Push away the bad with good

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

 

23:96
Repel, by [means of] what is best, [their] evil. We are most knowing of what they describe. [Qur'an, 23:96]
41:34
And not equal are the good deed and the bad. Repel [evil] by that [deed] which is better; and thereupon the one whom between you and him is enmity [will become] as though he was a devoted friend. [Qur'an, 41:34]

 

The Prophet (pbuh) exemplified this behavior. He never returned people’s personal unkindness to him, because he was focused on the greater goal. When he went to T’aif, and was kicked out, the Angel came to him he could destroy them if he asked. But the Prophet (pbuh) refused, hoping that the next generation would be better. Despite the personal abuse he endured in Makkah, we do not hear of the Prophet (pbuh) responding with the same. The people who were against him in Makkah had to resort to obscure insults, such as a sorcerer or a poet, because they could not say anything bad about his character. When he was able to liberate Makkah after 9 years of being in exile, he did not slaughter his enemies. He gave them safety. One of the companions said “Today is the day of malhama!” meaning a great battle or slaughter, but the Prophet (pbuh) responded with “No. Today is the day of marhama” meaning a day of mercy.

There are times when you have to defend your community, as was the case with the wars when the Prophet (pbuh) was in Madina. Pushing away the bad with good doesn’t mean being weak. It means you are stronger. Even when you defend your right, you do it in an ethical way. Abu Jahal had borrowed money from a man and refused to give it back. So that man went to the Prophet (pbuh) to help him, not really knowing the situation in Makkah. And the Prophet (pbuh) went with him and helped him get his money back from Abu Jahal. He helped a man with his rights. But the way in which he did it was better.

If ever you are faced with a personal attack, know that Allah is aware. Respond with what is better.

 

 

I repented.. is Allah still angry with me?

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

 

9:118
And [He also forgave] the three who were left behind [and regretted their error] to the point that the earth closed in on them in spite of its vastness and their souls confined them and they were certain that there is no refuge from Allah except in Him. Then He turned to them so they could repent. Indeed, Allah is the Accepting of repentance, the Merciful. [Qur'an, 9:118]

 

Sometimes we do something wrong knowing it is wrong. We ignore that feeling, we procrastinate doing the right thing, until we make a big mistake. Ka’b bin Malik (ra) made a big mistake. The Battle of Tabuk was an especially difficult battle. The Prophet (pbuh) told his companions to prepare beforehand. There weren’t enough riding animals for everyone, but Ka’b himself had two. What was his mistake? He procrastinated. He said to himself ‘i can get ready in an instant’. He saw people leaving and still he said to himself ‘i can catch up’ until it was too late.

When the army came back more than a month later, K’ab was worried. He contemplated lying to the Prophet (pbuh). But he knew he couldn’t do that. He knew that even if he lied to the Prophet (pbuh), Allah knows what he did wrong. So he told the truth.

What do we imagine to be the response? He told the truth, so he should be let off easy, right?

This is where repentance shows its sincerity. The Prophet (pbuh) told him (and two others who told the truth that they had no excuse not to join the expedition) to wait for Allah’s decree. In the meantime, none of the Muslims were allowed to speak to them. Ka’b felt terrible. He said to one of the companions “Do you know that I love Allah and His Messenger?” This continued for a long time.

Many of us would feel disheartened. We would wish that we lied. We would feel that our repentance was not accepted, otherwise why would we be punished like this? To add to that, some of the Christian Arab tribes heard about this and invited Ka’b (ra) to join them, saying they would support him.

What would you do? Imagine if you committed a sin, then repented. But after the repentance, all you find is hardship. Then you are tempted to sin again. Would you give up?

This story of Ka’b bin Malik (ra) teaches us not to give up after repentance. He refused their invitation. He continued praying to Allah. And the reward for that was being remembered in the Qur’an for eternity in the verse quoted above, as an example to all those who struggle after repentance. Allah will accept you.

Sometimes we need to learn from our mistakes. Being let off easy doesn’t help us, especially if we committed a sin knowing it is wrong. Allah shows us in this example that even when it seems like He is punishing you, it is only for your own good. And if you are patient, and turn to Him even in that scenario, you will get something you could not have even imagined. As Allah reminds us:

“And whoever fears Allah – He will make for him a way out. And will provide for him from where he does not expect.” [Qur'an, 65:2-3]

Repentance only brings good. Don’t let shaitan mess with your head and tell you the reason you are facing hardship is because your repentance wasn’t accepted. Allah has named Himself at-Tawwab, meaning He accepts ALL those who turn back to Him. He would never reject you. Allah never turns away the broken-hearted. Just be patient, and remind yourself that Allah is teaching you, like he taught Ka’b (ra). And remind yourself that, just like Ka’b (ra), Allah will give you something better than you could ever imagine.

A heart that is free

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

12:89
12:90

12:91
12:92
He said, “Do you know what you did with Joseph and his brother when you were ignorant?” They said, “Are you indeed Joseph?” He said “I am Joseph, and this is my brother. Allah has certainly favored us. Indeed, he who fears Allah and is patient, then indeed, Allah does not allow to be lost the reward of those who do good.” They said, “By Allah , certainly has Allah preferred you over us, and indeed, we have been sinners.” He said, “No blame will there be upon you today. Allah will forgive you; and He is the most merciful of the merciful.” [Qur'an, 12:89-92]

How is it that Yusuf (as) was able to forgive his brothers who tried to kill him? And they did that when he was just a child. This seems to be really difficult.

Many of us can carry grudges for years for things that are much less. What is the root of the grudge? At some level, we want to be angry at the person who hurt us. Perhaps we feel that we are punishing them by doing that. We want to remain in this constant state of disapproval to show that what they did was not ok. Another reason could be that we desire to control the situation. When they hurt us, we lost control. So we need to remain angry, because somehow we believe this gives us control. Finally, an aspect of it could be that we desire approval from them. If they hurt us and did not apologize, we remain angry because we want for them to come and apologize.

But Yusuf (as) didn’t suffer from any of the above. Carrying grudges can only harm you. How is being angry hurting anyone but yourself? You can let a person know that what they did was not ok without this process of self-harm. And that is because you do not desire anything from them. Not their approval, and not control from them. They did what they did, perhaps because they lacked something in themselves. It happened. But you are living for something greater, like the Prophet (as) Yusuf. And your main focus is God.

This may sound difficult. And it may sound like it is a request to be unfeeling. But it’s the opposite. Once we hinge our basic desires in God- the desire for approval, control and security- there is little people can do to harm you emotionally. Because your heart is free. You can love truly because your love is not held back by these fears or desires. Just like Yusuf (as). He was not unfeeling. He went through much external hardship but internally he was connected to God. He didn’t rely on people to validate his experiences. He wasn’t angry that he didn’t have control or that fear that his security was at stake. He knew that all of those are in the Hands of God. So very little that anyone did could actually harm him.

And what was the result? His brothers asked for his forgiveness. They wanted his approval. They recognized their wrong. And he was happy to forgive them and remind them of the vast mercy of God. When your heart is free, all you focus on is the mercy.

May Allah give us a heart like Yusuf and Ibrahim (as).

From bad to… more bad?

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

 

12:33
12:34
12:35
He said, “My Lord, prison is more to my liking than that to which they invite me. And if You do not avert from me their plan, I might incline toward them and [thus] be of the ignorant.” So his Lord responded to him and averted from him their plan. Indeed, He is the Hearing, the Knowing. Then it appeared to them after they had seen the signs that al-’Azeez should surely imprison him for a time. [Qur'an, 33-35]

 

All of the rich and important (and attractive!) women of that time were after the Prophet Yusuf (as), even the wife of the minister. So Yusuf (as) prays to God to keep them away from him, even it means going to prison. So God sends him to prison.

 

One might ask, is that really what Yusuf (as) needs? From something bad to… even more bad? Why couldn’t Allah just keep those women away from him without having to send him to jail? From the outside, it looks like things keep getting worse for Yusuf (as). He gets out of one problem only to enter into another one.

 

But that is a matter of perspective. Every time a disaster is averted. And every time he is brought closer to something great. Every time he is growing in character, wisdom and closeness to God.

 

So sometimes, that prison is necessary. On the outside, it might seem like you simply moved from one bad thing to another bad thing, or an even worse thing. But what you don’t know is that you took an exit off a dangerous highway. The exit has thorns and is bumpy. But it’s an exit. And when you arrive, you arrive in Paradise.

Yusuf (as) was not blind to this. He didn’t complain. He was reassured. And he interprets the dreams of the two prisoners who are with him. He might have expected to be freed soon because he told the one whom he expected to be freed to mention him to his master. But he stayed in prison for years.

Finally, his moment comes. He interprets the dream of the king. He is appointed as a minister. He is reunited with his family, and his brothers ask for his forgiveness. Blessings one after the other.

So don’t feel disheartened when you pray to God to get you out of a job you hate, only for you to get a job that you hate equally as much. That could be your ‘prison’ that opens for you more doors.

The key to realizing all of this is to be like Yusuf (as). Keep God in mind wherever you are. Try to do good where you are and don’t make excuses. He talked to the prisoners about God. There is an opportunity to worship God in whatever situation you find yourself in. So don’t feel sorry for yourself. There will be an opening inshAllah. You might go from being hated by your brothers to being trapped in a well to a prison, but what you don’t know is it’s a step up. Keep up the hope. There is good in store for everyone who thinks well of Allah, who strives for Him and constantly turns to Him.

 

May Allah make us of them.

Dignity and honor

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

 

25:72
And [they are] those who do not testify to falsehood, and when they pass near ill speech, they pass by with dignity. [Qur'an, 25:72]

 

One of the things that I really love about Islam is that it teaches you to be dignified and to have a sense of honor. And I really feel it when reciting this verse. Allah talks about the characteristics of the true servants of the Most-Merciful. And of them is that when they hear ill speech, they pass by with dignity. They have a sense of self-worth, of what is right and what is wrong, and of what it means to be an honored child of Adam. It’s not just about not doing wrong. But it’s about not even polluting your ears with wrong. So they pass by with dignity. They don’t indulge.

 

A few verses preceding it:

 

25:63
And the servants of the Most Merciful are those who walk upon the earth easily, and when the ignorant address them [harshly], they say [words of] peace, [Qur'an, 25:63]

 

Beautiful. They walk upon the earth easily, meaning with tranquility and humbleness. And when ignorant people address them in a harsh way, they respond with words of peace. You can only do that if you are at peace internally. You don’t need to react to every single thing. When you do react, your reactions are measured. And that is because you understand that you are a servant of the Most-Merciful. That Allah has honored you and loves you. So you know that no one can harm you.

How can we achieve this internal peace? Turning to Allah of course. And then understanding where our reactions are coming from. Usually they come from a desire for approval, control and/or security. Once we pinpoint that, we can let it go. Because no one’s approval matters except of Allah’s. No one has control and no one can give security except Allah. So your desires are creating emotions that drive your reactions, but the root of it is a desire. And once you let go of it, you can truly be a at peace.

May Allah make us true servants of the Most-Merciful.

Upon you is responsibility for yourselves

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

 

5:105
O you who have believed, upon you is [responsibility for] yourselves. Those who have gone astray will not harm you when you have been guided. To Allah is you return all together; then He will inform you of what you used to do. [Qur'an, 5:105]

 

Religion is not for control. A lot of times we get upset, angry or frustrated because we cannot control others. It becomes more annoying if we are sure that we are right. But Allah tells us to let go. Ultimately you are responsible for yourselves. Our job is to inform, to invite, to help out- but we will not be held responsible. Moreover, those who have gone astray cannot harm you when you are guided- so why are you upset? You can hate actions but don’t hate the person. Pray for people’s guidance, be a good example and be at peace.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Don’t dismiss and don’t label

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

I wasn’t sure what to use as a title. Don’t dismiss, don’t label, use your head. And the reason is I was reflecting on the Prophets’ conversations with their people. See Abraham (as) for example:

21:62
21:63
21:64
21:65
21:66
21:67
21:68
They said, “Have you done this to our gods, O Abraham?” He said, “Rather, this – the largest of them – did it, so ask them, if they should [be able to] speak.” So they returned to [blaming] themselves and said [to each other], “Indeed, you are the wrongdoers.” Then they reversed themselves, [saying], “You have already known that these do not speak!” He said, “Then do you worship instead of Allah that which does not benefit you at all or harm you? Uff to you and to what you worship instead of Allah . Then will you not use reason?” They said, “Burn him and support your gods – if you are to act.” [Qur'an, 21:63-68]

 

This is an amazing conversation. Abraham (as) uses logic. His people don’t respond to his logic, but attack him.  See this conversation with Shoaib (as):

11:91
They said, “O Shu’ayb, we do not understand much of what you say, and indeed, we consider you among us as weak. And if not for your family, we would have stoned you [to death]; and you are not to us one respected.” [Qur'an, 11:91]

 

His people didn’t look at what he said, but said that he was weak. The people of Quriesh never debated the Prophet (pbuh) on his beliefs or principles, but called him names: Crazy. Possessed. Sorcerer.

 

People do this when they are afraid and do not want to deal with what is being presented to them. This is wrong. If we do this, we are just as bad as those who rejected the Prophets. For example, saying “well, he’s just from x sect”. Listen to someone’s arguments and respond to them. If you are not sure, look into it, and be sincere when you do so. Don’t be superficial about the issue or lazy when inquiring. Have an open mind and don’t let labels cloud your judgment.