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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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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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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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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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The Believers: The Qur’anic Model

The Qur'an

According to the Qur’an, a believer is by definition someone who stands out for his good deeds.

Successful are the believers. Those who humble themselves in prayers; who avoid vain talk; who are keen on acts of charity; who guard their private parts except with their wives and those who their right hands own. In their case they are free from blame. But those who seek beyond that, they are transgressors. (The believers are) those who faithfully observe their trusts and covenants, those who guard their prayers. They are the inheritors of Paradise. They shall dwell in it (forever). (Al-Mu’minun 23:1-11)

It goes without saying that the Qur’an is the Book of guidance par excellence, instructing man how to live his life. As part of its grand plan of instruction, the Qur’an spells out concisely the definition and outstanding features of believers, which are embodied most clearly in verses 1-11 of Surat Al-Mu’minun.

Significantly enough, the surah itself is entitled Al-Mu’minun (Believers) and it opens with the passage under discussion here. As to the importance and excellence of these particular verses the following hadiths further clarify the point.

It is reported on `Umar’s authority in the “Musnad of Imam Ahmad” that once after receiving a fresh part of divine revelation, the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) made the following supplication in the presence of those Companions sitting around him:

“O Lord, grant us increase and do not afflict us with decrease. Exalt us and do not abase us. Bestow upon us and do not deprive us. Grant us superiority over others and do not deprive us. Grant us superiority over others and do not make others superior to us. Be pleased with us and bless us with Your pleasure.”

He then added:

“I have just now received such verses that whoever acts upon these will go straight to Paradise.”

He then recited this passage from Surat Al-Mu’minun which had then been revealed to him. More importantly, the following hadith throws ample light on the significance of the passage.

On being requested to describe the Prophet’s conduct, which would serve as a model for subsequent generations to emulate, ‘A’ishah, the Prophet’s wife, replied that his conduct exemplified what is stated theoretically in the Qur’an: “His character was that of the Qur’an.” (Ahmad, Muslim and Abu Dawud) . To illustrate her point further, she recited these verses of Surat Al-Mu’minun. (Kitab At-Tafsir, An-Nasa’i’s Sunan)

On studying these verses one can form a clear idea of the Qur’anic model of believers. This passage describes both their sound beliefs and right conduct. The first and foremost point is that the Qur’an accords equal importance to both creed and deed. Both of these should be sound and wedded to the goal of pleasing Allah.

Belief which is not supported by right conduct and by the same token, good deeds which are lacking firm belief in the articles of faith prescribed by the Qur’an, are not acceptable.

According to the Qur’an, a believer is by definition someone who stands out for his good deeds. This amalgam of sound beliefs and right conduct alone ensures success in this world, and more particularly, in the everlasting Afterlife. The Qur’an assures abiding success to those who display the seven characteristics as outlined in this passage.

Another amazing feature of this passage is that it covers the entire gamut of both individual and collective life. Furthermore, it takes into account major social, sexual, moral, economic and spiritual activities. This concise passage thus instructs man in all the important spheres of life, enabling him to profess and practice life as a believer. Implicit in it is also the truth that the profession of Qur’anic beliefs invests man with excellent conduct and perfect morals and manners.

The connection between belief and conduct is logical, rather inevitable. Any flaw in one’s conduct betrays some weakness in one’s faith. Otherwise, in the scheme of things ordained by Allah, sound beliefs must result in excellent conduct.

This explains why the passage opens with the assertion that believers are destined to achieve success. This Qur’anic proclamation does not hinge on any partisanship or jingoism. It rather states the law of nature that true believers, in view of their perfect conduct, which is expected of them, are bound to attain success.

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The article is an excerpt from Abdur Raheem Kidwai’s book “The Qur’an: Essential Teachings”, published by the Islamic Foundation.

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The Believers: The Qur’anic Model (2/2)

prayer

For believers, belief and prayer infuse into them such a sharp and keen sense of responsibility and accountability that nothing vain distracts them.

The Believers: The Qur’anic Model (Part 1)

Successful are the believers. Those who humble themselves in prayers; who avoid vain talk; who are keen on acts of charity; who guard their private parts except with their wives and those who their right hands own. In their case they are free from blame. But those who seek beyond that, they are transgressors. (The believers are) those who faithfully observe their trusts and covenants, those who guard their prayers. They are the inheritors of Paradise. They shall dwell in it (forever). (Al-Mu’minun 23:1-11)

It emerges that believers are those who are characterized by, at least, seven features. Belief should imbue them with these seven outstanding traits, observable in their individual and collective life. As already hinted at, these encompass a wide range of human activities. Significantly enough, this account commences and concludes with a pointed reference to salah (prayer).

Believers are distinct in terms of their total devotion to prayer. It forms the very pivot of their existence. At one level, prayer signifies their complete surrender to their Creator, their willingness to lead life in accordance with His directives and their concern for their moral and spiritual sustenance and growth.

On the singular importance of prayer, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) is on record as saying, as reported by Anas: “Prayer is the joy of my eye.” (Ahmad and An-Nasa’i)

Not only do believers offer prayer, they do so with the utmost humility. In other words, humbleness towards their Lord and towards fellow human beings is their mark of distinction. Prayer moulds them into better human beings who are considerate and conscientious. The Qur’anic expression khushu` literally means humbleness.

This should characterize the believers’ prayer, as is emphasized in several hadiths. Outwardly they should appear humble towards Allah while offering prayers.

Moreover, this quality should pervade their hearts. At one level, it underscores their full attention and devotion to various postures within prayer, avoiding any contact with or interest in anything outside prayer while so engaged.

In the broader context, however, it points to turning to Allah in all matters of life. Only His pleasure engages them and on a constant and consistent basis. It also ensures their utmost sincerity. It trains them to display total commitment to any task which they undertake.

Since only such acts catch their attention which seek to please God, their mindset and their entire way of life are God-oriented. And this is what makes their lives and of others in their company full of peace and cordiality.

As a result of their engagement with prayer, the second feature special to believers is their aversion to anything vain. Whatever does not contribute positively to their moral and spiritual development and to the betterment of the society which they erect, does not evoke their interest.

The Qur’anic expression employed, taqwa, is pregnant with meaning. Apart from ruling out evil in any form, it strikes a fatal blow to all such pursuits which have only entertainment value.

For believers, belief and prayer infuse into them such a sharp and keen sense of responsibility and accountability that nothing vain distracts them. The Qur’an does not negate the point that the world or human society is or can be altogether free from vanities. Believers, however, make a point of passing it by.

Almost the same truth is reiterated in Surat al-Furqan:

Those who witness no falsehood, and, if they pass by futility, they pass by it with honorable (avoidance). (Al-Furqan 25:72)

In sum, prayer turns them into such decent and God-conscious people that they disregard everything which may distract them from God’s way. Avoidance of vain talk and fruitless pursuits is thus their second prominent feature. The importance of this may be appreciated best in the larger social context. If such restraint is observed, it makes social life immensely meaningful and genuinely rewarding.

Another trait of believers is their constant and consistent engagement with acts of charity. This may obviously refer to their hearty payment of the obligatory zakah. Or it may be construed in a general, wider sense of contributing to all such projects which aim at ameliorating the condition of the poor and the underprivileged. Throughout, their main concern is to purify themselves and attain the heights of self-development. Included therein is the development of their morals and manners and the purification of their wealth.

Qur'an

Whenever they pledge a trust or are assigned with some responsibility they conduct themselves honorably.

In turn, it renders them as devout individuals who care for their fellow human beings and the wider community. Not only do they make a point of cheerfully paying the compulsory zakah, they also participate wholeheartedly in all such projects which bring peace and joy to members of their society.

Thus the quality of both individual and collective life is enhanced. A way of life with abundant charity promotes the virtues of hospitality and generosity, creates an atmosphere conducive to cordial social relations and a sense of fraternity and helps ease the tensions arising out of class and financial distinctions. Believers thus create a society which is largely free from inner conflicts and dissensions.

That believers guard their private parts is, once again, a virtue of immense value for both their individual life and for society as a whole.

Studied together with the next verse which clarifies that they should only have sexual relations with their wives and the women whom they legitimately possess brings to the fore the healthy Islamic stance on sexual conduct.

Islam recognizes sex like any other natural function of men and women. It does not prescribe abstinence from sex as a prerequisite for spirituality. Nor does it regard sex as something dirty or shameful.

The significance of this Qur’anic stance comes out more clearly when one compares it with the Christian attitude. In Christianity, sex even within wedlock is seen as an obstacle to achieving salvation. (For details see the Bible: Mt. 22:30 and I Cor. 7:32-34.)

Islam strikes a balance in terms of sanctioning sexual ties within marriage on the one hand and on the other, condemning all forms of extra-marital sex as a cardinal sin which incurs God’s wrath. In the passage under discussion believers are projected as men and women with this balanced, moderate approach towards sex.

Under the sobering influence of Islamic teachings in general and of prayer in particular, believers display exemplary restraint in satisfying their natural sexual urges. In so doing, they do not exceed limits. In essence, a note of moderation permeates the conduct of believers, be it with regard to sex or any other human activity.

The next two traits of believers relate to transactions and their sociocultural, moral and economic life. Whenever they pledge a trust or are assigned with some responsibility they conduct themselves honorably.

Being ever-conscious of their trust to God, it is not surprising to find them so particular about discharging their obligations. Their honesty and fair dealings in monetary and contractual matters contributes to producing and sustaining cordial, friendly social relations, characterized by mutual trust, welfare and sincerity. As a result, the life enjoyed by them is peaceful and fulfilling.

Anxiety or the constant threat of betrayal and the rat race in a cut-throat world does not haunt them. On the contrary, their community life is imbued with acts of charity, sexual restraint, good will and fellow-feeling.

Closely related to honoring trusts is the virtue of keeping promises, which also characterizes believers. They are ever true to their word to their Creator and to fellow human beings in terms of fulfilling the duties which they owe to God and to their social contacts, starting with familial ties and extending to wider community roles.

In so doing, they sacrifice their self-interest. Rather, they lead a life full of self-abnegation and altruism.

It goes without saying that such an attitude cements and reinforces strong family and community relations, which become marked by trust, love and understanding.

In his sermons addressed to the Companions during his Prophetic career the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) made a point of exhorting believers to keep their trusts and promises. He made it plain that one without this virtue cannot be taken as a believer.

This Qur’anic account, mainly of the conduct of believers in their individual and collective life, is rounded off with a pointed reference to their religious observance. They are particular about offering prayer on time and do not miss it. While at the beginning of the passage humility in prayer is mentioned, the concluding note speaks of punctuality and keenness in offering prayer.

They are so diligent in the performance of this duty that they do not miss out any of its components. More significantly, they try their level best to internalize the essence and spirit of prayer in their conduct, as a result of which they grow into perfect human beings. Not only do they observe their religious obligations, they also acquit themselves well of their social role, as a responsible, faithful members of their community.

Believers possessing these traits are promised the inheritance of Paradise, the highest reward imaginable for man. They deserve this in view of their achieving the standard expected of them by God. In essence, the Qur’anic passage holds out a mirror for us to soul-search and a model to emulate.

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The article is an excerpt from Abdur Raheem Kidwai’s book “The Qur’an: Essential Teachings”, published by the Islamic Foundation, 2005.

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Articles of Faith New Muslims

Religion between Faith and Fear of Allah

By Abu Amina Elias

The root meaning of taqwa (God-fearingness) is to avoid what one dislikes.

The wise person is he who reckons himself and works for (his life) after death.

Ibn Kathir writes in his commentary on Surat Al-Baqarah:

Deen (Religion) means the reckoning, the reward or punishment. Similarly, Allah said:

On that Day Allah will pay them the recompense (of their deeds) in full. (An-Nur 24:25)

And:

Shall we indeed (be raised up) to receive reward or punishment (according to our deeds). (As-Saffat 37:53)

A tradition states: The wise person is he who reckons himself and works for (his life) after death.

This means he holds himself accountable. Also, `Umar ibn Al-Khattab said:

‘Hold yourself accountable before you are held accountable, weigh yourselves before you are weighed, and be prepared for the biggest gathering before He Whose knowledge encompasses your deeds’:

That Day shall you be brought to Judgment, not a secret of yours will be hidden. (Al-Haqqah 69:18)

The root meaning of taqwa (God-fearingness) is to avoid what one dislikes. It was reported that `Umar bin Al-Khattab asked Ubayy ibn Ka`b about God-fearingness. Ubayy said: ‘Have you ever walked on a path that has thorns on it?’ `Umar said: ‘Yes’. Ubayy said: ‘What did you do then?’ He said: ‘I rolled up my sleeves and struggled’. Ubayy said: ‘That is God-fearingness’.

Abu Ja`far Ar-Razi said that Al-`Alaa’ ibn Al-Musayyib ibn Rafi` narrated from Abu Ishaq that Abu Al-Ahwas said that `Abdullah said: ‘Faith is to trust’. `Ali ibn Abi Talhah reported that Ibn `Abbas said concerning ‘faith’ in the verse:

…who have faith in what has been revealed to you and others before you and have strong faith in the life hereafter. (Al-Baqarah 2:4)

This means they trust. Also, Ma`mar said that Az-Zuhri said: ‘Faith is the deeds’. In addition, Abu Ja`far Ar-Razi said that Ar-Rabi ibn Anas said that ‘They have faith’ means they fear Allah.

Ibn Jarir At-Tabari commented:

The preferred view is that they can be described as having faith in the unseen by the tongue, deed and creed. In this case, fear of Allah is included in the general meaning of faith, which necessitates following deeds of the tongue by implementation.

Hence, faith is a general term that includes affirming and believing in Allah, His Books and His Messengers, and realizing this affirmation through adhering to the implications of what the tongue utters and affirms.

Linguistically, in the absolute sense, faith merely means trust, and it is used to mean that sometimes in the Qur’an, for instance, Allah (the Exalted) said:

He trusts (yu’minu) in Allah, and trusts in the believers. (At-Tawbah 9:61)

Prophet Yusuf’s (peace be upon him) brothers said to their father:

But you will never believe us even when we speak the truth. (Yusuf 12:17)

Further, the word ‘faith’ is sometimes mentioned along with deeds, such as Allah said:

Save those who believe and do righteous deeds… (At-Tin 95:6)

However, when faith is used in an unrestricted manner, it includes beliefs, deeds, and statements of the tongue. We should state here that faith increases and decreases.

There are many narrations and hadiths on this subject; all favors are from Allah. Some scholars explained that faith means khashyah (fear/awe of Allah). For instance, Allah said:

Verily, those who fear their Lord unseen (i.e. they do not see Him, nor His Punishment in the Hereafter, etc.); theirs will be forgiveness and a great reward (i.e. Paradise). (Al-Mulk 67:12)

And:

Who feared the Most Gracious in the unseen and brought a heart turned in repentance. (Qaf 50:33)

Fear is the core of Faith and knowledge, just as Allah (the Exalted) said:

It is only those who have knowledge among His servants that fear Allah. (Fatir 35:28)

Success comes from Allah, and Allah knows best.

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Source: faithinallah.org.

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New Muslims Reflections

Because of This Surah I Became Muslim

It began when he first heard the ‘so beautiful’ recitation of the verses:

(To the righteous soul will be said:) “O (you) soul, in (complete) rest and satisfaction! “Come back you to your Lord,- well pleased (yourself), and well-pleasing unto Him! “Enter you, then, among My devotees! Yea, enter thou My Heaven!” (Surat Al-Fajr 89:27-30)

Just by the sound, the words touched his heart.

Curious to know more, he began reading and understanding more what these words meant, and it was then that he heard God’s call for him :”Come back”!

Watch the now-Muslim brother expressing his feelings about the verses that guided him to Islam, changed his whole life …

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The video is part of ‘Guided Through the Qur’an’ show.

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New Muslims Qur'an & Sunnah

How to Live the Qur’an

By Ahmad Kutty

the Qur'an

We cannot expect to benefit from the Qur’an unless we pay undivided attention to it.

The Qur’an is Allah’s choicest gift to humanity. It is the miracle of miracles testifying to the prophethood of Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) and the eternal source of divine guidance, healing, light, mercy.

It is glad tidings for the Allah-conscious, and a warning for the heedless and the insolent. It contains inexhaustible wisdom; it is the quintessence of the knowledge of both ancients and the moderns, the decisive criterion; spirit from Allah, and revelation from on high on the heart of the Messenger.

Finally, it is our rope of salvation, pleader for us or against us on the Day of Final Reckoning. It is therefore imperative that we respond to the Divine Word most appropriately.

Here are a few tips to help us benefit from the Qur’an optimally:

1- Visualize the Grandeur of the Word and the August Majesty of Its Speaker

In order to properly benefit from the Qur’an, it is imperative that our mind and heart be filled with a deep sense of reverence and awe for the mighty Word and its Author, the Creator and Sovereign Lord of all beings, a Word, about which Allah says: “Had We sent down this Qur’an on a mountain you would see it humbling itself, breaking asunder for awe of Allah.” (Al-Hashr 59:21)

2- Keep Your Presence of Mind

We cannot expect to benefit from the Qur’an unless we pay undivided attention to it; so it is imperative that we dispel all distractions. One may do well to take the necessary steps to induce proper concentration, such as purifying oneself both physically and inwardly, sitting comfortably in a relaxed manner, etc.

3- Reflect

Since the main purpose of reading the Word is none other than reflecting on the message, we ought to reflect upon it. `Ali said, “There is no good in worship without knowledge; there is no good in reading without reflection.”

That is the reason why we read in the sources that the Prophet, Companions and As-Salaf As-Salih (righteous early Muslims) often would repeat the same verse continuously in order to better reflect upon the deeper meanings of the verse.

4- Remove Veils and Obstacles

Often one is prevented from attaining due reflection because of the many veils and obstacles that stand in the way of appreciating the Qur’an, veils such as the following:

(1) Obsession with external rules of recitation/articulation of sounds to such an extent that one is totally pre-occupied with them and is thus distracted from paying due attention to pondering the meanings;

(2) Blind imitation of a particular sect or school or ideology and being fanatically attached to it so that one’s own preconceived biases or prejudices prevent one from perceiving the deeper meanings of the Word;

(3) Persistence in sins or pride whereby the mirror of one’s heart becomes rusted so that it is incapable of gaining true spiritual insights;

(4) Clinging to a particular work of tafseer (exegesis of Qur’an) so dogmatically that one holds the false view that the author has exhausted the entire meanings of the Qur’an in his exposition, no matter how articulate and profound he may be, for the Qur’an is inexhaustible in its depth.

5- Identify with the Meanings of the Verses, Respond to Them Sensitively

When reading the verses about attributes of Allah, bring to mind Allah’s incomparable nature and absolute uniqueness. When reading the verses that speak of Allah’s creation, think of the manifestation of divine power as revealed in His work, thus being led to recognize Allah’s might and glory.

When reading the verses describing Paradise, cherish such ardent fervor for it that you spontaneously seek Allah’s mercy. When reading descriptions of Hell, you should tremble and pray that Allah keeps you safe from its torments.

6- Visualize that Allah is Speaking to You Directly through the Qur’an

As the late Dr. Iqbal said, “No advice from anyone benefited me as much as I benefited from the advice of my mother who told me, ‘My son, when reading the Qur’an, visualize in your mind that Allah is speaking to you through it!’”

This is why Muhammad ibn Ka`b Al-Qurazi, one of the scholars of the generation after the Companions of the Prophet said, “Whoever has received the Qur’an, Allah has certainly spoken to him!”

7- Be Sensitive

Imam Al-Ghazali says: In order to benefit from the Qur’an, three of our faculties must participate in the act of recitation, namely, the tongue, the mind and the heart. Thus the tongue articulates the sounds, the mind translates the meanings, and the heart becomes sensitive and receives admonition or counsel.

8- Develop in Yourself the Qualities of the Servants of the Merciful

The ultimate objective of the revelation is to transform our inner personalities in such a way that we personify the ideals and ethics of the Qur’an. This is why the Prophet was described by `A’ishah as a walking Qur’an.

So one must read, reflect on the message, and act accordingly as the Companions of the Prophet (peace be upon him) did, thus combining knowledge with practice.

9- Salute the Messenger, the Medium of the Word

We cannot detach the message from the Messenger, for he alone is the interpreter par excellence of the Word and its living exemplifier.

Therefore, we ought to consistently send salutations of peace and blessings on him. For without a deep love for the Messenger, we cannot truly appreciate the revelations sent down by Allah to him through the medium of Angel Jibreel.

May Allah forever shower His choicest blessings and peace on His Servant and Messenger Muhammad, his family and Companions. And may He grant us all the honor of joining their august company after we depart this transient world. Ameen.

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Source: islamqa.com.

Sheikh Ahmad Kutty is a senior lecturer and an Islamic scholar at the Islamic Institute of Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

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