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Fasting New Muslims

The Four Sacred Months: What Do You Know about Them?

From the twelve lunar months of the Islamic calendar there are four sacred, concerning them Allah says:

Verily, the number of months with Allah is twelve months (in a year), so it was ordained by Allah on the Day when He created the heavens and the earth; of them, four are sacred. That is the right religion, so wrong not yourselves therein. (At-Tawbah 9:36)

Four Months Are Sacred

The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) also said about them:

“The division of time has turned to its original form which was current when Allah created the Heavens and the Earth. The year is of twelve months, out of which four months are sacred. Three are in succession: Dhul-Qi`dah, Dhul-Hijjah, and Muharram, and (the fourth is) Rajab of (the tribe of) Mudar which comes between Jumada Thani and Sha`ban.” (Al-Bukhari)

So what characterizes these four months, and what should we do in them?

Sheikh Muhammad Salah answers in this video…

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Muslim Lifestyle New Muslims

Work and Spiritually: Where Do They Meet?

laptop

With sincere intentions and noble efforts you can hopefully recreate some of that much needed spiritual reformation.

For many of us as Muslims out in the working world or even at home, it can be a challenge to sustain our spirituality post-Ramadan. Many people I know complain of the need to reform their spiritual habits and I count being in in good companionship as one of the vital ways to continually boost your spiritual development.

In the modern day, it is easy to slip out of the ‘spiritually developing’ zone, especially when you are in a non-Muslim environment and don’t have the same network of ‘sisterhood’ or ‘brotherhood’ to encourage your spiritual growth let alone as much free time.

I know of many friends who are in professions such as doctors, lawyers and even bankers who feel this ‘void’ in spirituality after venturing out into the working world. They feel a real dip in their faith and are crying out for ways to stay in touch with their spirituality in the workplace.

This article is an attempt at providing practical ways for spiritual reformation that I have personally adopted to use in the working world. Although it will be a real challenge for many, with sincere intentions and noble efforts you can hopefully recreate some of that much needed spiritual reformation.

1- Find Good Work Buddies

Although it’s easier to surround yourself with Muslims, I have personally found that even being in the presence of people from other faiths can strengthen your own faith. It is important to find a work buddy who you can openly discuss your faith with and be in good company. Even if it can’t be a Muslim colleague, then at least a colleague who understands and respects you and your faith values. I often find that non-Muslim colleagues are more interested in chatting about general life matters, so find areas of common interest before you start talking to them about matters related to your faith.

For those of us fortunate to work in a predominantly Muslim environment, having good company is still important as we can often lose ourselves amidst work. In our office, we’ve started a regular 10 minute reminder with the sisters once a week which we rotate between staff to help us remind each other of how to strive to be better Muslims – it’s often the spiritual dose we need for the rest of the week’s work!

2- Talk about Faith

One of the beauties of working with non-Muslim colleagues is that there is a natural sense of curiosity about you as a Muslim, but also at a human level so ensure you break down any barriers and connect with them at a human level first. Find out about their life outside of work without prying too much of course! This always opens doors to then talking about more personal matters like your faith.

Hopefully by developing a bond with your colleagues which goes beyond work you can comfortably and confidently talk about what it is like being a Muslim. Being a visible Muslim woman at work, maybe through wearing the hijab, is a walking da`wah opportunity, as every action and conversation teaches others about Islam.

Also, I have often found my non-Muslim friends have niggling questions about Islam which I am able to talk to them about openly once we’ve built a good working relationship.

3- Read, Read and Read!

There is one practice I have continued since university to develop myself spiritually, which is reading books – the more I read the more I realize how little I actually know! It is vital you read Islamic books on spiritual development such as Al-Ghazali’s works. You can even fit this reading into your travel time to work as I often do by reading on my Kindle.

balanced life

Despite the challenges, it is really important to have a work-life balance for your wellbeing.

During lunch breaks you can also read articles which will boost your faith and remind you of Allah through websites such as Muslim Matters, Suhaib Webb or ProductiveMuslim.com to keep you stimulated and get a refreshing ‘spiritual break’.

4- Attend a Regular Circle/Class

Despite the demands on your time as a professional Muslim and even at home, it is really important to have a work-life balance for your wellbeing. One of the ways to boost your spirituality is to attend a regular class, even if it is online rather than in person, to surround yourself with like-minded people as well as to continue to benefit in the pursuit of knowledge.

Find out what local circles are taking place, some workplaces even have Muslim associations and events you can attend or better still set one up of your own! I often tell sisters that they need to ensure they invest in themselves to grow spiritually and emotionally.

5- Use Salah to Re-focus

We are blessed as Muslims to have the daily salah, yet so many of us rush through prayer in a bid to get other work done.

Instead, we should use salah to refocus and re-energized ourselves for work. I often find that when I have a difficult task to do at work, just switching off and going to pray helps me come back more focused to tackle the task.

Also, prayer is a constant reminder that we are dependent on Allah’s Help to succeed at work and any task which lies ahead. So capitalize on this spiritual booster in your working day!

Once you’ve started to take the above steps, make du`aa’ that Allah places blessing in your work and time through your endeavors to better yourself. Remind yourself of the importance of holding onto your faith values and how you are an ambassador for Islam through your actions in the workplace. Hopefully, using the steps above you can begin to make spiritual reformations at work and beyond.

Productive Muslim is a Muslim who is striving for the highest station in Jannah (Paradise) by making the best of all the resources around her.

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Source: Dawahskills.com.

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Aminah Assilmi: Without Islam I’m Nothing (Part 2)

I am so very glad that I am a Muslim.

Islam is my life. Islam is the beat of my heart. Islam is the blood that courses through my veins. Islam is my strength.

 

How Islam changed my Life?

‘How much more we love the light…if once we lived in darkness.’

When I first embraced Islam, I really did not think it was going to affect my life very much. Islam did not just affect my life. It totally changed it.

Family life

My husband and I loved each other very deeply. That love for each other still exists. Still, when I started studying Islam, we started having some difficulties. He saw me changing and did not understand what was happening. Neither did I. But then, I did not even realize I was changing. He decided that the only thing that could make me change was another man. There was no way to make him understand what was changing me because I did not know.

After I realized that I was a Muslim, it did not help matters. After all, the only reason a woman changes something as fundamental as her religion is another man. He could not find evidence of this other man, but he had to exist. We ended up in a very ugly divorce. The courts determined that the unorthodox religion would be detrimental to the development of my children. So they were removed from my custody.

During the divorce, there was a time when I was told I could make a choice. I could renounce this religion and leave with my children, or renounce my children and leave with my religion. I was in shock.

To me this was not a possible choice. If I renounce my Islam, I would be teaching my children how to be deceptive, for there was no way to deny what was in my heart. I could not deny Allah, not then, not ever. I prayed like I had never prayed before.

After the thirty minutes was up, I knew that there was no safer place for my children to be than in the hands of Allah. If I denied him, there would be no way in the future to show my children the wonders of being with Allah. The courts were told that I would leave my children in the hands of Allah. This was not a rejection of my children!

I left the courts knowing that life without my babies would be very difficult. My heart bled, even though I knew, inside, I had done the right thing. I found solace in Ayat Al-Kursi (verse of the throne):

Allah! There is no god but He – the Living, the Self-subsisting, Supporter of all. No slumber can seize him nor sleep. His are all things in the heavens and on earth. Who is there can intercede in His presence except as He permits? He knows what (appears to His creatures as) before or after or behind them. Nor shall they compass aught of His knowledge except as He wills. His throne does extend over the heavens and the earth, and He feels no fatigue in guarding and preserving them for He is Most High, the Supreme (in glory). (Al-Baqarah 2:255)

This also got me started looking at all the attributes of Allah and discovering the beauty of each one.

Child custody and divorce were not the only problems I was to face. The rest of my family was not very accepting of my choice either. Most of the family refused to have anything to do with me. My mother was of the belief that it was just a phase and I would grow out of it. My sister, the ‘mental health expert’, was sure I had simply lost my mind and should be institutionalized. My father believed I should be killed before placed myself deeper in Hell. Suddenly I found myself with no husband and no family. What would be next?

Friends

Most of my friends drifted away during that first year. I was no fun anymore. I did not want to go to parties or bars. I was not interested in finding a boyfriend. All I ever did was read that ‘stupid’ book (the Qur’an) and talk about Islam. What a bore. I still did not have enough knowledge to help them understand why Islam was so beautiful.

Employment

My job was next to go. While I had won just about every award there was in my field and was recognized as a serious trend setter and money maker, the day I put on hijab, was the end of my job. Now I was without a family, without friends and without a job.

In all this, the first light was my grandmother. She approved of my choice and joined me. What a surprise! I always knew she had a lot of wisdom, but this! She died soon after that. When I stop to think about it, I almost get jealous. The day she pronounced Shahadah, all her misdeeds had been erased, while her good deeds were preserved. She died so soon after accepting Islam that I knew her ‘book’ was bound to be heavy on the good side. It fills me with such joy!

As my knowledge grew and I was better able to answer questions, many things changed. But, it was the changes made in me as a person that had the greatest impact. A few years after I went public with my Islam, my mother called me and said she did not know what this ‘Islam thing’ was, but she hoped I would stay with it. She liked what it was doing for me.

A couple of years after that she called again and asked what a person had to do to be a Muslim. I told her that all person had to do was know that there was only One God and Mohammed was His Messenger. Her response was: ’Any fool knows that. But what do you have to do?’ I repeated the same information and she said: ’Well…OK. But let’s not tell your father just yet’.

Little did she know that he had gone through the same conversation a few weeks before that. My real father (the one who thought I should be killed) had done it almost two months earlier. Then, my sister, the mental health person, she told me that I was the most ‘liberated’ person she knew. Coming from her that was the greatest compliment I could have received.

Rather than try to tell you about how each person came to accept Islam, let me simply say that more members of my family continue to find Islam every year. I was especially happy when a dear friend, Brother Qaiser Imam, told me that my ex-husband took Shahadah. When Brother Qaiser asked him why, he said it was because he had been watching me for 16 years and he wanted his daughter to have what I had. He came and asked me to forgive him for all he had done. I had forgiven him long before that.

Now my oldest son, Whitney, has called, as I am writing this book, and announced that he also wants to become Muslim. He plans on taking the Shahadah as the ISNA Convention in a couple of weeks. For now, he is learning as much as he can. Allah is the Most Merciful.

Over the years, I have come to be known for my talks on Islam, and many listeners have chosen to be Muslim. My inner peace has continued to increase with my knowledge and confidence in the wisdom of Allah. I know that Allah is not only my Creator but, my dearest friend. I know that Allah will always be there and will never reject me. For every step I take toward Allah, He takes 10 toward me. What a wonderful knowledge.

True, Allah has tested me, as was promised, and rewarded me far beyond what I could ever have hoped for. A few years ago, the doctors told me I had cancer and it was terminal. They explained that there was no cure, it was too far advanced, and proceeded to help prepare me for my death by explaining how the disease would progress. I had maybe one year left to live. I was concerned about my children, especially my youngest. Who would take care of him? Still I was not depressed. We must all die. I was confident that the pain I was experiencing contained blessings.

I remembered a good friend, Kareem Al-Misawi, who died of cancer when he was still in his 20′s. Shortly before he died, he told me that Allah was truly Merciful. This man was in unbelievable anguish and radiating with Allah’s love. He said: ‘Allah intends that I should enter heaven with a clean book’. His death experience gave me something to think about. He taught me of Allah’s love and mercy. This was something no one else had ever really discussed. Allah’s love!

I did not take me long to start being aware of His blessings. Friends who loved me came out of nowhere. I was given the gift of making Hajj. Even more importantly, I learned how very important it was for me to share the truth of Islam with everyone.

It did not matter if people, Muslim or not, agreed with me or even liked me. The only approval I needed was from Allah. The only love I needed was from Allah. Yet, I discovered more and more people, who, for no apparent reason, loved me. I rejoiced, for I remembered reading that if Allah loves you, He causes others to love you. I am not worthy of all the love. That means it must be another gift from Allah. Allah is the Greatest!

There is no way to fully explain how my life changed. Alhamdulillah! I am so very glad that I am a Muslim. Islam is my life. Islam is the beat of my heart. Islam is the blood that courses through my veins. Islam is my strength. With Islam my life is so wonderful and beautiful. Without Islam, I am nothing and should Allah ever turn His magnificent face from me I could not survive.

“O Allah! let my heart have light, and my sight have light, and my hearing (senses) have light, and let me have light on my right, and let me have light on my left, and let me have light above me, and have light under me, and have light in front of me, and have light behind me; and let me have light.” (Al-Bukhari)

“Oh my Lord! Forgive my sins and my ignorance and my exceeding the limits (boundaries of righteousness) in all my deeds and what you know better than I. O Allah! Forgive my mistakes, those done intentionally or out of my ignorance or (without) or with seriousness, and I confess that all such mistakes are done by me. Oh Allah! Forgive my sins of the past and of the future which I did openly or secretly. You are the One who makes the things go before, and You are the One who delays them, and You are the Omnipotent.” (Al-Bukhari)

_________________________

Source: whyislam.org.

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Ethics & Values New Muslims

Islam and the Value of Time

time

Time is the most precious gift that humankind possesses and can be taken from us at any given moment.

What is time, what causes it? Is it a dimension, can you slow it down or speed it up?

When we think of time we tend to think of the ways in which we measure the passing of time, a clock or watch, or we think of a measured interval of time such as an hour or minute. Humankind has always been concerned with time, the passage of time, the measurement of time, and the scientific qualities of time. We talk about time travel, the relativity of time, the direction of time and wheel of time.

There are theories and concepts of time and it is studied in religion, philosophy and science. Time even has economic value. Time is money. Time has social and personal importance; we use our concept of time to place events appointments and milestones in sequence. We order our lives around time, in Islam lives are structured around the daily prayers.

In the 11th century, Avicenna doubted the existence of physical time, arguing that time exists only in the mind due to memory and expectation. Islamic and Christian theologians adopted the idea that time is linear. Verses from the Bible tell us there is a time for everything: “To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven” (Ecclesiastes 3:1)

Time has an intrinsic value that is recognized even in motivational rhymes for adults and nursery rhymes for children.  To realize the value of one year, ask a student who has failed that year. To realize the value of one month, ask the mother of a premature baby, and to realize the value of one second ask the survivor of an accident.

Both the Qur’an and the traditions of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) make it clear that Islam considers time to a very valuable resource. Believers are encouraged to be conscious of time, to recognize its importance and to organize it wisely. If human beings do not waste or abuse time, but rather think of it as a blessing from God then they have every reason to hope for success both in this life and in the hereafter.

By Al-`Asr (the time). Verily, man is in loss. Except those who believe and do righteous good deeds, and recommend one another to the truth and recommend one another to patience. (Al-`Asr 103:1-3)

Prophet Muhammad instructed his followers and thus the believers to know and value the importance of time in the following traditions.

Humankind will remain standing on the Day of Resurrection until he is asked about four things: his life and how he spent it, his youth and how he used it up, his property and how he acquired and managed it and his knowledge and how he utilized it.

There are two of God’s favors that are forgotten by many people; health and free time. (Al-Bukhari)

Islam teaches us that time passes quickly and can never return, it is irretrievable. It is also the most precious gift that humankind possesses and can be taken from us at any given moment. God is the Giver but He is also the Withholder. Time passes swiftly and God reminds us in the Qur’an that the months and years pass but when we are standing before Him on the Day of Judgment our time on earth will seem as though we had lived, dreamed and worshipped for less than a day.

A speaker from among them said, “How long have you stayed (here)?” They said, “We have stayed (perhaps) a day or part of a day.” They said, “Your Lord (alone) knows best how long you have stayed (here)”. (Al-Kahf 18:19)

They will say: “We stayed a day or part of a day. Ask of those who keep account.” (Al-Mu’minun 23:113)

A believer should not waste precious time on things that will not bring him closer to his Creator. Actions that do not contain a benefit for himself, his society or humankind in general are usually wasted actions, wasted time. Islam categorized things according to their level of importance. The first Muslims used to capture and use every single second of their time.

Thabit Al-Bunany said: “When my father was on his deathbed, I went to assist him in pronouncing the testimony that there is no god worthy of worship but Allah, but he said, ‘Son! Leave me alone, for I have recited all my supplications five times and I’m on my sixth cycle now.”

Prophet Muhammad  also told his followers: “Do not curse time (ad-dahr), for God is the one who crafted time.” (Muslim)

Imam An Nawawi commented on this by saying: “The meaning of the phrase “for God  is the One Who crafted time” means that He is the One Who causes those events and accidents to happen, and He is the Creator of all that happens.”

Those who understand the value of time should make an effort to organize their time and make realistic plans. The entire life of a believer can be considered worship when that person is conscious of doing only what is pleasing to God. Religious obligations must be a first priority, however God is generous and time that seems so fleeting when we are flittering it becomes filled with blessing when we are using it to please our Creator.

The words of God in the Qur’an and the message of Prophet Muhammad to the believers are clear; we, humankind, are told to be conscious of time. God reminds us that life in this world is but temporary and we do not know our appointed time of death.

As believers we must never waste or abuse time, rather we must value it as a blessing from God. We must all understand that wasting even a single moment is an opportunity gone, never to return. When our time in this world is up, there is no going back and we will be held accountable for all that we do. Time is indeed precious!

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Source: islamreligion.com.

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New Muslims & Loneliness

believer

When the person truly obeys Allah, he is overcome with the feeling that he and all the forces of this creation are acting as one in worshipping the One and only true God.

When many Muslims think of Ramadan they can remember beautiful moments spent together as a family: eating suhoor (pre-fast meal) and iftar (meal to break the fast), bustling into the car to make it to the masjid for Tarawih (late night congregational prayer), celebrating `Eid together.

Yet speaking to some reverts will reveal the deep sense of loneliness they can experience at iftar or on `Eid day. This article had initially been intended for any revert brothers or sisters experiencing loneliness during Ramadan. However as I came to realize, this feeling of loneliness is not restricted to reverts or the month of Ramadan, so I hope it will be of benefit to whomever and whenever they feel utterly alone. So here’s an ayah (verse) to reflect upon from the Book of Allah, a mercy, healing, and source of peace for the believers.

Whatever is in the heavens and earth exalts Allah, and He is the Exalted in might, the Wise. (Al-Hadid 57:1)

“Whatever is in the heavens and earth”

We should not feel we’re alone in worshipping our Creator and try to fulfill our sole purpose on this earth. You may be the only Muslim in your house, neighborhood, or even town, but remember that everything in the heavens and earth – the trees, birds, plants, animals, and so on – are also declaring the perfection of Allah, subhanahu wa ta`ala (Exalted is He).

The seven heavens and the earth and whatever is in them exalt Him. And there is not a thing except that it exalts (Allah) by His praise, but you do not understand their (way of) exalting. Indeed, He is ever Forbearing and Forgiving. (Al-Israa’ 17:44)

Do you not see that to Allah prostrates whoever is in the heavens and whoever is on the earth, and the sun, and the moon, and the stars, and the mountains, and the trees, the moving creatures, and many of the people? But upon many the punishment has been justified. And he whom Allah humiliates – for him there is no bestower of honor. Indeed, Allah does what He wills. (Al-Hajj 22:18)

So let’s remember that the greatest blessing that Allah bestowed us with, out of His bounty, kindness, and mercy towards us, is that He guided us to be Muslims. Whether the people and environment around us do not know, realize, or fulfill their purpose, let’s remember that we are in the company of all that is in the heavens and earth exalting Allah and declaring His perfection—from the noble angels to tiny ants. (There is no deity worthy of worship but God).

The Angels

Beyond the creatures visible to us, the angels that belong to the realm of the unseen are in the constant worship of Allah.

The Prophet (peace be upon him) informed us: “The sky creaked and it had the right to creak: it had not a single space of four fingers on which an angel was not prostrating (in worship).” (Al-Bukhari)

Subhan Allah (Glory be to God)! We can also obtain a sense of blessed company by pushing ourselves to remain in our place after prayer:

“The angels supplicate in favor of one of you so long as he remains in the place where he has performed prayer and does not break his ablution or leave. They (the angels) say: ‘O Allah! Forgive him, O Allah! Have mercy on him.”’ (Malik, Ahmad, Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

We can use this time to say the sunnah adhkar (remembrances of Allah; specific du`a’, supplications, in this context) after salah (prayer) and do dhikr (remembrance of Allah). This quiet time and space to remember Allah has great spiritual benefit. It brings calmness and contentment of the heart as well as provides us with renewed spiritual strength and endurance.

The Outcome

So what’s the effects of the realization that “…every created being is in a state of submission to Allah and worships Him in a manner appropriate to its situation. The sun, moon, stars, trees and animals are all in a state of subjugation and (prostration) to Allah, and all of them worship Him in an appropriate manner”?

A believer may find ridicule and rejection, hindrance and objection, in his endeavor to obey Allah and adhere to the straight path. However “Allah’s soldiers are with him. The angels worship Allah and dedicate their lives to Him as the believer does. Thus, this true believer is not alone on the road to Allah.”  (Kitab Al-Iman: According to the Classical Works of Sheikh Al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah, by Dr. Muhammad Naim Yasin)

As Sheikh Jamal Al-Din M. Zarabozo puts it: “An astounding result of this realization is that when the person truly obeys Allah, he is overcome with the feeling that he and all the forces of this creation are acting as one in worshipping the one and only true God and Creator.” (Purification of the Soul: Concept, Process, and Means)

Action Points

Remain sitting at your place of prayer a bit longer, as much as you can, whenever possible, remembering Allah (Exalted is He).

Allah is the One Who is praised extensively, and all that He does is praiseworthy, so we should remember His decree is praiseworthy and we are rewarded for showing patience and contentment. Be happy that we are among those whom Allah has guided to worship Him. We discussed how everything in the heavens and earth declares the perfection of Allah.

Learn a du`aa’ that our Prophet used to say in ruku` (bowing in prayer) and sujud (prostration): “Subooh, Qudoos, Rabb Al-Malaa’ikati wa Ar-RooH.” (the One Who is Exalted a lot, the One Who is very pure, the Lord of the angels and of Jibreel (Gabriel).

Also from this root of sa-ba-ha in subooh comes the dhikrsubhan Allah’  (Glory be to God). Choose a time every morning, daytime, or evening, to reap the following benefit: “Whoever says ‘Subhan-Allahi wa bihamdihi’ (Allah is free from imperfection and to Him belongs all the praise) 100 times a day, all his (minor) sins will be wiped out even if they are equal to the extent of the foam of the ocean.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

Surely we’ll fell less lonely when praising and remembering Allah.

_________________________

Source: suhaibwebb.com.

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Without Islam My Life Would Have Been a Lie

By Muhammad Schieber

islam myWhen I was 23 years old I had just graduated from community college and I entered the University. During this period of my life, I was at a bit of a personal crossroads.

During my teenage years I had been a bit rebellious, experimenting with drinking and drugs, a typical American teenage rebellion. All this stopped during the summer of my 20th year when I nearly drowned in an alcohol fueled canoe trip.

However, simply staying away from life’s evils wasn’t providing the meaning and the understanding of life that I required. I had been raised Roman Catholic, but the Trinitarian doctrine and the concept of somebody needing to die for my sins never really made sense to me. I had dabbled in some new age stuff, some Buddhism and Hinduism as well.

As part of my Asian Studies minor, I enrolled in a course entitled “Islamic Fundamentalism.” The course was a graduate level seminar that was focused on whether or not the term “fundamentalist” was useful or applicable to Muslims. I had had a very general idea about Islam at that point.

After that course I was hooked, I switched my major to Comparative Religion and took every course I could about Islam. I pride myself on being a very critical thinker. I struggled over the next couple of years to find a way to discredit Islam or disprove it, but in the end I couldn’t. It became a truth I could no longer deny. For me to live any other way would be to live a lie. That was 19 and a half long years ago, Alhamdulillah.

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Faith: Does It Increase and Decrease?

road_nature

Those who declare Islam without observing the good deeds and refraining from misdeeds are with weak iman.

Iman (faith) has been linguistically defined as believing and confidence. Termly, it is defined as the expression of the tongue, the conviction of the heart and the work of the organs, and it increases and decreases. The expression of the tongue refers to the Shahadah (Declaration of Faith; no one is worthy of worship except Allah, and Muhammad is Allah’s Messenger).

The conviction of the heart is to believe in Allah, His Angels, His Books, His Prophets, the Last Day and the Divine Decree. The work of the organs means the observance of good deeds and the abstention from misdeeds. This is the position of Ahl As-Sunnah Wal-Jama`ah (the followers of Sunnah and Muslim community) regarding the concept of iman.

Ibn Taymiyyah mentioned in his book Al-Fatwa that Imam Ash-Shafi`i said, “There has been an ijma` (unanimous agreement) among the companions of the Prophet, their followers and our scholars that iman is a declaration, work and conviction and that none of the three suffices for the others.”(Ibn Taymiyyah, Majmu` Al-Fatawa)

Ahl As-Sunnah view that iman can be increased or decreased. It increases by doing good deeds, acts of worship and contemplating on the Qur’an, rulings of Islam, hadiths and the creation of Allah, and decreases by misdeeds, following evil desires and Satan and negligence of reciting the Qur’an.

Narrated Abu Hurairah: “The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “Iman consists of more than sixty branches, and modesty is a branch of faith.” (Al-Bukhari)

This meaningful and highly expressive hadith is one of the greatest hadiths of Islam. It deals with the concept of iman and highlights one of its parts, namely modesty.

The Prophet shows us that the term of iman is not restricted to beliefs but it includes actions as well. He informs us that iman consists of more than sixty parts and it includes sayings and deeds, as mentioned in other narrations of the hadith.

Yet, someone may say, “The Prophet was asked ‘what is iman?’ in the well-known hadith of Jibreel (Angel Gabriel) and he restricted the meaning of iman to belief.” Sheikh Ibn `Uthaimin clarifies this by saying, “Iman in the sense of belief is based on six principles, which are mentioned in the hadith of Jibril (peace be upon him), when he questioned the Prophet, who said: “iman means to believe in Allah, His Angels, His Books, His Messengers, the Last Day, and the Divine Decree, both good and bad.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

Yet, the broad meaning of iman includes good deeds of various kinds and it has seventy-odd branches. In this context, Allah called prayer iman in His saying:

And never would Allah have caused you to lose your iman. Indeed Allah is, to the people, Kind and Merciful. (Al-Baqarah 2:143)

The scholars of Tafsir (Qur’an Exegesis) said: “iman” here means prayer, because the companions used to pray towards Al-Masjid Al-Aqsa before they were commanded to face the Ka`bah in their prayers.” (3)

The hadith at hand proves the stance of Ahl Al-Sunnah, that is iman is not only restricted to beliefs but it includes deeds. In the hadith, the Prophet mentions that modesty, which is the work of organs, is a branch or part of faith.

Also, there is another narration of the hadith that the Prophet said, “Iman has sixty odd or seventy odd branches. The uppermost of all these is the Testimony of Faith “La ilaha illallah” (there is no true god except Allah) while the least of them is the removal of the harmful objects from the road. And modesty is a branch of Iman.” (Muslim)

Thus, it considered the Declaration of Faith and the work of organs, represented in the removal of harmful objects from the road and modesty, as branches and parts of iman.

Actually, this is an extremely important principle that should be understood and taken into consideration. There are those who claim that pronouncing the Testimony of Faith is enough to be a believer deserving the Mercy of Allah and His Paradise. This hadith refutes these false claims, because a Muslim has to work hard to get closer to Allah by means of acts of worship.

A Muslim with perfect faith is the one who declares Islam by the tongue, believes in Allah, His Messenger and what they told and commanded, and performs the good deeds and refrains from misdeeds. Those who declare Islam without observing the good deeds and refraining from misdeeds are with weak iman and are treading the ways of Satan and hell-fire.

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What Makes Me a Muslim?

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Accepting Islam means that Muslims should consciously and deliberately accept what has been taught by the Prophet Muhammad and act accordingly.

 

Brothers in Islam! We all as Muslims sincerely believe that Islam is the greatest blessing that Allah has given us in this world. We find our hearts filled with gratitude to Him for including us in the Ummah of the Prophet Muhammad (blessings and peace be on him) and bestowing upon us this unique blessing. Allah Himself describes Islam as His most invaluable gift to His servants:

Today I have perfected your Deen (way of life) for you, and I have completed My blessing upon you, and I have willed that Islam be the way for you. (Al-Ma’idah 5:3)

To be truly grateful for this greatest favour, you must therefore render to Allah His due. If you do not do so, you are undoubtedly an ungrateful person. And what ingratitude can be worse than to forget what you owe to your God.

How can we, you may ask, render these dues?

Since Allah has been gracious enough to include you in the Ummah of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be on him) the best way of showing gratitude – and there is no other way – is to become totally committed followers of the Prophet. And, since He has made you a part of the Muslim Ummah, to become true Muslims. If you do not, the punishment for your ingratitude will be as great as the original gift was. May Allah save us all from this great punishment! Ameen.

You will now ask: How can we become Muslims in the true sense of the word?

To answer this question I want to look at a point of fundamental importance, without which we cannot hope to discover true faith. This, you must understand, is the first essential step on your road to becoming a true Muslim.

Is Islam a Birthright?

But, first, think for a while: What does the word ‘Muslim’, which we all use so often, really mean? Can a person be a Muslim by virtue of his birth? Is a person a Muslim simply because he is the son or grandson of a Muslim? Is a Muslim born a Muslim just as a Hindu Brahman’s son is born a Brahman, or an Englishman’s son is born an Englishman, or a white man’s son is born a white man, or a negro’s son is born a negro? Are ‘Muslims’ a race, a nationality or a caste?

Do Muslims belong to the Muslim Ummah like Aryans belong to the Aryan race? And, just as a Japanese is a Japanese because he is born in Japan, is a Muslim similarly a Muslim by being born in a Muslim country?

Your answer to these questions will surely be: No. A Muslim does not become truly a Muslim simply because he is born a Muslim. A Muslim is not a Muslim because he belongs to any particular race; he is a Muslim because he follows Islam. If he renounces Islam, he ceases to be a Muslim.

Any person, whether a Brahman or a Rajput, an Englishman or a Japanese, a white or a black, will, on accepting Islam, become a full member of the Muslim community; while a person born in a Muslim home may be expelled from the Muslim community if he gives up following Islam, even though he may be a descendant of the Prophet, an Arab or a Pathan.

Such will surely be your answer to my question. This establishes that the greatest gift of Allah which you enjoy – that of being a Muslim – is not something automatically inherited from your parents, which remains yours for life by right irrespective of your attitudes and behaviour. It is a gift which you must continually strive to deserve if you want to retain it; if you are indifferent to it, it may be taken away from you, God forbid.

No Mere Verbal Profession

You agree that we become Muslims only by accepting Islam. But what does acceptance of Islam mean? Does it mean that whoever makes a verbal profession ‘I am a Muslim’ or ‘I have accepted Islam’ becomes a true Muslim?

Or does it mean that, just as a Brahman worshipper may recite a few words of Sanskrit without understanding them, a man who utters some Arabic phrases without knowing their meaning becomes a Muslim? What reply will you give to this question?

You cannot but answer that accepting Islam means that Muslims should consciously and deliberately accept what has been taught by the Prophet Muhammad and act accordingly. People who do not so behave are not Muslims in the true sense.

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The article is an excerpt from Abul A`la Al-Mawdudi’s book “Let Us Be Muslims”. 

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Fear and Hope: God’s Two Blessings

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If a person acts without concern and fear as if he came to this world only to live, then they should be concerned about themselves.

It is narrated in a prophetic saying that God said ”I will not give my servant two assurances at the same time.” (Ibn Hibban)

Fear and hope are two great blessings that God has given us or will do so in the future. Using these two blessings in a measured way as a vehicle to reach God is another blessing, indeed a greater blessing.

For a Better Life

There’s an association between one’s sense of security and a life of comfort and possibly luxury while fear is connected with leading a life in poverty and destitution. At first glance, this may readily provide a partial explanation to the hadith above, but it would be wrong to assume that this is an exhaustive commentary.

Another way to understand this hadith could be as follows:

If a person is living carefree and in indulgence in the world, is not concerned about the next life, and has no worries about the destruction of his soul and spiritual life, and if that person has no fear of the losing his subtle qualities, no fear of the death of his feelings and the extinction of his spiritual faculties and thus lives without fear, that person cannot be without fear in the next world.

If a person lives with fear in this world-fear in the sense mentioned above, and is always anxious both in his words and actions, saying: ”O my Lord! If it were not for Your benevolence, I could not protect my faith; if not for Your grace, I could not protect my subtle points; if not for Your generosity, I could not survive; if not for Your compassion and mercy, I cannot enter Heaven. If not for the beloved, the mercy of the world, I would not have found my way and would have remained in depravity.”

If he can always exist in this fear and frequently take himself to account, control himself, and take the opportunity to renew himself, in the next world-God willing-there will be no fear for him.

However, there is an indispensible truth in the way this question is phrased, and it is not far from the meaning expressed in the hadith. If a person acts without concern and fear as if he came to this world only to live, and if he never feels any anxiety, then that person should be concerned about himself.

In fact, even if this does not happen often, he should worry about living only in comfort and languor and feel shame for it. The following example clarifies the matter a little more.

As related in sound narrations, `Umar ibn `Abdulaziz would sometimes repeat the verse, ”When the chains are around their necks, and fetters (around their legs). They will be dragged,” (Ghafir 40:71) and would fall on the floor.

In addition, he would read this verse many times and pass out:

You consumed in your worldly life your (share of) pure, wholesome things, and enjoyed them fully (without considering the due of the Hereafter, and so have taken in the world the reward of all your good deeds). So this Day, you are recompensed with the punishment of abasement because of your scornful arrogance on the earth against all right, and because of your transgressing (the bounds set by God). (Al-Ahqaf 46:20)

Sound Heart/Belief

Yes, it is very normal for a believer with a sound heart to have such a concern, and actually this fear is the result of profound contemplations. But God may have also given this world in terms of substantial health to a person as He gave to `Abdur-Rahman ibn `Awf and `Uthman ibn `Affan, two giant believers.

In that case, believers should make use of their wealth for the sake of lofty purposes and serve humanity for the sake of God. It is not necessary to give away possessions entirely; it is better to give in measured terms to those who are in need.

A part of the assets should be retained so that they can be invested and wealth multiplied; thus, in the end one can donate a greater amount. Let it suffice that our intentions are pure, that we know this wealth is a trust from God and that we are ready to give it away when our Lord wants it.

This should be a benchmark against which we frequently check the level of our hearts. Can we comfortably say, deep within our consciences, that we are ready to give every time we hear the command and suggestions by Our Lord? Can we say, ’Yes, O My Lord, I am ready to give!’?

If we can do this, in other words, if the state of our heart is not attached to the possessions we have, then an increase in wealth can bear no negative impact upon us, and our property will not be the cause of any worry concerning the Hereafter, if God so wills.

On the other hand, if a person insists on living heedlessly, having no belief or spiritual quest, simply, yet unwisely seeking to please the never-pleased carnal self-may God forbid-such a person will be bogged down in the swamp, headfirst. Let these two points not be confused.

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Source: The Fountain Magazine

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Who Is the Muslim and How to Be One?

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Only someone who is a slave of none but God and a follower of none but His Messengers can be truly called a Muslim.

BY Abul A`la Mawdudi

According to the Qur’an, men go astray in three ways. The first is to ignore the guidance of God and become slaves of desire. The second is to give precedence to family, culture, society, customs and the ways of forefathers over the law of God. The third is to ignore the way enunciated by God and His Messenger (peace be upon him) and follow the ways either of so-called important people or of other civilizations and cultures.

A True Muslim

A true Muslim should be free from these three ailments. Only someone who is a slave of

none but God and a follower of none but His Messengers can be truly called a Muslim.

A Muslim sincerely believes that the teaching of God and His Messenger is absolute truth, that whatever runs counter to it is false, and that it contains all that is good for man in this world and in the Hereafter. A Muslim who has complete faith in these truths will, at every step in his life, look only to God and the Messenger to guide him and submit to whatever they require.

Such a person will never feel troubled in his heart about obeying God’s commandments, or be concerned if members of his family or his society upbraid him, or if the entire world opposes him. In each case his response will be unequivocal: I am God’s slave, not yours; I have faith in His Messenger, not in you.

What is Hypocrisy?

Serving the Self

On the other hand, a person may say, ‘This may be the directive of God and the Messenger, but it is difficult for me to accept it because it seems to be harmful. So I shall act according to my own opinion as against the guidance of God and the Messenger.’

Obviously, no faith can be alive in the heart of such a person. He is not a true believer (mu’min) but a hypocrite (munafiq). While he verbally claims to be a servant of God and a follower of the Messenger, in reality he is a slave of his own self and a follower of his own opinions.

Adherence to Society and Culture

Similarly, a person may say that whatever the injunctions of God and the Messenger may be, a certain practice cannot be given up because it has been followed since the times of his forefathers. He, too, must then be reckoned among the hypocrites, however prominent the mark on his forehead traced by prostration in endless prayers and however pious his face.

The spirit of Islam has not entered his heart. Islam does not consist merely in bowing (ruku`, prostration (sujud) , Fasting (sawm) and Pilgrimage (Hajj); nor is it found in the face and dress of a man.

Islam means submission to God and the Messenger. Anyone who refuses to obey them in the conduct of his life-affairs has a heart devoid of the real Islam – ‘faith has not yet entered their hearts’. His Prayers, his Fasting and his pious appearance are nothing but deception.

Imitating Other People

Again, someone may, in defiance of the Book of God and the Messenger’s directions, urge thus: Such and such ideas and practices should be adopted because they are prevalent in the West; this particular behavior must be accepted because other nations are making progress because of it; this point should be conceded because an important person is advocating it. Such a person is in grave danger of losing his faith. This attitude is irreconcilable to iman (faith).

If you are Muslims and want to remain Muslims, then cast overboard every suggestion which is contrary to the injunctions of God and His Messenger. If you cannot, it ill behoves you to claim to be following Islam. To assert that you believe in God and the Messenger but to ignore their injunctions in the conduct of your lives in favor of other people’s thoughts and practices is neither iman nor Islam. It is sheer hypocrisy.

Allah leaves no doubt about the ridiculous nature of such conduct:

Indeed We have sent down revelations clearly showing the truth, but God guides whomsoever He will to a straight path. They say, ‘We believe in God and the Messenger, and we obey’. Then, after that, a party of them turn away; they are not (true) believers. And when they are called unto God and His Messenger that he may decide between them, behold, a party of them turn away; but if they are in the right, they will come unto him submitting willingly. What! Is there in their hearts sickness? Or are they in doubt? Or, do they fear that God and His Messenger may be unjust towards them?

Nay, it is they who are doing wrong. All that the believers say, whenever they are called unto God and His Messenger that he may judge between them, is that they say, ‘We hear, and we obey.’ It is they who are the successful.

Whoso obeys God and His Messenger, and fears God, and has awe of Him, it is they who shall triumph. (An-Nur 24:46-52)

Reflect on the definition of iman set out here. What is iman? It consists in submitting yourselves, willingly and totally, to the Book of God and the guidance given by His Messenger.

Whatever guidance and commandments are received from these sources you must implicitly obey and no arguments against them should be listened to, whether they come from your own minds, or from members of your families, or from outsiders. You can only be a Muslim if you develop this attitude. If you do not, you are no more than a hypocrite.

Compare, now, yourselves with those who had real and true iman in their hearts and see how they obeyed Allah and the Messenger.

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The article is an excerpt from Abul A`la Al-Mawdudi’s book “Let Us Be Muslims”.

 

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