind of a Muslim bride sits on a pedestal only half dressed, decked up in all her finery with photographers falling over themselves to capture her from every angle?  And even telling her how to pose and behave like a shameless model?  And what kind of a wimpy Muslim groom is ready to tolerate this!?

This is a very small attempt at changing the traditional attitudes of how weddings should be conducted in the subcontinent. I hope other readers will pick up on this and expand on it.

I pray that the youth that are reading this show the mettle to go against the grain of traditions and be bold and trendy enough to try something unique, something approved by our Creator.

Do you accept the challenge of becoming pioneers of halal weddings?!
#QaboolHai?! 

 Let us know your ideas in the Comments section below.

The Only Man Who Truly Loves You

The Only Man Who Truly Loves You

 muslim husband

A candid guest post by newly-wed writer, Imratul Ozair.

“The whole notion of modern day lovveee is overrated, unrealistic and superficial!” declared the handsome new mehram in my life – my husband.  I nodded in approval.

We, under an influence of media and peer pressure, have confined the idea of sincere love between opposite genders to: meeting once a while, shopping together, going on secret outings, spending the night chatting with him/her.

Once you are married to an incredibly loving and lovable spouse, once you have cherished the true physical, emotional and mental companionship with him/her, you realize that the actual definition of love is way beyond these trivial and stupid definitions that you had crafted before.  You realize how shallow and fickle all the other manifestations of ‘love’ are.

Love lies in seeing your spouse genuinely smile for you; it is in the daily cooking and cleaning for your husband; it is in leaving your family to come over and stay with him; it is in the toil and effort he puts throughout the day to be able to make enough money for you; it is in the small gifts and surprises that he carefully plans for you joy; it is in knowing that Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala is pleased with all this; it is in knowing that it is all pure and Halal.

As for having covert relations with the opposite sex- it is merely a deception.  It is impure and Haram by its very nature.  How many times in order to pursue such relations do we have to lie to our parents while going out, cheat our families about receiving their calls or while replying to their text messages?  We can deceive our families but can we deceive the All Knowing – Al-Aleem?  How many times do we have to put our own conscience to sleep before we can ‘enjoy’ such relations?  Is it that in an attempt to deceive others, we ourselves are actually being deceived?

Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala has created everything for a reason and purpose; the attraction for the opposite gender is placed in us so that the next generation can be brought up.  To rightfully fulfill this desire, He has created Nikah – a sacred union.  He says:

“And it is among His signs that He has created for you wives from among yourselves, so that you may find tranquility in them, and He has created love and affection between you.  Surely, in this there are signs for a people who reflect.” (Ar-Rum : 21)

Man and woman have been created to be the natural counterparts of each other, they are natural companions.  Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala has destined that they will find comfort and repose with one another via Nikah.  How can we find the sukoon (tranquility) elsewhere, other than where Allah has placed it?

Read the ayah carefully again.  It is in marrying that Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala Himself places the love and affection amongst the spouses! While everything in any relationship other than Nikah is a sin; in Nikah, even when you smile or put on perfume for your spouse you get rewarded by Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala!

Honestly, sisters, the only man who truly loves you is the one who honors you by giving you his name publicly in Nikah, who takes your responsibility and accepts you through the covenant of Allah, who saves you from sins by giving you his protection.

So, in order to find true love, honor and blessings, ditch all the boyfriend/girlfriend nonsense.  Find a spouse, get married.  Until then, stay patient, ace the test.  Rest assured: Allah is watching!

Broken hearts and picture frames

Broken hearts and picture frames

 Maraige

I feel like Professor Snape toiling with an essay on “Being Unbiased”. Not that I’m at a loss for what to write but because- it is complicated. To break love into categories, to stop loving someone when you’re already in it, fall out of love… draft 11 discarded, crumpled and all thoughts brushed aside.

It is simple really. It would be a fallacy to snort at love as a fool’s emotion. I do truly believe that at some point in your life, you will map out a new constellation in the sky. You will meet a person who will make you feel whole again. Who will make your world go bright and starry. The one person you would want to sit with on the patio all winter and drink coffee. When you can talk about anything and everything. Or maybe not talk at all, just being with them gets you through the day. Your outlet for crazy fears, wildest obsessions and nonsensical string of babble. Your impossible plans and initiatives, and this person will dream your dreams. When you actually get to sprinkle water at them to wake them for prayers. And night prayers will be ever more enchanting. You will have a skip in your step and a smile burning inside. Your fiercest loyalties will have a direction, your strongest of feelings, a rhyme and reason. You will feel an odd stillness when they are around. There is no guilt, no competition or even jealousy. Simple moments in life will become more special, and you will not deny yourself the pleasure of saying true things. You will feel emotionally secure. And this love in its raw form is so pure and true that it’s scary. That it will make you want to open up and give unconditionally. And this love doesn’t end at “till death do us part”. It will survive when the worlds collide and be raised again. It is truly magical. It will serve as a testimony and a cause for reunion in the afterlife.

And this is the Love that Allah has promised all those who keep themselves chaste and enter the covenant of marriage.

“And it is among His signs that He has created for you wives from among yourselves, so that you may find tranquility in them, and He has created love and kindness between you. Surely in this there are signs for a people who reflect.” (Ar-Rum : 21)

If you read the preceding verses before the quoted one, you will see that amongst His signs of creation, resurrection, and executing everything to ultimate perfection, Allah (swt) has actually included marriage and matrimonial love as one of His signs too. Now you can only go as far as imagining the sheer magnitude and beauty of it. It must be truly Divine for He creates that love and instills it between the couples joined in matrimony. And anyone who spends a considerable amount of time reflecting on life’s finer points is expected to understand this. That the only wise time to invest yourself emotionally in someone is after marrying him/her. Anything done before its due time is premature and dies prematurely too. More like a tale of mind games and hollow promises of “staying together forever” sealed with a false sense of security. Jumping on the relationship bandwagon is akin to courting pain and heartbreak, for neither end is obligated to try or work things out when the going gets tough. Only marriage brings that kind of certainty with it.

And it is awful really. Watching people write their own stories of unrequited love. Because loving is more painful when it is one sided; when you secretly harbour feelings for a person and fall in love with the idea of being in love. Or really get into a relationship that leaves broken hearts and scars in its wake. Horrible, is it not? To place your heart in someone’s hands so they can mess it up and toy with it and walk out whenever. So the choice is ours to make. Build sandcastles in the air, watch fantasies fall like house of cards or save all that emotional energy and channel it the halal way, which is guaranteed to be rewarding in more ways than one. The question was never to suppress or shut your emotions. It is to tame them. It is to wait for the right time and right people. Emotional wisdom, I like to call it.

I also truly believe that at some point in your not-recommended relationship (hypothetical or real), you are left with a philosophically messed up state of mind that makes you post gloomy, abstract statuses and turns you into a sad poet or worse- a stalker. There is unquestionable wisdom behind all the dont’s in Islam. They save you from ruining yourself, yourself. Makes sense? Crossing the red line may be fun for forbidden fruits are tempting but the ride always comes with a price.

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