Tag Archives: success

Five practical steps to be a steadfast Muslim!

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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In Pursuit of Happiness

The writer is a convert sister from the Scandinavian part of Europe who has been following the activities of the Youth Club through the online realm. She has written this piece exclusively for the Youth Club Blog.
We welcome her to Islam, and pray that Allah grants her steadfastness.

happinessroadsign

 

I’ve been raised watching romantic comedies and all kinds of movies. I’ve also wasted a considerable amount of time playing computer games and PlayStation. I was so much into the games, that they became my world. I was obsessed with thinking about how I would get to the next level or get more points, even when I went to school, met friends or ate dinner. I would always feel energized and excited while playing. Watching movies would make me happy- I would imagine my life becoming similar to what I saw.

 

But the good feelings always disappeared and I needed more. A new game. A new movie. I could never ever get enough. I was truly seeking contentment and peace of heart through these means. But it was like chasing my shadow. I could never have fulfillment from the movies or games. I was left with an emptiness inside.

When I was going to fast my first Ramadan at the age of 19 a short time after my shahada (I’m a convert) I had no idea what to expect. I was just scared and worried, “Will I be able to make it?” In my hometown, there are hardly any Muslims and you can never hear the adhan –  there isn’t a single mosque here. I didn’t even have one single family member who was also Muslim.

Since I was a Muslim by choice, I realized that I couldn’t pretend I didn’t know it was Ramadan and that I was obliged to fast. But I doubted my own capabilities… The only One I could ask for help was my Lord, Sustainer, Helper and Guide.

As much as I could, the last few weeks before Ramadan, I would beg

“Oh Allah, this is so hard for me, I don’t know if I can do it. But everything is easy for You, and You can make the difficult easy. So, PLEASE, make it easy for me to fast!! Not just one day or one week. Please make it easy for me to fast the whole month for You. Ameen”

Never ever have I experienced more pleasure, more joy and more peace of heart in my life – as I did that Ramadan. First of all, Allah surely answered my duas!! Alhamdulillah!! The 1st, 2nd & 3rd days were sooo EASY to fast, that I didn’t eat Iftar because I was hungry, but simply because I could. And this was 19 and a half hours after my suhoor. SubhanAllah.

Needless to say, I was completely AMAZED. It was a huuuge imaan-boost. I needed no Muslim in my life to wake me up for Fajr, join me for suhoor or remind me to keep away from drink and food (and lying etc), during the day. Allah SWT was enough for me. Sitting “all alone” with my food before Fajr was one of the the greatest moments in my life. Real diamonds. It was only me and Allah. I was extremely grateful for the food He gave me and for being Muslim and for being of the very few (in my country) to actually be awake before Fajr with the intention to fast.

Before Allah gave me Islam, I would seek peace, happiness and contentment in all kinds of things from this world. Movies, games, music, friendships, popularity/fame, clothes, make-up… Now I realise that nothing came close to what Islam offered me.

Sujud, salah, fasting in Ramadan, covering my head, making duaa, learning profound lessons from the Quran, struggling to recite the Quran, reflecting upon Allah’s creation, Allah’s Beautiful Names, and the verses of the Quran, remembering Allah (dhikr) – this is what brings real joy, peace and contentment to my life (and to my heart).

For anyone who is still searching for peace & happiness in worldly things: Please stop kidding yourself… Please stop listening to Satan – who only wants to pull you away from Allah.

Take a moment to ask Allah the Almighty to guide you to that which can give you real peace in this life and the ultimate reward in the next life… Please ask Allah to guide you back to Him.

And know that Allah truly loves it when His slave returns to Him.

If you think you’re sinning too much or that your life is too far away from the straight path… Remember, that Allah is Extremely Merciful. If your sins were to reach the skies, Allah would not mind forgiving you. He loves to forgive. All you need to do is ask forgiveness. Also, remember that Allah is the Almighty, the All-Powerful. Everything is easy for Him. He brings the dead land back to life. He can bring life back to your heart.

He can change your life completely- the way my life changed.

What Are You Doing to Yourself?

By Umm Ibrahim

You love to whine about how this fickle person ignores you, that arrogant one oppresses you, and that obnoxious one mistreats you. But do you have a worse enemy than your own self? Aren’t you busy plotting against your own self day and night? Just see how you miss out on the joys and pleasures of this world and the next, through sinning! Yes, you actually miss out on this world too, when you sin! Allah says:

And whatever of misfortune befalls you, it is because of what your hands have earned.  And He pardons much. [Ash-Shura 42:30]

Sins have very harmful effects on our individual and collective lives, in this world as well as in the next.  Entire books have been written on this subject. The very brief list below has been derived from the works of Ibn al-Qayyim. Although sins of all natures have direct or indirect impacts on our lives, the following list covers some very basic ones:

1)      You are deprived of knowledge

Could those ‘minor’ sins perhaps be the reason why you are finding it so difficult to learn? Could it be the gossiping and backbiting?

 Sins dull your intellect, make you forget what you memorized from the Quran, and make you averse to learning religious knowledge. Hence, if you want to learn and elevate your intellect, it is not just enough to read books and sign up for every online course; you need to stay away from sins.

2)      You are deprived of provision

The Messenger of Allah (sallalahu alaihi wasallam) said:

“A man is deprived of provision because of the sins that he commits.” (Ibn Maajah)

SubhanAllah! When and how did our understanding of this principle become topsy-turvy?

 

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You got a salary cut; well, it might be because of what you were looking at on your laptop last night! This concept could operate in much more subtle ways  such as  a disease, whose treatment expenses eat at your life savings.

3)      You feel alienated from Allah, and alienated from other people.

How scary is the first sense of alienation, when you are not inclined towards Allah and feel no pleasure in acts of worship. You feel completely disconnected from your Lord.

As for the second sense of alienation, we like to play the blame-game and blame our current predicament on other people. But the reality is, that it may often be a result of our very own sins.

One pious predecessor said:

“If I disobey Allah, I see that in the attitude of my riding beast and my wife.”

The hearts of the creation are in Allah’s control. He inclines them towards us or against us. Again, our minds did a 180 degree on this one. We decided to sin because it seemed people would be pleased that way. Now re-read that last statement, and think over it.

4)      Things become difficult for you.

Whatever work you try to do seems to get messed-up. Every door seems to be locked and every route appears to be blocked. This is because ease is promised with taqwa (Go-consciousness, which demands abstaining from sins).

What is difficult in your life- that job, that proposal, those exams? Are you always running short on time and resources? Make a list of the sins that you need to eliminate from your daily routine.

5)      You find darkness in your heart.

 You seem to have every ‘blessing’ and luxury, but you are not happy. You have a sinking feeling inside you. Psychological sicknesses and depression often accompany sinning. You feel constrained and uneasy for no apparent reason.

 This too is a severe punishment for the sinner- the pain of which wipes out any temporary joy the sin might have resulted in.

6)      Your Duas are not accepted

Imagine the anguish, if Allah forsakes you in your darkest hour; when you are calling out to Him most desperately. Our sins (in particular, unlawful earnings), can become a barrier that prevent our duas from being accepted.

The Prophet (SAW) said, “By Him in Whose Hand my life is, you either enjoin good and forbid evil, or Allah will certainly soon send His punishment to you. Then you will make dua and it will not be accepted”. [At-Tirmidhi]

7)      You are dishonoured and humiliated

Allah says:

“And whomsoever Allah lowers (humiliates) there is none to give honour.” 

[Hajj (22:18)]

Allah might choose to expose your sins even in this world. The deeds that you performed in utmost secrecy, might become known to all. When you have no honour in the sight of Allah, you cannot win true honour in the hearts of people either.

This is just a sneak-peak into what your sins are actually doing to you! However, even behind these destructive effects that reach us in this world, is hidden Allah’s infinite Mercy. The effects of our sins serve as wake-up calls and reminders to us; to repent and return to Allah as quickly as we can. They also reduce or compensate for the punishment of the grave and the Hereafter.

Let’s end with this interesting conversation between the Prophet (sallalahu alaihi wasallam) and the best man from his Ummah!

Narrated Abu Bakr As-Siddiq:

“I was with the Prophet when this Ayah was revealed to him:

Whoever works evil will have the recompense of it (4:123).

So the Messenger of Allah said:

‘O Abu Bakr! Shall I recite to you an Ayah revealed to me?’

I said: ‘Of course O Messenger of Allah!’

So he recited it to me, and I do not know except that I found it as a fatal blow, but I repressed it.

So the Messenger of Allah said: ‘What is bothering you O Abu Bakr?’

I said: ‘O Messenger of Allah! May my father and my mother be your ransom! Which of us has not done evil – and yet we shall be recompensed for what we have done?’

So the Messenger of Allah said:

‘As for you O Abu Bakr, and the believers, they will be recompensed for that in the world until they meet Allah and they have no sins. As for the others, then that will be collected for them until they are recompensed for it on the Day of Judgement.'” (Jami` at-Tirmidhi)

The Missing Ingredient: Gratitude

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By Fareed Ahmad

Stephen R. Covey, in his book, “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People”, compares the concept of Character Ethics with Professional Ethics.  He stresses that in order to succeed in the long term, a person must focus on enhancing his character ethics, rather than merely his professional ethics.

Character ethics cover several aspects of a person’s thinking and behavior.  A man with a strong character is likely to succeed in the long term; whilst one who has countless character flaws will eventually flop, although he may flourish in the short term.

Today, we see several people who are apparently doing well in their private and professional lives, but they are actually very unhappy and unsatisfied.  We see owners of multi-national firms, seven-star hotels and huge factories, earning millions of dollars, but taking anti-depressants to escape their feeling-low syndrome.  These people lack one key ingredient of a sound character and a strong personality.   That missing ingredient is: Gratitude.

On the other hand, we also find people living in slums, yet enjoying life, having a sound sleep, and a cheerful countenance.  We also see middle-class people, who are highly satisfied, and leading a purpose-driven life.  This is because their life has an abundant sprinkling of the valuable ingredient: Gratitude.

In life, you`ll find such people that even if they are given mountains of gold, they won`t be happy or thankful.  You’ll find students crying on their result days, despite achieving distinctions.  You’ll see wives forever complaining, no matter what their poor husbands do for them.  These are the people who can never get the recipe for a happy life correct.  They keep on messing it up because they lack the vital ingredient: Gratitude.

Here’s a comparison between a grateful person and an ungrateful person:
(The readers can see for themselves which prototype they are closer to.)

A grateful person always counts the blessings of Allah; an ungrateful person counts the trials facing him.

A grateful person is always happy; an ungrateful one remains gloomy and depressed.

A grateful person makes peace with his past; an ungrateful person always mourns and laments over his past.

A grateful person attracts people through his/her pleasing and charismatic personality; an ungrateful person irks people through his bitter countenance and perpetual complaints.

A grateful person, when stuck in tough or hard situations, is patient and prays.  He looks for the hidden blessings in every situation, and is thankful that the situation is not worse.  An ungrateful person has victimhood mentality, and may even pray for his death or commit suicide when the going gets tough.

A grateful person has a positive attitude towards life; whilst an ungrateful person always thinks negative of himself and of others.

A grateful person rejoices at every little blessing; an ungrateful person disregards even huge blessings and takes everything for granted.

Being grateful to Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala is the quality of true believers, that makes them successful in their private and public lives.

Numerous Quranic verses talk about this quality.  Here are two worth pondering over:

“..Whoever is grateful profits his own soul..” (Surah Luqman, ayah 7)

“..If you are grateful, I`ll add more favours on you; but if you show ingratitude, truly my punishment is terrible indeed.” (Surah Ibrahim, ayah 7)

Is the cocktail of your life lacking the ingredient of gratitude? Add some; it will only get better!

The writer can be reached at fareedahmad_1@hotmail.com

CEO’s Message to the Fajr Train Crew

Raja Zia ul Haq, CEO of Youth Club, has sent you a message!

My dear brothers & sisters in Islam,

Assalaam o’Alaykum wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatu! 

Masha’Allah what an honor it is that our Fajr Train has finally reached its destination after forty days, in the blessed month of Ramadan. And like the cheerful flight attendant would say, “I sincerely hope you had a pleasant journey with us!” 🙂

A big thank you and jazakum’Allahu khayrn firstly to the brothers and sisters from Youth Club who helped to bring this project together and masha’Allah saw it through till the end. You guys know who you are, I have no words but can only pray that may Allah increase you in darajaat and may He be well pleased with your efforts! Seriously!

A massive congratulations to all the winner groups who stuck to their guns all the way! Alhamdulillah, if you successfully woke up for Fajr or struggled hard to do so, you are ALL winners in-sha’Allah in the sight of Allah. Keep up the good work! You know this is not the end, rather this is just the beginning. I would encourage the groups to stay in touch with each other, meet for chai/coffee etc. regularly (since, believe it or not, each of your group members lives very close to you, maybe even in your neighborhood).

Allah (SWT) tells us in the Glorious Qur’an:

 “And keep yourself patiently with those who call upon their Lord in the morning and the evening, seeking His countenance. And let not your eyes pass beyond them, desiring adornments of the worldly life…” [al-Kahf 18:28]

The Prophet (SAW) said:

“A person is on the religion of his friend. Therefore let every one of you carefully consider the company he keeps.” [Tirmidhi]

I hope that this experience results in good friendships being made for the sake of Allah – so that we too may find refuge under the shade of Allah’s throne, on a Day when there will no other shade except that.

Keep the Youth Club team in your duaas and do stay in touch with us. And remember that at the end, alarm clocks are just the means, what really wakes you up for Fajr is your emaan!

May Allah always keep our hearts filled with emaan and may He grant us the taufeeq to do the things that please Him.

Jazakum’Allahu khayrn!

(It’s been emotional…*sniff*)

 

Come join us as we celebrate the success of this event this Sunday, July 21st inshaAllah. Details here: www.tinyurl.com/ftsuccess