Tuesday, 5 March 2013

7 Goals to A Productive Day - Surah Fatiha

By Sana Gul Waseem

We all want to have a productive day. We strive hard in figuring out our interests and potential and learn to manage that precious commodity, time. We set goals and develop strategies to accomplish them.
Now, the point to ponder is, are these “goals” really aimed at gaining the Pleasure of Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala (glorified is He)?
What goals should we set for ourselves to achieve in a day that are aimed at gaining the pleasure of Allah (swt) and inching closer to Jannah (Paradise) insha’Allah (God willingly)?
Subhan’Allah (glory to God)!!  Allah (swt)—the Supreme Being—gives us the answer in 7 short ayahs (verses of the Qur’an) very aptly titled –“Al Fatiha—The Opening.”
Here goes:–
  1. Say Bismillah before beginning a task—In the Name of Allah, the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful:Start each task with the name of Allah (swt). It increases barakah (blessings). Say Bismillah before eating, starting something new, entering the house etc.
  2. Thank Allah (swt) often—[All] praise is [due] to Allah, Lord of the worlds: A true believer is grateful in all circumstances. Look around you and acknowledge the blessings of Allah (swt) and thank Him for them each day. This very practical exercise will help in dealing with traumatic situations and fighting discontentment and increase the chances of leading a stress-free lifestyle.
  3. Be Kind—The Entirely Merciful, the Especially Merciful: Allah (swt)‘s beautiful qualities of being Especially merciful and Entirely Merciful. We should try to adopt these qualities in our daily lives and be merciful and kind to the people around us. Be kind to your family, neighbors, and friends. Take a pot of chicken soup to someone with a cold, or give a ride to someone to the mosque or the halaqas (study circles) today. 
  4. Remember the Day of Judgment—Sovereign of the Day of Recompense: Tell yourself each day that thisdunya (life, universe) is just “play and amusement” and very soon that day will come when Allah (swt) will recompense us for each good and bad deed done. This will insha’Allah assist us in balancing the dunya and the akhirah (Hereafter). Read Surah Mulk every night.
  5. Seek Only Allah (swt) for help—It is You we worship and You we ask for help: Remember Allah (swt) is only a du`a’ (supplication) away. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Man should call upon Allah alone to provide for all his needs, so much so that even if a shoe-lace is broken, he should pray to Allah to provide a shoe-lace, and if he needs salt, he should beseech Allah to send it to him.” [Tirmidhi] We know and accept thatonly Allah (swt) can help us during our hardships. We increase our reliance on Allah (swt) and make du`a’ and practice patience.
  6. Follow the Sunnah—Guide us to the straight path: Yahiya ibn Mu‘âdh (rahimahu Allâh, may God be pleased with him) said, “Renew your hearts with the remembrance of Allâh because it rushes into forgetfulness.” We should try each day to learn something new about the deen (religion). Learn a new sunnah (tradition) or Qur’anic ruling on some matter relating to your everyday life.

  1. Do righteous deeds and seek the company of the righteous—The path of those upon whom You have bestowed favor, not of those who have evoked [Your] anger or of those who are astray: Make an effort to do good deeds and seek the company of those people who remember Allah (swt) when they meet. Listen attentively to the jumu`ah khutbah (Friday sermon) and attend halaqas (study circles).
The good news is that Allah (swt) reminds us of these goals at least 17 times a day; in every fard salah (mandatory prayer).
Alhamdulillah (praise be to God) for that  :)

The Justice of Islamic Law

The Justice of Islamic Law

The Supreme Court of Canada has ruled recently in favor of upholding a Quebec law which states that there is no support for common law partners upon separation. The ruling came as a result of a vote between 9 judges, with 5 in favor of upholding the rule and 4 against.

The significance of this ruling lies at the foundation of its legal framework, which is that man is the source of legislation. This case begins with the notion that sexual relationships outside of marriage are normal, which, as a result, require the courts to deal with the consequences of breakups in such relationships.

It is naturally expected that justice results from any governing system, especially at the judicial level. This recent case provides a startling example of how laws are struck down or upheld by a mere vote.  The Supreme Court decision goes to show how man-made legislation can vary with profound implications on a major social pillar of society, the family, simply as a result of a difference of opinion.

One of the most visible flaws of man-made laws is its random variations over time and from one person to another. What is wrong and unacceptable one day becomes right and acceptable the next day. Such turmoil is caused by the limited nature of the human mind. The human mind’s main flaws are as follows:
  • Prone to disparity. Different people will reach different conclusions about the same issue under the same circumstances. For example, although the panel of judges were presiding over the same case, they came to different conclusions.
  • Limited in its capacity to think. Humans are different in their ability to understand and process facts.
  • Influenced by the environment. Humans are naturally influenced by societal norms, personal experiences and influential forces in societies.
  • Subject to change over time. For example, in the past in Canada, relationships outside of marriage were not an acceptable norm and homosexuality was considered a crime. However, today, these lifestyle choices are considered legally acceptable relationships.

There are many examples of such changes in laws and norms over time and from one place to another. This is the nature of human thinking when it is not bound by a comprehensive, correct and an unchanging, source of guidance.

Human judgement is naturally limited and inherently incapable of providing justice in this life, whereasIslamic laws (shari'ah) have the ability to effectively solve societal problems in a just and comprehensive manner, as they come from the Creator of man.  For Islamic laws (shari'ah), however, to provide justice and the correct solutions, they must be implemented comprehensively in an Islamic governance system (Khilafah).

Governance and the sources of legislation in Islam
It is well known that the system of governance in Islam is the Khilafah. This system is well rooted both in the Islamic shari'ah and the history of Islam. The Prophet (saw) said, "The Prophets ruled over the children of Israel; whenever a prophet died, another prophet succeeded him, but there will be no more prophet after me. There will soon be khulafah and they will number many. Fulfil the bayah [i.e. pledge of allegiance] to them one after another and give them their dues for Allah will verily account them about what He entrusted them with". [Al-Nawawi, Riyad us Salihin]

The Khalifah is the guardian of the people and his task is to ensure that the Islamic laws (shari'ah) are implemented so that justice prevails. Allah (swt) says, "And if you judge, judge with justice between them. Verily, Allah loves those who act justly". [TQM 5:42]

Under the Khilafah, the power of legislation lies not in man but in the Creator of man. There are many ayat in Quran that clearly state that every rule in this life has to come from what Allah (swt) has revealed to the Prophet (saw). Allah (swt) says:

"And so judge (you O Muhammad) between them by what Allah has revealed and follow not their vain desires…" [TQM 5:49]

The command (or the judgement) is for none but Allah". [TMQ 12:40]

 Consequently, it is the shari'ah, revealed to us from Allah (swt) – that governs and not the people. Allah (swt) in His perfect Wisdom and Mercy gave humanity the righteous Aqeedah of Islam. All laws emanate from the Quran and Sunnah, the two main sources of legislation, leading to a consistent and just regime of rules over many centuries when Islam was implemented in the Khilafah State.

The Shari'ah rules within the Islamic governing system
The rule of law at any time relies on the people, governing system and the judiciary system. Islamic history is a witness to how the three aspects interacted to establish and sustain the implementation of Islamic law.
a) The people
Allah (swt)says,

"O you who believe! Obey Allah and obey the Messenger (Muhammad), and those of you (Muslims) who are in authority. (And) if you differ in anything amongst yourselves, refer it to Allah and His Messenger[TMQ 4:59]

Allah has thus obliged Muslims to obey the ruler who rules by the shari'ah. Moreover, the Prophet (saw) said, "A Muslim is obliged to hear and obey whether he likes it or not, except when he is required to do something that is sinful, in which case, there is no obligation to hear or to obey". [Bukhari and Muslim]

Unlike democracy, where obedience to the law of the land is achieved through coercion by the state, Muslims historically lived by and obeyed the laws of Islam without the need for coercion. This is because respect for and obedience to the laws of Islam is a matter of doctrinal and creedal obligation upon Muslims, which was the reason behind the success of the Khilafah. Thus, when Allah (swt) ordains upon Muslims to obey their rightful ruler, there is no option but to observe this command. This principle is well established in Islam from numerous ayat and ahadith.

b) The Khalifah
The head of the governing system in Islam is the Khalifah. The first Khalifah of Islam, Abu Bakr (ra), in his inaugural address said, "O People, I have been appointed over you, though I am not the best among you. If I do well, then help me. And if I act wrongly, then correct me... If I disobey Allah and His Messenger, then I have no right to your obedience".

The second Khalifah of Islam, Umar bin al-Khattab (ra) enunciated the attributes required of a Khalifah,"By Allah, O Ibn 'Abbas, only the one who is strong without being violent, who is gentle without being weak, who is economical without being miserly, and who is generous without being wasteful is worthy of this affair".

The Khalifah fulfils, amongst the myriad of other obligations, the following as part of his responsibilities. The Khalifah must:
  • Guard and protect Islam and its way of life and possess the appropriate defence capabilities to defend the Islamic State territories.
  • Establish justice when disputes arise between litigants so that the strong do not oppress the weak.
  • Implement the Islamic (Hadd) punishment (i.e. criminal laws) so that the prohibitions of Islam are not violated.
  • Manage the funds of the treasury (Bait-ul-Mal), invest in public projects he considers necessary without being wasteful and pay the public sector employees' salaries from the treasury.
  • Assume personal responsibility over the affairs of the people and execute the policies of the Ummah without overreliance on delegation of authority.

c) The judges
The Khilafah also has a strong judiciary which implements the laws of Islam, dispenses justice and keeps the leadership accountable. Everybody under the shari'ah is equal before the law and judgment is pronounced without fear or favour. Principally, there are three types of judges in Islam:
  • The Qadi who settles disputes between people in private matters and implements the penal codes,
  • The Muhtasib who is responsible for dealing with community-wide issues that affect the public and wider society, e.g. unscrupulous traders who harm the wider public, and
  • The Mazaalim who is responsible for investigating and settling the disputes between the rulers and the ruled. Essentially, this judge keeps the leadership accountable and in check.

When the Prophet (saw) was the head of the Islamic State in Medina, he was petitioned to intercede for a noble lady who had committed theft, but the Prophet (saw) said, "The nations before [us] were destroyed because if a noble person committed theft, they used to leave him, but if a weak person amongst them committed theft, they used to inflict the legal punishment on him. By Allah, if Fatima, the daughter of Muhammad, committed theft, Muhammad would cut off her hand!" [Bukhari and Muslim]

This hadith illustrates that even if the Prophet's (saw) daughter had committed a crime, despite his position as the head of the Islamic State, he would have implemented the same criminal punishment upon his daughter without favour. Such attitude is inimical to that of the rulers who litter the Muslim world today who, with their families and entourage, enjoy unbridled favour and operate above the law. This is a direct result of the absence of the Khilafah in the Muslim world.

A great example of how the Islamic judiciary system functions was when the second Khalifah of Islam, Umar bin al-Khattab (ra), outlined the attributes a judge required in an Islamic court. He said, "The task of the judiciary is an undisputed obligation and a sunnah to be followed. Seek to comprehend when people have recourse to you, for it is no use to speak of a right if it is not put into effect. See that your face, your justice and your sitting are the same between people, such that the lord does not hope for your partiality, nor the weak despair of your justice…" [Al-Mawardi]

May Allah (swt) help us do our part to please Him and establish the Khilafah in the Muslim lands as a beacon of justice for the world and to liberate people from the misery of man-made rules and systems. Ameen.

“Allah has promised those who have believed among you and done righteous deeds that He will surely grant them succession [to authority] upon the earth just as He granted it to those before them and that He will surely establish for them [therein] their religion which He has preferred for them and that He will surely substitute for them, after their fear, security, [for] they worship Me, not associating anything with Me...”
[TMQ 23:55]

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Allah's Aid

Something amazing happened to me on Wednesday.

I was making du`a’ (supplication) for a very long time for something in particular. Then, out of the blue, along came this opportunity that was seemingly the answer to my prayer. It was garbed in a cloak of religiosity, presenting the pretence of happiness and Closeness to Allah `azza wa jal in this life and the next. So much so that I delayed praying istikhara (the prayer for guidance) about it, arrogant in my ways that I knew this was best for me.

The moment I sought Allah’s Aid however, this guise of purity dissolved before my very eyes, revealing a festering situation of sin and oppression. Not soon after this opportunity had been turned away from me, I immediately felt thankful to Allah (swt) for what He had just saved me from.
That’s the amazing thing about du`a’. When you first make it, you wonder to yourself how long it will be before the answer arrives. Even for this, Our Master has a purpose.

There once was a man who devoted himself to worship for some time, and then he came to have a need of something from Allah, so he fasted 70 Saturdays, eating only 11 dates each Saturday. Then he asked Allah for what he needed, but the response didn’t come immediately. Then he turned to himself and said, full of remorse;
“This is from me. If there was any good in me, I would have been given what I need.”

At that, an angel descended upon him and said: “Son of Adam, this one moment of yours is better than all the worship you did before. And Allah has fulfilled your need.”

It takes a strong heart to believe when the answer doesn’t seem obvious at first. Take for instance the story of Musa `alayhi salaam (peace be upon him), who brought his people to the brink of the red sea. The army of Fir’awn (Pharaoh) was advancing behind them, and Bani Isra’eel were getting restless as they were beginning to lose hope.

[When the two hosts came into sight of one another, Musa's companions said: "We will surely be overtaken!!" Musa said: "By no means! My Lord is with me! Soon will He guide me!]2
Immediately thereafter, Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala (exalted is He) revealed to Musa to strike the sea with his staff—and like into two mountains it parted, glorious and magnificent for the eye to behold, let alone for the ear to listen to today.

And all too often, life can be like that. You’re forced into a corner—reached a dead end—at the very end of your rope. Help seems far away and your forehead begins to sweat. Yet there remains within you a voice, a light undiminished by trial or tribulation, and it calls upon you to have patience and believe with the very reaches of your soul: [Without a doubt! The Victory of Allah is close!]

Then before your very eyes, the sea parts. The wound heals. The sun appears from behind the clouds. And the way this takes place is so utterly bewildering, astonishing, awe-inspiring, you would not have fathomed it even in the most outer limit of your imagination.

Such is Allah (swt). The One who allows affliction to touch His worshiping slaves so that He can hear the sweet melody of their voices as they invoke His Assistance and His Victory. Al Ahad, As-Samad (the One, the Eternal)—the One who misses His beloved slaves because they believe in la ilaha ilallah (there is nothing worthy of worship except God) despite never having set their gaze upon His Beautiful Face.

Seeking direction in life remains, as a young person, among the challenges. Youth in generations preceding us, for instance the Companions of the Cave, mentioned in Surah Kahf, went through something similar. They said:
[Our Lord! Grant us Mercy from Your own Providence and furnish us, in our present circumstances, with Right Guidance]

Worldly and spiritual guidance are intricately interwoven; because we ask that our actions and the goals we pursue are pleasing to the One who gifted us with different talents and abilities. Each of us has been crafted differently, and to each of us is an amaanah (trust) that we are responsible to Allah ta`ala (Most High) to fulfill.

Not an atom of a matter exists within our lives except we are dependent upon Allah to guide us in it. Hence a frequent supplication of the Messenger ﷺ (peace be upon him) is:

[O the Ever Living (al Hayy), the Self-Subsisting (al-Qayyum)! By Your Mercy rectify my every affair, and don't leave me to myself even for the blink of an eye]
From this it is clear from the prophetic tradition that reliance on Allah (swt) and seeking His Divine Assistance extends even to so-called ‘trivial matters’.

So my sister and my brother, those who choose to seek the Countenance of our Loving Master above all else, let us invoke His Mercy and without a doubt He will shower His blessings upon us infinitely and Aid us where we struggle. And this is for no reason other than He is Merciful and loves to show Mercy.

When the dunya (this life) and all its vices rusts our hearts and when no one seems to understand us except for Allah (swt)—let us give our hearts wholly to the One who fashioned them from clay. He will nurse us anew, enrobing us in His light and His care.

No heart is incomplete if it has Allah (swt)—because He is a Master who never grows weary of giving His slave a second chance.

By Sakina Flethcher

Lessons from the Story of Musa(AS)

Lessons from the story of Musa (as)

Al-Qur'an Al-Kareem informs us about organizing the relationship between man and his Creator, man with himself and man with others. This is done so that harmony will be existent until the Day of Judgment. In addition to this, one cannot help but notice that in many places, the Qur'an includes stories about previous Prophets. What is the role of these Qur'anic anecdotes in carrying the da'wah during this and every age? There is no doubt that the Qur'anic stories are replete with signs, lessons and miracles, and that a da'wah carrier needs to be attuned to them. The Qur'an does not leave any aspect of our life without having an effect on it in one way or another.

It is quite true that we are bound to the Shari'ah that Muhammad (saaw) brought, and we are not allowed to take the Shari'ah of those that preceded us. It should be noted, however, that when we examine the stories of previous prophets (pbut), we are not taking any legislation from them, only the wisdom and lessons about how they carried the da'wah. It is solely for this purpose that Allah (swt) mentioned these stories in the Qur'an. Now, if we had to choose a lesson from the Prophethood of Muhammad (saaw), one story that may initially come to mind is the Isra' and Mi'raj. This story reminds us of what happened to the Holy Land that Allah (swt) has blessed, and how today this land has been taken away from the Muslims. This should become a source of motivation for Muslims to save the Holy Land, and all other lands.

The story of Musa (asws), in particular, has many lessons and many steps that Musa (asws) undertook when he called Firaun (Pharaoh) to believe. These actions are tactics that we now need to examine and study. Al-Qur'an Al-Kareem has a variety of stories of different Prophets. When it comes to Musa (asws) and his life, we can conclude that Surah Taha is enough as a source to expound upon the lessons from his life. We will examine this Surah, Insha'Allah, understand it, and see how Syed Qutb (ra) explained it in his book Fi-dhelaal Al-Qur'an (In the Shade of the Qur'an).

Surah Taha begins with Allah (swt) telling Prophet Muhammad (saaw) that the Qur'an was not revealed to him (saaw) in order for him to suffer or live in misery, especially when people reject him and disbelieve in the message he (saaw) carries. This is because Muhammad (saaw) had no control, whatsoever, over the hearts of people, which would compel them to believe. As the Surah continues, it gives many details about the be'tha (when Allah sent Musa), and describes how Allah (swt) takes care of those who carry His message. Even though it is true that the stories comprise almost one-third of the Qur'an's contents, the story of Musa (asws) occurs most often, being mentioned many times and in many Surahs.

As we begin to analyze Surah Taha in understanding the story of Musa (asws), we see that Musa (asws) and his wife returned from Medyan, where Shu'ayb (as) once lived. On the way back to Egypt he saw a fire near the mountain of Sina. He asked his wife to stay behind as he went to examine the fire, hoping to catch some of its flame and start a fire of his own, to help guide him and keep him warm during the cold night. This beginning shows how Allah (swt) prepares a da'wah carrier, both mentally and physically, for what is required of him in delivering the message. A da'wah carrier is willing to do what the da'wah requires from him no matter how difficult the challenge is. This example exhibits this attitude, where Musa (asws) knew he would have to climb mountains and walk long distances to reach his destination.

When he reached the light, Allah (swt) revealed,
"And when he came to it (the fire), he was called by name 'Oh Musa!, Verily! I am your Lord! So take off your shoes, you are in the sacred valley of Tuwa. And I have chosen you. So listen to that which is inspired in you' " (20:11-13)

Upon hearing this, Musa (asws) was given the knowledge that he had been chosen to be Allah's messenger, and this required him to prepare, with all of his senses, to understand the message he would be carrying. This message was based on three fundamental issues, as described:

"Verily! I am Allah! None has the right to be worshipped but I, so worship Me, and offer prayers perfectly, for My remembrance. Verily! The hour is coming - and My Will is to keep it hidden - that every person may be rewarded for that which he strives. Therefore, let not the one who believes not therein, but follows his own lusts, divert you therefrom, lest you perish (20:14-16)."

These core elements, which are required from every message and da'wah carrier, are:
To believe in Allah (swt) and His oneness; to believe that Allah (swt) is the only one who deserves to be worshipped and not anyone or anything else; and to expect no reward from anyone, whomsoever, except from Allah (swt).

In doing so, the da'ee will pay no attention to those who are trying to deviate him, or those who are telling him things like: "you are just wasting your time", "nobody listens to you", or "why don't you do something more pragmatic."

Then the Surah proceeds to another issue, of how Musa (asws) felt when he saw his staff transformed into a snake, and how fear overwhelmed him. Nonetheless, he was ordered to pick it up, and not to be scared, because Allah (swt) would make it go back to its real nature. After witnessing this, Musa (asws) felt relaxed and Allah (swt) continued to comfort him. Allah (swt) cured Musa (asws) from the ailment he had in his hand, Allah (swt) said,

"And press your (right) hand to your (left) side, it will come forth white (and shining), without any disease as another sign, (20:22)."

This was another miracle the Messenger of Allah (swt) would use as proof of his prophethood. Once all of this took place, then all of his senses, abilities, and every part of his body was ready to carry the requirements of this obligation from Allah (swt).

This brief description of how the Qur'an prepared Musa (asws) to carry the message, reminded our Prophet (saaw), and reminds us, that the nafs need preparation in order to carry the requirements and responsibilities of the Da'wah. This preparation requires special attention and signs, and might be through a miracle like making the staff of Musa (asws) a snake, or a miracle like Al-Qur'an Al-Kareem, which is the case with Muhammad (saaw). Then the ayat talk about the first obligation placed on Musa (asws),
"Go to Firaun! Verily, he has transgressed (all bounds in disbelief and disobedience, and has behaved arrogantly, and as a tyrant) (20:24)."

After receiving this order, he began to remember how oppressive and cruel Firaun was to his people, enslaving and torturing them. Musa (asws) began to seek help and support from his Lord, Allah (swt),
"Musa said: 'O my Lord! Open for me my chest (grant me self-confidence, contentment, and boldness). And ease my task for me; And loosen the knot (the problem) from my tongue, (i.e. remove the impairment in my speech), that they understand my speech, And appoint for me a helper from my family, Haroon, my brother; Increase my strength with him, And let him share my task (of conveying Allah's message and Prophethood), That we may glorify You much, And remember You much, Verily! You are of us Ever a Well-Seer (20:25-35)."

He asked for all this because he knew the weaknesses he and his brother had, and would have to overcome in order to accomplish their mission. With this, Allah (swt) reminds us that whenever he orders someone to do something, whether it is one of His prophets or a da'wah carrier, He will provide them with the abilities to achieve their obligation. Allah (swt) will never ask His da'wah carriers to do something beyond their reach or their abilities.

In response to Musa's request,
"Allah said: 'You are granted your request, O Musa! (20:36)."
Allah (swt) continues to remind Musa (asws) of the favors that have already been bestowed upon him, starting with how he was supposed to be killed at birth, like the rest of the children that Firaun was killing, but was spared. This reminds the da'wah carriers that Allah (swt) will never let them down, because they are the ones that are trying to establish His Deen, and they are the ones who are trying to spread the call to obey Allah (swt) amongst all of mankind.

Allah (swt) then told Musa (asws),
"Go you and your brother with My Ayat (proofs, evidences, verses, lessons, signs, revelation, etc.,) and do not, you both, slacken and become weak in My remembrance. Go to Firaun, verily, he has transgressed (all bounds in disbelief and disobedience, and has behaved arrogantly, and as a tyrant). And speak to him firmly, perhaps he may accept admonition or fear Allah (20:42-44)."

This demonstrated to us that when Allah (swt) ordered Musa (asws), Muhammad (saaw), and all the prophets to carry the da'wah, He also told them how to carry it. He even told them which style to use, as in this example. They were told not to be harsh, rather they should be firm with the people, even with the oppressors. Also, they shouldn't become desperate or frustrated, nor should they ever lose hope that the people will be guided. This is because once frustration gets to the heart of the da'wah carrier, then the da'wah will lose its momentum and its spark. This will make the da'wah carrier slow his efforts, and eventually stop him from carrying the da'wah. Those who deliver da'wah must continue carrying it without any frustration, even if the road is full of Firauns.

Fear was in the hearts of Musa and Haroon (pbut), mainly rooted in the imminent interaction between them and Firaun,
"They said: 'Our Lord! Verily! We fear lest he should hasten to punish us or lest he should transgress (all bounds against us)' (20:45)."
This shows us how a da'wah carrier may become fearful of the dangers posed to him, and how peace-of-mind is needed in order to overcome his fear. This must be accomplished in a way that will never make him have fear from delivering da'wah again, and to the point where he will disregard the source of the fear. Upon this request, Allah (swt) sent them good news
"He (Allah) said: 'Fear not, Verily! I am with you both, Hearing and Seeing' (20:46),"
reminding them that He, Allah (swt), Al-Qadir, the one in control, the one above every oppressor and every person, the one who is stronger than anybody, was with them. This was enough for them to become relaxed, allowing them not to fear anything, and to realize that when Allah (swt) is with them, then no one can harm them.
Subsequently, Allah (swt) gave them the order
"So go you both to him, and say: 'Verily, we are Messengers of your Lord, to ask you to let the Children of Israel go with us, and torment them not; indeed, we have come with a sign from your Lord! And peace will be upon him who follows the guidance!' (20:47)."
They were the two messengers sent to save Bani Israel from the oppression of Firaun, to bring its people back to the 'aqeedah of Tawheed, and to take them to the Holy Land. This was also good news to Muhammad (saaw), reassuring him that Allah (swt) would never let him nor those who follow him, down. The ayat continues, relaying to us the conversation that took place between Musa (asws) and at-taghiya (the tyrant), Firaun.
"Firaun said: 'Who then, O Musa, is the Lord of you two' (20:49)?"
Then, "Musa said: 'Our Lord is He Who gave to each thing its form and nature, then guided it aright' (20:50)."
Firaun neglected and ignored the fact that Haroon and Musa (asws) were messengers of Allah (swt). That is why he asked them about their Lord, and he heard the answer, that their Lord is the Creator and the organizer of everything. Then Firaun questioned Musa (asws) again,
"(Firaun) said: 'What about the generation of old' (20:51)."
To which,
"(Musa) said: 'The knowledge thereof is with my Lord, in a Record. My Lord is neither unaware nor He forgets. (20:52)."
In actuality, by this Musa (asws) was telling Firaun that Allah (swt), the Creator, was the One who was guiding him, and without this guidance, Musa (asws) would not have knowledge. He continues to tell Firaun,
"Who has made earth for you like a bed (spread out); and has opened roads (ways and paths etc.) for you therein; and has sent down water (rain) from the sky. And We have brought forth with it various kinds of vegetation. Eat and feed your cattle, (therein). Verily, in this are proofs and signs for men of understanding (20:53-54)."
His aim in this was to explain to Firaun the ability of his Lord, Al-Khaliq (The Creator), Ar-Razzaq (The Provider), Al-Mudhabir (The organizer). This description which Musa (asws) gave to Firaun called upon every good mind to think about this wonderful system that was created by Allah (swt). Musa (asws) continued his discussion with Firaun, hoping he might fear Allah (swt) and believe
"Thereof (the earth) We created you, and into it We shall return you, and from it We shall bring you out once again (20:55)."
Firaun, however, was stubborn and arrogant, claiming that he was a lord himself. In reality, of course, he was very weak, and had no answer to the signs that Musa (asws) was bringing him. Instead of responding to the evidence which Musa (asws) brought with another evidence, he started maneuvering and tried to change the subject. He began throwing accusations at Musa (asws),
"He (Firaun) said: 'Have you come to drive us out of our land with your magic, O Musa? Then verily, we can produce magic the like thereof; so appoint a meeting between us and you, which neither we, nor you shall fail to keep, in an open, wide place where both shall have a just and equal chance (and beholders could witness the competition)' (20:57-58)."
To this Musa (asws) responded,
"(Musa) said: 'Your appointed meeting is the day of the festival, and let the people assemble when the sun has risen (forenoon)' (20:59)."
Now in order to understand what type of person Firaun was, we must remember his crimes, namely that he killed the sons of Israel, he used to kill their men and their boys, leaving their womenfolk alive. He did this because he was so afraid of his people, fearing that they would threaten his status in life, which he was so careful to protect. He paid attention to nothing but his kingdom, to the throne he sat on, and whatever else he owned. This behavior is typical of our rulers today. They are so fearful that some ideological movement or political parties who are trying to implement Islam as a complete system, which would wrest their rulership from them. That is why today's rulers slander and hunt down such movements the same way Firaun attacked Musa (asws) and his people.
The way Firaun challenged Musa (asws), thinking that Musa (asws) would give up, serves as a valuable lesson for da'wah carriers nowadays. However, Musa (asws) did not give up, he accepted the challenge because he was assured that Allah (swt) was with him. He was confident that the Haqq would win and the batil would be defeated, no matter what the oppressors and the liars did.
"So Firaun withdrew, devised his plot and then came back (20:60),"
He assembled all his magicians and all his powers. This is quite similar to what our current rulers do today when they are confronted with the Haqq. Their aim is to manipulate the minds of the populace, trying to make them believe what the rulers want them to believe. This can be easily observed when we hear government backed scholars giving us fatawa that legitimize whatever haram our rulers commit, such as accepting peace with a Jewish state established on Muslim lands, or inviting the troops of the kuffar to Muslim lands to fight against other Muslims. Our rulers attack those who carry da'wah by all means, at all times.
Musa (asws) did not forget to remind Firaun about something very important before the day of the meeting. He told him what the end would be for those people who fight against the da'wah and its carriers,
"Musa said to them: 'Woe unto you! Invent not a lie against Allah, lest He should destroy you completely by a torment. And surely, he who invents a lie (against Allah) will fail miserably (20:61)."
This statement made its way into the hearts of some of Firaun's people who were listening. Those who heard what Musa (asws) was saying started to think about it. Some of them believed that Musa (asws) was calling for Haqq, and Firaun was on the side of batil.
"Then they debated with one another what they must do, and they kept their talk secret (20:62)."
This shows us that good elements do exist in society during all times. They may even be from the offspring of the kuffar or from the oppressors. More importantly, this shows us that the da'wah carriers must not hesitate from saying the truth anywhere they are, at any time, because this word of truth might influence some people. Even in this example, we should know that the wife of Firaun became a believer.
In the meeting that came thereafter, Firaun's magicians faced Musa (asws),
"They said: 'Verily! These are two magicians. Their objective is to drive you out from your land with magic, and overcome your way of life. So devise your plot, and then assemble in line. And whoever overcomes this day will be indeed successful' (20:63-64)."
The ayah indicates that the dawah of Musa (asws) was comprehensive and was accused of threatening the status-quo. Also, the ayah shows that Firaun underestimated the people around him, assuming that they all would help him, and they would not say anything against him. However, he was mistaken. From this there is another lesson to be learned, that the Will of Allah (swt) was there, and that He (swt) witnessed all that occurred, and made Firaun offer to Musa (asws) the challenge to confront him in front of the people. This demonstrates how Allah (swt) will help da'wah carriers develop a platform from which they can address the people in an effective manner.
When the magicians met Musa (asws),
"They said: 'O Musa! Either you throw first or we be the first to throw (20:65)?"
Musa (asws) told them to begin, showing that the challenge was accepted from both parties. The magicians threw down their ropes and staffs. They were so convincing that Musa (asws) became frightened of what they had produced, believing what he saw to be real snakes. This serves to remind us that after everything, Musa (asws) was still a human being, and even though he knew Allah (swt) was on his side, he was overwhelmed by what he witnessed. So Allah (swt) reminded him,
"We (Allah) said: 'Fear not! Surely, you will have the upper hand. And throw that which is in your right hand! It will swallow up that which they have made. That which they have made is only a magician's trick, and the magician will never be successful, no matter whatever amount (of skill) he may attain (20:68-69)."
Again, this is because what Musa (asws) was doing was the Haqq, and what they were doing was the batil. The batil will never succeed, no matter how powerful its proponents appear. When the batil is confronted with the clear Haqq, then the batil will collapse.
Musa (asws) responded to the order of Allah (swt), and threw down his staff. Upon doing this, a reaction that nobody expected took place.
"So the magicians fell down prostrate. They said: 'We believe in the Lord of Haroon and Musa (20:70)."
The prior disputes they had amongst themselves were reconciled, and now they all agreed with what Musa (asws) had brought. Their doubts transformed into iman, and their darkness became light. In response to this,
"(Firaun) said: 'Believe you in him (Musa) before I give you permission? Verily! He is your chief who taught you magic. So I will surely cut off your hands and feet on opposite sides, and I will surely crucify you on the trunks of palm-trees, and you shall surely know which of us [I (Firaun) or the Lord of Musa (Allah)] can give the severe and more lasting torment (20:71)."
Firaun was arrogant, believing that before the magicians could become mu'mineen (believers), his permission was required. This is the way all of the oppressors are, believing that the people are their slaves, and that they have to do whatever they command, whenever they want it.
Firaun refused to accept what Musa (asws) did as a miracle, but rather as magic. He threatened the magicians who believed in Musa (asws) with torture and execution. This is similar to what we find ourselves in today, when our current rulers use the same tactics, claiming that they want to maintain stability and the current way of life, and that they don't want any radicals or extremists to change the way people are living. Firaun thought that just by his order, the people who responded to Allah (swt) and His messenger would return to kufr. He underestimated the power of iman, which enters the heart and makes it more powerful than a mountain. The magicians responded to Firaun,
"They said: 'We prefer you not over the clear signs that have come to us, and to Him (Allah) Who created us. So decree whatever you desire to decree, for you can only decree (regarding) this life of the world (20:72)."
These are the believing sparks, which attack falsehood and the kufr, destabilizing its very foundation. Imagine the way Firaun perceived the scene, how dare they say something like this directly to Firaun's face, who claimed himself to be a god. He believed he owned the whole world, and the ability to take and give life. Firaun listened to these powerful statements, and how these believers didn't care about him or his threats and warnings anymore. They told him that they consider the iman which they just accepted as a means for their forgiveness. They continued,
"Verily! Whoever comes to his Lord as a Mujrim (criminal, polytheist, disbeliever in the Oneness of Allah and His Messengers, sinner, etc.), then surely for him is Hell, therein he will neither die nor live. But whoever comes to Him (Allah) as a believer (in the Oneness of Allah, etc.), and has done righteous good deeds for such are the high ranks (in the Hereafter), - Everlasting Gardens ('Adn Paradise), under which rivers flow, wherein they will abide forever: such is the reward of those who purify themselves [(by abstaining from all kinds of sins and evil deeds) which Allah has forbidden and by doing all that which Allah has ordained)] (20:74-76)."
Not only did they tell Firaun how they felt about his threats and their feelings towards this life, but now they began to threaten him. They told him that his crimes and his tortures would lead him to the torture of jahannam, a punishment which is more severe than Firaun could ever impose, leaving him to never die and never live. They declared their belief in their Lord, and vowed to never do anything but the khayr (good), in order to attain the highest level in Jannah. This level of conviction is completely foreign to the understanding of the oppressors. Their hearts are sealed, and refuse to be opened to the truth.
The ayat described the victory of the Haqq and the defeat of the batil, and exhibited the blessings of Allah (swt) when He (swt) directly intervened to save Musa (asws) and his people, and how He (swt) made Firaun and his soldiers drown in the sea. This came at a time when Musa (asws) and his people had no hope, because they were much weaker than the army of Firaun. The ayat tell us that the end of the struggle between the believers and kuffar resulted in a victory for iman and defeat and humiliation for the kufr.
This serves as a good example for us today, showing how in the past the believing sons of Israel were tortured and they had no helper or supporter whatsoever. Nowadays, the da'wah carriers who carry the Haqq, have no support or help, and no one to rely on, except Allah (swt). Consequently, they must remain on the Haqq, until Allah (swt) provides them with victory, the way He provided previous believers with victory.
".Verily, Allah will help those who help His (cause). Truly Allah is All-Strong, All-Mighty (22:40)."
The batil, the falsehood, will not last forever, it will be defeated sooner or later. The da'wah carriers must work until Allah (swt) gives His victory to the Muslims.
"It is He Who has sent His Messenger with the guidance and the Deen of truth (Haqq), to make it superior over all other ways of life, even though the Mushrikun hate it (9:33)."
Oh Shabbab of Muhammad (saaw)! We call upon you to raise up once more the rayaat (flags) that Muhammad (saaw) held up in the past, under which kufr and oppression were destroyed. Carry them, lift them, and spread the da'wah everywhere, so that you will live happily, your Ummah will live happily, and the Haqq will become superior on the earth, as Allah (swt) wants it to be.

The Dream of Life

It was only a dream.  For a moment, it overtakes me. Yet the suffering I feel in my nightmare is only an illusion. Temporary. Like the blink of an eye. But, why do I dream? Why do I have to feel that loss, fear, and sadness in my sleep?
On a greater scale, it’s a question that has been asked throughout time. And for many people, the answer to that question has determined their path to—or away from—faith.  Faith in God, faith in life’s purpose, faith in a higher order or a final destination has often all rested upon how this singular question has been answered. And so, to ask this question is to ask about life, in the most ultimate  way.
Why do we suffer? Why do ‘bad’ things happen to ‘good’ people? How could there be a God if innocent children starve and criminals run free? How can there be an all-loving, all-powerful deity who would allow such misfortunes to happen?
And if God is indeed Just and Good, shouldn’t only good things happen to good people and only bad things happen to bad people?
Well, the answer is: yes. Absolutely. Only good things do happen to good people. And only bad things happen to bad people. Why? Because God IS the Most Just and the Most Loving. And He has no deficiency in His knowledge or understanding.
The problem is that we do have deficiencies in knowledge and understanding.
See, to understand the statement “only good things happen to good people and only bad things happen to bad people”, we must first define ‘good’ and ‘bad’.  And although there are as many definitions of good and bad as there are people, a comprehensive understanding exists. For example, most people would agree that to succeed in achieving my desired purpose or goal in a particular matter would be ‘good’. While on the other hand, failing to achieve my intended purpose or aim would be bad. If my aim is to gain weight because I am dangerously underweight, becoming heavier would be good. If, on the other hand, my aim is to lose weight because I am harmfully overweight, becoming heavier would be bad. The same event could be good or bad, depending on my intended purpose. So ‘good’ in my eyes rests on the achievement of my personal aim. And ultimate ‘Good’ rests on the achievement of my ultimate aim.
But what is my aim?
That brings us to the fundamental question of purpose as it relates to the greater Reality of existence. There are essentially two distinct worldviews when it comes to purpose in life. The first worldview holds that this life is the Reality, the final destination and ultimate goal of our endeavors. The second worldview holds that this life is only a bridge, a means that stands as nothing more than a glimpse in the context of God’s infinite Reality.
For those in the first group, this life is everything. It is the End to which all actions strive. For those in the second group, this life tends towards zero. Why? Because, in comparison to infinity, even the largest number becomes zero. Nothing.  Like a fleeting dream.
These distinct worldviews directly affect the question of purpose. See, if one believes that this life is the Reality, the final destination, the goal of all endeavors, the purpose of life would be to maximize pleasure and gain in this life.  In that paradigm, ‘bad’ things ARE in fact happening to ‘good’ people every single second. Within that paradigm, people reach the conclusion that there is no justice and therefore either there is no God or God is not Just (wa athu billah, I seek refuge in God). It’s like a person who concludes that there must be no God because they had a bad dream. But why don’t we give the experiences of our dreams much weight? After all, some dreams are horrifying to live through—and very often do happen to ‘good’ people.  In our dreams, do we not experience extreme terror or bliss? Yes. But why doesn’t it matter?
Because put in context of our real life, it is nothing.
In the second world view (the Islamic paradigm) the purpose of creation is *not* maximizing pleasure and gain in a life that is nothing more than a dream. In that world view, life’s purpose is defined by God who tells us: “I have not created jinn and humans (for any purpose) except to worship me,” (Qur’an, 51:56).
It is important to note the special construction of this statement. It begins with a negation: ‘I have not created jinn and humans (for any purpose) […]’.  First Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala(exalted is He) negates ALL other purposes before He states the one and only, singular purpose:  ‘except to worship Me.’ This means that as a believer I know that there is no otherpurpose of my existence except to know, love and get closer to God. This is the one and only reason why I was created. And this is the most essential realization, as it defines everything else I do or believe. It defines all things around me, and everything I experience in life.
So returning to the meaning of ‘good’ and ‘bad’, we find that anything that brings us closer to our ultimate purpose is Good and anything that takes us away from our ultimate purpose is Bad, in an ultimate sense. In a relative sense, for those whose goal is this material world, worldly things define their ‘good’ and ‘bad’. For them, things like gaining wealth, status, fame, or property is necessarily ‘good’.  Losing wealth, status, fame, or property is necessarily ‘bad’. So in that paradigm, when an innocent person loses every material possession they own, this is a ‘bad’ thing happening to a ‘good’ person. But that is the illusion that comes as a result of a flawed worldview. When the lens itself is distorted, so too is the image seen through it.
For those of the second worldview, anything that brings us closer to our purpose of nearness to God’s love is good; and anything that takes us away from that purpose is bad. Therefore, winning a billion dollars may be the greatest calamity ever to happen to me if it takes me away from God—my ultimate purpose. On the other hand, losing my job, all my wealth, and even falling ill, may in fact be the greatest blessing ever given to me if it brings me closer to God—my ultimate purpose.  This is the Reality that is spoken about in the Qur’an when Allah (swt) says:
“It may happen that you hate a thing which is good for you, and it may happen that you love a thing which is bad for you. Allah knows, you know not,” (2:216).
As a believer, my criterion is no longer gain or loss in a material sense. My criterion is something higher. What I have or do not have in a worldly sense is only relevant in as much as it brings me closer or farther from my Aim: God. This dunya (life) becomes nothing more than that dream that I experience for a moment and then awaken from. Whether that dream was good or bad for me, depends only on my state once I awaken.
And so on the ultimate scale there is perfect justice. God only gives good (nearness to Him) to good people, and bad (distance from Him) to bad people. The greatest good is nearness to God, in this life and the next. And it is only ‘good’ people who are blessed with this. That is why the Prophet ﷺ has said: “Strange is the case of a believer, there is good for him in everything—and this is only for the believer. If a blessing reaches him, he is grateful to God, which is good for him, and if an adversity reaches him, he is patient which is good for him,” (Muslim).
As this hadith (record of the sayings or actions of the Prophet ﷺ) explains, whether something is good or bad is not defined by how it appears externally. “Goodness”, as explained by this hadith, is defined by the good internal state that it produces: patience and gratitude—both manifestations of peace with and nearness to God.
On the other hand, the greatest calamity is distance from God—in this life and the next. And it is only ‘bad’ people who are punished with this. What such ‘distanced’ people have, or do not have of wealth or status or property or fame is only an illusion—no more real or important than having, or not having, these things in the greatest dream, or the worst nightmare.
Of these illusions Allah (swt) says: Nor strain your eyes in longing for the things We have given for enjoyment to parties of them, the splendor of the life of this world, through which We test them: but the provision of thy Lord is better and more enduring,” (Qur’an, 20:131).
The enduring life is the one that begins once we awaken from this world. And it is in that awakening that we realize…
It was only a dream.
By Yasmin Mogahed

Monday, 4 February 2013

Victory is from Allah Alone!

During his Caliphate, ‘Umar radi Allahu anhu set out for Ash-Shaam with Abu Ubaydah. On this journey, they came upon a deep creek, which they needed to cross. So ‘Umar took off his sandals and carried them on his shoulders. Then he took the reign of the camel and began plowing through the water. Seeing the khalifah of the Muslims in this state, Abu Ubaydah felt saddened and said, "I fear that the people of the village will think you without honor." 

‘Umar replied, "Oh Abu Ubaydah, if only someone less knowledgeable then you made such a statement. We were of the most disgraced of people, and Allah granted us honor with this Islam. Now, whenever we seek honor in other than that which Allah honored us with, Allah shall disgrace us (once again)." 

Dear brothers and sisters, we often hear that the victory of Allah is something promised and very near. However, some of us do not really believe in our hearts that Allah will grant victory to Islam. Some of us may think that this victory that Allah speaks about is only for a certain elite group of believers, or that the victory was only for a certain time in history. We must understand that it is not just anyone who is promising this; it is Allah the Lord of the Heavens and the Earth that is promising this. It is not just a promise of the Hereafter, but it is promised in this life as well: 

Indeed, We will grant victory to Our messengers and those who believe in this life of the world and on the Day when the witnesses will stand (Ghafir 40/51). 

We can only hope for victory when we surrender our loyalty to none other than Allah, His Messenger sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam and the believers: 

And whoever is an ally of Allah and His Messenger and those who have believed – indeed the party of Allah will be the victors (Al-Ma’idah 5/56). 

Honor and victory come only from Allah. Whoever seeks it from other than Allah, nothing awaits them but disgrace: 

Give glad tidings to the munaafiqeen (hypocrites) that there is for them a painful punishment – those that take disbelievers as allies instead of the believers / Do 

they seek with them 'izzah (honor)? Rather, to Allah indeed belongs all honor (An-Nisaa’ 4/138-139)! 

And when someone thinks that this victory and honor that was promised to the righteous is only a delusion, they are in fact recycling the statements of the munaafiqeen before them. Allah recorded their scoffing in the Qur’an: 

And [remember] when the hypocrites and those in whose hearts is a disease said, "Allah and His Messenger did not promise us anything more than delusion" (Al-Ahzab 33/12). 

Was the promise of victory just a delusion? Let the Qur'an speak to us the outcome of that battle of Al-Ahzab! Allah subhaanahu wa ta’aala tells us: 

And Allah repelled those who disbelieved, in their rage, not having accomplished any good. And enough was Allah for the believers in battle, and ever is Allah Powerful and Exalted in Might. 

Ibn Katheer said, "Whoever wants a place of honor in this life and the next, let him hold firmly to the obedience of Allah and his goal will be realized.” This is because to Allah belongs this life and the next, and all honor is His. Allah subhaanahu wa ta’aala says: 

Say, O Allah, Owner of Sovereignty, You give sovereignty to whom You will and You take sovereignty away from whom You will. You honor whom You will and You humble whom You will. In Your hand is [all] good. Indeed, You are over all things competent (A’le-Imran 3/26). 

King, prince, duke, marquee, earl, viscount, baron, baronet, and knight – these were the names the English used to appropriate nobility amongst themselves. Humans want to be honored in this life and so they set out in search of things that will grant them this honor. Some search for it in money, but when the stock market crashes and they lose everything, they commit suicide or live in humility. Some search for it in degrees, but those same degrees may be their citation for arrogance over others. Some search for it in military might or a leadership position, but when the tables turn on them they become the most humiliated. 

Only in the worship of Allah is true honor found because all honor belongs to Allah: 

And to Allah belongs all honor, and to His Messenger, and to the believers, but the hypocrites know not (Al-Munafiqun 63/8). 

Al-Hasan Al-Basri said concerning the people of sin, "They – even though their riding beasts pitter patter with them atop and their mules carry them ever so gracefully, upon them at all times is the hovering disgrace of sin. Allah shall never allow for those who disobey Him anything more than disgrace." 

And whoever Allah humiliates – for him there is no one to give him honor (Al-Hajj 22/18). 

"He is doing what? Building a boat in the desert?" The people of Nuh alayhis sallam ran out to see if the news was true. Yes indeed! There he was, building a huge boat without a drop of water in site. Allah tells us: 

And he constructed the ark – whenever a group of the eminent of his people passed him they mocked him (Hud 11/38). 

They couldn't help but to ridicule him. "Hey Nuh, you were a prophet yesterday; have you now become a carpenter?" 

What happened, dear brothers and sisters, to those devilish people who disbelieved in Allah's Messenger for 950 years? Where are they now? Who was the winner in the end? Certainly, in the end Allah granted a decisive victory to Nuh alayhis sallam. More so, Allah tells His Prophet sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam at the conclusion of Nuh's story, how victory will always be for the believers: 

So be patient, indeed, the [best] outcome is [and will always be] for the righteous. 


In their misguided quest for ‘izzah (honor), the Greeks designated a female god whose sole job was to dispense victory and honor. She was a popular subject in their art, usually represented as winged and bearing a wreath or palm branch. The called her Nike. Sadly, many of us may still find remnants of their shirk present today on our shoes. 

The Prophet sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam said: 

"Indeed this affair (of Islam) shall reach wherever the night and day reach. Allah will not spare a single clay…home except that Allah will cause for Islam to enter it – whether with nobility or with humiliation; nobility that Allah grants with them entering Islam, or humility that Allah places upon them for their kufr." 

The narrator of the hadith, Tamim Ad-Daaree radi Allahu anhu said, "Certainly, I saw this in my own family. Those that became Muslim amongst them found prosperity and nobility and honor. And those that turned to kufr found nothing but disgrace, humility and the jizyah tax." 

There are different ways in which Allah grants victory to His righteous servants. For example, Allah may grant victory through martyrdom. Allah tells us in the Qur'an to not think that those who were killed in the way of Allah are dead. Nay, they are alive with Allah, well provided for. 

Allah may grant victory through the huge success in spreading one's da'wah. RasulAllah sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam taught us this in the story of the boy and the king. In the end, the only way the king could kill the boy was to shoot the arrow pronouncing the statement, “In the name of the Lord of this boy.” When he did so, although the boy was 

martyred, the entire village believed in Allah alone – the Lord of the boy. 

Allah may grant victory through the trials that distinguish the believers from the hypocrites. As a sage once said, "All thanks are to Allah who places a hardship on me through which I distinguish my friends from my enemies." 

Or victory may come through Allah assisting his servant with clear and decisive arguments. An example of this is how Allah supported Ibrahim alayhis salaam against the tryrant Namrood when he said that he too gives life and death. Ibrahim replied that verily Allah brings the sun from the east and he challenged Namrood to bring it from the west. Namrood was dumbfounded and had no reply. 

We all know that RasulAllah sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam started this mission of Islam at the Mountain of Safa. After telling his people about Allah and the final Day, Abu Jahl, his own uncle, turned his back on him and said aloud, "May you perish O Muhammad! Is this why you have gathered us?" On his heels he turned and 

everyone followed him, leaving our Prophet sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam standing alone. 

Two decades later, in the farewell Hajj, he, sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam stood on that very same mountain. At this time, the victory of Allah had come true as Allah had promised. All of Makkah was now Muslim, a sea of believers memorizing their Prophet's every move. RasulAllah sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam stood there on Mount Safa, faced the Ka'bah and recited: "There is no god but Allah. Only One. He was true to His promise. He granted victory to His servant, he granted honor and nobility to his army, and the confederates did He alone defeat."

So what is the reward for those true believers who believe only in the victory of Allah(SWT). Let me relate short story about the last man to escape Jahannam.

In Saheeh Muslim, Ibn Masood narrates from RasulAllah sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam the warming story of the last man to escape Hellfire: 

His crawl away from Hellfire is filled with his face sliping into the dirt, a tremoring walk, and a fire that licks him until he finally escapes. 

When he is past it, he looks back, horrified, and announces with the loudest voice, “All praise is due to Allah Who saved me from you.” Then he says, most proud, “Verily I have been rewarded with something that no one from the beginning to the end of creation has been blessed with.” 

At that moment, a tree catches his eye – a tree that was commanded to be raised for him. He quickly raises his hands, “O Allah! Allow me to draw near to that tree so that I can cool off under its shade and drink from its water.” 

Then Allah ta’aala calls him, “O son of Adam! I fear that if I grant you what you ask, you shall ask for more.” 

“Nay, O Allah!” pleads the man and he testifies that he shall ask no more. 

As the man basks in the glory of the tree, another tree is raised, one more bounteous and lush than the first. The man pleads, “O Allah! Allow me to draw near to that tree so that I can cool off under its shade and drink from its water. 

Allah then says, “Did you not promise me that you would ask no more? Perhaps if I give it to you, you shall ask for yet even more.” 

The man testifies that he will not, and is permitted that tree. 

Just then a tree is raised near the doors of Jannah, one bigger and lusher than all the rest and the man’s heart sinks. 

“O Allah, that tree, that tree. I’ll ask for nothing else.” 

“Did you not promise you would ask for nothing more?” 

“After that tree, yaa Allah, nothing more!” 

He is permitted to draw nearer to the tree and there, as he nears the doors of Jannah, he hears the sounds of its inhabitants and he leaps, “O Allah! Enter me into Jannah!” 

“O son of Adam!” Allah announces, “What shall satisfy you and finish your pleading?” 

Then Allah offers, “Will it please you if I give you all the treasures and bounty of the entire world and then double it!” 

The man’s smile shuts off and his eyes lock up. “My Lord, You’re the Lord of the universe…Are You mocking me?” 

… Ibn Masood started laughing. He said to his students, “Ask me why I’m laughing. I’m laughing because RasulAllah laughed when he told us this. And he also asked us, ‘Do you know what makes me laugh? I’m laughing for Allah’s laughter when the man said, ‘You are the lord of the universe…are you mocking me?’” 

Allah then tells him, “I am not mocking you, rather I am capable of doing whatever I so wish.” Allahu Akbar! 

Turn to almost every page of the Qur’an and you’ll find mention of Jannah. Jannah…have you ever seen it? Have you ever smelt it? Have you ever touched it? Have you ever tasted it? 

RasulAllah sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam taught us that in Jannah there is that “which no eye has witnessed, no ear has heard, and that which has never been imagined by any human.” Recite the verse if you wish: 

And no soul knows what has been hidden for them of comfort of the eye (satisfaction) as reward for what they used to do (As-Sajdah 32/17). 

Many Muslims tasted the eman of Jannah, and Bilal radi Allahu anhu was one of them. His slave master, Umayyah, would drag Bilal out to the grilling desert at noontime – the fiercest moment of the day. Umayyah would press Bilal to the scalding ground and place a boulder on top of his chest to increase the torture. As his back would melt away Bilal would say nothing but, “Ahad! Ahad! – One! Only One.” 

Later in his life, when companions would see Bilal’s scarred back, tears would well in their eyes and they would ask him how he survived the punishment. Listen to his answer: 

“The pain of punishment mixed with the sweetness of eman. I tasted both and the sweetness of eman overcame everything until I felt no more pain.” 

Today, let us sample Jannah, as offered to us in the Qur’an and Sunnah. 

The Gates of Jannah 

Imagine yourself present on the day when the gates of Jannah will be opened with all of the splendor that lies beyond it. Allah tells us in the Qur’an about when the muttaqoon are escorted to the gates of Jannah by the most handsome of Angels: 

“And those who feared their Lord will be led to the Garden in crowds, until – behold – they arrive there. Its gates will be opened and its keepers will say, “Peace be upon you! You have done well, so enter (Jannah) and live in it eternally.” 

RasulAllah sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam spoke to the Sahaabaa about the gates of Jannah. He mentioned the gate of prayers, the gate of jihaad, the gate of siyaam, and the gate of charity. 

Abu Bakr asked with the desire that took him to where he reached in eman, “Will anyone be called from all gates?” 

RasulAllah sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam said, “Yes, and I hope that you will be one of them.” 

The Shade in Jannah 

Imagine yourself in Jannah’s cooling shade – water springs surrounding you, and fruits dipping in hands reach. Allah tells us: 

Indeed, the muttaqoon will be amid shades and springs / And fruits from whatever they desire / Eat and drink to your hearts content for what you used to do (in the dunya) / Such we certainly reward the doers of good (Al-Mursalaat 77/41-44). 

The Ambience in Jannah 

Imagine yourself in Jannah. Jannah doesn’t have any gossip; no, “Did you hear about brother so and so,” or “Did see what sister so and so is wearing.” Your face is shining with joy and you’re so glad that you woke up for Fajr all those days, glad you paid your zakah, glad you wore hijab all those summer days. This is what the atmosphere is like in Jannah: 

Faces that day will be joyful (radiant) / Satisfied with the effort they put (in the dunya) / In an elevated garden / Where they shall hear no unsuitable speech (Al-Ghaashiyah 88/8-11). 

Jannah: The Greatest Gift 

In Masjid An-Nabawee I had been reciting the Qur’an to Shaykh Muhammad Ahmad Ma’bad for over a year. Finally when the time of the Khatm Al-Quran came, I brought a recorder to the halaqah and told him that I wanted to record the Khatm and the du’a for my mother who was in Canada. 

When he made du’a he prayed for my parents saying, “O Allah! Bless Muhammad’s parents with crowns of noor (light) on the Day of Repayment!” 

A month later in Canada, when I was handing out gifts, I pulled out this tape for my mother. She took it and listened to the entire thing. When my mother heard this du’a, she sat crying. She told me, “This is the greatest gift I could have gotten.” 

Truly, Jannah is the greatest gift one can get. As Allah subhaanahu wa ta 'aala says: 

“Indeed Jannah is the greatest attainment!” 


Regarding the inhabitants of Jannah: 

“You can tell in their faces the radiance of the blessing.” 

The inhabitants of Jannah shall be in: 

“Gardens and rivers.” 

The inhabitants of Jannah are: 

“Most pleased with what Allah gave them from His bounty.” 

Dear brothers and sisters, Jannah is the fruit of a seed planted in this dunya; it is the retirement package that you save up in all your years of work. 

There once lived a pious man who was enslaved to a wicked master. The righteous slave wanted to teach his master a lesson that he would not forget; a lesson that would make him change his ways. 

The master told him one day to plant wheat. The slave took the opportunity and went and collected seeds of barley and planted them instead. As the season drew near, the master was enraged to see that after all this work and time, the slave had planted the wrong seed. In his thrashing rage, he scolded the slave saying, “Why did you do this?” 

The righteous slave said, “I had hoped that the barley seeds would come out as wheat.” 

The master said, “How can you plant barley seeds and expect it to come out as wheat?” 

The slave stopped and said quietly, “How can you disobey Allah and expect for His bounteous mercy? How can you openly challenge his deen and hope for Jannah.” 

The master was stunned and silent. He understood. “You have taught me something today that I had never realized. You are free for the sake of Allah.” 

A poet once wrote: 

There is no home for a man after death 

Except that which he used to build before he died. 

If he built it with bricks of good deeds, 

Then the architecture shall come out beautiful. 

And if he built it with evil, 

Its architect will fall into ruin. 

Dear brothers, do you know what the greatest blessing for the inhabitants of Jannah is? Don’t let any laziness in Salah block you from being here. Don’t let anything anything stand between you and this blessing. RasulAllah sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam told us: 

“When the inhabitants of Jannah enter Jannah, Allah will ask them all, ‘Is there anything more that I can give you?’ They will say, ‘Have you not illuminated our faces? Have you not entered us into Jannah? Have you not saved us from Hellfire?’ 

“Then Allah will uncover the veil (and all shall see Allah). After that moment there would be nothing more beloved to them than seeing their Lord" (Bukhari and Muslim). 

Let’s go home today driving towards Jannah!

Angel of Death Series

The Angel of Death Series:

A short synopsis by Ustadh Muhammad Al Shareef

Usaamah ibn Zayd radi Allahu anhu narrated in a hadith collected by Bukhari and Muslim that a woman sent a message to the Prophet sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam that her son was dying and that he should come to visit her. The Prophet sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam sent a message back to her saying: 

“To Allah belongs whatever he takes, and to Him belongs what He gives. Everything to Him has a decreed life, so be patient and seek the reward with Allah." 

She sent a message back with an oath that he sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam must come in person to visit her. So he sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam went to her home with Sa’d ibn Ubaadah, Mu’aadh ibn Jabal, Ubayy ibn Ka’b, Zayd ibn Thabit, and others. At her home, the young boy was given to the Prophet sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam, with his breathing faltering. The eyes of the Prophet sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam welled up with tears. Seeing the Prophet crying, Sa’d said to him, “What is this O Messenger of Allah?” 

RasulAllah sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam replied, “This is mercy which Allah has placed in the hearts of His servants. And indeed it is to only the merciful of His servants that Allah gives mercy.” 

When death hits close to home, especially to young ones, many questions arise, especially from their young friends. One of those questions is, “How do we say goodbye?” 

Ibn Al-Qayyim wrote in his book Zaad al-Ma’aad about the blessed guidance of the Prophet sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam at times of death. He wrote: 

“It was from the blessed guidance of RasulAllah sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam to convey his condolences to the family of the deceased. It was not from his blessed guidance to gather people to give condolences, nor was it his blessed guidance to recite Qur’an at the grave, nor away from the gravesite. All of this is bid’ah, innovation, and shunned. From his blessed guidance is his tranquility and acceptance of Allah’s decree, thanking Allah and holding back from saying things unbefitting. He, sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam, disowned himself from those that rip their clothes due to the calamity, or raise their voices in a wail, or those that shave their head because of the situation.” 

Where do our youth normally learn about the concept of love? For the answer, all you need to do is look over the top music charts. A look at the billboard charts shows examples such as, Love Don’t Cost a Thing, What’s Luv, He Loves You Not, and others. These are just the titles, not to speak of the content of the songs, in addition to the TV shows, movies and everything in-between. So it would seem that America is teaching us the concept of love. 

When was the last time you heard an Islamic halaqa about the concept of love in Islam? It was probably not recently. Thus, we can safely say that Allah and His Messenger do not dictate to us many of the concepts of love that we harbor in our minds based on American pop-culture. 

Allah ta’ala says: 

Close friends, that Day, will be enemies to each other (Az-Zukhruf 43/67). 

We hear in the music and movies and sitcoms that ‘our hearts will live forever’ with the deceased. This is incorrect, as Allah ta’aala says: 

Every time a nation enters, it will curse its sister until, when they have all overtaken one another therein, the last of them (the followers) will say about the first of them (the leaders), “Our Lord, they have misled us, so give them a double punishment of the fire.” He will say, “For each is double, but you do not know.” / … Indeed those who deny Our verses and are arrogant toward them – the gates of heaven will not be opened for them, nor will they enter Paradise until a camel enters into the eye of a needle (i.e. never). And thus do We pay back the criminals (Al-A’raf 7/38-40). 

If a friendship was ever made for other then the sake of Allah, then that friendship ends at death. There is no ‘heart that lives on after death’. 

But if you have ever loved someone because they said la ilaaha illAllah Muhammad ur RasulAllah, then your friendship will not end at death! Completing the above verse Allah ta’aala says: 

Close friends, that Day, will be enemies to each other, except for the righteous (Az-Zukhruf 43/67)! 

And on the Day of Judgement, of the seven types of people who will find shade from the horrific heat will be two people who loved one another only for the sake of Allah. Imagine that in the hardest time of your life, if you loved someone for the sake of Allah, they will be saved hand-in-hand with you. 

Do all good things will to an end? It’s a good question. Summers come to an end, ice creams come to an end, interesting khutbahs come to an end. So what’s the answer? Allah ta’aala says: 

Whatever you have will end, but what Allah has is lasting. And We surely give those who were patient their reward according to the best of what they used to do (An-Nahl 16/96). 

There are things that help us in times of sadness: 

1. During times of sadness, Allah wants us to come back and reflect upon the Qur’an. He revealed it for us to contemplate over. The believer will find tranquility for his or her heart in it. 

2. Whatever happens, when someone is patient and says the du’a that the Prophet sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam taught us, that person will be blessed with something better. The du’a is as follows: 

Inna lillaahi wa inna ilayhi raaji’oon. Allaahumma ‘jurnee fee museebatee, wakhluf lee khayrun minh (To Allah we belong and unto Him is our return. O Allah, recompense me for my affliction and replace it for me with something better). 

Umm Salamah radi Allahu anha, the narrator of this du’a, loved her husband very much. When he died she stated, “I was firm to say the du’a, but I thought to myself, how could I get anything better than Abu Salamah? Allah answered my du’a and I married the Messenger of Allah! And he is better then Abu Salamah.” 

For those who have had a child die, take glad tidings in the following hadith. Abu Moosa al-Ash’aree radi Allaahu anhu narrates that Allah’s Messenger sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam said: 

“If the child of a servant (of Allah) dies, Allah questions the angels, ‘Have you taken the life of my servant’s child?’ 

“The angels reply, ‘Yes.’” 

“Allah then asks them, ‘Have you taken the fruit of his heart?’” 

“The angels reply, ‘Yes.’” 

“Then Allah asks them, ‘What did my servant say?’” 

“They reply, ‘He praised you and refrained (from saying anything unbefitting).’” 

“At that Allah will say, ‘Build a home for my slave in Jannah and call it Bayt-ul-Hamd (The Home of Thankfulness).’” 

Umar radi Allaahu anhu said, “We found the best of our provision to be patience.” 

PART II: Towards Patience 

The term al-Qadaa’ wal qadr is so easily inadequately translated. Some have translated it as pre-destiny or decree. I came across a book once in Madinah though, that cleverly translated the term qadr as pre-recording. 

This is a translation we can all understand, especially with our TV culture. Everything that happens to us is pre-recorded with Allah ta’aala, and nothing can happen except by His will and knowledge. 

When a death befalls someone, it is permissible to cry (without wailing) and to feel sadness in the heart. When the son of Rasul Allah sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam was dying, he held his small body in his hand and began crying. The Sahaabah who saw him crying inquired, “What are these tears, O Messenger of Allah?” 

He sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam replied, “The eye cries, and the heart is saddened, but we do not say anything other then that which is pleasing to our Lord, and we, indeed O Ibraheem [my son], are saddened by our separation from you.” 

However, we have picked up things from the culture of the non-Muslims, things that we do not find in the tradition dictated to us by the Lord of the worlds. For example: 

1. To wear black specifically to honor the deceased. 

2. Institutionalizing the placing of flowers at the site of the grave. 

3. To lower a national flag in honor of the deceased. 

4. There is no mention of a ‘moment-of-silence’ in our Deen. 

5. There is no mention of Qur’an Khanis (gathering people to recite Qur’an for the deceased) in the Sunnah of Muhammad sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam. All goodness is in following the guidance of our Prophet. 

6. There is no mention of gathering people 40 days after the death to recite Qur’an for the deceased. 

7. There is no mention of having an annual gathering where guests recite the Qur’an for the deceased. 

8. There is no mention in the Sunnah of collectively reciting Surat Al-Fatiha for the deceased. 

So then what should we do? 

1. We should hasten to pay off the debts of the deceased. 

2. We should give our condolences to the family of the deceased. This could be done in the masjid, at the gravesite, at their homes, etc. But excessively long gatherings at the deceased’s home should not be encouraged. 

3. We should make food for the family of the deceased and not burden them with having to make food for the entire community. 

4. We should all attend the funeral prayer and, for men, follow the funeral to the gravesite. The women should not follow, as Umm Salamah said, “We were forbidden from following the funeral processions.” 

5. We may give sadaqah on behalf of the deceased, and we may perform Hajj on their behalf. 

6. Above all, we should make du’a, a lot of du’a, for the deceased. This is what the Prophet sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam taught us. Du’a is made for the deceased in the funeral prayer and should continue to be made. There is the dadith about the servant’s actions being cut off except from three things, one of which is, “… a pious child that makes du’a for (the deceased).” 

Abu Hurayrah radi Allaahu anhu narrated that Allah’s Messenger sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam said to a group of Ansari women: 

“There is no woman amongst you who has three children of hers die, yet she is patient, hoping for the reward from Allah, except that she shall enter Jannah.” 

So a woman amongst them asked, “What about two children, O Messenger of Allah?” 

He replied, “Even two.” 

May Allah ta’aala increase our reward and perfect our patience if we are tested with the death of a loved one.