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August 17, 2010

8

Teensie-Weensie Reminder (Day 7): Give yourself a chance…

by Umm Muawiyah
resolution

Assalamu Alaikum.

[Again, sorry for the poor editing. It’s already late so I don’t have time to fix it.]

[Note: By now I’m pretty sure that everybody (and by this I mean the few of you who actively follow the blog) has figured out that my teensie-weensie reminders are not at all teensie-weensie. So why do still refer to them as such? Well:

1) It’s nasty changing the name mid-way through the series, isn’t it?

2) For me, they’re quite teensie-weensie because if given a chance, I could ramble on forever.

3) If I called them “Longie-Wongie Reminder”, then nobody would check.

So, I’m sticking with the name.]

Give myself a chance to do what, you ask?

Give yourself a chance to be great in the sight of Allah.

Okay, I can sense your confusion. Everyone wants to be great, right? Especially in the sight of Allah.

Therefore, everyone gives themselves a chance, right?

Nope and let me tell you why:

1) When you read the Quran and come across the stories of those whom had Allah has praised, do you yearn to be amongst them?

To the sisters, when you come across the following ayah (verse), what thought runs through your mind:

“And (remember) when the angels said: “O Maryam! Verily, Allah has chosen you, purified you (from polytheism and disbelief), and chosen you above the women of the Alameen (mankind and jinns) (of her lifetime).” [Surah Aal- Imran (3) : 42]

Do you feel any envy (of the good kind!) towards Maryam and wish that you had been in her position so that YOU could have the honour of having this kind of status bestowed upon you by Allah?

To the brothers, when you come across the following ayah (verse), what thought runs through your mind:

“And Ismail and Al-Yasaa, and Yunus and Lut, and each one of them We preferred above the Alameen (mankind and jinns) (of their times).” [Surah Al-Anaam (6) :86]

Do you feel any envy (of the good kind!) towards the four men mentioned  and wish that you had been in their position so that YOU could have the honour of having this kind of status bestowed upon you by Allah?

Okay, you say, wait! Maryam is the best woman of all time and these four men are Prophets! We can’t be like them.

Firstly, I asked if you WISHED that you had been in their shoes so that YOU could have that sort of relationship with Allah.

Secondly, the ayah just states that they were chosen above the alameen (mankind and jinn) of their time. So, the question is: do you yearn to be the one has chosen above the alameen of YOUR time?

See, we cannot be the greatest woman ever created, nor can we be Prophets because we know that this door is closed.

However, who said that one of us cannot be the one that Allah has chosen above the others IN OUR OWN TIME? After all, amongst the servants of Allah in this time, one of them is the best of their time. It could be some poor man in Mali or some very rich sister in Turkey. Allah knows best who it is.

My question to you is: did you ever yearn to have such a status in the eyes of Allah? And did you ever ASK Allah to give you this status? Not to show the world but because you wanted to be close to Allah, both in this life and the Hereafter?

If you haven’t yearned and if you haven’t asked, then why not?

I’ll tell you why not: Because you didn’t give yourself a chance. You didn’t give yourself a chance to be the great person that you could otherwise be if you had actually given yourself a chance.

Do you know the first step towards greatness? It’s yearning for it. The second step is trying to attain it. In Islam, the first step towards attaining anything is dua because if Allah does not will it to happen, it will never happen.

2) What amazes and annoys me is how many people have such lowly ambitions.

Lowly ambitions? Yes, all they want is the dunya (wordly life). They want to have lots of children, wealth, PhD, the best house, etc but when it comes to the hereafter, they are very content to just ask for a small house  in the corner of the lowest level of Paradise.

Is this called being ambitious? You want the best things in a life that will not span more than a hundred years and you want a SMALL house in a life that is eternal????????

Someone please explain this to me because it doesn’t make any sense.

Why are people like this? Because they didn’t give themselves a chance. They didn’t give themselves a chance to get that huge house in the highest level of Paradise where they would be in the company of the Prophets (alaihimissalam) and their Companions (radiallahu anhum).

Apart from the sheer stupidity of their lack of ambition, what is even more amazing is the following:

We, the Ummah of Muhammad (salallahi alaihi wasallam), were given the best Prophet.

And from us came the best generation of people (the Sahaabah).

And we got the greatest book.

And we got the best and most perfect shariah.

And we will occupy half of Paradise (the other half being the believers of the earlier times).

And we are the greatest nation in the sight of Allah.

This is what Allah has to say about us:

“You [true believers in Islamic Monotheism, and real followers of Prophet Muhammad and his Sunnah] are the best of people ever raised up for mankind; you enjoin Al-Maruf (i.e. Islamic Monotheism and all that Islam has ordained) and forbid Al-Munkar (polytheism, disbelief and all that Islam has forbidden), and you believe in Allah.” [Surah Aal-Imran (3) : 110]

[Please note: There is a condition on being the greatest people i.e. enjoining good, forbidding evil and believing in Allah. Just saying “I’m a Muslim” isn’t going to cut it.]

So, we have the ability and tools to be the best but despite this, we refuse to give ourselves a chance. How sad.

There’s a beautiful story that I once read (the reference is here):

“‘Umar heard a man supplicating: “O Allah! Make me from the few!”

So, ‘Umar asked him: “O slave of Allah! And who are the few?”

The man answered: “I heard Allah Say: {“…and none believed with him except a few…”} and {“…and few of My slaves are thankful…”}.”

So, ‘Umar said: “Everyone is more knowledgeable than ‘Umar!”

Look at this man and look at how great he is. When he read the ayaat talking about the few who did the right thing, what did he do?

Did he say: “O well, that’s not going to be me!”

No, he asked Allah to make him amongst those few!

So, a question to all of you:

When you come across the following ayaat:

“And those foremost [(in Islamic Faith of Monotheism and in performing righteous deeds) in the life of this world on the very first call for to embrace Islam,] will be foremost (in Paradise). These will be those nearest to Allah. In the Gardens of delight (Paradise). A multitude of those (foremost) will be from the first generations (who embraced Islam). And a few of those (foremost) will be from the later time (generations)”. [Surah Al-Waqiah (56) : 10-14]

Do you get excited by the fact that it is possible for you to be amongst the few amongst the later generations who will be foremost?

Did you raise your hands and ask Allah to make you amongst them?

Did you strive to be amongst them with your actions?

If not, then why not? Why did you have such a low opinion of yourself?

Why didn’t you give yourself a chance?

Did you think Allah would not make it easy for you to be amongst them? Well, then you should read the following hadeeth Qudsi:

Narrated Abu Hurairah: The Prophet (salallahu alaihi wasallam) said, “Allah says: ‘I am just as My slave thinks I am (i.e. I am able to do for him what he thinks I can do for him).” [Saheeh Al-Bukhari, Volume No. 9, Hadeeth No. 50]

So, if you think that Allah will make things easy for you, He will. If you think that He will answer your duas, He will.
I was talking to a sister once and in the middle of the conversation she mentioned something about an issue that worked out and said: “Oh, it’s because of your duas.”
I was like: “Uhhh…why does it have to be my duas? How do you know it was not because of your duas?”
She said something like: “Come on, it’s not my duas.”
She didn’t even think it was her duas that resolved the issue! And you know what? With that kind of attitude, it probably wasn’t. She didn’t give herself a chance for her dua to be accepted.
The problem with those who don’t give themselves a chance is that they don’t have good thoughts about Allah (husn adh-dhan). They don’t believe that He will raise them to such a status in His sight. And that’s just a pathetic thing to think about the Most Merciful, the Lord of the Worlds.
These individuals who don’t do dua for the best also turn away from the sunnah of the Messenger:
Narrated Abu Hurairah: The Prophet (salallahu alaihi wasallam) said, “Whoever believes in Allah and His Apostle offers prayers perfectly and fasts (the month of) Ramadan then it is incumbent upon Allah to admit him into Paradise, whether he emigrates for Allah’s cause or stays in the land where he was born.” They (the companions of the Prophet) said, “O Allah’s Apostle! Should we not inform the people of that?” He said, “There are one-hundred degrees in Paradise which Allah has prepared for those who carry on Jihad in His Cause. The distance between every two degrees is like the distance between the sky and the Earth, so if you ask Allah for anything, ask Him for the Firdaus, for it is the last part of Paradise and the highest part of Paradise, and at its top there is the Throne of Beneficent, and from it gush forth the rivers of Paradise.” [Saheeh Al-Bukhari, Volume No. 9, Hadeeth No. 519]

So, did we follow the Prophet’s (salallahu alaihi wasallam) command or not? Did we ask for the best? If we didn’t, that means we didn’t give ourselves a chance.

3) There is yet more proof that people do not give themselves a chance.

Look at how people spend their days:

– Many spend their days in front of their stupid tv (this happens to both Muslims and non-Muslims, by the way).

These people waste their precious time watching the news or silly soap operas. Why? Why didn’t they try to do something constructive?

Why didn’t they try to help their neighbours?

Why didn’t they try to raise money for those in need?

Why didn’t they try to go cheer up the ill people in the local hospital?

I could go on and on about the amount of things that there are to do.

Yes, these people just turned into couch potatoes because they though that their life could not have more value than this.

And what led them to believe this? Who told them that they couldn’t use their time more constructively? Who told them that they had to be this lowly?

– Others spend their time in their office or in the kitchen*. They toil away day after day doing the same things thinking that this is all they can do in life.

[I’m not talking about all the people that do this. Some of them are genuinely doing constructive work by helping others.]

Look at the demeanor of the people. They’re pale, depressed and stressed out. They are not happy. And how can they be when they have such a low opinion of themselves?

The one who has given themselves a chance to be great is not going to sit around and sulk. Did you ever read about the Sahaabah (radiallahu anhum) looking depressed?

Yes, there were times that they were sad but this did NOT stop them from striving for the hereafter and from being helpful to those around them.

I’ve been in both situations (stuck in the office and in front of the tv). When I think of those days, I feel like screaming. I just wasted my time and I didn’t even realise it. I didn’t even myself a chance to do something worthwhile. All praise is due to Allah who guided me to the truth.

4) You know what I find really sad?

It’s how Shaytan has defeated so many people before they even start. He does one of two things:

a) He makes them think that they are too lowly to have a high status in the eyes of Allah. He reminds them of their previous sins and says: “You’re too sinful to be amongst the best.”

A few Ramadans ago, my sister-in-law and I were in the masjid talking to a convert sister. The time came for iftar and so we told her to join the group of women (everyone was sitting for iftar together. When I’m around, nobody has a choice!). She refused and said that she had done “things in the past”.

My sis-in-law and I glanced at each other stunned. What did the past matter? We told her that all of us had done mistakes in the past and dragged her to sit with us.

I still feel sad thinking about what she said. She had been willing to let her past sins stop her from sitting with her sisters? Why? Why? Why? Allah forgives all sins if we ask Him to.

“Say: “O My slaves who have transgressed against themselves (by committing evil deeds and sins)! Despair not of the Mercy of Allah, verily Allah forgives all sins. Truly, He is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.  And turn in repentance and in obedience with true Faith to your Lord and submit to Him, before the torment comes upon you, then you will not be helped.” [Surah Az-Zumar (39) : 53-54]

b) The other way that Shaytan affects the people is by making them thinking that they are great and beyond reproach.

So, these people don’t give themselves a chance either. They don’t give themselves to be servants of Allah, which is the best thing that anybody can be:

Abu Hurairah reported Allah’s Messenger (salallahu alaihi wasallam) as saying: “Charity does not in any way decrease the wealth and the servant who forgives, Allah adds to his respect, and the one who shows humility Allah elevates him in the estimation (of the people).” [Saheeh Muslim, Hadeeth No. 6264]

They also don’t give themselves a chance to be like Adam (alaihissalam). He made a mistake (i.e. eating from the tree) and repented to Allah. So Allah raised him in status. Rather, they give themselves a chance of being like Shaytan himself who disobeyed Allah and then blamed Allah for his mistake! So he became one of the accursed.

5) Have you ever read the biographies of great people?

By this, I mean 1) Great Muslims and 2) “Great” non-Muslims (i.e. those who were considered great in this world, though they have no share in the hereafter due to their disbelief).

Do you know what they all had in common? They had the desire to be the best and the belief that they would be the best. Therefore, they took the steps to become great. And guess? They got what they strove for.

As for the great Muslims, they were the Prophets (alaihissalam), the Sahaabah (radiallahu anhum) and the scholars of this nation. They strove for the hereafter and in doing so, they left behind a legacy.

I remember reading about how Imam Ibn Hajar (rahimahullah) asked for a great memory like Imam Adh-Dhahabi (rahimahullah). Guess what? He got it.

I remember reading how Imam Ibn Taimiyyah (rahimahullah) would ask Allah to teach him. Guess what? Ibn Taimiyyah is considered one of the greatest scholars of this nations and many will state that he IS the greatest scholar of this nation.

As for the great non-Muslims, you will find that they all believed that they would be great. They had big dreams and they worked to make it happen.

And guess what? Allah gave them what they strove for in this world, though they were disbelievers.

Look at people like Martin Luther King and Roger Federer.

One is a politician and the other is an athlete. One of them was critical to the civil rights movement of his country. He had a a dream and that dream came true.

The other redefined what “consistency” meant in his sport (tennis). Before him, people thought a great year was winning a slam. After him, a great year means winning 3 0f the 4 slams!

They did what nobody before them did. They didn’t say: “Oh we can’t do this!”

They said: “We will do this!”

This is how the disbelievers think. We are Muslims. Should we not be more ambitious than them?

I remember one of my friends telling me how she wanted her child (she’s not married yet) to be the mujaddid (reviver) of his era.* Subhan Allah. I was so surprised when she told me. This is called giving yourself a chance.

[There is a narration which states that every century, Allah will send a reviver to revive his religion.]

What did she give herself a chance to do? Give birth to a great child who would benefit people.

May Allah make the mujaddid of this era from amongst her offspring. Ameen.

6) So what am I trying to say with this overly long reminder?

a) Have a good opinion of Allah and ask Him to make you the best person of your time.

b) Strive to make yourself the best and don’t give up no matter how bad it gets. Remember that we have to die trying.

So when you read the hadeeth about how only 70,000 people from this nation will get into Paradise without getting into account, don’t think: “Oh, it’s such a small number. Those are the great people. I can’t make it.”

No!

You have to give yourself a chance to do the following:

– Yearn for it.

– Keep asking for it.

– Take the necessary steps to achieve it. Dua alone is not enough. It needs to be accompanied by actions on our part.

So, what will you do? You read the hadeeth trying to find the qualities of these people. One of their qualities is that they put their trust in Allah alone (i.e they have tawakkul).

So, you do some research on what tawakkul really entails and then you do your best to apply it, all the while asking Allah to make things easy for you.

c) Remember that being the best doesn’t just mean doing your acts of worship properly. It also means being useful to those around you and helping make a positive change in them.

Proof? Look at the Prophets (alaihissalam). They were sent to call to tawheed (worshipping Allah alone). They didn’t just do that. What they did was try to offer solutions for the problems that their nations were suffering from because these problems were stopping them from worshipping Allah.

So, when we see the situation of the Muslims today, what do we do?

I’ll tell you what we do: We read the sad news, feel bad for a few minutes, do some dua and then we go have lunch.

Why didn’t we give ourselves a chance to make a difference in the situation? Why did we have a low position of ourselves that we thought that WE couldn’t be the ones through whom Allah brought the change to the ummah?

When we read of great initiatives, why is it that we don’t try to help out? Why is it that we don’t do our part?

Even with things like seeking knowledge, we don’t give ourselves a chance. When we read stories of people who have memorised the Quran or those who have become scholars, we don’t even give ourselves the chance to THINK that we could be amongst them.

Why is that? Why didn’t we give ourselves the chance?

7) So what do we do this Ramadan?

We aim high. Really high. Al-Firdaus high.

We think about our life and decide that we are going to aim to be the great ones amongst the sight of Allah.

We do dua and then start acting.

We work on our ibaadah and also strive to meet the needs of those around us.

We aim to be those who can bring a lasting change to this ummah so that 1) we can get the reward and 2) so that we can help out those who will come after us.

We stop living this lowly life where all we aim for are things which will perish one day.

We stop making excuses about why we can’t be amongst the best. If we don’t aim for the top of the mountain, we’ll never get there.

We give ourselves a chance.

Remember that this is the month where we are getting the chance to give ourselves a chance. If we don’t do it in Ramadan, then when will we do it?

[Sorry for the long rambling piece. I hope that I made sense. I’ve just wanted to say the above for so long because I get so upset when people have such low ambitions. I hope that I was able to get the message across. If not, then please excuse me. I did try but I am human, after all]

8 Comments Post a comment
  1. Fathima
    Aug 18 2010

    Assalamu Alaikum!

    One word: Brilliant! MashaAllah. I think this has been the best ‘teensie’ reminder so far! (and yes I have been reading all your reminders)

    And you’re so right, we have such lowly opinions of ourselves, that we never stop to think that we too can be great in the Sight of Allah. Plus like you said, it is coupled with our lack of trust in Allah alone, and our sheer laziness to follow through with our ‘great’ plans and put words to action.

    Jazakillahu khayra for this excellent piece. InshaAllah I hope it forces us to come out of this almost ‘dead’ state that we’re in and enable us to strive hard and aim high – Al Firdaus high!

    You should be a motivational speaker ya know ;)

    (And of course, you had to include a tennis reference :P)

    Reply
    • Umm Muawiyah
      Aug 18 2010

      Wa Alaikum Assalam.

      Jazakillahu kheira.

      And yes, you’re right. We are in a dead state. The sad part is that most people don’t even realise it.

      Be a motivational speaker? What would be the point? I would then be doing it to motivate the people and not to please Allah, correct? And it’s hard enough to be sincere anyway…

      No, I say what I have to say. Some might get motivated and others might not. Qadar Allah. It’s not in my hands.

      I didn’t realise that I had included a tennis reference until you said so! Hilarious. I’m just so used to it…

      [PS. I’m going to have an entire piece centering around tennis, insha-Allah. If it aint broke, don’t fix it.]

      Reply
  2. Faiza Abbasi
    Aug 18 2010

    Brought tears to my eyes. You r right, we need to strive hard to think r best and do our best. Most of us r complacent in our lives and don’t want to put in the effort. Somehow we think we need to prove ourselves to other people and be in good standing with them. Rarely do we work to reach that closeness to Allah, and we think, as u pointed out a few days ago that he loves us bcause he has provided for us, we don’t think what we should or have done for him. We r selfish, it’s all about me and my family- it is what I coined the Center of the Universe syndrome.

    Reply
    • Umm Muawiyah
      Aug 18 2010

      Assalamu Alaikum.

      “Center of the Universe Syndrome”? Interesting.

      I just call it the “Me” syndrome. It’s all about me, then me and after that, me. I think certain societies actually promote this kind of behaviour.

      Reply
  3. Mona
    Aug 18 2010

    you made perfect sense; jak for this wonderful reminder.

    Reply
    • Umm Muawiyah
      Aug 18 2010

      Assalamu Alaikum.

      Wa iyaaki and jazakillahu kheira to you.

      Reply
  4. Umm Abdillah
    Aug 18 2010

    Assalamu alaykum,
    fab piece mashaAllah!
    very refreshing

    Reply
    • Umm Muawiyah
      Aug 19 2010

      Wa Alaikum Assalam.

      Jazakillahu kheira.

      PS. “Refreshing?”

      Reply

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