Striving for Excellence in Taqwa & Character

The Battle of Badr

dunes

Here we are in September and the beginning of the academic year. This term I am taking a module on Seerah (a study of the life of the Prophet Muhammed peace be upon him) as part of my diploma in Islamic studies with the Islamic Online University.

This module covers the period after the migration of the Prophet Muhammed to the city of Medina where many other Muslims had joined him or travelled there before him after the Muslims of Medina invited them and affirmed their support to Islam and its Prophet.

Listening to the audio on the battle of Badr, that took place in the 2nd year of Hijra (migration), I could not help but swim deeply in the sea of my thoughts.

If you are unfamiliar with what happened in the battle of Badr, you may like to check this Youtube clip.

Qualities of a leader

The Prophet Muhammed (pbuh) was approachable and that’s why when he decided on a camping place, one of the companions did not hesitate to check about the source of that decision, was it a personal choice of the Prophet or a direction from Allah. When the Prophet replied that it was a personal decision, the companion explained that another site, one that places the water well behind them would be strategically better. The Prophet listened, accepted and they moved forwards.

Read the rest of this entry »

Words Unknown

Book_with_bookmark (2)

Salaams!

I am building a glossary to explain terms that you come across here at Muslimah etc. and may be unfamiliar with. If you can’t find a word here, please let me know in the comments section.

Note that I am spelling the words by way of transliteration. So, try and read the word out loud and you may find that you’ve come across it before, it just looks different.

Many thanks & happy reading!

Hanan

Read the rest of this entry »

What Baraqish did…

Dog_Glasses_clip_art_hight

 

In a town far far away, in a time long forgotten a man owned a guard dog he named Baraqish. One day, she kept barking nonstop that the people thought there must be something seriously wrong. As nothing was out of the ordinary in their town, they sent one of them outside of the town to check and he came back with a warning that a group of thieves is heading towards them. They decided to hide in a nearby cave until the thieves passed through their town. As they were hiding in the cave and the thieves were almost gone, Baraqish noticed them and started barking. This alerted the thieves of the location of the townspeople and they were captured. This is the story of the Arabic saying “على نفسها جنت براقش”, which translates to “Baraqish brought destruction upon herself”.

Coming back to more recent times… three of us were at a community event discussing the lectures and other matters. One of my companions made a passing comment that I should take on a leadership position in one of the organisations we know.  While I was considering this I noticed that our third person did not seem to like that suggestion.  I felt disappointed and even belittled. How can this person think like this?

When I calmed down from this internal shock, the Arabic saying “Baraqish brought destruction upon herself” came to mind … how odd?

Read the rest of this entry »

The Before & After

outside_and_inside

I’m sure you’ve seen them many times. The ‘before’ and ‘after’ pictures of someone who lost weight. The ‘after’ pictures may show them wearing their old clothes to show how much smaller that person has become or maybe how much bigger they were. Either way, it is definitely used to show the magnitude of their achievement.

Such a transformation had unfolded in front of me, courtesy of social media. I met her for the first time while on a trip abroad. I won’t deny that I did notice that she was on the large side. But I also noticed the twinkle in her eyes and her bright smile.  A number of interactions gave me a glimpse into her feisty personality.

Read the rest of this entry »

People_Tree

{O you who have believed, indeed, intoxicants, gambling, [sacrificing on] stone alters [to other than Allah ], and divining arrows are but defilement from the work of Satan, so avoid it that you may be successful.

Satan only wants to cause between you animosity and hatred through intoxicants and gambling and to avert you from the remembrance of Allah and from prayer. So will you not desist?

And obey Allah and obey the Messenger and beware. And if you turn away – then know that upon Our Messenger is only [the responsibility for] clear notification.

There is not upon those who believe and do righteousness [any] blame concerning what they have eaten [in the past] if they fear Allah and believe and do righteous deeds, and then fear Allah and believe, and then fear Allah and do good; and Allah loves the doers of good.}

Quran 5:90-93

Today’s verses made me pause and wonder.

These verses are the final verses that absolutely prohibited the drinking of alcohol. Before the advent of Islam, the Arabs were big drinkers and thus Allah decreed that he would gradually legislate the prohibition of alcohol until faith was firm in their hearts. Imagine, alcohol wasn’t forbidden until the Muslims were established in Madina. That was almost 17 years after Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him) was given the message of Islam.

Notice that Allah mentioned four things together which are ‘filth’ and avoiding them is a cause for success: alcohol, gambling, sacrificing on stone alters and a form of fortune telling. One can write a whole essay on the evils of each of these things. One thing to mention though; when Allah mentioned the sacrificing on alters along with fortune telling it is showing a commonality between these two. Fortune telling is seeking to find the unknown from other than Allah and thus attributing a creation with an attribute of the creator. Therefore, as sacrificing to other than Allah violates unifying Allah with worship, attributing what is to Allah to his creation also violates the belief in the attributes that are unique to Allah.

Alcohol and gambling got mentioned again to emphasise their harm. Know that the order things are stated in the Quran are significant. The first issue mentioned is causing enmity between people THEN the distraction from the general remembrance of Allah and specifically in prayer. How amazing is that? What has been forbidden to us is not just for our personal benefit but also for our community. It is to preserve our ties of kinship and friendship.

The community of believers at the time of the Prophet (peace be upon him) were true examples of brotherhood. When these verses were revealed forbidding alcohol, the companions were concerned for the Muslims who died before the verses and were still drinking alcohol. Allah responded {There is not upon those who believe and do righteousness [any] blame concerning what they have eaten}.

May Allah make us of those who see the truth and are granted the ability to follow it and be an aid for other to follow the truth.

May Allah grant us his love and the love of those he loves {… and Allah loves the doers of good.}

I came across this verse in the Quran (4:147) and wondered about its meaning:

{What would Allah do with your punishment if you are grateful and believe? And ever is Allah Appreciative and Knowing.}

In my searches I found a youtube clip explanation by Dr Ratib Al-Nabulsi that I liked and wanted to share with you. However, as it is in Arabic I have put below a rough translation.

I have to mention an important note here. It sounded to me that the young man was seeking a spiritual remedy to the doubts caused in his heart by his difficult situation. It is from Islamic teachings that one seeks the appropriate course of action from specialists either for their physical, mental and spiritual ills while keeping his or her heart attached to the creator of causes, God the all-mighty.

The speaker begins by saying:

I met a young man. He told me that he was a line engineer who studied in Romania in Europe and works in a large factory in Damascus. This young man was complaining to me that he suffered from seizures while driving, which is dangerous, or on public transport or on the road or at his home on a daily and weekly basis and between 3 and 5 times.

The young man continued by saying: “I feel crushed. Why is this happening to me?”

The speaker explained that as far as he knows seizures are caused by a fault in the brain; that is a serious condition. However, the speaker felt that that was not the answer the young man was looking for. The young man wanted to know why would God do this to him?

The speaker continues:

I met the young man at home to explain and read the verse: {What would Allah do with your punishment if you are grateful and believe?}. The young man listened with so much attention that exceeded my expectation and asked me for the meaning of the verse.

I (the speaker continues) said: “It is absolutely impossible that God would afflict his servant with a difficulty that would distress him as long as that servant is steadfast on the path of God and the evidence is this verse, {What would Allah do with your punishment if you are grateful and believe?}”

The young man showed great care and took out a pen and paper and began to write and asked me what he should do. I mentioned to him to complete the prayers on time; lower his gaze; control what his tongue utters and regulate his senses of eyes, tongue and ears.   I mentioned almost forty things he should do.

The speaker continues:

After the young man left, I felt that I got myself into a predicament; perhaps this man’s condition is incurable and I just promised him that if he is steadfast on the path of God his condition will improve.

I normally run a class on Fridays and the following Friday the young man attended commenting that that was the first seizure free week in his life. The speaker felt that he had owned the world (out of happiness for the young man).

The young man kept attending the classes Friday after Friday and the speaker was overwhelmed with happiness that by implementing this verse the young man had succeeded in abating his seizure episodes. However, on the sixth week the young man did not attend the class and I concluded that he must have suffered a seizure. I was very worried.

On the seventh week the young man attended the class and said to me: “Do not worry about your principle. I am the one who fell short with God and my seizure returned”

The speaker concludes:

Know that if God promises, His promise will be fulfilled. If God promised a good life, an abundance of substance, a peaceful life, tranquillity, promised wisdom then know that God would rather destroy the universe than not fulfil those promises. If they are not fulfilled then it is our fault.  We have to accuse ourselves because God has no need for our punishment and the verse is clear:

{What would Allah do with your punishment if you are grateful and believe? And ever is Allah Appreciative and Knowing.}

Excellent is the Reward

branch_on_sky_background_198333

One of the many beauties of the Quran is that it keeps giving. Verse 2:138 in Surah Al-Baqarah tells us the wisdom behind prescribing fasting for Muslims and nations before them:

{O you who believe! Observing As-Saum (the fasting) has been prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you, that you may become al-muttaqun}. Al-Muttaqun are those who are God conscious.

And later on in Surah Aal-Imran we get introduced to the qualities of al-muttaqun:

{And hasten to forgiveness from your Lord and a garden as wide as the heavens and earth, prepared for the muttaqeen. Who spend [in the cause of Allah ] during ease and hardship and who restrain anger and who pardon the people – and Allah loves the doers of good; And those who, when they commit an immorality or wrong themselves [by transgression], remember Allah and seek forgiveness for their sins – and who can forgive sins except Allah ? – and [who] do not persist in what they have done while they know. Those – their reward is forgiveness from their Lord and gardens beneath which rivers flow [in Paradise], wherein they will abide eternally; and excellent is the reward of the [righteous] workers.} (Quran 3:133 – 136)

I absolutely love the prelude; ‘a garden as wide as the heavens and earth’. Wouldn’t that make you pay attention and listen? What did these people do to have such a reward prepared for them?

  1. They spend on good causes regardless of their own situation of ease and hardship. I read in one of the commentaries that spending was mentioned first because it is hardest to depart from their wealth. Human general tendency is to withhold out of fear of poverty. So in a way this quality does not only show that those who are God conscious are generous but that their generosity comes from a place of trust in God; trusting that he is the provider and sustainers.
  2. They restrain their anger. This sounds to me like they do get angry as any human being would but choose not to act upon that anger and bear it with patience. That is strength.
  3. They pardon others. It is an interesting choice of words, to pardon, rather than to forgive. Al-muttaqun don’t just forgive, they forgive and forget. They hold themselves to higher ideals because they are hoping in the pleasure of God, The Pardoner (Al-‘Afuww).
  4. They are not angels! They do mistakes and commit sins but are quick to return and seek forgiveness as soon as they are aware of their wrong doing. They are not so proud that they would persist and not admit their wrong doing. Quickly acknowledging ones mistake and seeking forgiveness for it was the manner of the companions of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).

Though most of these characteristics seem outward and visible, they require much internal work and struggle to be expressed: trust in God’s provisions, personal strength to control one’s emotions and disciplining the soul to be humble & forgiving. They require that one is truly conscious of God and what pleases and displeases Him. And the reward is no less than the one who is being sought: {… excellent is the reward of the righteous workers}.

 “O Allah, You are pardoning and You love to pardon, so pardon me