While their people were reformers…

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

11:117
And your Lord would not have destroyed the cities unjustly while their people were reformers. [Surat Hud, 11:117]
The word that is translated as ‘reformers’ is “muslihoon”. Allah could have said “Saalihoon”, which is from the same root “s-l-h” (ص-ل-ح). “Salihoon” means good people. But He says “Muslihoon” which is an active term. It means a person who is active in fixing wrongs. Allah tells us that He does not destroy places where there are people who try to fix the wrongs in their society. This is such a huge lesson in what it means to be a Muslim. We are not just ‘good people’- isolated human beings who do no harm but do not care about the wider society. A Muslim is a Muslih; one who tries to actively fix wrongs.

When you feel it is not enough

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

 

When Ramadan comes, we are usually excited and pumped up. We have all of these goals and things we want to achieve. But then, things get in the way. Our workload piles up, maybe we get sick or we realize we just can’t do what we set out. This can be disheartening.

This feeling of underachievement, and that what we are doing is not enough, makes us feel down. Maybe even unworthy. And then what happens is that feeling just spirals out of control. We sabotage ourselves by punishing ourselves with guilt for not being able to do what we set out, but that in turn sucks our internal energy! And then we are able to do less, and we also connect less to God because we feel that our external ‘failure’ makes us undeserving of His mercy.

This is self-sabotage.

Islam teaches us to make the most of whatever situation we are in. Do we think that Allah is ignorant of the fact that we got a sudden heavy workload? Or that our anemia makes us feel exhausted?

There are three things we can do:

1- Remember that Allah is ash-Shakoor

Ash-Shakoor is the One who appreciates the little that you do and rewards abundantly for it. He even appreciates, loves and rewards your intention!! The Prophet (pbuh) tells us: “Whosoever intends to do a good deed but does not do it, Allah records it with Himself as a complete good deed; but if he intends it and does it, Allah records it with Himself as ten good deeds, up to seven hundred times, or more than that.” [Bukhari]

Did you intend to pray all of taraweeh in the mosque, but suddenly fell ill? Did you want to complete the Qur’an but suddenly found yourself swamped with work? Allah knows the things that happened to you outside of your control. Think well of Allah- He won’t take you to account for things imposed upon you.

2- Make the most of whatever situation you are in

This is so important. Yes, Ramadan is the time for increased prayers, fasting, Qur’an and charity. No one is contesting that. But your intention changes whatever act that you do from a habit or something neutral, to an act of worship. When something unexpected happens that completely ruins your worship plans, remember to be attached to the One you are doing the act for and not the act itself. Your work can be for God when you do it with itqan (excellence). If you are sick and can’t recite Qur’an, then listen to Qur’an. If you are busy with house chores, fill that time with dhikr and give more charity. There are always alternatives and the doors to Allah are vast and wide.

3- Verily, good deeds wipe away the bad

Find that laziness took you over? Did something you should not have done? A man came to the Prophet (pbuh), feeling so horrible because he did unlawful things with a woman he was not married to. They prayed ‘Asr together, and the Prophet (pbuh) informed him afterwards that Allah revealed:

And establish prayer at the two ends of the day and at the approach of the night. Indeed, good deeds do away with misdeeds. That is a reminder for those who remember.” [Surat Hud, 11:112]

Islam teaches us NOT TO DWELL. You made a mistake? It’s in the past. What matters is what you do now. If it is a sin, then stop the sin, seek forgiveness from Allah and then do good to make up for it.

Islam makes things easy. Don’t make things difficult for yourself.

Those who are certain

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

 

2:45
2:46
And seek help through patience and prayer, and indeed, it is difficult except for the humbly submissive [to Allah ]

Who are certain that they will meet their Lord and that they will return to Him. [Surat al-Baqara, 2:24-26]

I love these two verses. Seek help through patience and prayer- but these can be difficult. Actually, we do the opposite sometimes when we are faced with difficulty. We turn away from prayer and patience. Allah tells us it is difficult except for the “khashi’een”- the humbly submissive. And who are they?
Those who are certain that they will meet their Lord and that they will return to him.
When things go wrong, we lose sight of things. We lose sight of where we are journeying to. We lose sight of the fact that this world is a dream, and we are actually going Home. If you want to be of the “khashi’een” then remember – be certain – that you will meet your Lord. You will return to Him. This moment of difficult is a passing moment. Take a few steps back and see that you Allah is bigger than this difficulty. And who can get you through it except al-Kabeer, He is who is greater?

Hayaatan Tayyiba: a good life

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

 

16:97

“Whoever does righteousness, whether male or female, while he is a believer – We will surely cause him to live a good life…” [Surat an-Nahl, 16-97]

The English translation doesn’t really do it for me here. Allah says “Fa lanuhyiyanahu” there is so much emphasis here- WE DEFINITELY WILL. WE SURELY WILL. WE WILL SURELY BRING HIM TO LIFE- A GOOD (TAYYIBA) LIFE.
And what is Tayyiba? What does it mean? It is the opposite of something that is wicked. An “ardh tayyiba” is land or soil that is fertile; a “reeh tayyiba” is a gentle wind and a “balda tayyiba” is a town that has a lot of good in it.
And don’t we all want that? A good life, a life of serenity?
Any good that you do beautifies your life. We are sometimes stingy, and don’t want to give because we are in a bad mood. But Allah is telling us, whoever does good, Allah will bring him to life, a life that is good. Don’t belittle your action. And now so many studies confirm this: doing good for others makes you feel good. And good deeds is not just doing for others, but connecting to Allah. And even then there is evidence of the benefits of meditation and reflection.
May follow the advise of that verse!

You can start anew

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

 

25:70

Except for those who repent, believe and do righteous work. For them Allah will replace their evil deeds with good. And ever is Allah Forgiving and Merciful. [Surat al-Furqan, 25:70]

 

Allah’s Generosity knows no bounds. There are times we cannot forgive ourselves. And yet Allah tells us He forgives and He erases, and that we should do good to blot out the bad. But He tells us something else- that the bad that we did is actually replaced with good. So after a sincere return to Allah, you do not start with a clean slate- you start with a slate filled with good! You do not start anew- your starting point is new AND improved, just by a simple return to Allah: desisting from the act, seeking His forgiveness and intending never to return to it. And then trying to increase in your good deeds. That’s it.

Starting late

Bismillah

My reflections are starting a little late this year- been so busy the past few days. At first, I felt so bad about this. But it opened my eyes to something. Allah says in the Qur’an:

“And the home of the Hereafter is best for those who fear Allah ; then will you not reason?” [Surat Yusuf, 12:1O9]

When Ramadan started, while I had a list of goals ready, there was something missing- until I read this verse. It is so easy to get attached to the things of this world and even the means we use to get to Allah. We forget that this is all temporary. That this life is the journey, but the destination is somewhere else completely.

And this lead me to something else- the true goal of Ramadan. And the true goal of Ramadan is fast from everything else other than Allah. It is a time to connect to Him and to remember that this journey is to Him. And that puts everything into perspective. Why should we be angry that helping out family means we missed out once on taraweeh at the mosque- we can pray at home and helping them is beloved to Allah.

This Ramadan should be about connecting. Throw everything else away. We are travelers on a journey home.

Counsel: Remind yourself every morning of where you are journeying, and take time out in the evening to talk to Allah.

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.