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Archive for May, 2014

Bismillah

So I listened to this lecture about tolerance and thought to make a couple of notes to help me remember and benefit inshallah. May Allah reward all those involved in bringing this lecture to light ameen.

How to have a better day:

–          Have good intentions, don’t take a step without it.

–          Be fair, be just, be truthful, even if against ourselves

–          Be tolerant, accept that others are different from you, try to deal with the differences in a kind manner

–          Before you go to sleep, cleanse your heart and remove any anger or jealousy or bad feelings towards others

 

May Allah help us to purify our intentions, to be fair and just and kind, to remain truthful in all situations, to say good or be quiet, to cleanse ourselves of impurities of the soul as we cleanse ourselves of impurities of the body ameen.

 

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Bismillah

So, some sisters and I decided that we are going to try to meet regularly for the purpose of strengthening each other for the sake of Allah. We all used to know and ‘hang’ out with each other in London and have made our Hijra around the same time and want to extend the friendship and relations that we had in the UK, here also. 

Our meetings are part halaqa and part hanging out. Further, our kids get to meet and grow up together as they were doing in the UK. We also hope to form an intimate place where we can bring our issues needing solutions to people who know us, where we are coming from, and have intimate knowledge of our personalities and how we can be motivated for the better inshallah. 

It is a ‘friendship plus’ type of thing, at least that is our hope inshallah. No negativity allowed, no bashing or gossip, no haram stuff, etc. We hope to encourage and motivate each other, remind and help each other, and be the sister and family that each of us is missing. 

I have the privilege of presenting the first reminder mashallah. Since we are getting close to Ramadhan (in just 6 weeks subhanallah), and because of what we discussed the first time we met, I thought the following topic is appropriate inshallah.

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O you who have believed

Decreed/Prescribed upon you is fasting

(fasting)as it was decreed/prescribed upon those before you

(decreed) so that you may become righteous” 2:183

So the address is to the believers, those who have embraced faith, who love Allah and submit to Him, but somehow, they aren’t righteous yet or are struggling with elements of righteousness.

Decree means ‘an official order given by the one with power’ and prescribe means ‘to lay down as a guide, direction or rule of action or to order the use of something as a remedy’ (Merriam Webster)

So fasting is given as an official order to be used as the means to help the believer attain Taqwa, wherein the believer can use it to as a remedy to cure the ‘sickness’ that is preventing him as a believer, a submitter and lover of Allah, from becoming or being righteous.

 “righteousness is not that you turn your faces towards the east and the west but (true) righteousness is in one who

  1. believes in Allah
  2. the last day
  3. the angels
  4. the book
  5. and the prophets
  6. and gives wealth, in spite of love for it, to relatives, orphans, the needy, the traveler, those who ask (for the help) and for freeing slaves
  7. and who establishes prayer
  8. and gives zakah
  9. those who fulfill their promise when they promise
  10. and whose who are patient in poverty and hardship and during battle

those are the ones who have been true and it is those who are the righteous” (2:177)

Clearly, righteousness has two parts, the part that involves faith and the part that involves acting upon that faith. The two feed each other, creating a unit that when applied, cleaves disbelief asunder and inshallah assures strong faith and righteous actions in the person. Fasting ensures the person remembers to apply the two parts of righteousness, thereby ensuring a person who is strong and committed to doing and enjoining good and to avoiding and forbidding evil. Such a person has a better chance at Jannah, which is what we all want. To be allowed therein and to behold the visage of Allah subhana wa taala.

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Clearly, faith is part of righteousness and Alhamdulillah we already are believers in Allah, the last day, the angels, the book (Quran) and the prophets, all of them, from Adam to Muhammad (salatu wa salaam). I think it is important to give ourselves this reminder so we can know that we are already on the path to righteousness, we have met half the requirements with our faith mashaAllah. So yeah, Alhamdulillah rightJ

The second part of righteousness involves action. It is to act out our belief. When we believe that Allah exists, it means we believe He is the creator who made and sustains us, we believe He is Just and will judge all of us one day upon a certain criteria, and we believe in the reward and punishment that will follow that judgment. Our belief in Allah is supported by the things listed after ‘believes in Allah’. Believing in the last day means we believe that there is a deadline after which, our faith and our actions will be judged and reward or punishment rendered. Believing in the Angles means many things but at the most basic, it means we are aware that at every moment, there are scribes recording our actions, the ones which will garner us that reward or punishment from Allah, our creator.

Believing in the book (the Quran) and the prophets go hand in hand as the book is brought by one of those prophets, in our case, the last prophet (salallahu alayhe wasalaam) in the long line of prophets. The book details everything we need to know, from who Allah is, how we can interact with Him, our purpose here, the way we are to conduct ourselves in various circumstances, to what is good for us, what is bad, what will help us and what will hinder us in gaining that reward we want so badly from our creator, etc. The book also contains other things like admonitions, lessons, warnings, help and guidance, mercy, healing, etc.

‘The month of Ramadhan is that in which was revealed the Quran, ‘a guidance for the people and clear proofs of guidance and criterion’ 2:185.

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The actions that we are called to act upon in order to distinguish us as among the righteous are listed as:

  1. giving from their wealth, even (and maybe especially) if they love it to various and sundry
  2. establish prayer
  3. give zakah (clearly differeing from the ‘gives wealth’ listed before it (partly because zakah has rules to it and applies only within certain circumstances etc, whereas sadaqa is open ended)
  4. fulfilling of promise when you make it (sounds simple but is very hard to implement and requires a lot of self awareness and determination)
  5. are patient in various circumstances, the most obvious being poverty, hardship, and during battle

Therefore, in order to realize our faith, to make it manifest to ourselves at the very least, we must employ patience when things don’t go our way or when hard times come by. Sometimes hard times are evident to all and sundry such as extreme poverty, a major sickness, or death in the family. Sometimes hard times are not self evident even to ourselves, we just feel the symptoms of the hard time but aren’t sure what the cause is, such as extremely low iman or rising doubts in the veracity of Islam or in parts of the message from Rasul Allah (salallahu alayhe wasalaam) or the Quran.

Allah says  ‘the truth is from your Lord, so never be among the doubters’ 2:147 and “so remember Me; I will remember you and be grateful to Me and do not deny Me 2:152 and ‘o you who have believed (Allah is addressing the believer who may be wavering or may be going through some hard times), seek help through patience and prayer, indeed, Allah is with the patient (in this case, ma3 implies both with and supporting the person, not just next to for example) 2:153. And Allah assures us that whatever hardship we may be going through, He is all aware of it and it is basically a test ‘and We will surely (definitely) test you with something of fear and hunger and loss of wealth and lives and fruits (of your labor), but give good tidings to the patient (again the admonition to hold steady with patience through the storms of life) 2:155.

So being patient strengthens faith and is also an act of faith. Being patient also helps us to open our coffers and share from our wealth. Now I personally think that giving is not just about money, even if you have a lot of it. Sometimes, money is not the solution but supporting a person, maybe showing him the way to make it himself so tomorrow he doesn’t need more of your hand out, etc, can be better ways of giving from your wealth.

I have to say that I find giving money away is normally much easier for me than giving of myself. I love my sleep and down time. I’m selfish with the tasty food I cooked and prefer to serve myself the food and give you money to go buy something, etc. I’m working on it thoughJ

Establishing prayer is a pillar in Islam because without it, how can you connect to Allah? Imagine Allah is the information super highway and we are the computers that want or need to connect to it for various reasons, from entertainment to upgrades to gaining information to keeping current with world affairs to learning new skills, to sharing and exchanging a variety of things. A computer can get by with basic info for a while and it can certainly survive for a while from stuff it previously downloaded from the net but after a while, the crunch will come, the need will be felt, to reconnect, to plug in.

Without plugging into Allah, we are basically dead. We need to reconnect, the more often, the better we become, staying current, and getting what we need when we need it. The more refined the connection, the more pure and focused, the better our performance in every other arena of our life.  So establishing prayer is an act of faith, it renews and strengthens our faith, and it is an act of faith (afterall, we don’t even see the ka’aba!)

In summary, I went through all these tangents in an effort to say just a couple of things. One is that when we are questioning our faith or the actions of our faith or when we are lacking in patience or when things aren’t going well in our lives, or when we have trouble finding the motivation to be and do good, to stay the course, etc, the first act one can do is to fast. Fasting brings about righteousness, our creator told us so, therefore it must be true. The other thing is that our faith is two parts, one part is simply to believe with all of your heart that Islam and everything about it is true and one part is to act upon certain precepts that automatically feedback into the first part, thereby strengthening our faith.

Being a morally upright person, Muslim or otherwise, is already difficult enough in our very sketchy world. Being a morally upright Muslim person, is even harder. But we have support and help with us every moment of every day. We have faith and we have to feed our faith, it will not survive in a vacuum. We have to feed it with salaat and sadaqa (including zakat when applicable), with reading the Quran and seeking to understand it and hifdh (which literarily means to protect) it. We have to feed it with virtues such as patience, forgiveness, forbearance, and mercy. We have to feed it with sacrifice and selflessness. And we have to feed it daily or else it will erode and it will die and it will wither and we would have lived for nothing.

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I’m weak, o so weak my sisters, but maybe together, if we pull and push each other, if we remind each other, if we help each other, we can make it. I imagine we are all in a dark forest and each one has but a small flame. If I walk alone, my small flame is not enough to illuminate all the dangers nor all the proper paths that will take me to safety. But our flames, together, close together or shone in various directions all around us, will illuminate more, helping us to navigate the forest faster and with a more sure step. And also if we band together, we have a better chance against enemy constituents, than alone. And most importantly, if we are together, and one of us loses her flame briefly due to circumstances or her light is highly reduced till it’s almost useless, having other flames around her will help her to rekindle her light much faster than if she is alone, and give her a higher chance of actually rekindling and growing her flame stronger, than if she is by herself.

 

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