Striving for Excellence in Taqwa & Character

Posts tagged ‘Quran’

Open Up To The Possibilities

Open up to the possibilities

‘What are the possibilities presented by this situation?’

I remember I was once asked by a psychotherapist, ‘why was I so excited and looking forward to Ramadan?’. A month of no-eating! I thought, hmm … how do I answer such a question? Do I go into the features and ruling of fasting in Islam? What clever, intellectual explanation do I give?

Then  I decided on giving my personal reason, away from any fancy words and concepts.

My personal reason at the time was ‘connection’. Ramadan was a time when I felt more connected with myself and my soul. The times of Iftar when the whole family comes together to break their fast was time to connect with my family. The whole fasting and worship experience made me feel more connected to Allah.

While fasting the month of Ramadan is a pillar of Islam and has many cultural practices involved in it, it is a personal experience. You make of it what YOU make of it!

Here is where stories from the Quran can give us a glimpse of our person choice and attitude. They are gateways to change our attitude to open our hearts to the possibilities that Allah presents us through what we call life. Because life happens! An attitude change that could add so much to our lives and Ramadan is a fantastic time to practice it.   (more…)

Escape The Bottomless Pit

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Aims and goals are curious things. They tell us that we want to do more and/or do better. A sort of sign that is pointing to our search for increase or betterment. I wonder, are these pursuits seeking to fill an empty space or adorn what is already wholesome?

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An invitation to closeness

Invitation card and roses

I came to revisit the topic of ‘waliul Allah’, translated to a close friend or ally of Allah, and thought it would be nice to have company… Welcome.

Allah tells us about his close friends or allies in verses 62-63 of surah Yunus:

Indeed, the allies of Allah there will be no fear concerning them, nor will they grieve. Those who believed and were conscious of Allah

Usually, the discussion quickly moves on to who isn’t a wali. It begins with explaining that ‘saint’ isn’t a suitable translation of ‘wali’ because it carries connotations inappropriate to the Islamic context. These include holiness, guarantee of heaven for the wali and their performance of miracles. The discussion rightly continues on to warn against those who “perform miracles” to take advantage of others who are spiritually, mentally and/or emotionally vulnerable.

How about considering this topic of walihood from a different angle? Grasp the matter from a different side and check how it feels.

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The Battle of Badr

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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.

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What Baraqish did…

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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?

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The Before & After

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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.

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If you are Grateful and Believe

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.}