My Grave


بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Safia Rafi

قُتِلَ الْإِنسَانُ مَا أَكْفَرَهُ 17

مِنْ أَيِّ شَيْءٍ خَلَقَهُ 18

مِن نُّطْفَةٍ خَلَقَهُ فَقَدَّرَهُ 19

ثُمَّ السَّبِيلَ يَسَّرَهُ 20

ثُمَّ أَمَاتَهُ فَأَقْبَرَهُ 21

“Cursed is man; how disbelieving is he. From what substance did He create him? From a sperm-drop He created him and destined for him; Then He eased the way for him; Then He causes his death and provides a grave for him.”

[Al-Qur’an – Surat Abasa (He Frowned): 17-21]

I WONDER – What will it be like to be like lying in my cradle called the Grave?

Will my grave be so narrow that my ribs are crushed together?

Or will there be a shining light from Jannah forever to stay?

 

Will there be my Qur’an warding off the Angels Munkar and Nakeer?

Or will there be the deadly bugs eating my body to bones and decay?

 

Will there be the prayers of my children whom I had taught the word of Allah (سبحانه وتعالى)?

Will they be the Sadqah-e-Jahriah because I taught them how to pray?

 

Or will there be memories of those whom I have hurt and have done zulm upon?

Are they now rejoicing because  I have finally gone away?

 

Death has come to finally relieve me from the torments of the prison of the world.

This was the end for my soul had to depart. And for this there was no delay.

 

How will be my grave?  Oh! How do I close my eyes and imagine it?

Will I be comfortable in my bed, I wonder how will I lay?

 

When my end is the soil, and I am buried so deep into the earth,

Do I not wonder how I can walk so arrogantly on the earth today?

 

This world is nothing but a temporary housing and I am but a traveler,

The final abode will be Heaven or Hell – That will be the permanent stay!

Oh Allah(سبحانه وتعالى)! – save me from the torments of the grave and the Hell-fire.

Make me one whose face is shining radiantly, so happy and so gay.

Posted in Reflections | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Tranquility Unlimited


بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
by Saadia Tariq

                                                  Calligraphy by Zahra Tariq

“So verily, with every hardship there is relief

Verily with every hardship there is relief”
[Al-Qur’an-Surah Ash-Sharh(The relief) : 5-6]

A Qur’anic ayah (94:5-6) which you might have read and heard plenty a times. An ayah that is often quoted during difficult times – indicating a measure of strength and as a reminder of faith.

vintage-sunset-wallpaper

Taken from wallfinest.com

As night follows the day, satiety comes after hunger, relief sets in after misery and sleep comes after exhaustion, in the same way the Almighty has told us that despair not, for the difficulties that seem to have surrounded us will be eased out.

However, what is interesting to note is that Allah (سبحانه وتعالى) insists upon us that with every hardship there is relief. The tranquility or peace does not come after the difficult time – it happens to be there simultaneously – waiting for us to find it.  A seriously unwell person might be suffering physically – however what our naked eye and illiterate heart does not seem to fathom is that simultaneously he is being cleansed spiritually. A cleansing far more important – than the comfort in this short-lived world!

A set of parents who lose a young child is no doubt one of the biggest human challenges – however what Allah (سبحانه وتعالى) insists upon us during this stupendously heartbreaking test is that we hold our heads up high and accept HIS will. And HIS will is to put us through this test so that we achieve higher grades in the hereafter.

Excruciating pain – whether it is physical, mental or emotional – on the flip side is a blessing for us. Essential for all of us to keep reminding ourselves at all times (not only during harsh times) that Allah (سبحانه وتعالى) knows best and HE will not put us through any situation that we cannot endure. We should not wait for easy situations to arrive, yet be fully confident and aware that they are there  – consistently present – Like an unbreakable backbone!

Amongst many other strapping lessons that the Qur’an teaches us, I reckon a staunch belief in this verse encompasses, to a large extent, one’s complete reliance, submission and belief in Allah (سبحانه وتعالى).

From the blog http://www.capturebyst.com/

Posted in Monthly Special | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Reviving Up for Ramadan


بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

 Link for the original article

by Sadaf Farooqui

Struggling to perform the five daily prayers on time?

Becoming more conscious of God during Ramadan, and seeking closeness to Him is one of the main reasons why fasting was ordained.(Taken from http://www.onislam.net)

Half-consciously putting off the Fajr alarm only to roll over and promptly fall back asleep?

Feeling guilty about not reciting the Quran at least a few times a week, despite wanting to?

Feeling hesitant to donate to a worthy charitable cause despite having surplus savings?

Snapping at the drop of a hate at family members and colleagues on trivial matters?

Repeatedly wiping off beads of perspiration on the brow while inwardly dreading the imminent long, hot thirty fasts of Ramadan?

Does this sound like you?

The glorious, spiritually-charged month of Ramadan comes along each year to pick us up from our slackness, re-charge our faith, realign and re-structure our worship schedule, and give us an encouraging, much-needed “push” back towards our Creator.

Ramadan is a month in which performing righteous deeds becomes easier and indulging in sins becomes difficult, because God chains the devils and opens the doors of Paradise. The entire global Muslim community unites in personal and congregational acts of worship for thirty days, rebinding their mutual love and promoting brotherhood.

In what ways can we inwardly – mentally and emotionally – welcome Ramadan? What should our thoughts focus on right now, to ensure that we are ready to benefit fully from this glorious month once it arrives?

Taqwa – Consciousness of God

Becoming more conscious of God during Ramadan, and seeking closeness to Him is one of the main reasons why fasting was ordained in every Divinely revealed religion:

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ كُتِبَ عَلَيْكُمُ الصِّيَامُ كَمَا كُتِبَ عَلَى الَّذِينَ مِن قَبْلِكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَتَّقُونَ


“O you who have believed, decreed upon you is fasting as it was decreed upon those before you that you may become righteous.”

          [Al-Qur’an-Surah Al-Baqarah(The cow) : 183]

Passage of a year makes us go out of the habit of fasting, which decreases our taqwa. The level of our consciousness of God, which should be an effective barrier between us and all actions involving His disobedience, becomes quite low and hence, is in dire need of an uplift by the time Ramadan rolls around again.

We should thus be grateful that God makes Ramadan come upon us once a year to give us the chance to take a temporary break from worldly matters, repent for our sins, and exclusively seek God’s countenance once again.

The Month of The Quran

Preparation of and partaking from suhoor, the pre-dawn meal, necessitates early rising.

We should renew our intention to improve our recitation, understanding, memorization and insightful, reflective pondering on the Quran.

Ramadan is special because it is the month in which the Quran was first revealed.

شَهْرُ رَمَضَانَ الَّذِيَ أُنزِلَ فِيهِ الْقُرْآنُ هُدًى لِّلنَّاسِ وَبَيِّنَاتٍ مِّنَ الْهُدَى وَالْفُرْقَانِ فَمَن شَهِدَ مِنكُمُ الشَّهْرَ
فَلْيَصُمْهُ وَمَن كَانَ مَرِيضًا أَوْ عَلَى سَفَرٍ فَعِدَّةٌ مِّنْ أَيَّامٍ أُخَرَ يُرِيدُ اللّهُ بِكُمُ الْيُسْرَ وَلاَ يُرِيدُ بِكُمُ الْعُسْرَ وَلِتُكْمِلُواْ الْعِدَّةَ وَلِتُكَبِّرُواْ اللّهَ عَلَى مَا هَدَاكُمْ وَلَعَلَّكُمْ تَشْكُرُونَ


“The month of Ramadhan [is that] in which was revealed the Qur’an, a guidance for the people and clear proofs of guidance and criterion. So whoever sights [the new moon of] the month, let him fast it; and whoever is ill or on a journey – then an equal number of other days. Allah intends for you ease and does not intend for you hardship and [wants] for you to complete the period and to glorify Allah for that [to] which He has guided you; and perhaps you will be grateful.”

[Al-Qur’an-Surah Al-Baqarah(The cow) : 185]

Now that Ramadan is imminent, we should analyze in retrospect how our Quran recitation schedule and consistency has been throughout the preceding year and develop a plan to recite this Glorious Book, preferably in its entirety, during the coming month.

Instead of rushing through the recitation inadvertently making mistakes, we should endeavor to recite it as calmly, melodiously and correctly as possible, in order to maximize its blessings in our life, its effect on our hearts, and our rewards for its recitation in the Hereafter.

أَوْ زِدْ عَلَيْهِ وَرَتِّلِ الْقُرْآنَ تَرْتِيلًا

             
“Or add to it, and recite the Qur’an with measured recitation”

[Al-Qur’an-Surah Muzzammil(The Enshrouded one): 4]

Our intention should be to continue a consistent daily recitation schedule and a close bond with the Quran, even after Ramadan has passed.

 Supererogatory Night Prayer
Preparation of and partaking from suhoor, the pre-dawn meal, necessitates early rising. It provides the perfect opportunity for praying qiyam al layl (the late night prayer). Even the most regular night worshippers among us are snapped into more zealous nocturnal activity with the advent of Ramadan, hoping to revive, lengthen and reinforce their night worship through a more rigorous month-long routine of night prayers.

Our avowed enemy, Satan, however, casts doubts in our minds and makes the impending Ramadan schedule of hot summer day-time fasting, which will inevitably involve enduring greater hunger and thirst, and the dearth of deep night-time sleep, appear to be huge, tasking challenges instead of welcome opportunities for taking a break from the incessant stress of worldly matters and giving our souls a chance to be soothed, nurtured and revived with faith.

In order to look forward to praying more at night during Ramadan, whether in the extra congregational prayers i.e. tarawih or alone at home, we should recall the innumerable sins we have committed since the past Ramadan, the many times we have hurt others or been needlessly nasty, the consistent negligence we have committed in our worship of and obedience to God, and the many chances of repentance that we have missed because of sloth or heedlessness.

When we remember our shortcomings as humans and our shortfalls in our obligations, the invitation of God during the last third of the night, every night, during the forthcoming month of worship, to have all our past sins and misdeeds permanently wiped out from our records and forgiven unconditionally, will seem like an offer to good to turn down!

Cleansing the Heart

Enmity, grudges, hatred, anger, chronic negative thoughts, and recurring insinuations of revenge and/or cutting off of ties: all these feelings are clear indicators of the presence of filth and rancor in our hearts.

As we get ready to welcome Ramadan, we should ponder on our relationships with others, and see which one needs the most work. We should rationally review how we have been behaving with people who deserve the utmost good treatment and respect from us, such as our parents, spouse, children, siblings, neighbors, elderly and sick Muslims, colleagues, and friends. We should then make a mental or physical list of those among them with whom we have been experiencing a distinct sore or emotional distancing in the relationship.

We should compare the blessings afforded by the right intentions for doing something that outwardly resembles actions that are not done as acts of worship.

We should objectively and open-mindedly analyze our hearts to gauge how much rancor we have in it for someone, then proactively intend to remove this spiritual “dirt” that is cluttering our heart during the coming Ramadan, and forgive them only for God’s sake.

Beyond this step of emotional and spiritual “spring cleaning” and de-cluttering, we should also intend to try and make amends to the relationship, perhaps by using the opportunities of meeting and greeting afforded by the occasion of Eid, to extend a warm invitation towards renewed friendliness and cordiality that can reform the relationship in a manner as if no ill-will-causing damage had ever transpired in the past at all.

Keeping Things in Perspective

Sure, summer fasting is difficult because of the added thirst, strain and fatigue caused by soaring temperatures and longer hours, and since summer nights are extremely short, awaking for night prayer and for preparing and eating the pre-dawn meal seems even more challenging.

Moreover, Muslims who converted to Islam after becoming adults, they might view the fasting of Ramadan especially during summer with more foreboding than those who have been in the habit of fasting every year since at young age, because it is something they are not in the habit of doing.

At times such as this, when hot summer fasts are about to come upon us after some days, we should try to keep things in perspective by making some realistic comparisons.

We should compare the blessings afforded by the right intentions for doing something that outwardly resembles actions that are not done as acts of worship. For example, many fitness enthusiasts stick to their strict diets day in and day out, no matter how hungry or drained they feel; they do not cheat on their diets or workout schedules even when working stringent hours at their jobs. They neither compromise on their fitness regimen, nor their careers, and they do all this for acquiring positive results of their efforts in this world, namely: good health, a toned body, an able and alert mind, and overall personal success.

We should remember how we willingly forego our night sleep for periodic worldly objectives during the rest of the year, such as studying for examinations, traveling for leisure, entertaining our relatives or friends when they visit, shopping for and attending wedding celebrations, partaking in outdoor recreational activities such as camping out, bonfires, and safaris, toiling to redecorate and renovate our homes, as well as for welcoming and caring for an excitedly-awaited newborn.

We should remind ourselves that hard work, toil and sacrifice are spring-boards for rewards, material blessings, and personal benefits even in this world. But when a Muslim undertakes these challenges for the sake of God during Ramadan, his or her motive and goal is much more transcendental than anything the life of this world can offer. The blessedness of the correct intention – that of ultimately gaining the pleasure of God – pervades our lives and activities during the days and nights of Ramadan, bringing ease, tranquility and comfort beneath the outward cover of rigorous worship and gastronomic depravity.

If we put things in proper perspective, we will be able to take the forthcoming Ramadan fasting and night-prayer routine positively, instead of with foreboding and dread. Nay, the extra chances to rush forth in a plethora of righteous deeds will make us excitedly anticipate and welcome the spiritual uplift and the opportunity for repentance, revival and renewal offered by Ramadan with open arms.

Our overburdened and ‘cluttered’ hearts and souls, which have been begging us for a ‘break’ for months, will feel relieved and overjoyed at the prospect of finally getting a breather from the distractions and entanglements of the stress-inducing paraphernalia of the life of this world, and latch on eagerly to the heavy daily doses of spirituality, worship and piety that only Ramadan can provide!

Posted in Monthly Special | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

When the going gets tough… what does a believer do?


بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Samreen Awam

Life consists of ups and downs for each individual. There are many different shades of happiness, sadness, challenges and victories.  The pattern of life is anything but uniform and it’s this constant change that truly defines the full circle of life. So what happens when life throws a huge problem at us? How do we deal with disappointments and setbacks? They come unexpected and pull the ground from underneath our feet. No self-help book or course could ever prepare us for the inevitable and so-called “tough times”.

As a student of Qur’an I have learnt a few things that have helped me greatly in dealing with issues and life as a whole. This Book has the power to change our outlook, our reactions and basically our entire life. The condition is that we have to believe in its power and be able to act.

While browsing the social media or surfing FaceBook, one may feel at times that most people around us are having a great time and leading carefree lives full of just fun and delight. The true picture could not be more different than this, as there are many who are depressed and down and need a helping hand to pull them up from the darkness of despair and hopelessness. Unfortunately, this is not reflected in the real perspective on their “status update.”

Here is my short step-by-step guide that may help you, and will Insha’Allah become a Sadaqah-e-Jariah for me and my teachers.

1. When problems arrive remember the first lesson of the Quran:  

الْحَمْدُ للّهِ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ

“[All] praise is [due] to Allah , Lord of the worlds -“

[Al-Qur’an – Surat Al-Fatihah (The Opener): 2]

Alhamdulillah. We must be grateful to Allah (سبحانه وتعالى)  in all circumstances and all times. Being grateful and giving thanks to Allah (سبحانه وتعالى) is a part of the Emaan of a Believer.  If we look at our lives and make a list of all the blessings and khayr (goodness) that we have received and then compare those with all the setbacks that we have come across, the latter will be a much shorter list for sure. Then how come we tend to forget that and let a few tests and trials take over our thinking so completely?  Hence tip number one is when you lose something or encounter a problem immediately think of all the good that Allah (سبحانه وتعالى) has bestowed on you and say Thank You to your Lord for it.

2. Stay a Believer under all circumstances:

When calamity strikes, the first thing we let go of is our connection with Deen.  Salah is ignored, so is the Qur’an. While in fact this is the time we should further strengthen and deepen our connection with the Creator as we need His mercy all the more.

Allah (سبحانه وتعالى) aptly explains our behavior in the Qur’an in the following ayaat:

وَلَئِنْ أَذَقْنَا الإِنْسَانَ مِنَّا رَحْمَةً ثُمَّ نَزَعْنَاهَا مِنْهُ إِنَّهُ لَيَئُوسٌ كَفُورٌ.

وَلَئِنْ أَذَقْنَاهُ نَعْمَاء بَعْدَ ضَرَّاء مَسَّتْهُ لَيَقُولَنَّ ذَهَبَ السَّيِّئَاتُ عَنِّي إِنَّهُ لَفَرِحٌ فَخُورٌ.

إِلاَّ الَّذِينَ صَبَرُواْ وَعَمِلُواْ الصَّالِحَاتِ أُوْلَـئِكَ لَهُم مَّغْفِرَةٌ وَأَجْرٌ كَبِيرٌ

“And if We give man a taste of mercy from Us and then We withdraw it from him, indeed, he is despairing and ungrateful. But if We give him a taste of favor after hardship has touched him, he will surely say, “Bad times have left me.” Indeed, he is exultant and boastful – Except for those who are patient and do righteous deeds; those will have forgiveness and great reward.”

[Al-Qur’an – Surat Hud: 9-11]

3. Our biggest weapon is Dua:

الدعاء سلاح المؤمن وعماد الدين ونور السموات والأرض

“Du‘a is a weapon of a Muslim, a Pillar of Deen and the light of the skies and earth.”

[Narrated by Hakim from Sayyiduna Abu Hurayrah and Abu Ya’la from Sayyiduna ‘Ali al-Murtudah, Hadith 6163]

Nothing can beat the power of this tool that is a hot line between a believer and Allah (سبحانه وتعالى). Whether it’s an illness or a financial issue, emotional trauma or a material loss as a believer we can always turn to supplicating and ask for Allah(سبحانه وتعالى)’s help and mercy.

4. It’s never a hopeless situation:

يَا بَنِيَّ اذْهَبُواْ فَتَحَسَّسُواْ مِن يُوسُفَ وَأَخِيهِ وَلاَ تَيْأَسُواْ مِن رَّوْحِ اللّهِ إِنَّهُ لاَ يَيْأَسُ مِن رَّوْحِ اللّهِ إِلاَّ الْقَوْمُ الْكَافِرُونَ

“O my sons, go and find out about Joseph and his brother and despair not of relief from Allah . Indeed, no one despairs of relief from Allah except the disbelieving people.”

[Al-Qur’an – Surat Yusuf (Joseph): 87]

قُلْ يَا عِبَادِيَ الَّذِينَ أَسْرَفُوا عَلَى أَنفُسِهِمْ لَا تَقْنَطُوا مِن رَّحْمَةِ اللَّهِ إِنَّ اللَّهَ يَغْفِرُ الذُّنُوبَ جَمِيعًا إِنَّهُ هُوَ الْغَفُورُ الرَّحِيمُ

“Say, “O My servants who have transgressed against themselves [by sinning], do not despair of the mercy of Allah . Indeed, Allah forgives all sins. Indeed, it is He who is the Forgiving, the Merciful.”

[Al-Qur’an – Surat Az-Zumar (The Troops): 53]

5. Problems are a test from Allah (سبحانه وتعالى):

If a true believer faces loss and pain in this world he will surely be recompensed in the hereafter. This gives us hope and motivation.  In any case the Believer is very clear about the reality of this world and its temporary nature. The gains of the Hereafter are the real and eternal successes.

When the going gets tough, we should remind ourselves:

الَّذِي خَلَقَ الْمَوْتَ وَالْحَيَاةَ لِيَبْلُوَكُمْ أَيُّكُمْ أَحْسَنُ عَمَلًا وَهُوَ الْعَزِيزُ الْغَفُورُ

“[He] who created death and life to test you [as to] which of you is best in deed – and He is the Exalted in Might, the Forgiving”

[Al-Qur’an – Surat Al-Mulk (The Sovereignty): 2]

6. With every hardship , there is ease: 

فَإِنَّ مَعَ الْعُسْرِ يُسْرًا

“For indeed, with hardship [will be] ease.”

[Al-Qur’an – Surat Ash-Sharh (The Relief): 5]

This is the promise of Allah (سبحانه وتعالى)and His Sunnah.  Going through the kalam of Allah (سبحانه وتعالى), we learn that Allah (سبحانه وتعالى) tests His servants but only to their capacity and with every hardship He also gives us ease. This is the word of Allah (سبحانه وتعالى) and there is no doubt about it hence the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel is not just a metaphor but a conviction for us.

7. Prescription from the Quran… Seek forgiveness:

فَقُلْتُ اسْتَغْفِرُوا رَبَّكُمْ إِنَّهُ كَانَ غَفَّارًا

يُرْسِلِ السَّمَاء عَلَيْكُم مِّدْرَارًا

وَيُمْدِدْكُمْ بِأَمْوَالٍ وَبَنِينَ وَيَجْعَل لَّكُمْ جَنَّاتٍ وَيَجْعَل لَّكُمْ أَنْهَارًا

“And said, ‘Ask forgiveness of your Lord. Indeed, He is ever a Perpetual Forgiver. He will send [rain from] the sky upon you in [continuing] showers. And give you increase in wealth and children and provide for you gardens and provide for you rivers.”

[Al-Qur’an – Surat Nuh: 10-12]

During testing times we have all received various advise relying on the word of Allah (سبحانه وتعالى) comprising some specific dua, surah and tasbeeh pertaining to specific issues. For example it is common for people to prescribe Surah Muzzammil for abundance provisions and in How wonderful however is the prescription straight from Our Creator mentioned in the Holy Book, the seeking of Istighfaar. This is source of Allah (سبحانه وتعالى) mercy and blessings and we must remember to make it a habit generally and rely on it specifically during times of hardship.

8. Rely upon Allah(سبحانه وتعالى):

And the rest will sort itself out. The seerah of our Prophet (صلي اللهُ عليهِ وسلم) is an incredible lesson in facing all challenges of life with much trust on Allah (سبحانه وتعالى).

وَتَوَكَّلْ عَلَى الْحَيِّ الَّذِي لَا يَمُوتُ وَسَبِّحْ بِحَمْدِهِ وَكَفَى بِهِ بِذُنُوبِ عِبَادِهِ خَبِيرًا

“And rely upon the Ever-Living who does not die, and exalt [Allah] with His praise. And sufficient is He to be, with the sins of His servants, Acquainted -“

[Al-Qur’an – Surat Al-Furqan (The Criterion): 58]

Posted in Reflections | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment