Remembering Allah: Alhamdulillah…

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

Make a habit if saying Alhamdulillah and acknowledge Allah in everything you do. It’s very easy to forget and to neglect this. Acknowledging Allah as often as possible will save you from becoming selfish, self-centered and proud.

…and remember… “The deeds most loved by Allah are those done regularly, even if they are small.”

Ramadhaan Preps: Clear up the clutter…

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

The month of Ramadhaan is fast approaching and with only a few days to go, it’s time to consider a few Lifestyle Optimisation Strategies. Clear up the clutter now so you can take advantage of every opportunity during the month of Ramadhaan.

  • Make up previous year’s missed fasts / Pay Fidyah, etc. depending on your circumstances
  • Read Quran – if possible, complete your current recitation and begin a new one in the month of Ramadhaan
  • Get a good sleep cycle going so you can handle waking up for Suhoor/Sehri
  • Go easy on socialising and social media so you can avoid unnecessary talk/chat, etc
  • Limit the amount of Entertainment/Television/Gaming, etc
  • Plan your meals early – Ramadhaan is not just about food but since we need to eat and drink, plan your menu in advance and make all necessary preparations so you don’t waste time in the kitchen.
  • Shop now – get your shopping done early, stock up on groceries and your Eid clothes too so you’re not frequenting the shops when you can be benefiting from  the virtue of this auspicious month.
It’s been a year since the last Ramadhaan, take this opportunity to get into the Ramadhaan zone so you don’t waste valuable time trying to find your feet. Prepare early, prepare well and get ready for the month of Mercy.
May Allah extend our lives so we may witness the month of Ramadhaan Insha Allah.

Ibrahim Ad’ham and the 10 things that prevent our prayers from being answered…

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

Allah says in the Holy Quran: Call upon Me, and I will answer your prayers. Why then are some of our prayers not answered?

Ibrahim Ad’ham who was once the ruler of Khurasan was asked this question and responded with: “Because of ten things your hearts are dead; if a person has these ten bad qualities in him, how should God accept his prayer?’

The ten qualities are:

  1. You acknowledge Allah, you pretend to acknowledge Him, and yet you do not give His due
  2. You read the Quran, yet you do not observe it’s commands and prohibitions
  3. Although you say that Satan is your enemy, you follow and obey him
  4. You call yourselves members of the Ummah of Muhammad (S.A.W), yet you do not follow his examples
  5. You claim that you will go to paradise, yet you do none of the deeds required to gain entrance therein
  6. You wish to achieve salvation from the Fire of Hell, yet you throw yourselves into it by committing sin
  7. You know that death is inevitable, yet you make no preparation for it
  8. You pay a lot of attention to the faults of others, yet you do not see your own faults
  9. You consume the bounty of your Lord without showing gratitude
  10. You bury your dead without taking warning
Check yourself before you wreck yourself!
O Allah, graciously afford us the gift of faith and spirituality, and include us among those who achieve success and find salvation from the Hell fire… Ameen!

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.

Spreading Salaam: The Islamic Greeting

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

On the authority of Abu Hurayrah (May Allah be pleased with him) it is related that the Prophet (Peace be upon him) said,

“I swear by the one in whose hand lies my soul that you will not enter paradise until you believe. And you shall not believe until you love one another. Shall I tell you something, that if you practice it you will love another? Spread the (Salaam) Islamic greeting amongst yourselves.”

I heard an interesting lecture by Sheikh Anwar Al-Awlaki which reminded me of the importance of spreading Salaam. The Islamic greeting was one of the first orders given to Prophet Adam (A.S) and is a small act of faith many of us may neglect. Many of us study and work with both, Muslims and non-Muslims and I believe it is important to display our faith and its teachings no matter who we associate with.

When in the presence of Muslims, its important to establish the Salaam (Islamic Greeting) as a priority, thereafter you can use any greeting you see fit to address the rest of the group. There’s nothing wrong in saying G’day or Hi, but when addressing fellow Muslims, it is a duty upon us to greet them respectfully and appropriately. The Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W) always established the Salaam first and thereafter would say “An’im sabaahan” or “An’imu sabaahan”  which is the Arabic equivalent of Good Morning.

So don’t be ashamed of spreading Salaam, greet those whom you know and those who you may not know and educate the people around you so they may also learn from the teachings of Islam.

It is narrated on the authority of ‘Abdullah b. ‘Amr that a man asked the Messenger of Allah (may peace and blessings be upon him) which of the merits (is superior) in Islam. He (the Holy Prophet) remarked: That you provide food and extend greetings to one whom you know or do not know.

As-Salāmu `Alaykum – السلام عليكم
Peace be upon you…

An Islamic adaptation of the Sabbath…

In the name of Allah, most gracious, most merciful.

I recently became aware of the religious beliefs and rituals of some of the people I work with and I found the idea of the Sabbath very intriguing. Most people know the Sabbath to be the day Jews are forbidden to work,  however from  a Jewish perspective it is more than just rules and restriction.  As Tracey R. Rich puts it, “”it is a precious gift from God, a day of great joy eagerly awaited throughout the week, a time when we can set aside all of our weekday concerns and devote ourselves to higher pursuits.” According to the Torah,  the purpose of Sabbath observance is to remind the Hebrew people of two very important events in history: the creation of the world (Ex. 20:11) and the deliverance from slavery in Egypt (Deut. 5:15). Both highlight the central Jewish religious belief: that there is one, powerful creator God who cares for his people.

People of different religions and faiths observe the Sabbath in different ways and for different reasons. For members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints or Mormons, Sunday is a quiet day for church attendance, rest from worldly pursuits, and spiritual reflection. I work very closely with members of the Mormon Church and their beliefs and spirituality have truly inspired me.

While different religions have different interpretations of the Sabbath, the principle remains the same and I believe the principle is Islamic at its core.

Examples of appropriate Sabbath activities include:

  • Attending Church
  • Prayer
  • Reflection & Contemplation
  • Studying scriptures
  • Spending time with family
  • Visiting the sick
  • Physical rest

As a Muslim, I was amazed at the spiritual devotion of the people who observe the Sabbath and I questioned my own devotion and spirituality. I began contemplating an Islamic adaptation the Sabbath.

Based on the principles and teachings of Islam and drawing inspiration from the Jewish and Mormon faiths, I believe we can increase our spirituality and our awareness of God by setting aside Sabbath-like periods in our lives.

Depending on the level of your faith and your circumstances this could be implemented daily, weekly or however you see fit. The frequency and duration is up to the individual, but the intention should be for the pleasure of Allah and to elevate your spirituality.

Examples of appropriate activities from an Islamic perspective would include:

  • Reading Quran
  • Prayer/Dua
  • Reading/Learning Hadith
  • Optional (Nafl)  Prayers
  • Spending time with the family (NO TV)
  • Visiting the sick
  • Fasting
  • Dhikr & the remembrance of Allah
  • Visiting the Mosque (besides the daily prayers)

The key is to avoid all worldly matters and take part in activities that will enhance your spirituality and create a better awareness and understanding of your faith.

Some may argue that we should be practising these activities all the time anyway, even if we do, there can be no harm in setting aside time each day or each week in devotion to your Lord.

I hope we can all benefit from this, set aside some time each day or each week to remove yourself from worldly matters and spend some time contemplating and reflecting on your faith. Insha Allah we will become better Muslims and will better appreciate the bounties of our Lord.

” O ye who believes remember Allah very often and glorify Him morning and evening.” (33:41-2)

” Then do ye remember Me I will remember you.” (2-152)

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!

Rain: Neglected blessing!

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

I found myself questioning the wet weather this holiday season and was reminded of how much we neglect this blessing from Allah. How often do we even acknowledge  this bounty? Every favour from our Lord is indeed a bounty and deserves recognition and gratitude.

“And He who sends down (from time to time) water from the sky in due measure, and We raise to life therewith a land that is dead. Even so will you be raised (from the dead).” (Surat az -Zukhruf, 11)

“It is Allah Who sends the Winds, and they raise the Clouds: then does He spread them in the sky as He wills, and break them into fragments, until you see rain-drops issue from the midst thereof: then when He has made them reach such of his servants as He wills behold, they do rejoice!”

“We send down pure water from the sky. That with it We may give life to a dead land, and slake the thirst of things We have created,- cattle and men in great numbers.” (Surat al – Furqan, 48- 49)

“And We send down from the sky rain chartered with blessing, and We produce therewith gardens and grain for harvests.” (Surah Qaf, 9 )

Thank Allah for the bounties around you, despite the inconvenience at times, they are gifts from the Almighty. Being grateful for Allah’s bounties is a form of Dhikr, if you constantly thank Allah for his blessings, you will always remember Allah… “Therefore remember Me. I will remember you. Be grateful to Me and never show Me ingratitude” – Al-Baqarah 2:152.

May we always be grateful for the bounties & blessings from Allah!

Ameen!

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.

Cash Fardh vs. Credit Fardh

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

I came across the idea of Cash and Credit Fardh a little while ago during a lecture about the teaching methods of Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W) and it has served as a good reminder to me ever since. I’ve found that even the simplest of principles are easily forgotten and are often neglected. The cash and credit analogy puts things into perspective and is something most of us would be familiar with. I hope you can benefit from it too.

A cash fardh is a compulsory/obligatory act that is prescribed at a specific time and falls due immediately while a credit fardh is a compulsory/obligatory act that is prescribed at a specific time however, due to certain circumstances, can fall due at a later date. In essence, it becomes a credit which needs to be paid back. For example, if a person meets the requirements to skip r miss a fast during Ramadhan (health reasons, etc.) the fast, though fardh, become a credit fardh which is due after Ramadhan, obviously sooner rather than later. Until the person completes the fast it is a credit fardh owed and represents a liability or a debt.

An example of a cash fardh is the 5 daily prayers and the Fajr prayer in particular. The Morning Prayer is prescribed at a certain time and the obligation must be fulfilled immediately. If for some reason you sleep in and aren’t able to pray within the prescribed time, the prayer remains a cash fardh which needs to be fulfilled as soon as possible. So if you miss Fajr, for whatever reason, you must pray as soon as you are able to without delaying any further. A cash fardh cannot be converted into a credit fardh, so you should avoid putting off the Fajr prayer until the Zohr prayer or any other time. If you maintain the 5 prayers on a cash basis, provided you make the right intention, Allah will guide you and you will easily fulfil your daily obligations. If you fall short on occasion, make up for it immediately and pray for Allah’s guidance – Allah is oft forgiving and most merciful.

If we divide our spiritual obligations into cash and credit terms, it becomes easier to recognize and prioritise certain acts. The key here is to highlight the cash fardh as the highest priority. Next time you miss a prayer, for whatever reason or excuse, think about cash vs. credit fardh and fulfil your duties accordingly. People work hard to avoid financial debt; we need to work harder to avoid spiritual debt.

May Allah guide us and allow us to fulfil our spiritual obligations punctually and sincerely… Ameen!