Tag Archives: sacrifice

Ramadan Challenge: Serve Your Family Happily!

By Fatima Asad

I’m going to be honest here.  The title of this article makes you think that I was the perfect daughter who awaited my Abu’s call for the next cup of tea or happily washed all the dishes before Mama told me to, a few (billion) times.  Now, in the role of a wife and a mother, you might think that I’m an expert model.  Not only do I make the perfect biryani but also wait impatiently for him to come home after work so I can feed him homemade besan ke ladoo. Ah the children…If you think that I have the perfect Pinterest-worthy playroom set up or that my girls are walking around in matching dresses with their perfect little curls wrapped up in perfect satin ribbons, you are too kind…and delusional I might add.

This is the real world! I too am guilty of rolling my eyes when Abu asked for a simple cup of tea.  I am really guilty of asking my husband why are you here early today? “Aj phir jaldi agaye?” Oh and I am seriously guilty of cutting those perfect curls when they get to the point of no de-tangling…did I mention I cut them with kitchen scissors…in the kitchen?  Yes, we all serve our families…but do we do so willingly? With our utmost happiness?

What really turned things around for me was when I learned the difference between compromise and sacrifice.

Compromise is when we have to do an action. Since it’s Ramadan, let’s take the example of fasting. Compromise is opting for the attitude that “Yes, it’s Ramadan, so I have to fast. I don’t really want to- it’s so hot!” Whereas sacrifice is taking the road of “I want to fast so I can get closer to Allah! I want that reward He promised. I want my sins erased.” See the difference? When you are compromising, you lack commitment, satisfaction, and happiness.  On the other hand, when you sacrifice, you are getting the ultimate satisfaction and contentment of the heart. Don’t forget that sacrifice ensures getting rewarded by Allah SWT.

This Ramadan, I decided to change my attitude drastically.  I realize that even though Itumblr_n1lrufW7Jl1tsff15o1_500 am taking care of my family, I might not always see it that way.  The first thing to happily serving your family is to change the way you label yourself.  I am a “Rahmah” (mercy), a responsible, loving daughter – not a spoiled, ungrateful, sassy teen.  I am a team player, co-manager, best friend, partner in crime, personal therapist, an awesome chef, and loving wife– not a nagging, bossy, dishevelled, smells-like-garlic, sobbing, diabetes-causing headache.  I am a nurturer, leader, dress up queen, high-heels sharing storyteller, smells-of-roses-and-jasmine friend, can fix a boo-boo with a simple kiss mother- not a yelling machine, house-obsessed, brand conscious, impatient woman who gave birth and thus should be called mom.

Most of the time, we place negative labels and unneeded burdens on ourselves which lead us to simply serving – without happiness.  Remember, the first thing you need to do is stop overfilling your plate.  Know your limits and do so much.  Don’t go above and beyond on things that don’t matter or will not benefit your family in the long run. For example, if you are intent on making a 5-course meal for iftaar, there is no way you will have any positive energy left to read the kids a bedtime story or two – at least you won’t be doing it with a big smile on your face.

Take care of your family.  Take care of them with all your heart.  When we stop doing so happily, when the simple tasks and duties involving our loved ones become a burden, we need to reexamine our intention- are we doing this simply because we must, or is there a higher purpose in mind?

Doing it for the ultimate purpose of pleasing Allah SWT will not only make it easier but also bring contentment and happiness. And above all every little act then, will be rewarded beautifully inshaAllah!

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Chapter 26: The Waning Dusk (series)

5128670_origIn a session with a scholar, he pointed out something that I had never thought of before. And this probably why I like listening to different speakers because they always offer a fresh perspective on “stuff we’ve heard so much about”. Addressing all the volunteers, he said, “Allah chose you. Just like He selectively chose the companions around the Prophet. Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) could not have spread the Deen without his companions’ unwavering support, loyalty and sacrifices. Similarly, Allah hand-picked you all to carry Deen forward in this age. So, whenever you feel demotivated or insignificant, just think of that. It could have been someone else in your place.”

Indeed, We have sent you (O prophet,) as a witness and as a bearer of good news and as a warner. So that you (O people,) believe in Allah and His Messenger, and support him and revere him, and pronounce His (Allah’s) purity morning and evening. (48:8-9)

What’s different about this verse is that Allah has addressed both the Prophet and his people in the same flow, a style that’s called “iltifaat” in Arabic. The companions did their bit (a pretty colossal bit actually) in their lives. And the command is now directed at us. So this goes out to all da’ees serving Islam in their own small ways or linked with organizations. The verse begins and ends with Allah, and everything in between is interlinked. Belief in prophet-hood demands that you revere and respect the prophet (pbuh) and hold him in such high esteem that it drives you to help him spread the message (the emphasis is behind the Arabic words that I wish I could expand on without taking too much space). It’s a beautiful play of positive emotions building up progressively. And all of this is akin to glorifying Allah day and night.

So all your sleepless nights, urgent tasks, critique that you took, finicky revisions… ending in dark circles and a creaking neck that happened while you helped spread Allah’s word were counted as tasbeeh and as an execution of the command stated in the verses. Most of the times, the results don’t turn out as expected, but results were never in the equation. It’s just the struggle that will be accounted for.

Carry on, whether you’re behind the mic or unnamed behind the screen or under the sun handing out flyers. The task is never too small so long as it leads to the desired cause: spreading the Word.

Chapter 10: The Waning Dusk (series)

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I don’t know about you, but I want to go go back in time every time I read about the battles in seerah. Maybe it’s the companions’ undying support, martyrdom, glad-tidings or pretty much everything that gets me high reading about Badar, Uhud, Battle of the Trench…

I also wonder if I would’ve accepted Islam had I been born in that era or made sacrifices in the same magnitude the companions of the Prophet (pbuh) did. A few days ago in a session with a scholar, the scholar put forth a question: “Will you be willing to give 50% of what you own to an Islamic cause?” I couldn’t even pretend to say yes to that. Immediate response: I cringed. Responses that followed: “I’m saving for a Mac!” and “I’ll have to start from scratch… again.” The scenario wasn’t even real and yet, I had to entertain my own luxuries before the greater good. And even hypothetically, I wasn’t ready to give away half of my earnings.

It’s things like these that make you realize that it could not have been easy for the companions either. They had their own lives- which were at least as complicated as ours- and were predisposed to the same vices as we are. Just because Abu Bakr (ra) gave 100% of his wealth to prepare for the Battle of Tabuk doesn’t mean his life was any easier than yours or mine. He just had this level of unwavering faith that we can’t possibly comprehend. Umar (ra) wanted to out-do Abu Bakr (ra), so he came up with his 50% and realized there was no way he could win the race when he saw Abu Bakr’s contribution. And Umar (ra) did not offer the remaining half of his assets to call it a draw because he knew his limitations too.

Another companion toiled away in the garden of a Jew and gave away all of his wages for the night the very next morning– a kilo of dates (the only kilo he owned) for the expedition of Tabuk. He could have easily held back thinking it’s too little an offering and would amount to nothing… But the companions knew better. They always did.

March forth (in the way of Allah), no matter whether you are light or heavy, and carry out Jihad (struggle) in the way of Allah with your wealth and lives. That is good for you, if you were to realize. (09:41)

This verse- though revealed as a call for Tabuk- is universal. It exempts no one when it comes to contributing towards Islam. Whether you’re rich or poor, or if you think you have no talent or a lot of it, whether you consider yourself a worthy candidate or not– serving Islam is the best honor you could ever get and you’re expected to serve in your capacity.

And Ramadan is the best time to contribute financially and be rid of this hoarding disorder. #NoteToSelf

Sacrifice, Sacrifice- Why bother?

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Did you hear-?

With the hundreds of popular ‘styles’ doing their rounds amongst us, be it in dress or living, the one quickly going out of fashion from our circles is the Sunnah style. We were to love him, Muhammad sallallaahu ‘alaihi wassalam, more than our family and sons, yet today we hardly know him…

I can vividly remember how it started last year. ’Eid ul-Adha was approaching, dividing people into three clear groups like always. The best of them know what the festival brings with it; however the other two are unaware of its demands upon us. It was to be so that I learnt of the latter from a very close standpoint.

Firstly, there are those who take animal sacrifice in its physical sense to epic proportions, however low they may be falling on the sincerity scale. They do not allow themselves to think of their pocket, nor do they consider other fard obligations that they are responsible for, before Allah asks them if they fulfilled the sunnah of animal sacrifice. The second group however, consists of the unfortunate who find this act unnecessary in and of itself. These are two miserable extremes.

It was October 2008, and northern Pakistan suffered a massive quake. When Zulhijjah came around, a friend suggested that we should be giving away this money to stabilise our brothers and sisters in plight; come next year, we can celebrate ‘Eid along with them. In view of the emergency situation in the country, the idea did have its merit. (Many scholars have declared the sacrifice to be a Sunnah Muakkadah (confirmed Sunnah), and not Fard (obligatory).)

Another year passed, and it was ‘Eid ul-Adha again. The same person was now found to declare, “This time I had to sacrifice because Mum was too insistent, but I have decided and my (older) sister too; next year onwards we’re going to just give away this money in charity…it is a Sunnah for us anyway”.

Do you realize what is wrong with the latter scenario? We have put the spirit of the act away in the dark recesses of our mind, never to be accessed again -let it rot there until we can find better things to replace it with. Allah’s sole purpose that we do sacrifice was not so we can help the needy eat meat. It is but a secondary aim, something which will come naturally to us insha Allah, if only we were to understand the primary purpose – that of laying down our lives for His sakes if need be; that of doing away with what we love for the greater Love, His; that of remembering the submission of Ibrahim AS and Isma’el AS to Allah’s will. Ibrahim AS was ready to give away his only son, and an obedient and excellent son at that, in Allah’s way, without a second glance! He was ready to do the deed himself – do we understand even an iota of the kind of submission and love that it entails?? Allah says in the Quran:

فَلَمَّا بَلَــغَ مَعَهُ السَّعْيَ قَالَ يٰبُنَيَّ اِنِّىْٓ اَرٰى فِي الْمَنَامِ اَنِّىْٓ اَذْبَحُكَ فَانْظُرْ مَاذَا تَرٰى ۭ قَالَ يٰٓاَبَتِ افْعَلْ مَا تُــؤْمَرُ ۡ سَتَجِدُنِيْٓ اِنْ شَاۗءَ اللّٰهُ مِنَ الصّٰبِرِيْنَ    ١٠٢؁

And when he reached with him [the age of] exertion, he said, “O my son, indeed I have seen in a dream that I [must] sacrifice you, so see what you think.” He said, “O my father, do as you are commanded. You will find me, if Allah wills, of the steadfast.” (As-Saffaat: 102)

Soon after, Allah further elevates the status of Ibrahim AS: Indeed, he was of Our believing servants. (As-Saffaat: 111), and gives him glad tidings of a righteous son.

Considering the other extreme (that of exaggerated and ostentatious sacrifices), never does Allah promise that you exceed beyond measure in show and He shall relieve us of our obligations. The rights of Allah, and those of His creation- we are to fulfil both. He explains it beautifully in His Book:

لَنْ يَّنَالَ اللّٰهَ لُحُوْمُهَا وَلَا دِمَاۗؤُهَا وَلٰكِنْ يَّنَالُهُ التَّقْوٰي مِنْكُمْ  ۭ كَذٰلِكَ سَخَّرَهَا لَكُمْ لِتُكَبِّرُوا اللّٰهَ عَلٰي مَا هَدٰىكُمْ  ۭ وَبَشِّرِ الْمُحْسِنِيْنَ  37؀

Their meat will not reach Allah , nor will their blood, but what reaches Him is piety from you. Thus have We subjected them to you that you may glorify Allah for that [to] which He has guided you; and give good tidings to the doers of good. (Al-Hajj: 37)

Piety or taqwa (God-consciousness) – can it ever allow man to forget about his blood relatives in need, a brother who requires financial help etc.? Let us pray for guidance that we may be able to perform the rites of worship with sincerity and hope, and that we may grow in love and submission to Him.

Sacrifice Lovingly

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By Umm ‘Aisha

Bismillah hir Rahman nir Raheem

Scene 1:

Younger Sister: Baji! Do you truly love me?

Elder Sister: Of course I do! You need something again?!!

Younger Sister: Yeah, that pink dress??

Elder Sister: Noooo! Not that one. Take the other one I bought last week.

Scene 2:

Husband: You know I value you so much!

Wife: Me too- Oh I forgot to tell you, I need some money for grocery.

Husband: Not againnn…

Scene 3:

Slave: My Master! I love you so much, I can do anything for you.

Master: ((slaughter your son))

——————–

Slave: Son, I have been ordered to slaughter you.

Son: Do as you are ordered to do, Abbi!

Scene 3 is playing out in my mind as the blessed days of Zilhajj and Eid ul Adha come nearer. As for the first two scenes, aren’t they common occurrences for us? We express our love for others, and just then and there, we prove through our actions that this love is not unconditional . That is how we deal with people in our lives, significant others around us.  But how about our dealings with Allah SWT? While our eyes can’t see Him, our reply to: “Who do you love the most?” is always “Allah SWT”. On the other hand, how much do we bother if our actions are actually pleasing to Him or not? Are we ready to sacrifice what we truly love for His sake? As He has taught us that: “You can’t reach Al-Birr (piety) unless you spend what you love!” (Qur’an 3: 92)

This is not easy, because whatever we love never remains constant. If it’s wealth and money for a couple of years, then later it can be children and wife; if once its beauty and lifestyle then later it can be your profession; if today you love your mobile phone the most, tomorrow it can be your BMW-5! Whatever it is that you love the most and whenever it is in your life, do ask yourself: Am I ready to sacrifice it for Allah SWT? Can I just give it up if Allah asks me to? Can I just let it go because it is hindering my way to my Beloved? Is it dearer to me than my Rabb?

When you will ask these questions from your heart, you will truly know how much  you love your Beloved, how important He and His Deen are to you and how much sacrificing  your love is, for LOVE demands sacrifice, and it starts from giving, not taking. The pinnacle of love is when you can give up your whole self for your beloved and ask only his pleasure in return.

Allah’s love also goes the same way- it asks for sacrifices, it asks for giving up whatever you have only for: ibtighaa’a wajhihi [seeking His face].

And it is not because He needs these things- He doesn’t! He is above and beyond all needs- but yes! He does want to see: who can watch her child crying of thirst in a barren desert and still can say: I love you Rabbi! ; who can leave his new born baby and wife in that barren land and still can say: Its for you Rabbi! ; who can dare put his son on the ground to slit his throat just thinking: As you say Rabbi!

The wonderful aspect in this love for Allah is: When you give up what you have been asked for, He gives it back to you- He doesn’t actually take it away from you, He only puts you to the test to see if you can Sacrifice Lovingly!