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I Found Islam.. “I Found the Qur’an”

Shakeel Malik shares his story of how he converted to Islam. He found a copy of the Qur’an at a Buddhist temple, and then he found the truth, and thus  was guided to Islam. It was the beginning of change.

When he was  Christian, Shakeel acknowledges, he didn’t believe in Jesus, but now as a Muslim he knows he does believe in Jesus.

Learn more about his conversion story from his own words in the video below…

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Source: MercyforMankind.net

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Articles of Faith New Muslims

How Easy Is Islam?

By Shafiur Rahman

The deen is ease. Whoever makes the deen too hard for himself will be overpowered

Virtue is not due to the abundance of deeds that one performs; rather it is due to it being sincerely for Allah, correct in accordance to the Sunnah.

How many times have you heard someone say practising Islam or being a ‘religious’ Muslim is difficult? Reflect on the following.

Imam Al-Bukhari in his Sahih relates the following hadith (record of the words of the Prophet, peace be upon him) in the chapter On the Deen Being Ease.

It is related from Abu Hurairah that the Messenger of Allah said:

“The deen is ease. Whoever makes the deen too hard for himself will be overpowered, so direct yourselves to what is right, follow a middle course, accept the good news of the reward for right action, and seek help [(o reach your goal by being constant in worshipping) in the morning, evening and some of the night.” (Al-Bukhari)

The deen is ease”

The word deen means obedience; a state of abasement and submissiveness.

In the hadith, ad-deen is referring to Islam as the means or the vehicle by which one is obedient and in a state of humble submission to Allah (exalted is He). It is synonymous with Shari`ah (Islamic law) and includes both Islam (i.e. practice) and iman (faith).

The word yusr (ease / easy) means ease, facilitation without constriction.

Ibn Abi Jamrah in his commentary of the abridged Sahih of Al-Bukhari, Bahjat Al-Nufus, highlights a number of ways the statement ‘the deen is ease’ can be understood and demonstrated. Some of them are as follows.

1- Deen here can be understood as both iman and Islam together. Iman (faith) is ‘easy’ in the sense that it is straightforward without any complexities. This is demonstrated in the hadith where the Prophet tests the slave girl to see whether or not she is a Muslim. He was satisfied by her action of simply pointing to the sky to indicate that Allah is above his creation and by her attesting to the fact that he was the Messenger of Allah.

As for the ease in Islam, the practice, this is demonstrated by the famous hadith where a person asks the Prophet about the obligations of Islam and the Prophet tells him about the five obligatory prayers, the obligatory fast of Ramadan and the obligatory zakah (charity). Each time the person asked if there was anything more than the obligatory prayer, fasting and zakah the Prophet replied that there wasn’t unless he wanted to do something extra voluntarily. While the person was leaving he said to himself: by Allah I will not increase nor decrease from that. The Prophet said he has succeeded if he is truthful.

2- The ease here could be referring to what you have been given as a deen compared to the previous nations and the fact that you have only been obligated with that which you have the capacity to do. Allah has removed the burdens that were in the Shari`ah of the previous nations from this Ummah (Muslim community). For instance, the process of repentance for this Ummah is made by regret, giving up the sin and seeking forgiveness whereas for some previous nations repentance was through capital punishment (for some sins).

Another example is that unlawful things for us have been made lawful in times of necessity whereas this was not the case for previous nations. Also the fact that Allah has only burdened us with obligations that we have the physical and intellectual capacity to fulfill, for if he did burden us with something beyond our capacity, it still would have been acceptable as He is All Wise and the Omnipotent Whose decisions none can overturn. Therefore it is from His favour and bounty that He has forgiven us and only made us responsible according to our capacity. As He says in the Qur’an: “Allah does not burden the soul beyond its capacity”. (Al-Baqarah 2:286)

Therefore the one who is made responsible for that which one had the capacity to bear then that is from ease and not from hardship.

3- The ease here could be that religion is easy for the one who has knowledge of the religion and it is difficult for the one that is ignorant of the religion.

4- The ease referred to here could be the fact that the legal texts that imply an obligation without any room for other interpretations are few in number. The vast majority of legal texts are open to different interpretations (that lead to more than one valid legal option) and therefore this is ease and flexibility from the Master to His servants.

5- The ease referred to here could be to shorten one’s hopes, because shortening one’s hopes is amongst the causes that assist one in the religion so that the religion becomes easy. This is due to the fact that when one’s hopes are shortened covetousness is reduced, zuhd (detachment from unnecessary things) becomes easy and performing good deeds becomes light. This is similar to what the Prophet mentioned: “When one of you wakes up in the morning, do not expect (to live) till the evening and when one of you goes to sleep in the evening do not expect (to live) till the morning”.

6- The ease referred to here could be to perform good deeds in reverence to the rights due to Allah since the religion belongs completely to Allah. When one does this the religion becomes easy due to the sweetness of obedience, performing deeds become effortless, and in fact, one is nourished by the deeds performed for the sake of Allah.

“Whoever makes the deen too hard for himself will be overpowered (…)”

Ibn Hajar says that it means that whoever overburdens himself by excess in performing religious deeds without being gentle (on himself) will be incapacitated (to continue), cut off and therefore overpowered.

Ibn Hajar cites Ibn Munir as saying: ‘… this hadith contains knowledge from the emblems of prophethood. Indeed we have seen and people before us have seen that everyone who goes to extremes in the religion is cut off (from continuity). The intended meaning in the hadith is not to stop a person trying to perfect their acts of worship, for that is something praiseworthy, rather it is warning against the type of excess that leads to boredom, or against excess in supererogatory acts that leads to forsaking that which is more recommended, or that which leads to the performance of an obligation outside of its designated time.

The example of the aforementioned is if someone prayed the whole night fighting off sleep until sleep overtook him in the last part of the night whereby he slept past the Fajr (Dawn) Prayer in jama`ah (congregation) or past the best time for Fajr prayer or past sunrise after the designated time for Fajr prayer”.

Imam Ahmed narrates: “You will not attain this (deen) by excessiveness and the best of your deen is ease”.

“(…) so direct yourselves to what is right, follow a middle course, (…)”

Ibn Hajar says fasadidu (which is translated here as direct yourselves to what is right) means sticking to as-sadad (which is correct without excess or deficiency). The lexicographers say as-sadad means balance/moderation (tawasut) in actions.

Ibn Rajab says at-tawasut (balance) in religious deeds is to not fall short of whatever one has been commanded to do and to not burden oneself with that which is beyond one’s capacity.

Ibn Rajab also says about the word qaribu (translated here as follow a middle course) that it carries the same or similar meaning to as-sadad. Ibn Hajar says it means if you cannot achieve the ideal then do your best to attain that which is as close to the ideal.

“(…) accept the good news of the reward for right action (…)”

Ibn Hajar says it means to accept glad tidings of the reward for continuous action even if it is small. Meaning the glad tidings is for someone who cannot perform deeds to the ideal and that he will not lose any reward if it was not due to his intentional shortcomings. The object of the glad tidings is the reward, however the actual word itself (reward) is omitted in the hadith to induce a sense of veneration and magnificence towards the reward.

Ibn Rajab says it means to convey glad tidings to the one who traverses the path of obedience to Allah (exalted is He) through moderation, consistency and balance for he is the one who reaches the destination.

Indeed the path of moderation and balance is more virtuous than other paths, so the one who travels this path is given glad tidings. For, indeed moderation in adhering to the path of Sunnah (prophetic tradition) is better than exerting great effort in other paths. The best guidance is the guidance of Muhammad so whoever follows his path is closer to Allah than anyone else.

Ibn Rajab continues to explain that virtue is not due to the abundance of deeds that one performs; rather it is due to it being sincerely for Allah, it being correct in accordance to the Sunnah, and by the abundance of knowledge and actions of the heart. So the one who is more knowledgeable about Allah, His religion, His laws and His Shari`ah (religious law), and more fearful of Him, more loving of Him, and has more hope in Him is more virtuous than the one who is not in this state even if the latter performs more physical deeds than the former.

That is why some of the predecessors used to say that Abu Bakr (may God be please with him) did not excel others by much fasting or salah (prayer) but rather it was due to something deeply embedded in his heart. Some of them said the thing that was in his heart by which he excelled others was deep love for Allah and His Messenger and sincere counsel for Allah’s slaves.

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Source: suhaibwebb.com.

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The Straight Path & Life’s Inevitable Change

the greatest constant in my life has been my faith in Allah

If I stop moving in such a dynamic world, I will wake up suddenly one day to find that I have been left behind all alone.

 

In my prayers, I am constantly beseeching Allah with the words: “Guide us to the straight path.” Why, then, would I not see any changes in my personality?

Change, after all, is how we learn to respond correctly to new developments. It is how we move away from blind following and dependence on others towards independent thinking. It is the natural response to a world which is, by its very nature, in a perpetual state of change.

Religion, in its essence, is constant. However, our human interpretations and opinions are subject to reassessment. Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) used to beseech Allah with the words: “You Who turn our hearts, make my heart constant in Your faith.” However, he would also make the following supplication: “Guide me to the truth in those matters wherein people have differed.”

The circumstances the first Muslims faced when they were in Makkah were different from those they found when the emigrated to Madinah. The Prophet’s era was different from the era of the rightly guided Caliphs that followed. If we consider the Islamic legal opinions of the great jurist Ash-Shafi`i, we find that the rulings he formulated in Iraq were quite different than those he later codified in Egypt. Ibn Taymiyah, likewise, changed his views many times throughout his life.

In Islamic Law, commands take precedence over prohibitions, mercy takes precedence over strictness, and winning hearts takes precedence over deterrence. In my personal life, I prefer to judge and criticize myself before judging others. I like to discover my own faults instead of seeking out the faults of those around me.

The sky changes by the movement of its clouds. The rivers change through the flowing of their waters. The earth changes in its topography. Every day, the sun sets at a different point on the horizon. If I stop moving in such a dynamic world, I will wake up suddenly one day to find that I have been left behind all alone.

I spent five years secluded from the influence of society. This gave me freedom; the freedom to escape from the narrowness of circumstances to a broader outlook. It gave me renewed life and allowed me to better appreciate the good in others. When I came back into society, I found that a sector of society had moved towards an aggressive attitude. I had to make my stance against their behavior clear, even though it meant losing their favorable opinion of me.

In the Qur’an, we read where Moses (peace be upon him) asked Khidr: “Might I follow you so that you can teach me the wisdom which has been taught to you?” However, who has ever heard someone ask: “Might I follow you so that you can obey me?” This is inconceivable. My freedom is my most precious possession. Freedom does not like being curtailed, whether by a leader or by a follower. I must keep on moving, even if it means I will stumble over and over again. I just have to try and pick myself up every time as quickly as I can.

I am proud that the greatest constant in my life has been my faith in Allah, my deep love for Him and my positive expectations of His providence. I am able to forget my worries, pain and suffering when I bow myself before Him in prayer.

Let me take an example from my life. In my youth, I had unquestioningly followed some of the leading scholars in what was then a commonly-held opinion that Islam prohibited photography except in cases of necessity. I understood that the Prophet (peace be upon him) had cursed the maker of images, and consequently I could not fathom how pictures might be used as a means to call people to Allah.

Now, due to changing circumstances, you hardly find anyone who says Islam prohibits photography. This change did not take place on account of new research, but rather due to changing circumstances in the world. A courageous scholar is one who opens doors that can be opened, rather than waiting for others to break those doors down.

Indeed, I have changed a lot over the years, as well I should. If I was still saying in my forties what I used to say when I was twenty, that would mean I had spent twenty years of my life in vain.

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Source: islamtoday.com.

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In Islam, What Comes First?

balance in life

The beauty of Islam is that it is balanced, and attending to the rights of others on us is prescribed as is attending the rights of Allah.

 

It’s popular today for people to talk about balance; achieving balance between all their aspirations and obligations so they don’t fail in either.

Abu Hurairah (may Allah be pleased with him) reported:

“The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “The religion (of Islam) is easy, and whoever makes the religion a rigor, it will overpower him. So, follow a middle course (in worship); if you can’t do this, do something near to it and give glad tidings and seek help (of Allah) at morn and at dusk and some part of night”. (Al-Bukhari)

Following a middle course is what balance means. Islam does not mean that we observe only our spiritual obligations and totally neglect our worldly lives. We live in this world, while striving for the next world, so we need to be aware of the rights that others have over us; the rights of our Lord, the rights of our families, the rights of our bodies, and respect those rights.

In the seerah (biography of the prophet) class I took a couple months ago, we learned a little bit about Prophet Abraham (peace be upon him), and were able to draw a lesson about balance from it. In fact, we can learn priorities from his story in the Qur’an. First we can look at people today and see what their priorities tend to be; self first, then family, and then religion. Right?

Sometimes people even say “number one” when talking about themselves, indicating that even the society understands that a person prioritizes himself above all, and then he might place his family. Maybe if the person is married or children, these goals will be intertwined, but last of all comes the religion, and obligations before God.

In Islam, the priorities are that the deen (religion) comes first, that is, the worship of Allah. Then comes families, followed by our physical needs. You can look at the du`a’ made by Abraham in the Qur’an:

And (remember) when Ibrahim (Abraham) said: “O my Lord! Make this city (Makkah) one of peace and security, and keep me and my sons away from worshipping idols. (Ibrahim 14:35)

O my Lord! They have indeed led astray many among mankind. But whoso follows me, he verily is of me. And whoso disobeys me, still You are indeed Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful. (Ibrahim 14:36)

O our Lord! I have made some of my offspring to dwell in an uncultivable valley by Your Sacred House (the Ka`bah); in order, O our Lord, that they may establish regular Prayer, so fill some hearts among men with love towards them, and (O Allah) provide them with fruits so that they may give thanks. (Ibrahim 14:37)

There is another similar du`a’ in Surat al-Baqarah:

And remember Abraham said: “My Lord, make this a city of peace, and feed its people with fruits,-such of them as believe in Allah and the Last Day.” He said: “(Yea), and such as reject faith,-for a while will I grant them their pleasure, but will soon drive them to the torment of Fire,- an evil destination (indeed)!”

And remember Abraham and Isma`il raised the foundations of the House (with this prayer): “Our Lord! Accept (this service) from us: For You are the All-Hearing, the All-knowing.

“Our Lord! make of us Muslims, bowing to You, and of our progeny a people Muslim, bowing to Thy (will); and show us our place for the celebration of (due) rites; and turn unto us (in mercy); for You are the Oft-Returning, Most Merciful.” (Al-Baqarah 2:126-129)

This is the du`a’ made when Abraham was leaving his wife and child in the valley. It’s interesting because the request for provision is mentioned before belief, but Abraham is actually only requesting the provision for those who believe in the first place.

The du`a’ quoted above is after Ishmael has grown up and Abraham has visited him again in Makkah. (Chronology determined by the statement “make this a safe city” vs. “make this city safe,” a subtle difference implying that in the latter case the city has been established.) The city has been established and so Abraham requests that he and his progeny be protected from shirk.

So we can get an idea for priorities here, but also understand that everything needs to be in balance.

To close, I will quote a statement from the instructor of that seminar on the seerah, that loosely paraphrases a hadith recorded by Ibn Majah, At-Tabarani, and Al-Bayhaqi, which can be read here.

“Whoever’s concern is the dunya (worldly life), Allah will make his affairs disperse and will put poverty between his eyes. And nothing will come from the dunya except what Allah has written for him. But whoever’s concern is the hereafter, Allah will gather all his affairs, put barakah (blessing) in his time, he can be focused–and will enrich his heart, that he will feel rich, content and not poor, and the dunya will come whether looking for it or not.”

So the point of this post is that we need to have balance in our daily lives, which comes from prioritizing our efforts for the Hereafter. And the beauty of Islam is that it is balanced, and attending to the rights of others on us is prescribed as is attending the rights of Allah.

If there are any mistakes in this post, they are my own, and I pray that someone will correct them.

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Source: ibnatalhidayahblogspot.

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Believers Make Mistakes, But…

 

clouds_sky_nature

Muslims overthrow their discomfort and anxieties as a result of their mistakes by turning to Allah and acting according to the moral values of the Qur’an.

No one wants  to make a mistake and do himself or others  mischief. However, making mistakes is an important part of our trial in the life of this world. Allah created our trial in the life of this world in this way. Anyone can make a mistake but what is important is that he repents after his mistake and strive not to repeat this mistake.

Allah reveals in the verses of the Qur’an that human beings are weak creatures who can forget and be mistaken. A person can make a mistake when he does not think something through, ignores something, does not take the necessary precautions, is overwhelmed by his weak points, forgets or is mistaken. This is very natural.

However the important thing is how the person reacts after this, rather than the mistake itself. However big the mistake is, as soon as the person decides to resign himself and begins to show the attitude hoped to please Allah, that mistake disappears, by Allah’s leave. Almighty Allah reveals as such in Surat Aal `Imran:

Those who, when they act indecently or wrong themselves, remember Allah and ask forgiveness for their bad actions (and who can forgive bad actions except Allah?) and do not knowingly persist in what they were doing. (Aal ‘Imran 3:135)

Allah Creates Everything We Do

Everything a person lives throughout his or her life, everything they do, every situation they face, all of them are created by Allah with all of the pros and cons. In the verses it is revealed that not even a single leaf falls without the knowledge of Allah:

And with Him are the keys of the Invisible. None but He knows them. And He knows what is in the land and the sea. Not a leaf falls but He knows it, not a grain amid the darkness of the earth, naught of wet or dry but (it is noted) in a clear record. (Al-An`am 6:59)

It is also revealed “Everything they did is in the Books. Everything is recorded, big or small.” (Al-Qamar 54:52-53)

This means that the person makes that mistake because Allah wills him to do so; it is in his destiny to make that mistake. When he acts according to the Qur’an, something good will happen after that mistake.

For example, a person may break a vase when walking by it because he is not careful enough or does not look ahead. Or he can bump into a dinner plate prepared with great effort and knock it off a table. He may cause the people waiting for him to delay their jobs because he fell asleep.

Now in all these there is a variety of reasons created by Allah. Allah is the One Who breaks that object. Maybe that object would have caused a conflict between its owners or broken in a dangerous way that would harm someone. Maybe Allah will make a much more beautiful one to be purchased instead.

In the same way, Allah is the One Who makes the food spill on the floor. Maybe there is an bad ingredient inside that food and it would have made someone ill. Maybe that food would have prevented that person from eating something healthier.

Also Allah is the One Who does not wake a person who is late for a job because he fell asleep because maybe his friends waiting for him need to be late as well. Maybe this will protect them from some danger or maybe bring the means to carry out a more important job.

If one does not realize these facts, when he makes a mistake he would panic and feel anxiety and sorrow. He would feet unease and dismay. His sadness would increase even because of the effect of this situation on other people and his troubles increase day by day.

However, it is not in line with the moral values of the Qur’an to feel sad, dismay and troubled because of a mistake, which took place in his destiny by Allah’s will.

Muslims overthrow their discomfort and anxieties as a result of their mistakes again by turning to Allah and acting according to the moral values of the Qur’an. They do not fall into depression like people who do not live by the morality of religion. They do not feel sadness, sorrow or hopelessness by evaluating their mistakes with an emotional state of mind. They only experience a very deep and strong sense of regret.

However this is not an evil kind of regret; it is a Muslim kind of regret because this feeling of regret helps them hold onto the Qur’an even more strongly. They pray to Allah even more deeply. Their religious enthusiasm, determination to live by the moral values of the Qur’an, submission to Allah, faith in the hereafter and fear of Allah increase tremendously.

They take very sincere decisions to become better in every way and become more enthusiastic and energetic by striving more in this way. They know that even if they could take the time back, they would still make the same mistakes. When they criticize themselves and feel regret for their actions, they do not forget that all things have occurred according to destiny. Therefore they do not “live in a sense of guilt” as irreligious people do:

Everything they did is in the Books. Everything is recorded, big or small. (Al-Qamar 54:52-53)

It is impossible to claim that a person will never make any mistakes throughout his life and is complete and flawless because human beings are created as weak creatures who can make mistakes. Our Almighty Lord is the One Who is forgiving and accepts repentance.

Therefore, a believer needs to take lessons from the mistakes he made knowingly or  unknowingly or because he followed his inner self. What he needs to do is to regret it and follow the truth and submit to our Lord and strive not to repeat that mistake. Of course he needs to be very careful about not making any mistakes and commit any further sins and protecting the boundaries of our Lord.

But even if he makes a mistake it is a very good quality of faith to ask for forgiveness from Allah. The names of Allah as “The Acceptor of Repentance” (At-Tawwab), “The All-Forgiving” (Al-Ghaffar), “The All-Merciful” (Ar-Rahman) are manifested on the believers who regret their mistakes, ask for forgiveness and turn to Allah.

Believers Take Lessons from Their Mistakes

As a result of their faith and fear of Allah, mistakes help believers become more clean morally. Maybe they make a mistake on one thing, but they remember that mistake all their lives and avoid making a similar mistake by taking lessons from it.

However, Allah created human beings especially in a character so that they can use their conscience, feel regret and repent, turn to Him and ask for His forgiveness and take decisions not to repeat that mistake.

A person must do all he can not to make a mistake; and strive to act in a very moral way by using his mind, will and conscience to the end. But when there is a mistake, he needs to act in the way as described in the Qur’an.

If that mistake has helped the person to better understand his weakness in the face of Allah’s infinite power and his need for Allah, then this shows that person’s sincere faith and fear of Allah. If he regrets  his mistake and fears to be held responsible in the Day of Judgment, and if he submits to Allah’s mercy and forgiveness, then he is abiding by the moral values of the Qur’an by Allah’s leave.

Such a person prays sincerely so Allah accepts his repentance and forgives him. He promises to Allah with a true heart not to repeat that mistake. In one verse, our Lord heralds that He will accept the repentance of his sincere servants:

But if anyone makes repentance after his wrongdoing and puts things right, Allah will turn towards him. Allah is Ever-Forgiving, Most Merciful. (Al-Ma’idah 5:39)

The Qur’an is the only measure for believers, so their approach to a person who makes a mistake is always in line with the moral values of the Qur’an.

A believer knows that every person is a human being who is weak and who can make a mistake easily. He does not forget that Allah is the One Who creates everything – by Allah’s leave – and he can distinguish a sincere mistake from a deliberate one. When a person is sincere, his love or respect would not change because of a single mistake – by Allah’s leave.

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Source: harunyahya.

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New Muslims Prayer

Prayer: Forms and Purpose

Are there types of prayer in Islam? If so, could one be replaced with another? Is prayer the same as salah? Could we pray in any language?

Is communicating with God restricted to the five-time daily prayer? What is the meaning of dhikr (supplication) and what is the significance of it?

In Islam there’s no intermediate between one and his Creator. You can reach God and communicate with Him whenever and however you want. It’s the inner and unique link between one’s heart and His Lord. No one ever has the right to take this right from you or take your place in that relationship. It’s one’s own cycle that no one could interfere with.

On the other hand, salah is the Muslim’s five-time daily communication with God; it is obligatory prayer on every Muslim, being the Second Pillar of Islam.

Also, there are some forms of du`aa’ and dhikr taught by Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) that a Muslim can use in their prayer and supplication to God.

Learn about all this in the video below:

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Ethics & Values New Muslims

Islam: An Easygoing Outlook on Life

 

nature sunset

Clemency and an easygoing nature should be the spirit of our personal conduct and our social interactions.

Religion is a human nature. Allah created religious awareness as a component of the human being. Our very natures recognize essential moral values. This is what makes those values universal. When a person acquires religious knowledge, he or she discovers something about his or her inner self, something that was always there.

As for taking things in an easygoing manner, this leaves people with fertile ground for their innate upright natures to grow and develop naturally. It gives people leave to conduct their own affairs as long as they do not transgress against the dictates of the Islamic faith or the rights of other people.

There is an ethical basis which all human beings share, and which Islam came to perfect and bring into sharper relief. Islam did not come to strip people of their innate ethical awareness or overturn it. Rather, it came to confirm and strengthen it.

The Prophet (peace be upon him) once mentioned to his followers a covenant that the Arabs had concluded which had brought peace to their clans. He said that if he were ever invited to enter into such a treaty, he would do so. The treaty he spoke about had taken place before the advent of Islam.

It was a treaty which brought the people together at the same table to affirm their rights and their human dignity, and which put an end to the endemic warfare that they had been suffering from and that was consuming their lives and wealth. Though the treaty took place before Islam, it was nevertheless in accordance with the innate moral sentiments that all human beings acknowledge. We all know that it is better to learn from one another and prosper. We all agree that hatred, conflict, and rancor are hated by Allah and condemned by mankind.

Clemency and flexibility in religious matters restore to people a healthy outlook, allowing them to live their faith in a way that is genuine and that accords with the nature that Allah has placed within them. It makes religion easy on the people, the way Allah intended it to be.

“Once, a desert-dweller came to the Prophet complaining that Mu`adh prolonged the prayer too much. The Prophet asked the desert-dweller: “What do you say in prayer?”

He answered: “When I offer my Tashahhud (when one sits down after the last prostration), I say: ‘O Allah! I ask You for Paradise and seek refuge with You from the Fire.’ As for me, I am not good at droning on the way you and Mu`adh do.”

The Prophet said to him: “It is basically these things that we drone on about.” (Abu Dawud and Ahmad)

We can see that the Prophet (peace be upon him) did not impose upon the man to memorize what was too difficult for him. He took into account the man’s abilities. Maybe he was an old man, or had a weak memory, or was poorly brought up.

It is significant that the Prophet did not interrogate the desert-dweller about his intentions. No doubt, the word the desert-dweller used to describe the prayer of Mu`adh – and of the Prophet himself – was quite unflattering and could easily have been construed as an insult. The Prophet did not take offence.

Instead, he accepted the desert-dweller’s coarse and simple statement: “I am not good at droning on the way you and Mu`adh do” and answered gently: “It is basically these things that we drone on about.” With this answer, he comforted the desert-dweller and reassured him that the simple words he was using in his prayers were essentially what Mu`adh was saying – though maybe Mu`adh was using words that the desert-dweller was unable to understand.

Indeed, the desert-dweller was essentially making the supplication of all the Prophets – a supplication for Paradise and to be spared from Hell.

Allah says:

Lo! They used to vie one with the other in good deeds, and they cried unto Us in longing and in fear, and were submissive unto Us. (Al-Anbiyaa’ 21:90)

Clemency and an easygoing nature should be the spirit of our personal conduct and our social interactions. This attests to the truth that our innate, easygoing religious awareness is better than imposing difficulties in religion. It is also farther away from the dangers of pretentiousness, conceitedness, and showing-off.

We find that most of the people who preoccupy themselves with hair-splitting debates based in complex logic and semantic differences, they contribute nothing of consequence. They are like people fighting over possession of a dry well or scrambling to reach a mirage. They have left behind the life of normal people and turned their attentions to superficial disputes. They are the last people to bring benefit to others, but the first to criticize and cause disputations. This is indeed, blameworthy ostentation.

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Source: islamtoday.com.

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True Faith and Personal Responsibility

flower in nature

To be rewarded you must do what is expected of you by Allah by yourself.

As you proceed on your journey along the new path, in quest of the ultimate goal of Paradise, you will encounter difficulties and hardships. These may often seem insurmountable.

Overcoming them may be made easier by a good early grasp of the prerequisites of tazkiyah (purification). These are as follows:

Tazkiyah: Your Personal Responsibility

You must accept that tazkiyah is a highly personal process and that it demands taking personal responsibility for carrying it forward. You can only see the results of tazkiyah through your own realization, your own personal efforts and your own exertions.

No one else can perform tazkiyah for you. No organization, no leader and no teacher can replace your own responsibility. God says:

And no bearer of burdens shall be made to bear another’s burden; and if one weighed down by his load calls upon (another) to help bear carry it nothing thereof may be carried (by that other), even if it be one’s near of kin. (Fatir 35:18)

This sense of personal responsibility is basic to the whole purpose and approach of Islam. Ultimately, we are judged individually for discharging our own responsibilities. If someone else fulfills your obligations, then it should be he that is rewarded, not you. To be rewarded you must do what is expected of you by Allah by yourself:

Whoever strives hard in God’s cause does so only for his own good: for, verily, God does not stand in need of anything in all the worlds! And as for those who attain to faith and do righteous deeds, We shall most certainly efface their bad deeds, and shall most certainly reward them in accordance with the best that they ever did. (Al-`Ankabut 29:6-7)

Some people allow themselves to be dictated by others. The Qur’an states that the weak will say on the Day of Judgment that they were coerced into following the dictates of others, but that Allah will reply that the excuse is not legitimate for the decision to deviate from the Straight Path was their own.

Who set up another god beside Allah: Throw him into a severe penalty. His Companion will say: ‘Our Lord! I did not make him transgress, but he was (himself) far astray.’ He will say: “Dispute not with each other in My Presence: I had already in advance sent you Warning”. (Qaf 50:26-28)

Even Satan will stand up on the Day of Judgment saying: ”I invited you and you responded to me, so don’t blame me, blame yourselves“ (Ibrahim 14:22). Ultimately, then, the blame and the reward will be yours, because the responsibility was yours:

On that Day all people will come forward, cut off from one another, to be shown their deeds. And so, he who shall have done an atom’s weight of good shall behold it; and he who shall have done an atom’s weight of evil, shall behold it. (Az-Zalzalah 99:6-8)

Taking charge of your own affairs may certainly seem a daunting task, but one which you will accomplish with distinction if you appreciate and take advantage of the tremendous human potential that Allah has blessed you with. Allah says in the Qur’an:

Verily, We created man in the best conformation, and thereafter We reduced him to the lowest of the low – excepting only such as attain to faith and do good works: and theirs shall be a reward unending! (At-Tin 95:4-6)

fiqh books-knowledge

To inculcate true faith you must start by acquiring a sound knowledge of Islam

True Success… True Faith

Tazkiyah does not consist simply of ideas, but of life, behavior and conduct. The key to success, according to the Qur’an, lies in having true faith.

To inculcate true faith you must start by acquiring a sound knowledge of Islam through a dedicated study of the Qur’an and Sunnah. You must then translate your knowledge into practice. For this to occur, you need to have firm resolve and determination. This, in turn, will produce righteous conduct.

To aid you in your task, you must seek the company of those who are also striving to please Allah. They will encourage you towards righteousness and correct you when you deviate from the true Path.

Your company also includes your mental and psychological company- the ideas you entertain, the ambitions you nurture, the sensitivities and sensibilities you develop and the books you read.

All of these represent a form of company because they are your companions in solitude.

Genuine Effort

In order to succeed, you must have a deep desire to make a genuine effort to fulfill your obligations as a Muslim:

But as for those who strive hard in Our cause – We shall most certainly guide them onto paths that lead unto Us: for, behold God is indeed with the doers of good. (Al-`Ankabut 29:69)

With desire, of course, come actions. But know that it is not solely the results of your endeavors that count; what matters most is that you made your best effort.

This is a very important point to appreciate because without genuine effort nothing can happen. Those who think that prayer alone can work miracles are not living in a realistic world. Prayers are part of the effort, but prayers are not the whole answer.

If you pray, ”Allah! Guide me and make me good”, it is not going to bring you any benefit unless you are also determined to become good and make an effort towards becoming good.

Once you have done the latter two things, then, of course, prayer will be a source of barakah or divine grace that will further inspire and strengthen your efforts. The initial desire and the ensuing effort to do and become good, is part of the continuing process of self development, a process that may begin at any point in life that you choose and continue till your last breath:

O you who have attained to faith! Be conscious of Allah with all the consciousness that is due to Him, and do not allow, death to overtake you until you have surrendered yourselves unto Him. (Aal `Imran 3:102)

There will never be a point when you will be able to say that you are now a perfect person or that you have achieved your full potential. If at any point you feel so, then be sure that is the starting point of your downfall.

On the other hand, you may find that the greater your desire to fulfill your obligations as a Muslim the more you feel beset or plagued by frustration, despondency and despair in your heart and mind.

All of us, whether young or old, have experienced these diseases, and often just give up. What we should try to remember at such times is that it is the intention and effort that matters, not the result. This effort must be a continuing process:

Be not, then, faint of heart, and grieve not: for you are bound to rise high if you are believers. (Aal ‘Imran 3:139)

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The article is excerpted from the author’s book In the Early Hours: Reflections on Spiritual and Self-Development.

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Willpower between Reliance on God and Self-Confidence

By Khurram Murad

To achieve the ultimate goal in life requires a sustained determination to do so, a willpower that is forever responsive and strong. In Qur’anic terminology this is called iradah. Iradah is basic to all our efforts. Without willing to do something you cannot do anything.

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Self-confidence is borne from the believer’s intimate knowledge and understanding that Allah is ever ready to assist those who strive in His way

Iradah is very different from desire. You always hear people reflecting upon unfulfilled aspirations. One of the main reasons why aspirations and dreams remain unfulfilled is that they are no more than desires which faded to assume the status of iradah.

The Qur’an explains that one of the basic weaknesses in human nature which impedes self-development is the weakness of will. While narrating the story of Adam, Allah informs:

And, indeed, long ago We made Our covenant with Adam; but he forgot and We found no firmness of purpose in him. (Ta-Ha 20:115)

Iradah requires strength and consistency and is indeed the antithesis of doubt, hesitation or lethargy. Once iradah is firmly in place, then you must have no doubts and you must not hesitate.

Now, what purpose should iradah serve? The Qur’an makes it clear that this will power must be a firm resolve to seek the pleasure of Allah because this is the part of the bargain that you must deliver:

And whoever desires (arada) the Life to Come, and strive for it as it ought to be striven for, and are (true) believers withal-they are the ones whose striving finds favour (with God). (Al-Isra’ 17: 19)

Reliance on Allah

Self-confidence is borne from the believer’s intimate knowledge and understanding that Allah is ever ready to assist those who strive and struggle in His way. Self-confidence comes from depending upon Allah and knowing that He is there to help you, protect you and shower His mercies upon you:

So he who gives (in charity) and fears (Allah) and (in all sincerity) testifies to the best- We will indeed make smooth for him the path to Bliss. (Al-Layl 92:5-7)

Self-confidence also emanates from knowing that Allah in His infinite mercy has equipped you with all that you require to undertake the tasks set before you. It is not characteristic of the One that is Most Just and Most Merciful to prepare you for a duel without equipping you with the necessary tools.

Self-confidence is thus borne of total reliance and trust in Allah. It is knowing that at every step of your journey Allah is there assisting you. If you constantly hold yourself back believing that you are weak and incapable and blame your incompetence on minor inadequacies, then you are bound to fail. You must never allow yourself to believe or feel that Allah has treated you unfairly or that He has placed upon you a burden you cannot shoulder for “on no soul does Allah place a burden greater than it can bear”. (Al-Baqarah 2:286)

Likewise, hope is central to your efforts and your success. You must sincerely hope and believe that everything you do to earn the pleasure of Allah will lead you to fulfillment. A superiority complex negates the task of self-development. An inferiority complex is derived from a lack of confidence in Allah and oneself. You should never allow yourself to believe that you cannot fulfill your obligations nor should you despair of the mercy of Allah.

Confidence, hope and determination are all important ingredients for your success:

Those unto whom men said: Lo! the people have gathered against you, therefore fear them. But it only increased them in faith and they cried.. Allah is sufficient for us! Most Excellent is He in Whom we trust! (Aal `Imran 3:173-174)

You must be wary, however, of the kind of self-confidence that causes a person to proclaim himself self-sufficient. Modern concepts of self-sufficiency are indeed an evil form of shirk or polytheism. To ascribe self-sufficiency to one’s self is to assume for oneself an attribute reserved only for Allah.

For the Muslim, self-confidence is wholly dependent upon the trust one places in Allah; it is not an arrogant proclamation of complete independence from Allah. Allah alone is self-Sufficient. All else is reliant upon Him for existence.

The Best Use of Time

Time is not money or gold; it is life and it is limited. You must begin to appreciate every moment of your life and always strive to make the best use of it. With all the demands of worldly life on your time, you will yet need to find time for self-development and maximize its potential.

The better route towards self-development is, of course, to integrate all your efforts into a structured daily life. Imam Al-Ghazali, may God have mercy on him, in his great work, Ihya’ `Ulum Ad-Deen, gives the following advice:

“You should structure your time, arrange your regular devotions and assign to each function a set period of time during which it is given first priority but which it does not overstep. For if you abandon yourself to neglect and purposelessness, as cattle do, and just do anything that may occur to you at any time it happens to occur to you, most of your time will be wasted. Your time is your life, and your life is your capital; it is the basis of your transactions (with God), and the means to attain to everlasting felicity, in the proximity of God the Exalted. Each of your breaths is a priceless jewel, and when it passes away it never returns.”

Remember also that “the deeds most loved by Allah (are those) done regularly, even if they are few.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim.)

While you must always strive to make the best use of your time, you must always aim for excellence in everything you undertake, whether at school, at home, at work or at play. Indeed, the Prophet has said, “Verily Allah has prescribed ihsan (proficiency and excellence) in all things”. (Muslim.)

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The article is excerpted from the author’s book “In the Early Hours: Reflections on Spiritual and Self-Development”.

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Self-Purification: How & What For?

light-stones

Approached as a comprehensive and all-embracing process, you will find that each part of your life will complement some other part.

The most comprehensive goal for a Muslim is the single-minded desire to attain Paradise. This desire to seek Paradise is a life-long process which can be sparked in a moment- and this desire will provide the means and the momentum to reach the goal.

Your model for self-development is that of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). In your quest for Paradise, you must personally take charge of your responsibilities, develop the willpower to perform and make a genuine effort to fulfill your obligations, ensure that you make the best use of your time and adopt a balanced approach to life.

All-embracing Process

Islam does not subscribe to the type of asceticism where we purify our hearts and yet remain immersed in political, economic or social corruption. Tazkiyah must encompass our entire life – the privacy of our thoughts as well as their social manifestations in our daily life. Everything must be in conformity with Allah’s will.

This will of God also requires you to seek and maintain a delicate balance between the various obligations that demand your attention; between your obligations to Allah, your obligations towards others and your obligations towards yourself The Prophet advised us against extremism of any kind. It is reported that he said to `Abdullah ibn `Amr:

“Have I heard right that you fast every day and stand in prayer all night?” `Abdullah replied, “Yes, O Messenger of God.” The Prophet said, “Do not do that. Fast, as well as eat and drink. Stand in prayer, as well as sleep. For your body has a right upon you, your eyes have a right upon you, your wife has a right upon you, and your guest has a right upon you”. (Bukhari & Muslim)

Unless you approach tazkiyah as an all-embracing process, you will find that your life is compartmentalized, certain parts impeding the development of others. This can only result in a life of disharmony and unhappiness.

Approached as a comprehensive and all-embracing process, however, you will find that each part of your life will complement some other part. This should, God willing, make your struggle on the path to God and Janna, easier and full of grace.

As you struggle to make headway on the path to God, always remember that you have an excellent example before you. This is the example of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). Often we would like to emulate our sports heroes, our parents, our teachers, our friends or others who attract our attention. For your spiritual development, however, the most beautiful example is that of the Prophet. Allah says in the Qur’an:

You have, indeed, in the Messenger of God an excellent exemplar, whoever places his hopes in God and the Final Days and who remembers Allah much. (Al-Ahzab 33: 21)

The Ultimate Goal

The decision to purify and develop yourself requires that you clearly define the path and consider the ways and means to achieve Paradise. This whole process will not only purify your heart, but also affect your entire life and the will of Allah will become so much easier for you to follow.

Following the Divine Will is, of course, tazkiyah itself, soon, all your efforts will be directed towards the ultimate goal – the pleasure of Allah and Paradise:

Know that every sin can be effaced through forgiveness, and forgiveness is a sure way to Paradise. As you strive to better yourself, then, simultaneously and continuously pray for forgiveness for all your shortcomings. God says: And whoever repents and believes and works righteous deeds, God changes evil deeds into good ones, and God is Ever-Forgiving, Merciful. (Al-Furqan 25:70)

It is a misconception to believe that simply by setting up Paradise as the ultimate goal, one can get there without any further effort. It is also a misconception that Paradise can solely be achieved by concentrating only on certain aspects of life, the ‘religious and the spiritual’.

The very fact that Paradise is the ultimate objective means that tazkiyah must be pursued in all aspects of life, and in life as a whole. Consider, for example, the following:

– Is not honesty a means to enter Paradise?

– Will not a sense of responsibility enable me to enter Paradise?

– Will not striving to fulfill the needs of fellow human beings make me deserve Paradise?

– Will not abstaining from vain talk and aimless actions, bring me closer to Paradise?

– Is not consciousness of the best use of my time a key to Paradise?

– Will not keeping promises and offering salah on time, which are distinguishing traits of the righteous, put me on the highway to Paradise?

– Must not all of the above be sought to attain Paradise?

Every effort that is legitimate and is aimed at attaining Paradise is also an integral part of the process of tazkiyah.

In sha’ Allah (God-willing), if you take heed of all the prerequisites, blessings and benefits of tazkiya, you will surely find the right environment, the true companionship and brotherhood and the most appropriate training programs to make the task of self-development easier and more rewarding.

So give the good news to My servants who listen to the word [of God], then follow the beauty in it. Such are they whom God has guided And such are they who are endowed with understanding. (Az-Zumar 39: 17-18)

Through the Guidance of God

Remember that every effort that is legitimate and is aimed at attaining Paradise is also an integral part of the process of tazkiyah and that every sin can be effaced through forgiveness – and that forgiveness is the sure way to Paradise.

And as for the one who fears to stand before his Lord and who restrains himself from base desires, the Garden is surely the abode. (An-Nazi`at 79: 40-41)

May Allah enable us to be among those who purify themselves for it is “God Who causes whomever He wills to grow in purity; and none shall be wronged by as much as the husk of a date stone” (An-Nisaa’ 4: 49).

Were it not for God’s favor upon you and His grace, not one of you would ever have remained pure. For it is God who causes whomever He wills to grow in purity: for God is all-Hearing all-Knowing. (An-Nur 24:21)

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The article is excerpted from the author’s book “In the Early Hours: Reflections on Spiritual and Self-Development”.

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