Look Closer

I was waiting for the bus for a while, but as soon as I made dua it came. Alhamdulillah. My feet were sore so I made another quick dua to Allah to find me a seat inside, so I wont have to stand. When I got in, by force of habit my eyes scanned the single seats and found them occupied, so I resorted to standing with everyone else. But as the bus started moving, I turned and saw one empty seat at the back, staring back at me. Had I looked closer beyond my usual preferred seats, I would have found that Allah did infact answer my dua, I was the one who carelessly jumped into the conclusion that He didnt. I didnt look hard enough.

I started to wonder as I sat down, how many times do we do this with our duas? How many times we are quick enough to jump into the conclusion that our duas didnt get answered just by scanning the surface, carelessly overlooking the details? How much effort do we actually put into looking for our “answered duas”? Do we look enough? Should we search harder? Are we heedlessly dismissing our “already answered duas” just because we havent expanded our intellectual horizons to the possibility of the different ways they can be delivered?Are we really looking meticulously for the delivery of our wishes, wants and needs which we pray for?

Are we truely, sincerely, genuinely looking hard enough?

Something I ask myself first and foremost as I think of this verse from the Quran (3:191).

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Struggle For Gratitude Continues

Gratitude is hard! Sometimes I wonder if there was a pill I could swallow so I could feel grateful all the time, like how those life coaches and positive psychologists say preach about. But I cant, it just doesnt come all the time. More often than not, I find it incredibly hard to “feel grateful”. Thats how I have realised and learnt that I can’t control how I feel. I am not always in charge of feeling certain emotions. Sometimes they just ARE. 

So I do whatever is in my control, which is to grab the pen and the notebook, and list the things that “under normal circumstances” I should have been grateful for. Things that are highlights of the day. Anything that stands out for that day- from being able to make that pasta perfectly to the moondlight peeking through my window during my night prayers and falling right on the prayer mat, I write them down. They dont cheer me up, they dont do anything to my mood or emotions, they are nothing more than a bunch of words on a piece of paper tossed away at a corner every morning.

But, to Allah, they are something. 


Even my “fake it till you make it” gratitude counts to Allah, for I do see things increase by His permission, alhamdulillah. Because Allah knows I struggle to feel grateful, I try so hard to push myself to feel so, but I fail. And in the light of all these struggles, just my physical effort of being grateful is all I can do. And thats all Allah takes, then He increases it to things which actually genuinely make me happy and grateful. 


Allah knows how hard it is to be grateful sometimes, so He just asks for that infenitisimal, insignificant amount of gratitude, you can squeeze out. He even swears to increase, even though His promise is true, just to convince and assure us, because looking at the quality and quantity of gratitude, sometimes its hard to believe Allah will even accept it. But He swears to convince you and me that He will increase, not once, but perpetually. Increase in whatever you need, want, desire.

Thats what helps me sleep. That as long as I am writing down my list of things I am supposed to feel grateful for, regardless of what I truly feel, Allah sees it. He sees that I am trying to be grateful. And thats what matters, thats what is important. He overlooks my emotional limitations and sees the physical effort, and keeps His promise. Not because I am anything, but because He is Something. 

In fact, He is Everything!

Alhamdulillah!

Foundation of Faith

Often times we portray Islam as only a set of rules and regulations. This is highly dangerous. Not only is this wrong but also a deterrent to anyone wishing to embrace Islam or know about it. I myself am guilty of this ignorance as well in the past.
Our foundation of faith lies on One Ilah.

An Ilah is Someone who is not only a deity of worship, but He is also the One to love unconditionally. Someone Who we run to in times of danger and difficulty, because we only trust His infinite capability to give us safety and security, fulfill our wishes. Allah is our Ilah. We do not use any medium ( idols, statues or people) to seek closeness to Him. There is no one between us and Allah. And Prophet Muhammad SAW is His messenger who taught us about Him.

This is the fundamental principle of Islam. Once we know Allah and believe in His Oneness, then we can truly obey His commands and rules. Not the other way round.

 

Easy, Not Hard, Please!

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “Make things easy for the people, and do not make it difficult for them…”(Bukhari).

Once a non muslim came to the Prophet (peace be upon him) and said that he was willing to embrace Islam but he could only pray twice a day, instead of five. Our Prophet (peace be upon him) agreed and the man took shahadah. Once he was gone, his companions asked the Prophet (peace be upon him) why he allowed him so. He (peace be upon him) said once the man would enjoy the sweetness of prayer, he himself would willingly pray all five.

Often while trying to help people to come closer to Islam, especially new muslims or those who are trying to just take step through the door, we overwhelm them by introducing a bunch of instructions they might not be ready to undertake at that point of time. Our job is to help them do what they can and make things easy. As far as ensuring their guidance is concerned, Allah already made it clear that He provides guidance. He is Al-Hadi (The One Who Guides). 

We just need to be companions. Often times we make Islam harder than it actually is, and portray Allah to be more strict than He really is.

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Faith Corner: Hope Can Be Paralysing

One of the most profound stories of hope and belief in the Quran is Surah Yusuf. Allah narrates the journey of a father’s unwavering hope and trust in His Divine Ability, which changed the course of history.

For years Yaqoob AS held onto the belief of his missing son returning back to him. It is his unshakable belief in Allah that sustained him through this insurmountable loss. He lost his eye sight due to shedding incessant tears for his lost child.However,despite his full faith,instead of getting his son back,he lost two more of his sons. So as if one was not enough, now three of his sons were missing.

But his reaction was remarkable. Let alone sink in an abyss of doubt and despair, he actually hoped that even though they went missing years apart, Allah would perhaps bring them back together. As things kept getting worse,his expectations kept going up.He never thought Allah’s help was far.Even though things went downhill one by one, he didn’t expect them to get better likewise. On the contrary, he actually believed that Allah would give him everything back at once. Consequently, Allah did not disappoint him. All three of his sons came back together, his eyesight was restored and entire Egypt was saved.

Hope or depair-both can be paralysing. Choose wisely.Choose hope. Choose faith.  And allow it to cripple you, leave you incapable of feeling anything else.And then watch miracles unfold,right in front of your eyes.

 

Patience Does Not Forbid You From Grieving

Patience does not forbid you from grieving. Prophet Yaqoob AS is described in the Quran as the epitome of someone who shows patience. Yet He grieved to a point where he lost his eyesight. Did Allah condemn him for his emotions?On the contrary Allah honors his grief.Allah immortalized his grief for centuries to come because we are entitled to our emotions. You are allowed to grieve for your loss, and that does not make you less of a believer. When his own people started mocking his unshakable belief in Allah, that Allah will return his son, Yaqoob AS actually turned to Allah to complain. He cried to a point where he lost his eye sight. Yet He turned only to Allah-a heart full of sorrow yet with profound hope;belief that Allah will return his son. He turned only to Allah because the people around failed him.

When if you go through a crisis and find yourself unable to behave according to everyone’s expectations, if you find others being uncomfortable with your emotions, feel everyone abandoning you for your grief, then know that Allah has honored you with a sunnah(tradition) of this great Prophet. There is a much greater wisdom behind Allah allowing you to be left alone. So hold onto that Beautiful Patience (Sabrun Jameel) of this great Prophet (may peace be upon him)- a patience full of hope radiating from an unfaltering certainty (yaqeen) in the mercy of Allah.

“I only complain of my grief to Allah. I know from Allah that which you do not know. And never give up hope of Allah’s Mercy. Certainly, no one despairs of Allah’s Mercy, except the people who disbelieve.” (Surah Yusuf 12:86-87).

Allah Has Honored You. And Every Human Being

Unquestionably, We have honored all children of Adam (17:70).

As Muslims we believe that mankind was created from Adam and Hawa (Eve), may peace be upon them. Adam AS was the first creation of Allah, and then his wife Hawa. So they are parents of the entire mankind, and that makes every human being, despite culture and faith,  brothers in humanity.In the verse above, Allah says He has honored all children of Adam, and there is absolutely no question about it. Therefore we can not take away the dignity and honor Allah has given to another fellow human being. Of course, the honors vary in ranks. Even among Muslims, the one who struggles hard for Allah has more honor in His sight. But the point remains that we don’t trash talk or dismiss other people simply because of their values.

You might have families and loved ones who have not entered Islam yet. But that does not mean that Allah has written them off. They are also part of this verse. . Even the most beloved uncle of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), named Abu Talib,who was his only guardian on this earth, was not a muslim. Yet Abu Talib helped the Prophet (peace be upon him) spread the message of Islam. The Prophet (peace be upon him) loved his uncle and grieved immensely when his uncle passed away. His uncle was not a muslim yet Allah did honor him by including him in the life of His favorite messenger(peace be upon him).

This verse also means that we need to honor ourselves, give ourselves the respect we deserve. If you are trying hard but you keep slipping, please, don’t criticize and demoralize yourself. Appreciate yourself for the efforts, don’t condemn for the results. Accept that a mistake had been made. A bad deed does not make you a bad person. Allah created us as humans so we do not get to walk on this earth as angels. That is why He gave us a higher honor than angels, because unlike angels we are prone to make mistakes and slide off. But what makes us believers is that we do not give up, neither on ourselves nor on Allah’s  incessant forgiveness.

…mankind was created weak (Quran 4:28)

We continue to ask Allah for forgiveness and keep on trying, albeit we slip. Allah has promised us that as long as we keep returning to Him He will continue to forgive us. For this reason He has even named Himself Al Gaffar-The One who forgives continuously, even when we do not ask. He knows we will make mistakes and fall short of our obedience to Him, time and again. So this name is befitting in that we turn to Allah for forgiveness repeatedly.

In the end, all honor belongs to Allah only, because He is the Owner of Majesty and Honor (Dhul Jalal E Wal Ikram).All honor is from Him, so when He honors someone, we honor them as well.