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31
Mar

The Best Day is yet to come…

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Assalamu Alaikum.

Allah says:

وُجُوهٌ يَوْمَئِذٍ نَّاضِرَةٌ

إِلَىٰ رَبِّهَا نَاظِرَةٌ

“Some faces that Day shall be Naadirah (shining and radiant). Looking at their Lord (Allah).” [Surah Al-Qiyamah (75) : 22-23]

The joy of looking at Allah’s Face is something that only the true believers will have – and it will be their greatest joy in Paradise (as is mentioned in some ahadeeth). That Day will be the best day of their lives.

I ask Allah by His Beautiful Names and Attributes that He makes the one writing this post and the ones reading it from amongst those who get the pleasure of  seeing Him on that Day. Ameen.


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30
Mar

Two kinds of people…

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Assalamu Alaikum.

[Sorry, this post might seem like a ramble…]

I realised today that everyone that I’ve met can be divided into two camps:

1) Those who view an opportunity as a disaster and

2) Those that view a disaster as an opportunity.

Huh, you say?

Okay, let’s take an example:

A man loses his job. If he is part of Group 1, he views this as a great disaster. He thinks that this is the end of the world.

He sits, sulks and complains about his sad life to all those who care to listen. He wastes his time instead of taking advantage of this opportunity.

If he is part of Group 2, he remains positive and uses his free time to do something constructive. He takes classes, does social work and maintains a cheerful countenance.

Group 2 has a simple name: the true believers*.

[And no, I’m not claiming that those I’ve met who seem to fit in Group 2 are true believers because only Allah knows whether they are or not. However, this attitude is something that true believers need to have.]

We all get different trials in life, whether it is the car refusing to start (on the day of an important meeting), someone close to us passing away, financial problems, etc.

Most people just seem to complain and complain and complain. They don’t seem to realise that all these trials are great opportunities.

Great opportunities for what, you ask?

Well, to come closer to Allah and to become “well-rounded” Muslims.

The shariah (Islamic law) is a complete way of life. We’ve been taught  how to pray, fast, give charity, deal with our families, be clean, display good manners, etc.

The one who applies the entire shariah will become a well-rounded person, excelling in every aspect of life. The Prophet (salallahu alaihi wasallam) and the Sahaabah (radiallahu anhum) were like this.

The different trials that we face every day and every hour are there to help us to become all-round people.

Think of the human body and its various muscles. Each muscle has a different exercise to strengthen it. Strengthening each muscle eventually leads to the whole body being strengthened.

The various aspects of the shariah are those muscles. The trials are the exercises that strengthen those muscles. Each trial improves us in a certain aspect of the shariah – thereby making us excellent slaves of Allah in every way.

We all have strengths and weaknesses. Well, these trials strengthen the strengths (if you will) and also decrease the weaknesses.

Of course, all of this can only happen if we view these trials as an opportunity and not as a disaster.

So, when the car fails to start, we remain positive and try to ponder over what we can learn from this situation.

When someone dies, we remain positive and try to derive the good that might come out of this situation.

So, a true believer can increase in iman (faith) after any situation and at any time due to his/her attitude, not just at times like Ramadan and Hajj.

Remaining positive implies that one has good thoughts about Allah – and this is a very important part of tawheed.

Many of those who constantly complain about everything have bad thoughts about Allah.

Why? Because they assume that all these trials will lead to a bad end, instead of realising that Allah wants them to turn to Him during these trials.

So, each of us needs to look into that mirror and ask ourselves which group we wish to belong to…

29
Mar

A Pictorial Summary of our favourite form of exercise…

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Assalamu Alaikum.

In the last Ramadan  2011 Prep Tip, I mentioned how important fitness was and how unfit the majority of mankind is.

Most of us don’t exercise much.

However, there is one type of exercise that all of us seem to indulge in:

Ah yes.

Twiddle, twiddle, twiddle…..

At least the blood circulation in our hands will improve…

[Of course, a certain group of people twiddle their thumbs more than others…]

It’s no wonder that we have no time. We’re too busy twiddling our thumbs…

 

28
Mar

Article: Giving charity to the non-Muslims

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Assalamu Alaikum.

Many Muslims get confused between obligatory charity (zakaah) and voluntary charity (sadaqah).

I had previously posted an article that outlined the differences between the two.

One of the differences is that sadaqah can be given to the non-Muslims. In the above post, I had also linked to a fatwa which stated that it was permissible.

Here’s another article that discusses the permissibility of giving sadaqah to non-Muslims. The information is especially useful for those who have poor non-Muslim relatives or those that live in the non-Muslim lands.

[Some of the laypeople deny that it is permissible but this is incorrect. It is only impermissible if they are at war with the Muslims.]

______________________________________________________________

http://www.madeenah.com/article.cfm?id=1347

Giving Charity to the non-Muslims

Shaykh Abdul-Azeez ibn Baaz (rahimahullah)

As for voluntary charity, then there is no problem in giving it to the poor and needy disbeliever who is not involved in any war with us i.e. the one with whom we have safety, security or a contract of peace – there is no problem with this.

Allah (the Majestic & Exalted) said in His Great Book, in Soorah Al-Mumtahina:

{Allaah does not forbid you to be just and kind to those who did not fight against you on account of religion and did not drive you out of your homes. Verily, Allaah loves those who deal with equity.} [60:08]

So Allaah (the Glorified & the Most High) informed us that He does not prevent us from this. He said: Allaah does not prevent you from kindness and justice with those who do not fight you nor expel you from your homes. Charity is from amongst the channels of kindness.

Also, the mother [1] of Asmaa bint Abee Bakr As-Siddeeq (May Allaah be pleased with her) came to Madeenah in the days of the truce, seeking charity and aid from her. Asmaa (may Allaah be pleased with her) asked permission from the prophet (sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam) for this. The Prophet (sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam) granted her permission to give charity to her and show goodness to her. He said, ((maintain your ties of kinship with her.))

The intent by this is that there is no problem in showing goodness and giving charity to the poor amongst your relatives who are disbelievers or other than your relatives.

This is the case when there is peace between you and them; they live under your security or there exists a contract of safety. As for the one who is fighting against us in a state of war then no, we don’t give them anything, neither a little amount nor a large amount.

As for donating Zakaah to them, then no; it is not given to them [the disbelievers] except those people who [come under the category of those] ‘whose hearts are inclined to Islaam.’

So Zakaah is given to those who we wish to attract [to Islaam] from amongst the influential ones amongst the people, the tribesmen; the people who, if Zakaah was given to them, it is hoped they will accept Islaam and also those who are under their authority will accept Islaam – thereby repelling harm upon the Muslims. This is because these people are the leaders and the influential persons. Zakaah is given to them because Allaah (the Exalted) said in his Great Book,

{As-Sadaqaat (here it means Zakaat) is only for the poor, the needy, those employed to collect (the funds); and to attract the hearts of those who are inclined (towards Islaam)} [09:60]

[The category of] those whose hearts we wish to reconcile by giving to them Zakaah includes:

1. The Muslim – the one who is weak in his faith, from the Bedouins or other than them.

2. The Disbeliever – the one who is shown kindness to hoping from him that he will accept Islaam, prevent evil upon the Muslims or that those who are under his authority will accept Islaam. There is nothing wrong with giving Zakaah to this person.

As for the common people from amongst the disbelievers, then they are not to be given any wealth from the Zakaah, but they can be given from charity other than Zakaah and this is because they are in need and poor.


Footnotes:
[1] She was a disbeliever at the time.

27
Mar

Ramadan 2011 Prep Tip #2: Get into shape…

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Assalamu Alaikum.

“Get into shape?”

Yes.

“That’s how you want us to prepare for Ramadan? By getting into shape?”

Yep.

“What about prayer, fasting, charity, etc????”

Okay, let me give you a little rundown of our lives:

1) We crawl out of bed for Fajr because we’re so tired.

2) After Fajr, we get back into our nice cozy beds (assuming that we don’t have any work right away. If we do, skip to point 4).

3) We crawl out of bed when we need to get up again.

4) We revive ourselves with tea or coffee.

5) We sleepwalk through the day (aided by the tea and coffee, of course).

6) We come back home and crash into our beds because we’re so tired.

Sound familiar?

We’re all so tired. We have pain here and pain there. We need to keep chugging down that tea or coffee to keep us going throughout the day, otherwise many of us won’t be able to get any work done.

Why? Because most of us are seriously out of shape. We don’t have any sort of exercise routine and our eating habits are nothing to write home about.

Let me put this very tactfully:

The human race is slowly turning into a bunch of unfit fatsos roaming the Planet Earth.

[Okay, tact is not a strength of mine.]

How do we expect to do all that ibaadah (worship) in Ramadan when we don’t have any energy? Oh and keep in mind that we’re going to be fasting for the first half of the day!

There was an article I read recently where someone asked Richard Branson (one of those rich tycoons) how one can manage to get everything done in a day. His reply?

“Work out more.”

Think about it. He has a point.

All the Prophets (alaihissalam) and their Companions (radiallahu anhum) were extremely fit people.

Let me give you a simple example. Haajar (radiallahu anha) managed to run seven times from Safa to Marwa and back in the searing heat, and that too whilst being worried about her child.

I remember walking from Safa to Marwa and back seven times for Hajj. It was in an air conditioned place and the mountains were levelled off.

I was so exhausted.

From what I’ve heard, I wasn’t the only one. Most people get exhausted with all the walking that is done in Hajj.

Why? Because we are unfit!

So, what do we need to do? We need to get into shape before Ramadan rolls around.

Insha-Allah, that will help us with both with our prayers (especially Taraweeh and Qiyam Al-Layl) and fasting during Ramadan.

For me personally, the best time of my life (i.e. when my ibaadah was at an all-time high) was when I was at my fittest level, so I’ve seen the positive effect good health can have on one’s level of imaan.

What can we do to get fit? That’s for the next part, insha-Allah…

26
Mar

Project “Recover Ramadan” – Step 16: Remember that khushoo is attainable…

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Assalamu Alaikum.

In the last Recover Ramadan post, I spoke about how important the salah (prayer) is.

There are two aspects of the salah: the outward actions and the inward actions.

The outward actions (i.e. that of the limbs and the tongue) all have to be in accordance with the salah of the Prophet (salallahu alaihi wasallam).

What about the inner actions? Well, that would be the actions of the heart.

That’s where the khushoo issue comes in. Khushoo, simply put, is the humility that one feels in salah.

You know, it’s that feeling. We all read about it and dream of attaining it. The key word here is dream.

Many people just think “Insha-Allah, one day I’ll pray with khushoo” and don’t take the steps that are necessary to achieve it.

What kind of steps do we need to take?

Well, I think that can be divided into two parts:

1) Just before and during the salah.

2) Outside the salah.

As for the first part, that involves many steps. I’ll just mention one.

Pay attention to what you are saying.

Yes, that’s it. Just focus and try to ponder over what you’re saying. Remember that Allah is watching you.

Just try this simple step and see how it goes. Whenever I focus on the salah, I get a different feeling.

In order to do this, you’d have to 1) understand the words of salah and 2) mix it up once in a while.

Mix up what, you ask? You know, vary the short surahs after Al-Fatihah (it doesn’t always have to be Surah Al-Ikhlaas, you know) and the various adkhar (supplications) in rukoo (bowing) and sujood (prostrating).

That was the easy part. The second step is much more difficult.

See, khushoo in salah is ultimately attained by having khushoo outside of it.

The reason that it’s so difficult for us to remain focused on Allah for a mere 15 minutes is because many of us don’t focus on Him the entire day.

How is it that we can forget about Allah for the whole day and then expect to be close to Him in prayer? Do we really think it’s as easy as flipping a switch?

No, it isn’t. The person who has forgotten Allah outside of prayer will not be allowed to remember Him in prayer. It’s as simple as that.

We all claim that the salah is very important to us so let’s ask ourselves some questions:

1) Do we constantly supplicate to Allah to grant us khushoo in our salah?

2) Have we made attaining khushoo in salah a priority in life?

3) Did we try to figure out how we can improve the quality of our salah?

4) Did we try to do some research on some ways that we can attain khushoo?

5) When we pray without khushoo, does it leave us feeling saddened and disgusted with ourselves? Or do we just let it go?

6) Does our entire day revolve around the salah? Do we plan all our days according to the prayer times?

7) Has our salah improved us as people? Has it brought us closer to the Lord of the Worlds?

We need to remember one thing: it is possible to attain khushoo. However, we need to change our attitudes, put in the required effort and keep slogging away until we get there, insha-Allah.

And even if we don’t get there, then at least when we are questioned on the Day of Judgment, we can say that we tried.

25
Mar

Book: The Fundamentals of Tawheed (in English and Bengali)

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Assalamu Alaikum.

[No, no, I am not Bengali, not even close. I just came across a translation of this book in Bengali by mistake.]

Yes, even more stuff on tawheed. Can anyone ever get tired of tawheed?

[Well, only if he/she has a really diseased heart, I suppose.]

Here’s one of the better books in English on this topic. It really simplifies matters greatly.

It’s one of those “must read” books.

[Click on the image to download the book.]

Here’s the Bengali translation. I’m assuming that it’s authentic. However, could someone, who knows Bengali, please check it against the English text as well? Jazakumullahu kheira.

24
Mar

Website: Lisanularab

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Assalamu Alaikum.

For those who are really serious about learning some Arabic before Ramadan rolls around, here’s another beneficial link for you:

http://www.lisanularab.org/forums/index.php

It’s a forum dedicated to learning Arabic – all types (Classical, Colloquial, etc). A really excellent resource for the avid learner.

Obviously, it would be better to sign up for a live Arabic course. However, for those who are unable to do so, this is a good alternative.

23
Mar

Book: The Declaration of Faith

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Assalamu Alaikum.

If you ask the average Muslim a few questions about Ramadan and fasting (the 4th Pillar of Islam), he/she would know quite a bit.

If you ask that same person a few questions about the Shahaadah (the 1st Pillar of Islam), he /she will be less likely to answer them.

Why? Well, honestly, I have no clue.

I can’t understand why people who give no importance to the first three pillars of Islam would give so much importance to the fourth one. Haven’t they heard of “priorities”?

So, how  much do we all know about the first pillar of Islam? After all, the entire religion is based on this statement.

We can easily give a one hour talk on it………..right?

If the answer is no, then it’s time to  learn about this statement right now.

Here’s nice, easy, comprehensive book which talks about the meaning and benefits of the Shahaadah:

The Declaration of Faith by Shaikh Saleh Al-Fawzan

[Click on the image to download the book.]