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Ramadan Challenge: Life Goals

By Mahnoor Arif

This Ramadan started off with a trail of memories from the past as Facebook reminded me that last year, this was a time when I was immersed in countless (a bit exaggerated, though) projects, assignments reports and … My Final Year Project. Yes! I was graduating.

Most of us know the struggle of universities, the toil you have to go through, and the feeling that all those 16 years of your life are closing down upon you now as you make your way through the continuous daily grind but the struggle just doesn’t seem to be getting over. Last Ramadan had been all about this, when the announcement of the moon of Ramadan being sighted didn’t matter because the moon of Final FINAL exams of Engineering had been sighted with it as well. Even when the final exams were over, FYP (final year project) was staring right in our eyes with all its glory ready to consume all the little energies left. Last Ramadan was all about finalizing reports, testing, circuits, presentations, and all you can expect from a graduating engineering student. But it did come with its feeling of accomplishment, the feeling that its finally over after 16 years of stress and mental breakdowns.

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A year ago, it felt like accomplishing a lot. It felt like being successful finally. It was finally a time when I could raise my head high and say that I have made my parents proud by getting a degree in engineering from a prestigious university with amazing grades and you can definitely say that after all those years of getting a formal education.

Little did I know that I will be introduced to a whole new meaning of success later on.

This year, I enrolled myself in a year-long Quran course (that includes explanation of the Quran cover to cover plus many other related subjects) and that was the beginning of an all new phase of my life. Before I got introduced to the true spirit of our religion through Quran, it seemed like life is all good. Whatever little I know is fine. A few lectures here and there, some dawah projects, some classes and all done! But my first class introduced me to life as we never know it. It felt like a blind person getting to see for the first time.

All my life, I had excelled at my studies, learning those formulas, solving those equations with perfection, researching about a particular phenomenon, designing circuits, encoding and decoding but the meaning of one word ‘Al-Aleem’ belittled it all. We casually translate it as The All-Knowing but do we know what that means? He knows whatever is inside you or even whatever is building up inside you, He knows what you show outside and He even knows what your heart desires. He presents the example of a visible mosquito and even knows about the parasite invisible to our eyes that lives on the wing of that mosquito. Our knowledge compared to His is like a drop in an ocean or even lesser than that. What was I proud of?

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The meaning of the word ‘Hikmat’ turned my life upside down as I always thought that I am a person who has done things at the right moment in her life but No! The word opens a new world of good decision making, time management, stress management, family relations and basically putting anything into perspective in your life which made me realize that I have never excelled at all of them simultaneously.

The meaning of ‘Ash-Shaakir’ put me into thought for days because I have never thanked Him enough for all the countless blessings that He has given me and He is rather appreciative of whatever little good that we do. Just let that sink in! He appreciates whatever we do and we haven’t ever been grateful enough.

SubhanAllah! Quran is filled with eye-openers like that where you feel like THIS IS WHAT I NEEDED TO HEAR!! OH MY GOD!! THIS IS ABOUT ME!! It has been less than 30 days and only 2 juz but there has been an immense sea of wisdom in the little that I have studied. And comparison of my previous year and this time of the year leaves me in extreme love for The Lord Who gave me the opportunity not only to study His beautiful Book but to perceive it as well, to understand it and to apply it or at least try to.

Just as I graduated a year ago, I imagine the day when I will be completing all 30 juz and the amazing miracles that will come with it. It will surely be a graduation of its kind where efforts will have been spent understanding root words and their analysis, where throats will be parched practising tajweed lessons and where sleep will be managed in order to learn translation lessons. As Allah rightly says in Quran, ‘For each is a direction toward which it faces.’ [2:148], there was a direction then and there is a direction now! Rightly put into perspective!

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And the beauty of this journey is that it will never be over. The course will end but the lessons will continue, the knowledge gained will increase with passing life as our final purpose is not to gain but to apply and spread to attain our ultimate goal in the hereafter and what is our ultimate goal, you may ask? It is to see His face which will make us forget all about that ever bothered us, all that ever pleased or displeased us, all that ever worried us and all that we had to go through. Imagine that moment!

How can you get there? This is a month of spiritual high when everyone is trying to make the most out of it but attaining Allah’s pleasure is a life long goal.

CHALLENGE: Enrol yourself in something similar, pledge to understand His Book, find a regular course near you which helps you get on this journey. Make dua for it and make an effort because every moment and every bit of energy spent towards getting closer to Him will count and will bring with it lots of barakah (blessings). Make it your intention and Allah will definitely make a way for you. This is a never ending journey and you just have to keep working towards it. One day, you will get there inshaAllah.

May Allah make us of the people who understand His Book with zeal, act upon it and spread it like a light that is for everyone and everywhere. Ameen.

The Hearts that Allaah Likes

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The Hearts that Allaah Likes

Assalam u alaikum wa rahmatullaahi wa barakaatuh.

This is part 1 in a series of 3 posts I will be making in shaa Allaah under the category of:

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

(As heard in a lecture by Qari Suhaib Ahmad Meer Muhammadi Hafizahullaah in the annual conference – Jubail)

As a foreword I would like to mention that these “types” are actually different states of the heart which a single heart can have in different times. Shaykh Ibn e Uthaymeen Rahimahullaah said that every beat of “breath” of the heart is a state of it. When the heart remains in a single state for a long time, then that is what becomes its Creed.

There are many types of hearts that Allaah subhaanahu wa ta’aalaa has mentioned in the Quran. From them the ones that Allaah likes are:

1 – القلبُ السَّلِيْمْ The Sound Heart

It is the heart that is full of sincerity to Allaah and Taqwa and free of infidelity and hypocrisy and immorality.

As Allaah SWT says in the Quran:

إِلَّا مَنْ أَتَى اللَّـهَ بِقَلْبٍ سَلِيمٍ But only one who comes to Allah with a sound heart. [26:89]

 

2 – القلبُ المُنِيْبْ The Repentant Heart

It is the heart that is persistent in returning to Allaah in repentance and always returning to His obedience.

As Allaah SWT says in the Quran:

مَّنْ خَشِيَ الرَّحْمَـٰنَ بِالْغَيْبِ وَجَاءَ بِقَلْبٍ مُّنِيبٍ ﴿٣٣﴾ ادْخُلُوهَا بِسَلَامٍ ۖ ذَٰلِكَ يَوْمُ الْخُلُودِ ﴿٣٤

Who feared the Most Merciful unseen and came with a heart returning [in repentance]. Enter it in peace. This is the Day of Eternity.”[50:33-34]

 

3 – القلبُ المُخْبِتْ The Submissive Heart

The word “ikhbaat” in Arabic means a lot of focus.

It is the heart that focuses a lot towards Allaah, filled with the love of Allaah. Such a heart has peace in it and Allaah SWT says about such a heart in the Quran:

وَلِيَعْلَمَ الَّذِينَ أُوتُوا الْعِلْمَ أَنَّهُ الْحَقُّ مِن رَّبِّكَ فَيُؤْمِنُوا بِهِ فَتُخْبِتَ لَهُ قُلُوبُهُمْ ۗ وَإِنَّ اللَّـهَ لَهَادِ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا إِلَىٰ صِرَاطٍ مُّسْتَقِيمٍ

And so those who were given knowledge may know that it is the truth from your Lord and [therefore] believe in it, and their hearts humbly submit to it. And indeed is Allah the Guide of those who have believed to a straight path. [22:54]

 

4 – القلبُ الوجِلْ The Fearful Heart

It is the heart that creates in itself the fear that whether its good deeds will be accepted by Allaah or not. It is always thinking about this and wonders what will happen to it on the Day of Qiyaamah. Allaah says about such a heart in the Quran

وَالَّذِينَ يُؤْتُونَ مَا آتَوا وَّقُلُوبُهُمْ وَجِلَةٌ أَنَّهُمْ إِلَىٰ رَبِّهِمْ رَاجِعُونَ 

And they who give what they give while their hearts are fearful because they will be returning to their Lord. [23:60]

Imam Ahmad recorded from ‘Aishah: I said: “O Messenger of Allaah,

(And those who give that which they give with their hearts full of fear…) Are these the ones who steal and commit Zina and drink alcohol while fearing Allaah?”

The Messenger of Allaah replied:

(No, O daughter of Abu Bakr. O daughter of As-Siddiq, the one who prays, fast and gives in charity, fearing Allaah). This was recorded by At-Tirmidhi, and Ibn Abi Hatim recorded something similar in which the Prophet said:

(No, O daughter of As-Siddiq, they are the ones who pray and fast and give in charity while fearing that it will not be accepted from them, (It is these who hasten  in the good deeds.)) This is how Ibn ‘Abbas, Muhammad bin Ka’b Al-Qurazi and Al-Hasan Al-Basri interpreted this Ayah.

Hazrat Aamir bin Rabee’ah reports that he once saw Umar (RadiAllaahu Anhu) pick up a twig from the ground and say, “I wish I had been this twig. I wish that I had never been created. I wish that I had been nothing. I wish that my mother had never given birth to me. I wish that I had been something gone and forgotten.”

Ibn Mubaarak, Ibn Sa’d, Ibn Abi Shaybah, Musaddad and Ibn Asaakir.

 

5 – القلبُ التَّقِّيْ The Pious Heart

It is the heart that sees and honors the signs of Allaah around it. Allaah SWT says about such a heart:

وَمَن يُعَظِّمْ شَعَائِرَ اللَّـهِ فَإِنَّهَا مِن تَقْوَى الْقُلُوب

And whoever honors the symbols of Allah – indeed, it is from the piety of hearts. [22:32]

The scholars are the inheritors of Prophets and due to their knowledge they are the most fearful of Allaah. (Reported by Ibn Majah, At-Tirmidhee and Ibn Hibbaan. Al-Bukhaaree mentioned in his Saheeh Collection in his Book of Knowledge, Chapter: Knowledge precedes Speech and Action, the part from it: “The scholars are the inheritors of the Prophets.”)

The scholars say that those who do not respect the people of knowledge cannot be pious.

At the time of the Prophet (peace be upon him), a person such described the reciters of the Quran: When it is time to fight, they flee. But when it is time to eat, they are the first ones. One of the Sahaba (radiAllaahu anhu) heard this and said you have lied, and was on his way to communicate this to the Prophet (peace be upon him) when the following verse was revealed:

وَلَئِن سَأَلْتَهُمْ لَيَقُولُنَّ إِنَّمَا كُنَّا نَخُوضُ وَنَلْعَبُ ۚ قُلْ أَبِاللَّـهِ وَآيَاتِهِ وَرَسُولِهِ كُنتُمْ تَسْتَهْزِئُونَ

And if you ask them, they will surely say, “We were only conversing and playing.” Say, “Is it Allah and His verses and His Messenger that you were mocking?” [9:65]

Allaah and His Messenger were not being mocked. But in reality the people of knowledge, the people of Quran, the scholars, were being mocked and Allaah related it to mocking Allaah and His Messenger (peace be upon him).

 

6 – القلبُ المَهْدِي The Guided Heart

It is the heart that is satisfied on the Qadr of Allaah and is satisfied with His decisions.

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said that whoever wants to know his status in the sight of Allaah should look at his heart and see how satisfied it is with the decisions of Allaah. Allaah said about such a heart in the Quran:

مَا أَصَابَ مِن مُّصِيبَةٍ إِلَّا بِإِذْنِ اللَّـهِ ۗوَمَن يُؤْمِن بِاللَّـهِ يَهْدِ قَلْبَهُ ۚ وَاللَّـهُ بِكُلِّ شَيْءٍ عَلِيمٌ

No disaster strikes except by permission of Allah. And whoever believes in Allah – He will guide his heart. And Allah is Knowing of all things. [64:11]

Whatever is decreed for you, you will get it even if it is buried under the mountains. Whatever is not decreed for you, you will not get it even if it is in your hands.

Imam Ghazali Rahimahullaah used to say that if man was told to write what he wants and the disadvantages of that are also written, then he is shown what Allaah has written for him he will tear apart what he has written for himself and will say I am pleased with what Allaah has written for me.

 

7 – القلبُ المُطْمَئِنْ The Satisfied Heart

It is the heart that, due to the remembrance of Allaah, is calm, tranquil, and satisfied. Allaah SWT says in the Quran.

الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَتَطْمَئِنُّ قُلُوبُهُم بِذِكْرِ اللَّـهِ ۗ أَلَا بِذِكْرِ اللَّـهِ تَطْمَئِنُّ الْقُلُوبُ

Those who have believed and whose hearts are assured by the remembrance of Allah. Unquestionably, by the remembrance of Allah hearts are assured. [13:28]

When we compare the number of suicides committed by Muslims as opposed to non-Muslims, the number is higher for non-Muslims. This is because their hearts are not satisfied. Even after doing and achieving everything in the world, they realize there is still an empty space that they cannot fill.

Likewise, billionaires, despite having an abundance of money, still take the aid of sleeping pills to fall asleep. In contrast, look at the people of the Quran and Hadith. They sleep so soundly that sometimes you have to try very hard just to wake them up for Fajr. 🙂

If you keep your tongue wet by the Zikr of Allaah you will be free from all the worries of the world.

 

8 – القلبُ الحَيَّ The Living Heart

It is the heart that listens carefully to the Quran. It ponders over how the previous nations were destroyed by Allaah. Allaah says in the Quran:

إِنَّ فِي ذَٰلِكَ لَذِكْرَىٰ لِمَن كَانَ لَهُ قَلْبٌ أَوْ أَلْقَى السَّمْعَ وَهُوَ شَهِيدٌ

Verily, therein is indeed a reminder for him who has a heart or gives ear while he is heedful. [50:37]

These reminders only benefit those who have a heedful heart. Otherwise there were people who sat with the Prophet (peace be upon him) and yet the best of reminders did not benefit them.

May Allaah make our heart the way that He loves. Ameen.

Calm Down- Its Nothing!

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We will try to describe the average young Pakistani in today’s world. (This may apply to all youngsters around the world) + (This could apply to females but for the sake of this article, we will use ‘he’ as most of our interaction on the streets is with the guys!)

If you feel you can relate to this, then please read the article till the end.

Reflect upon this deeply. Remember, Allah knows us better than we know ourselves- and the first step to correcting ourselves is to realise where we’re going wrong!

We have observed that your average youngster will sin so much on a daily level, that we fear, it will come back to bite him later in his life and definitely in the hereafter. No matter how menial it may seem at the time, this is divinely guaranteed to happen.

“..And whoever does an atom’s weight of evil will see it.”
Surat Az-Zalzalah (The Earthquake) – سورة الزلزلة 99.8

The moment you step outside your house, if you see a female dressed in bright clothing, you will crane your neck to see her better. You’ll want to see her face and the whole of her. Just a couple of seconds- that’s all, before you move on..

Is this you?

When your parents call you and ask you to do them a ‘favour’, for example, “Betaa, waapsi par thora sa doodh le anaa,” (Get some milk on the way home), you will  most probably mutter “ufff” or “oho” or wear a frown on your face. Don’t your parents realise that the shops are completely out of your way, and that you already have a lot on your mind?

Whilst you are walking towards your school or college, your friends who are in a car, drive up beside you offering a lift. You jump in. There is loud music blaring through the sound system. There are swear words in the song. There are detailed lyrics describing the body of a woman. You and your friends listen attentively and nod your heads in approval throughout the whole journey. You’re having a good time chilling, that’s all.

Does this happen to you?

Whilst playing cricket or football on the streets or on a pitch, a slightly mistaken decision takes place and for some reason, it boils your blood, gets you very angry and makes you lash out. Long before you know it you begin swearing at your opponents, followed by flying fists. You need to teach these kids a lesson. You need to teach them who’s boss.

Recently, you’ve gotten to know this girl from school or college/university. You started off with being ‘just friends’ a few months ago, but now strong feelings have developed. You exchange text messages all night long. You are secretly speaking to her on the phone, trying to keep your voice low, so that your parents do not hear you. You send her Facebook messages. You sometimes use whatsapp or viber. The nature of these messages, becomes increasingly ‘flirtatious’. What began as innocent compliments like ‘you have amazing eyes,’ have now been upgraded to ‘that top you were wearing earlier got my heart racing ‘ and so on and so forth…

Because we don’t consider most of the things above as ‘sins’, we increasingly justify our actions with excuses like:

 ‘That was only a 2-second lustful glance’,

or

‘I’m listening to music but not producing it’

or

‘I’m very close to a girl from college but at least I don’t have a physically intimate relationship with her’,

or

‘all I said was ‘uff’ to my parents, I’m not exactly swearing at them or abusing them physically’,

or

‘Ok I get angry during matches, but I’m not spilling blood and it’s not anger…it’s passion!’.

We all have a thousand excuses ready at a split second, don’t we?

Yes, indeed, you could argue all the above but think about it for a moment …are they not still SINS?!

And if you multiply these daily, weekly, monthly and for years, will they not add up? Don’t these so called small sins lead to major ones? Don’t they create a habit so bad, that it’s almost impossible to rid yourself of them?

The above were just a small fraction of potential sins that the average youth commit today; there are many many more that we tend to overlook.

After going through the list, do think about all the actions that you engage in daily. Maybe there are certain acts you commit, which you genuinely do not consider as a sin or a ‘Gunnah’, but which fall into the category. The only way you could identify if something is an error in the sight of your Creator is by seeking knowledge about that act, and by studying religion. Knowledge is truly the only way to dispel darkness.

To conclude, if you have realized that you have committed way too many sins and want to change but your mind keeps telling you that it is too late (and that you’ve gone too far) then do not worry. Satan, as man’s enemy,  is making you feel helpless and defeated. Take up the offer of repentance that Allah gives to you with open arms, regardless of what your mind tells you. Sincere tawbah (repentance) can help you inshaAllah. Take strength from the following powerful Hadith  gives great hope for all of us:

Allah, the Almighty, has said:

“O Son of Adam, so long as you call upon Me and ask of Me, I shall forgive you for what you have done, and I shall not mind. O 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. O Son of Adam, were you to come to Me with sins as great as the earth, and were you then to face Me ascribing no partners to Me, I would bring you forgiveness nearly as great as it!” (Hadith Qudsi)

Sincerely,the YC Street Dawah team.

Of good company and positive attitudes

This post is an anonymous entry sent in by one of our readers for the theme #Sinless. We pray that Allah keeps the writer steadfast on her own journey.

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How do people view practicing Muslims these days? Outdated? Orthodox? Old-school? Of course!

I mean, just imagine! How can those people live without listening to music? I can’t even picture myself sitting alone and not plugging my earphones into my ears (to listen to the latest beats).

And then there’s the whole covering up issue.  Personally I believe that the only modesty is that of the gaze- don’t stare, that’s all. These Abaya-clad girls are usually looked more keenly upon. Obviously they invite more glances. How can they claim to be modest when they stand out like that? How are they even comfortable being inspected so?  You can’t talk, walk, or act like a normal human being in that kind of dress- completely out of the question!

There’s so much in this world alone; so much to see, so much to do- so little time (and money). You are obliged to earn by whatever means you can. How can you possibly make time for the daily prayers, and that too 5 times a day, what with your otherwise hectic schedule?

Then there’s these Maulvis… Nothing but a bunch of the most deviant people imaginable. All they do is impose a new fatwa every now and then- make life hard for the rest of us.  And then they have the audacity to plead about immodesty in the community. I mean they should just focus on themselves. I’m fine the way I am. I don’t need someone dictating my life!


Is this you? I don’t know about you, but this is definitely me.

I’m sorry I’m mistaken.

This WAS definitely me.

Practicing religion to the old me was just like sticking to the most frustrating restrictions one could possibly think of. And I’m not the only young person I know who had this problem- so did most of the other young people I knew.

It was a great blessing that Allah blessed me with some amazing friends who were practical examples of people who practice religion, but remain down-to-earth and ‘normal’ at the same time. Pretty amazing, right? LOL. They would talk, walk and act normal. They had fun. They were fun to be around. And their positive outlook on life helped solve many of MY problems too!

They somehow managed to live without listening to the kind of messed up music that is popular nowadays. They prayed five times a day in spite of their busy routines. They weren’t modest about their gaze alone, but also in the way they dressed.

And I could not do anything but also get inspired! Unbelievable but true- all you need to do is spend some time in good company yourself to understand this.

The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said,

A man is upon the religion of his best friend, so let one of you look at whom he befriends.”[Sunan Abu Dawud: 4833]

Yeah! My company did change the way I viewed the world. My heart started to be more inclined towards Allah and His religion. I wanted to find the source of this goodness- I wanted to be one of them. I started perfecting my own Salah. And as it is mentioned in the Quraan:-

“Indeed Salah stops you from Immodesty and Munkar (That which is forbidden)” [Surah Al-Ankaboot, Ayah: 43]

My prayers helped me to  strive even further and take more steps towards my Lord. It felt like a relief when I wore my hijab for the first time in front of my male cousins. Believe it or not, it felt better than seeing myself in front of the mirror, dressed to perfection. I gave up music slowly and turned towards Quraan. It did feel better than that temporary happiness that would blow my ears away through those meaningless lyrics. These changes were not abrupt. It took time to make them impact my heart and mind.

But there was no other option for me when all of these things made complete sense to me. No ifs, no buts. The way forward was obvious.

Only then did I understand the importance of Hijab, giving up music, praying five times a day with the utmost devotion to Allah and doing all else that was required by my religion. They all made sense now that I was sincerely tuning into Allah’s commands.  But that only happened once I had decided that I wanted to understand-  with a true and receptive heart. Temptations struck me from all sides.  I surrounded myself with an even tighter circle of strong, righteous friends.

And even after that, the struggle was not over.

This struggle won’t ever be over as it is not possible for anyone to be completely sinless. The Prophet [Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon him] said:

 “All human beings without exception are sinful, but the best sinners are those who repent the most.” [Tirmidhi]

But it’s definitely something worth striving for, especially with the help of good company. It’s time we all took out a moment to reflect. Allah is always ready to forgive. Can we expect any better?

The Best Song Ever

By Saadia Humayun

I am the sort of person who can pull up a song from any word in a conversation. And can also pull up a Quranic verse from the same convo. No, I do not have acoustic bipolar, thank you very much. It just depends on which side of the bed I woke up that day.

I had to call my demons before writing this particular piece.
To revisit what it used to be like listening to music oblivious to everything else- but those beats.
Heck, those intoxicating beats…

Such sweet compulsion doth in music lie’ as John Milton puts it. And it is a sweet, deadly seduction…

***

Imagine the horror of waking up on the Last Day, right next to Rihanna.

Or maybe behind Fifty Cent. And there’s that One Direction you worshipped all your life.

All your celebs resurrected and rounded in one bloc. You feel the sun burning you to nothingness. Suddenly, you wonder where Rihanna kept her Umbrella. The thought sounds as useless as the song was meaningless, back in that other world. And Akon saying you can put the blame on me, doesn’t sound convincing enough anymore or apologetic, for that matter. You find yourself in a live nightmare feat. Lil Wayne. And Jay Sean reassures you in a drunken stupor, that It ain’t the end of the world but you know better. You were Starstruck. You had followed these people back then, lived by their rules and now you all get to be together. Forever. Just not on your own terms.

And there’s no red carpet. Only a burning furnace, as you and your divas, take the walk of shame.


“Play the way you feel it,
But listen to the sound,
Of your loneliness,
Like a heartbeat, drives you mad
In the stillness of remembering what you had,
And what you lost”

I will not debate on music being haraam or not-so-haraam. For the word has lost its God-given impact and hardly fazes anyone anymore, considering we go labelling all and sundry with it. But I do know that nothing is more addictive than a bunch of senseless rhymes strung on a chord, backed up by killer vocals. It consumes you. You fill your ears with it, your time, and the emptiness inside you. You seek to become one with the music you love. At least, that is what that happened to me.  And as a recovering song-aholic, I find myself qualified enough to make the claim, that it’s no herculean feat to give up music. It was fairly easy. I just fell in love with better keynotes and with lyrics, that have more depth than Beyoncé can ever put behind her vocals.

The Quran had me on its first verse. The subtle nuances in its text, the way connotations changed as words evolved, and how everything made perfect sense, no matter which way you look at a verse- was mind blowing. It was neither poetry nor prose, but something that perplexed me and dismantled all that I had been lead to believe my entire life. It was, undoubtedly, the best thing that happened to me. That was the day I sent everything else, to the literature compost bin. And I think I understood, why people took a complete 180 degree turn, just by listening to a couple of verses, back in the good old days. And of course, I mean a deeper study of the Quran, when I talk of myself. The translation we’ve been reading all the while growing up, does the Book severe injustice.

Well, in all fairness, giving up music wasn’t really that simple. I had been trying to rid myself of it long before I ventured into Quranic studies. Who wants to be controlled by ramblings of a miserable poet, with that sorry excuse of rhyming they call lyrics? There were times, when I would fall back into a relapse after a week or even after a day, with no bass thundering down my eardrums. Now that I think of it, I had nothing else better to do with my time, and hence, the repercussions I suppose. It was only once, that I had committed myself to some serious studying of religion, that I stopped listening to music for real. And never looked back.

No, it wasn’t the “extremist” epidemic that hit me. I just found a million productive things to do, rather than let bacteria take over my ear, with all that headphone usage. The temptation to put the earphones back on, is still there. Just not in the same magnitude. You might succumb to it, but don’t let that stop you from trying. Ever.

So, if you are that person with an appreciation for acoustics and good lyrics or even good tunes, then you have all the makings of an aspiring Quran student. Trust me, you will not be disappointed. Your life will have a great deal more rhyme and reason.


“O You who believe! Shall I guide you to a trade that will save you from a painful torment? That you believe in Allâh and His Messenger, and that you strive hard in the Cause of Allâh with your wealth and your lives, that will be better for you, if you but know!” (61:10-11)

 

Here is Allah Almighty, offering us a transaction for a win-win situation. And here we go- striking deals with the devil himself. And we all know how that ends up. You sell your soul to the devil (strictly metaphorically speaking). Movies, at least, got that part right. So, will you trade your playlist for a shot at Jannah? It will not be an easy road, as the verse implies, but definitely well worth the trouble.


“To the Muslim youth- beware of the Pied Piper.”
– Khalid Baig

PS: I mentioned I had a meet with my demons before I began writing this. I plugged the earphones in and hit play on a song I once liked. All I heard was some dude, who liked the sound of his own voice trying to sound cool over a mic.

PPS: I also mentioned I’m a recovering song-aholic. Emphasis on recovering. There’s no “recovered” stage. The minute you lead yourself to believe otherwise, you are going to drop your guard.

Fun, Love, Money.. Or is there more to life?

Fun, Love, Money.. Or is there more to life?

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By Nadeem Ashraf

NOTE: This article was based upon a few lectures that I gave at some schools in Faisalabad, including LGS, City School & Educare Academy. The article has purposefully been published in a lecture format so as to be of use to other brothers and sisters that would like to deliver a lecture at a school based upon this.

I’m not a preacher. Not a scholar. Not an imam, just your everyday guy. Just another Muslim struggling through this life to achieve the pleasure of our Creator.

I am an English language teacher by profession. Born and raised in England, I emigrated to Pakistan in 2011, to live amongst the Muslims (this is the point where people raise eyebrows – crazy eh?). Yes: to those who view the world from a worldly point of view, this choice would be perceived as crazy. However, those with real vision, those with the vision of getting past the hurdles of the Hereafter, would sympathize with this move.

I was at one point someone who used to look up to British hooliganism – I was a slave to my desires. I wanted to become a gangster! I used my intelligence for my own selfish, evil needs. But Alhamdolillah, I was guided to the truth. I have since been involved in multiple projects aimed at changing society for the better, and have been with all sorts of organizations that want to make the world a better place. I have had the immense privilege of being around people of great stature, people with great wisdom, sincerity, clean hearts and big visions.

So now I want to reach out and share a few points with you, my young readers, with the hope of inspiring serious thought. These points will, God willing, do the following:
(a) make you think about life,
(b) make you take life a bit more seriously, and
(c), make you a successful person in this world and in the next.
Now that sounds like a formula one should stick to, doesn’t it?

So here goes…

There are a lot of ideas that people hold onto in the world, and live their lives according to. In my experience, however, people’s ideas about life revolve mainly around three key themes: fun, love, and money. Especially at your age. You don’t want to have worries or concerns – just pure chilling, yeah?

Fun…

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First off, let’s discuss the likes and dislikes of your average Pakistani teenager. (I will also touch upon the average UK teenager’s likes and dislikes.)

Ask the audience: Which celebrities (musicians, movie actors, entertainers) do you admire and look up to? Which celebrity posters do you put upon the bedroom wall?!

In my time, we used to look up to Dr. Dre. Who else? Here’s a few:
Tupac.
Warren G.
Madhuri.
Aishwariya Rai.
Oasis & Robbie Williams!

So what’s the in thing these days?
One Direction?

And what do you Pakistani kids do for fun?
(Get some shout outs from the audience)

Okay, so that’s actually not bad – but maybe there are Pakistani kids in 2014, that smoke cigarettes? Take drugs? Have “special” friends among the opposite gender? Yeah?

Now, that being the case, my question is: why do you do these things? Have you ever thought about it? Or is it just because everyone seems to be doing it? Well if that’s the reason, are you sheep? Are you sheep that follow each other and go wherever the herd goes without thinking for themselves?

Let me put in another way.

If all of your friends, teachers, and everyone in the society around you says, hey, let’s all follow this particular path, and at the end of this path there is an edge. And they jump off, and there’s a huge fire below – would you still follow them? I don’t think so!

Why not? Because you are someone who is sane. You have a mind of your own. Right? So why are you letting people tell you what to do with your life? Because, wake up, that’s exactly what is happening with you right now – you are letting other people dictate your life!

Second, consider this: what if all this entertainment – those music videos, Pakistani and Western, Bollywood movies, the magazines, the commercials, the morning shows – what if this is all being fed to you just so that you DON’T THINK? What if it’s really just a distraction from really thinking about the reality of life, and about that one matter which every human has to experience: DEATH!

These celebrities, will they help after you die? They don’t even know you! And if you just indulge in these things because it makes you feel good, then think again: really, does it? I doubt that. In fact, I would argue that it’s a very fake and temporary buzz. It. Won’t. Last!

Think about it. Now, next.

Money…

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The world is mad about it. We have been fed the idea that we cannot survive without making tonnes of it. And sure, it helps. Sure, you should try and work hard at your studies and become successful businessmen (and women), teachers, IT professionals, and accountants, and so on. Of course it’s good to have big salaries – but just don’t make it the only thing worth living for.

My philosophy is: Do not chase money. Chase the worship of Allah Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala. And money will follow.

Think about it. The whole world is chasing money – but is the world a good place to live in right now?
Oppressive wars. Acute poverty. Family breakdown. En masse greed. The problems go on.
What does Allah tell us?

“..And whosoever is conscious of Allah, He will make a way for him to get out (from every difficulty). And He will provide him from (sources) he never could imagine…” (Surah at Talaq: 2,3)

Center your life on taqwa (God-consciousness). Make it about Allah. The world will follow. Allah is in charge of it – how can He not take care of your affairs when you focus your life on Him?

The Prophet (sallalahu alaihi wasallam) said:

“Miserable are those who worship money and fine clothes. They are happy when they are provided (with things) and upset when they are denied.” (Bukhari)

Think about that too. And finally *drumroll*

Love!

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Ahhhhh – love! I bet everyone has either fallen in, or wants to fall in, love.

Our good old friend Bollywood, with Amir Khan, Shahrukh and Hrithik jumping around flowers and over Swiss mountains, has made sure you become hopeless romantics! And we just carry on watching that nonsense and we let it take over our minds and hearts.

So tell me if I am wrong: when you are at the bazaar or the shopping mall, or at the school functions or at weddings, do you not try to get a glimpse of the opposite gender, and hope to fall in love? Bollywood style? Admit it!

Is this the definition of love? Look beautiful/handsome, hopelessly pine after the man/woman of your dreams, hide it from the world, break your heart and walk away? Says who? Again, have you ever stopped to think about it?

Real love is something much deeper and purer. It is when the person takes your hand through the sacred and honourable covenant of Nikah, and stays by your side through thick and thin.

In conclusion..

We, as da’wah-men and women, as Youth Club members, have real fun. We talk and laugh and eat out and travel and make friends. But we strive to do it the only way that makes sense. We strive to think about why we do what we do.

Our real wealth is not to stress about money

We are slowly falling madly in love with Allah. That is serenity personified.

“And surely, in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find rest.” (Surah ar-Ra’d: 28)

You can have fun. You can earn money. And you certainly can fall in love. BUT.
Do it the right way. Do it the way that makes sense.
Don’t let other pieces of creation dictate to you who to love and HOW to love.

Who created your heart? Who created feelings? Who controls the time of your death?
That’s right: Allah!
So does it not make sense that you take heed of the ONE that created all these rather than the limited, flimsy creation?

In a practical sense, I would advise you to do the following:

Study the names and attributes of God. That will make you want to love him. And when you really love Him, it will be easier, even pleasurable, to follow the limitations placed by him.

Then read about Paradise. You can have your dream hunk/princess! You can own your own Ferrari to take you to (a much better version of) Dubai or Paris or NYC for shopping. Unlimited shopping. Unlimited fun. Unlimited wealth. Unlimited love. You can have all this and whatever your mind can imagine – and more!

Just be patient, for a while. Listen to your teachers. Listen to and respect your parents. Establish the prayer. Keep away from what is not allowed. Get away from the corruption of the music and entertainment industry. Take time to reflect about your life. Obey Allah’s commands — and it’s not hard, trust me; just avoid the haram. Before you know it, the dunya will be gone, and the akhirah will be the only reality. The eternity. Work on making that pleasant!

So here’s your homework:

Go home, switch everything off – your iPhone/Android, laptop, iPad, TV, radio, mp3 – everything. Close your door and for ten minutes, think about Allah, your Creator. Think about what he provided you with. Think about your return to Him. And pray to find good strong company!

Study the deen. You really will find peace, and love, and fun and money – believe me. Allah does not let you down!

I leave you with the inspiring promise of the Quran:

“Whoever does good-whether male or female- we will grant to him a goodly life, and We will reward them according to the best deeds that they did.” (Surah an-Nahl: 97)

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Polluted Eyes

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By Nasser Ijaz Moghal

Tensions were high. You could almost cut the tension that permeated the air with a knife. I felt like Pacman as I roamed in the narrow rows and columns formed by hundreds of tables and chairs. You could tell that this was no easy day. All those anxious and worried faces stared into the abyss of a desolate unforgiving monstrosity: the exam hall. The students lined up like sheep being taken to the slaughter house. The hour came near as the students sat at their allocated places. The exam hall started buzzing with activity as soon as the following words were pronounced: “You may start.” I observed that the students differed in their stationery. While some carried only a pen, others were well equipped with erasers, sharpeners, scales, calculators, set squares, compasses and even chocolates. They were all very different, wearing different kinds of dresses. And this difference was not only outwardly but also inwardly. Each had a unique background, upbringing and mindset. The only thing common to all was #NazreinNeechay. Why? Because there was the fear of the invigilator, and they had a purpose in mind on which they were focusing diligently.

Enter now into the exam hall called life! In our lives today, we seem to have neither fear of Divine Authority, nor a sublime purpose to our lives. Hence, we don’t care about what images we devour with our eyes. These images that enter our pupils slowly yet certainly become a part of who we are.

Our entire education system is based on visual learning. You have to read books, look at diagrams, draw paintings and graphs. From the day that we set foot into our educational institutes, we are programmed to become visual slaves. When you say apple what comes to your mind? A red juicy fruit, right? And not the letter A-P-P-L-E, right? If so, you like the majority of people, are a visual learner. Now what do you think will happen when this visual learner goes into the real world and finds billboards, TV, Facebook, news channels, cinemas and shopping malls plastered by visual filth? There is so much visual pollution around us. People are worried about global warming and CO2 emissions. But is anyone concerned about our children whose eyes have been polluted with so much filth? They know by heart the names and bio-data of all the Hollywood actresses and actors, while the names of the Sahabah and Sahabiyaat allude them.

The Messenger of Allah (sallalahu alaihi wasallam) used to say that prayer was the coolness of his eyes. How many of our youth are aware of this reality or have experienced this? The coolness of their eyes lies in watching so and so porn star. When these youth are searching for a potential spouse, no one seems to match their criterion. Why? Because they have seen better. They aspire for photo-shopped princesses that only exist in ZUZU land. So they end up choosing a partner without Taqwa (piety), and losing both the worlds.

Do you think for a moment that Allah would let you gaze at Him with such polluted eyes?!! Can you even imagine the terror of the Day of Judgment, when Allah will question you for the eyes that He gave you?  A fly has 6000 eyes and it is interested only in seeing filth. Are you worse than that fly? Do you choose to anger Allah willingly? Or do you choose to be pleased with what Allah has prepared for his submissive slaves in Jannah. In that Jannah, where you will be pleased by Hoor-ul-ain, and by colors and shapes that you never imagined; where you will eat with your eyes before you eat with your mouth. Wallahi, brothers and sisters, Allah has a lot planned for you in Jannah so would you rather pollute your eyes here?

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