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23
Apr

Seriously Short Reminder No. 30: Remember to cover your mouth…

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Assalamu Alaikum.

“You mean while we’re eating so that the whole world can’t see what’s in our mouths?”

Yeah, that too.

However, I was primarily referring to the following two ahadeeth:

إذا تثاوب أحدكم ، فليمسك بيده على فيه . فإن الشيطان يدخل

The son of Abu Said al-Khudri reported on the authority of his father (radiallahu anhu) that Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) said: “When one of you yawns, he should keep his mouth shut with the help of his hand, for it is the devil that enters therein.” [Sahih Muslim, Hadeeth No. 7130]

إن الله يحب العطاس ، ويكره التثاؤب ، فإذا عطس فحمد الله ، فحق على كل مسلم سمعه أن يشمته ، وأما التثاؤب : فإنما هو من الشيطان ، فليرده ما استطاع ، فإذا قال : ها ، ضحك منه الشيطان

Narrated Abu Hurairah (radiallahu anhu): The Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) said, “Allah likes sneezing and dislikes yawning, so if someone sneezes and then praises Allah, then it is obligatory on every Muslim who heard him, to say: May Allah be merciful to you (Yarhamukallah). But as regards yawning, it is from Shaytan (the devil), so one must try one’s best to stop it, if one says ‘Ha’ when yawning, Shaytan will laugh at him.” [Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume No. 8, Hadeeth No. 242]

Now we all know why yawning is so contagious….

So, let’s cover our mouths whilst yawning so that Shaytan doesn’t get an opportunity to laugh at us.

PS. I probably won’t post again until next week, insha-Allah. I have lots of work to catch up on…

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22
Apr

The Rights of the Quran and some tips on how to fulfill them – Part 4

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Assalamu Alaikum.

[Here are Parts 1, 2 and 3.]

[A very important note: I’ve mentioned my email address on this blog so that SISTERS can contact me. I’ve said this over and over again.

I do not want any emails from any brothers and I will not reply to anyone that does so. There are plenty of brothers around to ask questions to, so why email a woman for the answers??

Also, I would advise all the brothers to only comment on the blog when necessary in order to avoid any fitnah (trials).

I would advise the sisters to do the same when they read blogs run by brothers i.e. comment only when necessary.]

4) To act upon it

One of my former teachers told us something I’ll never forget. She said: “The Quran was not revealed except to be applied.”

Subhan Allah, the reason that it stayed with me was because she was my hifdh (Quran memorisation) teacher! Many times, we tend to forget the real purpose of the Quran and just focus on memorising.

Allah revealed the Quran to inform us how we need to worship Him and the rewards that one gets for doing that. He also mentioned the people of the past who worshipped Him and the good end that they got, despite all the hardships that they endured.

The last right that I discussed was understanding the Quran. Understanding should lead to pondering which should lead to action.

Action of what, you ask?

– Action of the heart

This includes love of Allah, hoping in Him, fearing Him, and putting one’s trust (tawakkul) in Him.

Action of the tongue

This include dhikr (remembrance) and good speech.

– Action of the limbs

This includes praying, giving charity, fasting, doing Hajj, showing good manners, keeping family ties, serving guests, etc.

Allah mentions two kinds of people in the Quran: the good ones and the bad ones. He also mentions the characteristics of each.

Why? So that we can work on attaining the good characteristics and avoiding the bad ones.

Allah didn’t just reveal the Quran for us, rather He sent us someone to teach the Quran and explain it to us in detail.

Indeed, the Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) showed us how to act according to the Quran.

فَقُلْتُ يَا أُمَّ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ أَنْبِئِينِي عَنْ خُلُقِ رَسُولِ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم ‏.‏ قَالَتْ أَلَسْتَ تَقْرَأُ الْقُرْآنَ قُلْتُ بَلَى ‏.‏ قَالَتْ فَإِنَّ خُلُقَ نَبِيِّ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم كَانَ الْقُرْآنَ

“I (Saad ibn Hisham) said: Mother of the Believers, tell me about the character of the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam). She said: Don’t you read the Quran? I said: Yes. Upon this she said: The character of the Messenger of Allah (sallalahu alaihi wasallam) was the Quran.” [Sahih Muslim, Hadeeth No. 1623]

[The above is part of a very long hadeeth.]

So, we need to know the sunnah and also read his seerah (biography) in order to be able to follow in his footsteps. This way, we’ll be applying the Quran.

Applying the Quran is not the impossible task that some people make it out to be. We might not be able to apply each and every aspect but we need to start and then proceed to improve step by step.

Let me give you two simple examples that illustrate how we tend to overlook the easy stuff:

Example No. 1:

Suppose one is reciting the Quran and  comes across this ayah (verse):

إِنَّ الْمُسْلِمِينَ وَالْمُسْلِمَاتِ وَالْمُؤْمِنِينَ وَالْمُؤْمِنَاتِ وَالْقَانِتِينَ وَالْقَانِتَاتِ وَالصَّادِقِينَ وَالصَّادِقَاتِ وَالصَّابِرِ‌ينَ وَالصَّابِرَ‌اتِ وَالْخَاشِعِينَ وَالْخَاشِعَاتِ وَالْمُتَصَدِّقِينَ وَالْمُتَصَدِّقَاتِ وَالصَّائِمِينَ وَالصَّائِمَاتِ وَالْحَافِظِينَ فُرُ‌وجَهُمْ وَالْحَافِظَاتِ وَالذَّاكِرِ‌ينَ اللَّـهَ كَثِيرً‌ا وَالذَّاكِرَ‌اتِ أَعَدَّ اللَّـهُ لَهُم مَّغْفِرَ‌ةً وَأَجْرً‌ا عَظِيمًا

“Verily, the Muslim men and women, the believing men and women, the men and the women who are obedient, the men and women who are truthful, the men and the women who are patient, the men and the women who are humble (before their Lord Allah), the men and the women who give Sadaqaat (i.e. zakah, and alms, etc.), the men and the women who observe Saum (fast), the men and the women who guard their chastity (from illegal sexual acts) and the men and the women who remember Allah much, Allah has prepared for them forgiveness and a great reward (i.e. Paradise).” [Surah Al-Ahzab (33) : 35]

Here, Allah mentions ten traits of the people of Paradise. So one should strive to achieve all these traits.

Now, what’s the FIRST thing that one should do in order to achieve these traits?

That would be dua (supplication).

[This would also cause one to get closer to applying one of the above traits: remembering Allah much.]

Amazingly, most people forget this step! Yet Allah says:

وَقَالَ رَ‌بُّكُمُ ادْعُونِي أَسْتَجِبْ لَكُمْ ۚ إِنَّ الَّذِينَ يَسْتَكْبِرُ‌ونَ عَنْ عِبَادَتِي سَيَدْخُلُونَ جَهَنَّمَ دَاخِرِ‌ينَ

“And your Lord said: “Invoke Me, I will respond to your (invocation). Verily! Those who scorn My worship [i.e. do not invoke Me, and do not believe in My Oneness, (Islamic Monotheism)] they will surely enter Hell in humiliation!”” [Surah Ghafir (40) : 60]

So, by doing dua to Allah, we apply the above ayah and we also open the doors to applying the other ayaat (verses).

[Of course, many people, when they come across the above ayah, forget to do dua, so that’s another loss for them.]

Example No. 2:

Suppose one is reciting Surah Al-Furqan. Allah mentions some traits of His slaves:

وَعِبَادُ الرَّ‌حْمَـٰنِ الَّذِينَ يَمْشُونَ عَلَى الْأَرْ‌ضِ هَوْنًا وَإِذَا خَاطَبَهُمُ الْجَاهِلُونَ قَالُوا سَلَامًا

“And the slaves of the Most Beneficent (Allah) are those who walk on the earth in humility and sedateness, and when the foolish address them (with bad words) they reply back with mild words of gentleness.” [Surah Al-Furqan (25) : 63]

وَالَّذِينَ يَبِيتُونَ لِرَ‌بِّهِمْ سُجَّدًا وَقِيَامًا

“And those who spend the night before their Lord, prostrate and standing.” [Surah Al-Furqan (25) : 64]

وَالَّذِينَ يَقُولُونَ رَ‌بَّنَا اصْرِ‌فْ عَنَّا عَذَابَ جَهَنَّمَ ۖ إِنَّ عَذَابَهَا كَانَ غَرَ‌امًا

إِنَّهَا سَاءَتْ مُسْتَقَرًّ‌ا وَمُقَامًا

“And those who say: “Our Lord! Avert from us the torment of Hell. Verily! Its torment is ever an inseparable, permanent punishment. Evil indeed it (Hell) is as an abode and as a place to dwell.”” [Surah Al-Furqan (25) : 65-66]

وَالَّذِينَ إِذَا أَنفَقُوا لَمْ يُسْرِ‌فُوا وَلَمْ يَقْتُرُ‌وا وَكَانَ بَيْنَ ذَٰلِكَ قَوَامًا

“And those, who, when they spend, are neither extravagant nor niggardly, but hold a medium (way) between those (extremes).” [Surah Al-Furqan (25) : 67]

وَالَّذِينَ لَا يَدْعُونَ مَعَ اللَّـهِ إِلَـٰهًا آخَرَ‌ وَلَا يَقْتُلُونَ النَّفْسَ الَّتِي حَرَّ‌مَ اللَّـهُ إِلَّا بِالْحَقِّ وَلَا يَزْنُونَ ۚ وَمَن يَفْعَلْ ذَٰلِكَ يَلْقَ أَثَامًا

“And those who invoke not any other ilaah (god) along with Allah, nor kill such life as Allah has forbidden, except for just cause, nor commit illegal sexual intercourse and whoever does this shall receive the punishment.” [Surah Al-Furqan (25) : 68]

وَالَّذِينَ لَا يَشْهَدُونَ الزُّورَ‌ وَإِذَا مَرُّ‌وا بِاللَّغْوِ مَرُّ‌وا كِرَ‌امًا

“And those who do not witness falsehood, and if they pass by some evil play or evil talk, they pass by it with dignity.” [Surah Al-Furqan (25) : 72]

وَالَّذِينَ إِذَا ذُكِّرُ‌وا بِآيَاتِ رَ‌بِّهِمْ لَمْ يَخِرُّ‌وا عَلَيْهَا صُمًّا وَعُمْيَانًا

“And those who, when they are reminded of the Ayaat (proofs, evidences, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc.) of their Lord, fall not deaf and blind thereat.” [Surah Al-Furqan (25) : 73]

وَالَّذِينَ يَقُولُونَ رَ‌بَّنَا هَبْ لَنَا مِنْ أَزْوَاجِنَا وَذُرِّ‌يَّاتِنَا قُرَّ‌ةَ أَعْيُنٍ وَاجْعَلْنَا لِلْمُتَّقِينَ إِمَامًا

“And those who say: “Our Lord! Bestow on us from our wives and our offspring who will be the comfort of our eyes, and make us leaders for the Muttaqoon (pious).”” [Surah Al-Furqan (25) : 74]

Now, obviously, we would start with dua (supplication) i.e. that we become of His slaves mentioned in this Surah. This trait is also mentioned in the above ayaat (that they don’t invoke anyone except Allah).

What next? What else can one apply RIGHT NOW?

What about the the two ayaat in red? Both of them are supplications that these slaves say, so what’s stopping us from reciting these two duas (in Arabic obviously) so that we can at least start to attain two of the traits mentioned??

Now, someone might say “Hey, what if a childless 90 year old widow is reciting the last ayah? What’s the point? She’s too old to have a husband or kids!”

The ultimate point of reciting this dua (or any other dua for that matter) is not to get the husband and kids.  The point is to worship Allah.

So, we should recite these duas no matter what our circumstances are.

Interestingly enough, one of the traits mentioned is those who when they are reminded of Allah’s ayaat, are not deaf. If one takes the above steps, one will avoid being deaf to the ayaat but if one just recites without paying attention to what they are reading, haven’t they acted contrary to this trait?

So, we should remember to interact with the Quran and try to apply whatever we can.

And we definitely shouldn’t forget the easy stuff.

To be continued…

19
Apr

“That’s not going to work!”

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Assalamu Alaikum.

You know, I really, really hate that statement.

[That’s probably why I never ask most people what they think of my ideas –  because I know that they’ll say “That’s not going to work!”

What I do instead is mention the idea as though it were the most awesome idea in the world so they have no choice but to nod their heads.]

Many times, whenever I tell people that they CAN do something (that is encouraged in the Shariah), their reply is usually “It won’t work” or something equivalent to that. They don’t even give themselves two minutes to think over it.

This awful statement basically causes us to drown in our own negativity.

It also goes against one of the basics of tawheed (worshipping Allah alone): having good thoughts about Allah.

I mean, why exactly won’t it work?

Who is the One who has power over all things?

Who is the One who created the heavens and the earth?

Who is the One that made the fire cool for Ibrahim (alaihissalam)?

Who is the One that split the sea for Musa (alaihissalam)?

Who is the One that caused Isa (alaihissalam) to be born without a father?

Who is the One that sent the angels to help our Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) and his companions (radiallahu anhum) defeat their enemies, despite being outnumbered, in the Battle of Badr?

So, the One who did all this, isn’t He also able to aid us in our cause? Why is that we don’t ask Him?

Rather than going on about how one cannot do something, one should do the following instead:

1) Make sure that the action is halal (lawful)

One can also to Salatul Istikhara (the prayer for guidance)

2) Dua (supplication) – Loads of it

One should ask with certainty and with humility.

3) Write down a list of possible steps to take

These are the means that one can and should take in order to achieve the required goal.

Also, one should try to take from the Sunnah as much as possible. For example, if one is trying to figure how to control one’s troublesome teenager, one should first refer to Islamic books to see if there is any Prophetic guidance in this regard. After this, one may refer to other books.

4) Put one’s trust in Allah alone

We are not allowed to put our trust in the means.

5) Have good thoughts about Allah at all times

Yes, all the time.

And no, these steps are not complicated, because contrary to many people’s perceptions, life itself is not that complicated. For some strange reason, we just don’t want to believe that!

So, I’d advise all the naysayers to try to be more positive and take things step by step.

Follow all the above steps and insha-Allah, if it’s good for you, it will work.

18
Apr

Ramadan 2012 Prep Tip #1: Seek Knowledge… – Part 1

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Assalamu Alaikum.

As I mentioned in this post, the first few posts of the Ramadan 2012 Prep series will focus on seeking knowledge.

Why?

Well, we were created to worship Allah alone. We’re supposed to do this in Ramadan and outside of it. Obviously, due to the virtues of Ramadan, we increase in ibaadah (worship) during it.

However, we need to worship Allah based on the correct knowledge, not our desires. So, if we want to worship Him properly, we need to get the required knowledge first.

[Later on in this series, insha-Allah, I’ll give you various examples about how correct knowledge can really improve our Ramadan.]

Which knowledge is being referred to?

As the scholars pointed out, when the word knowledge is mentioned in the Quran and the Sunnah, it refers to Islamic knowledge.

Why seek knowledge?

As I mentioned above, knowledge is sought in order to worship Allah. Due to this, it (i.e. the act of seeking knowledge) is itself an act of worship.

Imam Ahmad (rahimahullah) pointed out that knowledge was sought to raise ignorance from oneself and others.

So, subhan Allah, we’re supposed to be seeking this knowledge in order to worship Allah properly, to know Him, to get closer to Him and to gain His Love.

In the survey, I asked “If you seek knowledge, then what motivates you to do that?”

From the answers, it became apparent that some people did not know the real reason for seeking this knowledge. I would divide the answers into three categories:

1) The ones who got it right, alhamdulillah

They were doing it to get closer to Allah 

2) The ones who were sort of in the middle

The answers varied: reminding one about Islam, reminding one about the hereafter, to improve oneself, etc.

These answers weren’t wrong but they didn’t quite hit the target.

3) The not-so-right ones

Some of them were:

[Note: To the ones who filled out the survey, I’m not discussing the answers in order to put you down but rather so that everyone can benefit.]

– Just for the sake of seeking knowledge

Variations of this included thirst/yearning/desire for more knowledge

– To know/feel the beauty of the Quran or Islam; the sadness about not knowing about Islam

– Greater understanding in order to answer other people’s questions

– To do ijtihad on day to day issues

Now, many people might be a bit confused at this point because, on the face of it, these answers sound fine.

And they sound similar to No. 2 (the group who wasn’t wrong but wasn’t that accurate).

So, what’s the difference between No. 2 and No. 3?

And what’s wrong with the answers in No. 3?

Well, I’m going to answer that in the next part, because I want everyone to ponder over this issue.

For those who may disagree with my grouping, that’s fine. I’m not infallible. However, please wait for Part 2 so that I can explain.

[I would have asked you to post your thoughts but I’ve come to realise that 99% of you really don’t like to do that so…]

To be continued…

17
Apr

Step by Step – Step 2: Some suggestions for reading the translation of the Quran

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Assalamu Alaikum

 In Step 1, I mentioned that one of the problems that we have today is that many Muslims can’t understand the Quran and haven’t read it from cover to cover.

I then proceeded to bore you with my life story.

In this step, I’m going to suggest a practical plan as to how you can ACTUALLY do it.

Important note: I’m assuming that the reader is a native English speaker. If not, it would obviously be better for you to read the translation in your own language.

I haven’t much clue about other languages, just the following:

1) The Quran has been translated into many languages. However, some of these are by non-Muslims who hate Islam, so one needs to be careful.

2) As far as I know, a good authentic site to get the translation in different languages is : http://www.islamhouse.com/

3) Darussalam (the company, not the city in Tanzania – someone already had this misunderstanding today) has translations in many different languages.

4) I heard that there was a very nice translation in Urdu called “Ahsanul Bayan”. It’s published by Darussalam.

5) The abridgment of Tafsir in Kathir is available in French. It’s also published by Darussalam.

[And no, I’m not an Urdu or a French speaker, although I know a bit of both.]

Before I continue, I would like to point out something very, very important. There is a difference between reciting the Quran (i.e. the Arabic text) and reading its translation.

One of the rights of the Quran is to recite it so we have to fulfill this right.

Understanding the Quran is another right, so reading the translation will aid us towards fulfilling this right.

[Here’s a series I wrote on the rights of the Quran (I just realised that I hadn’t completed it!): Parts 1, 2 and 3.]

So, what would I suggest to an English speaker?

Basic Plan:

1) Decide whether you want to start with the Saheeh International translation or the Muhsin Khan one. I would suggest starting with the Muhsin Khan one and getting the one volume abridged version.

I wouldn’t advise starting with the word to word translation just yet.

2) Get yourself a copy of the translation of the Quran along with the Arabic text

3) Decide how many ayaat (verses) you are going to recite every day.

4) Each day, recite at least that many ayaat and then proceed to read the translation of each ayah (verse). [Start from Surah Al-Fatihah.]

If you have difficulty reciting and can’t get hold of a teacher at the moment, you can try to listen to the audio first for each ayah and then repeat after the reciter. This site has recitation as well as translation: http://tanzil.net/

5) Do this each and EVERY day until you finish reciting the Quran (i.e. you finish Surah An-Nas).

If you go to bed and remember that you forgot to recite the Quran, then my advice is to hop out, do wudhu and recite the required portion. This will train you to recite the Quran daily.

If you miss a day, then you might miss another day and so on, so you shouldn’t miss a single day.

6) Choose the other translation (e.g. if you chose Saheeh, move over to Mushin Khan) and then repeat steps 3-5 all over again.

If you wish, you may use both translations at once. It’s up to you. There are quite a few sites with the translations but they don’t have the accompanying notes, which is why it’s better to get the hard copy.

Intermediate Plan:

1) Follow Steps 1-5 of the Basic Plan.

2) In addition to this, decide if you want to finish reading the translation at a faster pace.

If so, choose one translation (preferably the Saheeh one) for using with your recitation. Depending on how easy you find it to recite, this one could take quite some time.

Choose the other one (preferable the Muhsin Khan one) and read the translation. This time you don’t have to recite it because you’re already doing that when you read the other translation so you can read through this one faster and take it with you wherever you go.

In both the above cases, I would advise you to take notes about whatever questions or thoughts you might have. [Read more about keeping a Quran Journal.]

3) If you are not a reader, and prefer to listen (apart from the translation that you are reading whilst reciting), choose a good translation and then listen to it in your car, iPod, etc as often as you can until you finish the whole thing.

This site (scroll to the bottom) contains many Quran recitations along with the translations: http://quranicaudio.com/

[The “fabulous” one that I referred to in Part 1 is the 3rd last one: Shuraim and Sudais with Aslam Athar.]

You can listen to one set and then proceed to listen to another.

Advanced Plan:

[It includes all of the above mentioned things.]

1) Recite whilst reading the translation (I recommend the Saheeh translation for this) .

2) Read the second translation (I recommend the Muhsin Khan one for this).

3) Listen to a third (I recommend the Pickthall “fabulous” one mentioned above for this.)

You’ll be doing all of the above in the same time period. This way, you’ll be really surrounded with the Quran.

4) If you want to be very brave, you can also read the word to word translation but I really don’t advise it until you’ve read the translation at least once. [I’ve mentioned many word to word translations in this post.]

Remember, don’t stop until you’ve finished reciting the translation until the end.

Insha-Allah, I hope that the post was clear.

What do you think? Is the plan helpful?

Perhaps you have another technique? If so, please share, baarakallahu feekum.

16
Apr

Seriously Short Reminder No. 29: Remember to move over…

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Assalamu Alaikum.

“Could you please move over a bit so I can sit here?”

“What? No way! This is MY place. I came here first. Go find another place!”

Sound familiar?

Sadly enough, the answer is yes.

Allah says:

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا إِذَا قِيلَ لَكُمْ تَفَسَّحُوا فِي الْمَجَالِسِ فَافْسَحُوا يَفْسَحِ اللَّـهُ لَكُمْ ۖ وَإِذَا قِيلَ انشُزُوا فَانشُزُوا يَرْ‌فَعِ اللَّـهُ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا مِنكُمْ وَالَّذِينَ أُوتُوا الْعِلْمَ دَرَ‌جَاتٍ ۚ وَاللَّـهُ بِمَا تَعْمَلُونَ خَبِيرٌ‌

“O you who believe! When you are told to make room in the assemblies, (spread out and) make room. Allah will give you (ample) room (from His Mercy). And when you are told to rise up [for prayers, Jihad (holy fighting in Allah’s Cause), or for any other good deed], rise up. Allah will exalt in degree those of you who believe, and those who have been granted knowledge. And Allah is Well-Acquainted with what you do.” [Surah Al-Mujaadilah (58) : 11]

Alright, one more time then.

“Could you please move over a bit so I can sit here?”

“Sure. Come on over.”

That’s more like it.

15
Apr

Step by Step – Step 1: You need to understand it…

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Assalamu Alaikum

So,  23 people filled out the survey (which is still open), may Allah reward them and one promised to do so soon, which obviously means that I have only 24 readers, alhamdulillah.

I’ve started a series to deal with some of the common problems that I came across in the survey. [It won’t just deal with this though.]

The main problem that I saw was that most of the respondents did not understand much of the Quran.

And this is a problem that is widespread across the Muslim world: people read the Quran without understanding it.

[In fact, this has been mentioned in the Quran and Sunnah with regards to the Jews and Christians i.e. the two nations before us. They read their religious books without understanding it.]

What does this lead to? Lots of problems.

People complain about finding Islam difficult to practice and how they have so many problems. You will find that with many of them, you can narrow the issue down to three things:

1) Not knowing tawheed (worshipping Allah alone)

2) Keeping away from the Quran and not reciting it, or not understanding it if one recites it (this is one of the things that leads to Point No. 1)

3) Not preserving the five daily prayers*

[*Note: This phrase just refers to the obligatory prayers not all the voluntary prayers associated with each prayer.]

If people just worked on these three things, they would see a HUGE difference in their lives.

The first thing that I’m going to focus on is how to go about understanding the Quran. The advice is directed to complete beginners as well as those who are slightly better than that.

Yes, obviously we have to learn Arabic. However, this is a long step and there is another step that one can and should take in the beginning.

What’s that? Well, it’s reading the translation of the Quran.

A question for you, the reader (assuming that you cannot understand Arabic): Have you read the entire translation of the Quran from one cover to the next?

If the answer is no, then don’t you think that this is not befitting for a Muslim?

That may sound harsh, but you know that it’s the truth.

So, where do we start? Well, let me start by telling you how I started.

When I first started practicing Islam, I realised that I hadn’t a clue about the meaning of the Quran. So I took a translation, which had lots of explanatory notes and started to read it.

I would recite the Quran and then read the translation. As I read through it, I started to take notes about points that confused me.

It was a nice translation. However, I later learnt that this translation had many errors.

Somewhere around this time, I also started to listen to a translation of the Quran whilst driving. It had the recitation of Sudais and Shuraim and the translation of Pickthall (rahimahullah). [This one has a few mistakes but overall it is quite good.]

I loved this translation for two reasons:

1) Pickthall uses old English which is richer than the current English, so it of sort helps one to understand the beauty of the Quran much better.

2) The one who read out the translation was absolutely fabulous. [Sorry, I couldn’t think of a better way to put it.]

He had a very clear, commanding voice and he was really into the whole thing. [You’ll understand if you listen to it and then compare it to the other readers. HUGE DIFFERENCE.]

I can’t recall if I finished this one or not, but I did listen to quite a bit of it.

After I had finished reading the first translation (it took me quite a few months), I took another translation. This time, I took the nine volume work of Muhsin Khan and Taqiuddin Hilali (rahimahullah). This is not the one volume work, but rather an extended version of that with more notes, so it’s basically a tafsir (commentary). [It’s available in Darussalam.]

Again, I recited and then read the translation. It took me a year to finish it but it was great. I took notes for this one as well.

After this, I moved on to the Saheeh Internation translation. It was very nice. I can’t remember if I finished it. I think I went through a large portion.

I vaguely remember stopping it for two reasons:

1) There were some printing errors in the Arabic text (in my copy).

2) I found that having the Arabic translation was harming me because I could now understand most of the Quran. I had been studying Arabic and doing hifdh (Quran memorisation) for the last few years and it had all started to come together, alhamdulillah.

For a short time, I also read from a word-to-word translation. It was very nice and my vocabulary increased. I can’t remember how far I progressed.

After this, I started to use a mushaf (i.e. the Quran) which had Tafsir Al-Jalalyn in Arabic, along with some corrections (due to some creedal errors that it contains).

The reason I got this one was because it explains the difficult words in the Quran in simpler Arabic. So, I would recite and if I didn’t understand the meaning of an ayah (verse), I would check its tafsir.

For example, I came across the word “maqaaleed”. I hadn’t a clue what that meant. I checked the tafsir and it said “mafaateeh”. I knew what that meant – keys.

I absolutely loved this tafsir. It was absolutely beautiful. I’ve been meaning to recite it from cover to cover but I haven’t done so yet.

I now use my hifdh mushaf for my recitation as well (easier to carry around), although I think I might switch to another one with tafsir.

So, what benefits did I gain from all this? Well, three very important ones:

1) I got an overview of the whole Quran

2) I came across so many ayaat (verses) that I was amazed to read (“Wow, the Quran has all these stories?” or ‘Wow, the Quran tells us how to behave?”).

[I mentioned some of this in my Quran Journal post.]

3) My Arabic improved.

The more I read of the Quran, the more I became enamoured with it and the more that I wanted to read.

I also finally understood why two of my religious friends, may Allah reward them, kept advising me to read the whole translation.

The Quran really does have a powerful effect on one’s soul and this is exactly why Shaytan (the devil) keeps us away from it.

So, what can you do?

Well, you could do exactly what I did. It worked for me, didn’t it?

“Isn’t there an easier way?”

Well, I came across the statement of an agnostic Jew, in a lecture I attended, where she stated that she wanted to know what was in the Quran (not a truth seeker, just for “knowledge”.) She had already written a book about the sunni-shia divide so she was familiar with Islamic history so she could understand the setting in which the Quran was revealed.

She then took four translations of the Quran along with an English – Arabic dictionary (this is what I recall) and then read the whole translation!

So, no there is no “easier” way. Subhan Allah, if a disbeliever can do all this, we can and should do even more.

The reason that I shared my story was so that 1) you would realise that you’re not the first one to go through this and 2) you know that I am not suggesting something that I read in an article but rather something that I went through personally.

The reason that I shared the Jew’s story was to totally shame you into taking action.

So, insha-Allah, in the next part, I’ll try to give you a few (detailed) suggestions along with the required resources (if available).

[Why wait until Part 2? Because I’m too sleepy right now. Sorry. Please excuse all the editing and spelling errors in this post.]

Any comments, suggestions, doubts, etc? If so, please feel free to share, baarakallahu feekum.

12
Apr

Some words of advice…

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Assalamu Alaikum

So, I was planning to post the “I’m too busy” article today (the one that I mentioned last week). The wind blew and I decided that I could postpone that one until later because I have a reminder for me and for you.

It started with the news of a possible tsunami in Indonesia. When I read this (yesterday or the day before), I was very alarmed because of what had happened in the original tsunami.

Then I read that it might reach the Gulf states. I got scared because I happen to come from a Gulf state.

The article mentioned the UAE.  My fear increased. I felt slightly better after it said “Fujairah” and not “Dubai”. [Fujairah is the northern most emirate, and Dubai is in the middle. We have seven emirates overall.]

Then, I found out that we’d have no tsunami after all. I was so relieved.

Then today morning as I’m in class, the wind started to blow. A lot.

The first thing that I thought of was that there was going to be a tsunami after all.

Everyone started looked anxious and proceeded to recite the dhikr (remembrance) for when the wind blows. [You can read it here]

After all, an entire nation was destroyed by the wind.

وَأَمَّا عَادٌ فَأُهْلِكُوا بِرِ‌يحٍ صَرْ‌صَرٍ‌ عَاتِيَةٍ

سَخَّرَ‌هَا عَلَيْهِمْ سَبْعَ لَيَالٍ وَثَمَانِيَةَ أَيَّامٍ حُسُومًا فَتَرَ‌ى الْقَوْمَ فِيهَا صَرْ‌عَىٰ كَأَنَّهُمْ أَعْجَازُ نَخْلٍ خَاوِيَةٍ

فَهَلْ تَرَ‌ىٰ لَهُم مِّن بَاقِيَةٍ

“And as for Aad, they were destroyed by a furious violent wind; which Allah imposed on them for seven nights and eight days in succession, so that you could see men lying overthrown (destroyed), as if they were hollow trunks of date-palms! Do you see any remnants of them?” [Surah Al-Haqqah (69) : 6-8]

Subhan Allah, who can save us from the wind except the One who sends it?

It’s only when we have these kind of situations (tsunami, earthquake, thunder and lighting, violent wind, etc) that we really fear Allah, because we know that only He can save us, nothing else, not our wealth, status, power, etc.

After all, look what happened to Japan, which used to have one of the strongest economies in the world. Could they save themselves from the tsunami? No!

This begs the question: Why do we feel so safe on the other (normal) occasions??

Allah asks us the following:

أَأَمِنتُم مَّن فِي السَّمَاءِ أَن يَخْسِفَ بِكُمُ الْأَرْ‌ضَ فَإِذَا هِيَ تَمُورُ‌

أَمْ أَمِنتُم مَّن فِي السَّمَاءِ أَن يُرْ‌سِلَ عَلَيْكُمْ حَاصِبًا ۖ فَسَتَعْلَمُونَ كَيْفَ نَذِيرِ‌

وَلَقَدْ كَذَّبَ الَّذِينَ مِن قَبْلِهِمْ فَكَيْفَ كَانَ نَكِيرِ

“Do you feel secure that He, Who is above the heaven (Allah), will not cause the earth to sink with you, then behold it shakes (as in an earthquake)?  Or do you feel secure that He, Who is over the heaven (Allah), will not send against you a violent whirlwind? Then you shall know how (terrible) has been My Warning? And indeed those before them belied (the Messengers of Allah), then how terrible was My denial (punishment)?” [Surah Al-Mulk (67) : 16-18]

However, some of us do something similar to what the disbelievers of the past did: remember Allah only in times of fear.

وَإِذَا مَسَّكُمُ الضُّرُّ‌ فِي الْبَحْرِ‌ ضَلَّ مَن تَدْعُونَ إِلَّا إِيَّاهُ ۖ فَلَمَّا نَجَّاكُمْ إِلَى الْبَرِّ‌ أَعْرَ‌ضْتُمْ ۚ وَكَانَ الْإِنسَانُ كَفُورً‌ا

“And when harm touches you upon the sea, those that you call upon besides Him vanish from you except Him (Allah Alone). But when He brings you safely to land, you turn away (from Him). And man is ever ungrateful.” [Surah Al-Isra (17) : 67]

So, this is a short reminder for you and for me, that we need to fear Allah as He should be feared. Yes, we need to hope in His Mercy but we also need to fear His Punishment. That is the moderate way.

Fearing His Punishment doesn’t just mean becoming righteous for all of 20 minutes during the time of need. It means continuing the good even after the possible calamity has been averted, in order to avoid the major calamity i.e. the hell fire.

All of us are going to die and all of us are going to be raised again. And on that Day, we won’t get a second chance. That will be IT. No more chances.

So, we need to work for that Day from NOW, not just in times of calamity or in Ramadan.

Subhan Allah, just a short time before the wind blew, our teacher was talking about people who finish the Quran in 2 months but don’t understand anything.

He said that ilm (knowledge) was khashiyah (fear) of Allah and understanding and applying just one ayah (verse) would suffice us (as it summarises everything).

The ayah? Here you go:

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا اتَّقُوا اللَّـهَ وَلْتَنظُرْ‌ نَفْسٌ مَّا قَدَّمَتْ لِغَدٍ ۖ وَاتَّقُوا اللَّـهَ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّـهَ خَبِيرٌ‌ بِمَا تَعْمَلُونَ

“O you who believe! Fear Allah and keep your duty to Him. And let every person look to what he has sent forth for tomorrow, and fear Allah. Verily, Allah is All-Aware of what you do.” [Surah Al-Hashr (59) : 18]

Something to ponder over, isn’t it?

That’s not all though. The two ayaat (verses) after this are:

وَلَا تَكُونُوا كَالَّذِينَ نَسُوا اللَّـهَ فَأَنسَاهُمْ أَنفُسَهُمْ ۚ أُولَـٰئِكَ هُمُ الْفَاسِقُونَ

لَا يَسْتَوِي أَصْحَابُ النَّارِ‌ وَأَصْحَابُ الْجَنَّةِ ۚ أَصْحَابُ الْجَنَّةِ هُمُ الْفَائِزُونَ

“And be not like those who forgot Allah (i.e. became disobedient to Allah) and He caused them to forget their own selves, (let them to forget to do righteous deeds). Those are the Fasiqoon (rebellious, disobedient to Allah). Not equal are the dwellers of the Fire and the dwellers of the Paradise. It is the dwellers of Paradise that will be successful.” [Surah Al-Hashr (59) : 19-20] 

So, let’s get to work.

11
Apr

“In Islam, we are all responsible”

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Assalamu Alaikum.

[Photo Courtesy of Sarah McCaw]

[Note: Yes, I’m going to be a good girl and start giving credit to the owners of the images that I use in my posts.]

That’s what a friend of mine (you know who you are) said.

What she meant was that none of us have any excuse not to practice Islam or say that we didn’t know (generally speaking, of course).

Let me give you a real life example. A woman came up to a famous Islamic lecturer and said: “I’m a born Muslim but my parents didn’t teach me anything about Islam.”

His reply?

“My parents weren’t even Muslims.”

Subhan Allah, we really need to dwell over this.

Many people blame their families, communities, secular education, etc as the reasons for their lack of knowledge about Islam.

Well, that begs the question: What stopped them from taking the steps to seek knowledge and apply Islam after they grew up? Aren’t they now responsible for themselves? They can’t lay all the blame on others!

Many people wish they had been taught Islam in childhood. 

“If only…”, they say.

Musa (alaihissalam), one of the five greatest people to walk on this planet, was raised in the house of Pharaoh.

Ibrahim (alaihissalam), the second greatest person to walk on this planet, was the son of an idol maker.

Muhammad (sallallahu alaihi wasallam), the greatest man to walk on this planet, also came from a family that worshipped idols.

[Please note: The Prophets never worshipped anyone other than Allah even before Prophethood, not even for a minute.]

So, which “religious practicing” families did they come from?

Also, what about the Companions of the Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wasallam)? Many of them were not born into Islam. They accepted Islam much later on in life.

Despite this, all the above people (the Prophets and the Companions) were the most knowledgeable people this planet has seen.

Apart from them, there are other stories in the Quran and Sunnah about people who didn’t know the Straight Path but strove to find it, despite being surrounded by a non-Islamic society. Here are four of those stories.

So, I think that it’s time to stop laying the blame on others and take responsibility for our own actions.