Unconditional Charity…

In the name of Allah, most Gracious, most Merciful.

Last weekend was the Salvation Army’s Door Knock Appeal and when I heard about it, I thought about whether or not I would donate to the cause and it reminded me of a story I read as a kid about the Prophet Ibrahim (A.S) or Abraham (PBUH).

Ibrahim (A.S) would never touch food unless there was a beggar in his house, when no beggars visited in a few days, he began to wonder if it was through some fault of his own that God had not sent a beggar to him. Eventually, a beggar came knocking at his door and when he inquired, he learnt that the beggar was a Magian or Fire worshipper. Ibrahim (A.S) proclaimed, ” I cannot help unbelievers who attribute partners to Allah and wander about in this condition. Go away till you have repented, asked forgiveness of God, embraced Islam and cleaned yourself up. Then you will come back to an open door.” As the begged left, Ibrahim heard these words from above: ” Ibrahim, since I, with my Godhead, do not deny him sustenance, despite the fact that he disobeyed me and committed the one sin I do not pardon, namely that of attributing partners to Me, how could you – My servant – send him away without even a crust of bread? Go and make it up to him at once. If you had done this for your own sake, rather than to please Me, I would have wiped you from My friendship.

Upon receiving this divine command, Ibrahim (A.S) took to the road until he found the beggar. He treated him kindly, invited him into his home and fed him well. Through this generosity and charity, the beggar turned to Allah and was blessed with the honour of true faith.

The story demonstrates the importance of unconditional charity and the value of Da’wah through action. Most people would donate to their own religious groups, the true test arises when you are approached by members of other faiths. I still maintain a preference for Islamic Charitable Organisations and I don’t think there can be anything wrong in that, however, the story of Ibrahim (A.S) encourages us as Muslims to be charitable to all of God’s creation.

The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: “The believer’s shade on the Day of Resurrection will be his charity.” – Al-Tirmidhi, Hadith 604.

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Dead Sea Seacret… Religious Perspective!

The Dead Sea

I was quite impressed after sampling a treatment from a “Seacret” store in the mall the other day and found that the source of these treatments was the Dead Sea. I could recall a few childhood stories about the Dead Sea which made me question the permissibility and appropriateness of using such treatments. This is what I found:

According to Islamic and Biblical traditions, the Dead Sea is the site of the ancient city of Sodom, home of the Prophet Lut (Lot), peace be upon him.

Prophet Lut (A.S.), after consulting with Prophet Ibrahim (Abraham) (A.S.) left Misr and traversed towards the eastern part of Urdun (Jordan), a place called Sodom or Sadoom. The purpose of his migration was to propagate the teachings of Ibrahim (A.S.) amongst the inhabitants of Sodom, a village situated in the area where the Dead Sea is presently located.

The people of surrounding areas firmly believe that the region in which the Dead Sea is found was once occupied by the people of Sodom. This nation directly rejected the message which Prophet Lut (A.S.) presented to them, due to which they were punished most severely, as described by Allah, “So at day break a mighty cry seized them. Then We turned the localities upside down and We showered upon them rocks of baked clay. In this (incident) there are indeed multiple signs for the people who discern.” (Surah Hijr, Verse 73)

The earth on which they lived was lifted into the sky and then caused to come crashing down approximately 400 meters below the earth. As a result, this area was submerged, and is now known as the Dead Sea. (Qasas ul Qur’an, Vol. 1, Page 257, Mukhtasar Tafseer Ibn Katheer, Vol. 2, Page 312) According to scientists, the area is covered in large deposits of sulphur. For this reason, no life in the form of animals or plants is to be found there and the region stands as a symbol of destruction.

It has been reported by Abdullah ibn Umar (R.A.), that when Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.) descended at the place of Hijr (the region where the nations of ‘Aad and Thamud once resided) during the battle of Tabuk, he (S.A.W.) commanded the Sahabah (companions) not to drink from the accursed place. The Sahabah informed the Prophet (S.A.W.) that they had already utilized the water for making dough and drinking. The Prophet (S.A.W.) instructed them to discard the dough and water.

While commenting on this Hadith, Imam Hajar Al-Asqalani (R.H.) outlines that the Hadith clearly teaches us that, it is Makrooh (impermissible) to use the water found in the area of Hijr. He further states, that the same ruling will apply to other accursed places.

The Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W), reportedly tried to dissuade people from visiting the sites of God’s punishment: “Do not enter the place of those who were unjust to themselves, unless you are weeping, lest you should suffer the same punishment as was inflicted upon them.”

The Qur’an describes that the site of this punishment has been left as a sign for those who follow: “Surely! In this are signs for those who understand. And verily, they (the cities) are right on the high-road. Surely! Therein is indeed a sign for the believers.” (Qur’an 15:75-77)

In light of the above narrations, revelations and explanations, we can conclude that the use of products derived from the Dead Sea is inappropriate and should be avoided. I hope we can all benefit from this Insha Allah. May Allah strengthen our faith and make us among those who guide and whom are guided.

Ameen.

Assalaamu Alaikum!

Backbiting & Gossip…

I read an interesting article on backbiting and gossip recently which I’d like to share as a reminder to us all. It is something we can all relate to and unfortunately something we very often participate in. The issue is not the nature or severity of the sin, I believe the real issue lies in our failure to acknowledge and recognise the fact that backbiting and gossiping are sinful acts. The recognition of certain acts as sinful or haraam is embedded in our minds from childhood and are therefore easier to reflect upon and acknowledge even as we grow up, however, the acts that are overlooked in our early years can easily be overlooked and even justified as we grow up. Unfortunately, backbiting and gossip are easily overlooked and pose a greater threat to us as we develop and grow. I hope this article serves as a reminder to us of the severity of these sins and also allow us to recognise and acknowledge them as sins so we are better able to avoid and resist them.

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Many gatherings produce nothing but gossip about other Muslims and slander of their honour. This is something which Allah has forbidden His slaves, and has drawn the most repulsive analogy to put them off. He says (interpretation of the meaning): “. . . neither backbite one another. Would one of you like to eat the flesh of his dead brother? You would hate it . . .” [al-Hujuraat 49:12]

The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) explained the meaning of this aayah. He said: “Do you know what gheebah (gossip or backbiting) is?” They said, “Allah and His Messenger know best.” He said: “To say something about your brother that he does not want to be said.” He was asked, “What do you think if what is said about him is true?” He said, “If what you say about him is true, this is backbiting, and if what you say about him is not true, this is a lie.” (Reported by Muslim, 4/2001). Gossip or backbiting means saying something about a Muslim which may be true but which he does not like to hear spoken, whether it be about his physical appearance, his adherence to religion, his worldly affairs, his self, his behaviour or his character. There are many forms of gossip, including talking about a person’s faults and imitating him to make fun of him. People take the matter of gheebah very lightly, although it is very serious in the sight of Allah, as is indicated by the words of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him): “There are seventy-two forms of riba, the least of which is as bad as a man having intercourse with his own mother, and the worst of which is when a man slanders the honour of his brother.” (Silsilah al-Saheeh, 1871).Whoever is present in a gathering where gossip takes place should “forbid what is evil” and defend his absent brother. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) encouraged us to do this when he said: “Whoever defends the honour of his Muslim brother, Allah will protect his face from the Fire on the Day of Resurrection.” (Reported by Ahmad, 6/450; see also Saheeh al-Jaami’, 6238).  

Some people go about repeating the words of others to cause trouble between people; this is one of the greatest causes of broken relations and stirring up feelings of hatred among people. Allah condemned the one who does this (interpretation of the meaning): “And obey not everyone who swears much, – and is considered worthless, a slanderer, going about with calumnies.” [al-Qalam 68:10-11]Hudhayfah reported that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “No eavesdropper will enter Paradise.” (Reported by al-Bukhaari, see al-Fath, 10/472; “eavesdropper” here refers to a person who eavesdrops on others without their knowing, then goes and tells others what he has heard)

Ibn ‘Abbaas said: “The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) passed by one of the gardens of Madeenah, and heard the sound of two people being punished in their graves. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “They are being punished, but they are not being punished for any major sin; one of them used never to clean himself properly after urinating, and the other used to spread malicious slander . . .” (Reported by al-Bukhaari; see Fath al-Baari, 1/317).

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I hope this article has highlighted and reiterated the severity and consequences of backbiting & gossip. My intention was not to scare or depress anyone, but rather to serve as a reminder and hopefully a deterrent towards these sinful acts. It is important to teach our children about theses acts so they grow and develop with the acknowledgement and recognition of these acts as sinful. Don’t promote backbiting and gossip by asking children about other kids at school and don’t backbite or gossip about others in the presence of your kids. What we learn as children and the habits we develop as kids will be reflected in our actions as adults, we need to encourage an Islamic upbringing in order to promote an Islamic lifestyle. I think a good start would be to stop backbiting and gossiping ourselves and Insha Allah the people around us will follow.

Thanks for reading, may Allah make us among those who are guided and among those who guide. Ameen.

The jar of life…

In the name of Allah, most gracious, most merciful

I came across a story which I later found was documented in Stephen Convey’s book, First Things First.  In the story, a lecturer conducts an experiment using a glass jar, rocks, pebbles, sand and water. He begins to fill the jar with rocks until no more rocks would fit. The audience was convinced that the jar was now full. He then added a few pebbles to the jar which filled the gaps between the rocks. This time the audience agreed that the jar was probably not yet full. He then added some sand to the jar which filled the gaps between the rocks and the pebbles. When the audience agreed that the jar was still not full, he poured water into the jar which filled the gaps between the rocks, the pebbles and the sand. The audience was convinced that the jar was now full. Finally, the lecture explained that if we don’t put all the larger stones in the jar first, we will never be able to fit all of them in later.

If you think of the jar as your life, what are the rocks in your life? Family? Love? Friends? Religion? What we must remember is that it is most important to include the lager stones in our lives, because if we don’t do so, we are likely to miss out on life altogether.  If we give priority to the smaller things in life (pebbles & sand), our lives will be filled up with less important things, leaving little or no time for the things in our lives that are most important to us.

The rocks in our lives should be our family & our faith. Pray and seek spiritual guidance, spend time with your family, take your wife out, play with your kids and make time for yourself. There will always be time to go to work and do your chores.

Sometimes the less important things in life can distract us, filling up our time and keeping us away from what really matters. If we get our priorities in order, we can fit everything in…

May Allah grant us the ability to identify the rocks in our lives and grant us Barakah in our time… Ameen.