h1

the day of no tomorrows

February 11, 2008

There will be a day, soon approaching, which will overcome us in its presence. A day where we won’t wake up to hear the birds chirping uncharacteristically early in the spring; where we won’t answer the calls that are incessantly ringing on our cell phones. A day where our tea will go unsipped, and our shoes will sit formidably still in the dark corners of our room. A day where we won’t call out in recognition to the people whose faces we recognize, or whose voices we find comfort in; where our to-do lists will be placidly forgotten – for there is no course of action that we will be able to cling to.

 

The only certainty of that moment will be the death that enshrouds us, and the death that has overcome us – the day that no longer considers itself a new beginning when all we can look forward to is the end. We might go about our busy lives, forgetting to pause and reflect or to move and reflect or to breathe and reflect upon the warnings of Allah – but a silence, almost too forbearing in nature, will creep up on you, perhaps silently, perhaps wickedly. Reminding you, for the briefest and uninterrupted of moments, that you – yes you – will die.

 

You might start writing something enthusiastically, overcome by the urgency of your task, and suddenly, sweepingly you stare down at your hands. Hands that will, no doubt, become fodder in a grave whose brightness is unknown. And maybe this creepingly small thought will shake you to the core – for in the busyness of your day and the quickness in your tasks, what is it exactly that you do anyway if it doesn’t ultimately lead to your protection in what really matters?

 

This life – oh, not a life – this mere existence that we feign importance on, hurts at times with an acuteness that cannot be soothed with any worldly balm, or wooed distractingly by any worldly charm. Nothing in fact can ease your heart besides Allah. Nothing. We might stare blankly into space realizing as it begins to dawn – whatever you do right now will not matter unless you do it for Allah. And doesn’t that thought scare you? Doesn’t that thought just itch away at the recesses of your mind and erode the very thought you had of life, when you’ve convinced yourself that you’re routine is safe, that your relationships are safe, and that your existence ultimately is safe? How foolish a thought!

 

And suddenly, it hits you – with more force than you ever were aware of, whipping away at the folds of your existence like a gust of unexpected wind whipping away at your clothing. If you continue this little dance with your mind, this little charade that you’ve bubbled around yourself for fear of acknowledging the truth – your mere existence will have passed away, without so much a thought or a care – because really, did you think? And did you care? Or were you too fulfilled with your false sense of importance to actually think that your life mattered outside of what you intended for Allah? Indeed, the soul is weak. And you – your soul the weakest.

“Truly in the heart there is a void that can not be removed except with the company of Allah. And in it there is a sadness that can not be removed except with the happiness of knowing Allah and being true to Him. And in it there is an emptiness that can not be filled except with love for Him and by turning to Him and always remembering Him. And if a person were given all of the world and what is in it, it would not fill this emptiness.”

-Ibn al-Qayyim Al-Jawziyya

h1

is it just me, or is it dark in here?

January 13, 2008

One night, my mom and I were on our way to pick up a rental car, and we were driving in what seemed to me like complete darkness. To gauge how dark it really was, I glanced at my watch and was surprised; It twinkles at the very hint of light, and yet I couldn’t even see it on my wrist. SubhanAllah, something that was so evident with even the tiniest amount of light was virtually unrecognizable in the midst of all this darkness.

It was at that point where I remembered the verses in Surat TaHa

“But whosoever turns away from My Reminder (i.e. neither believes in this Quran nor acts on its orders, etc.) verily, for him is a life of hardship, and We shall raise him up blind on the Day of Resurrection.” [124]

He will say:”O my Lord! Why have you raised me up blind, while I had sight (before).” [125]

(Allah) will say: “Like this, Our Ayat (proofs, evidences, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc.) came unto you, but you disregarded them (i.e. you left them, did not think deeply in them, and you turned away from them), and so this Day, you will be neglected (in the Hell-fire, away from Allah’s Mercy).” [126]

Before this point, I genuinely did not understand how non-Muslims, the one’s who are aware of the signs and beauty of Islam, do not see the truth so clearly when it’s shining like a bright light in front of them. I know Allah subhanaHu wata’ala puts them in a state of ghaflah (heedlessness) – and while their eyes can see just fine, their mind and intellect is completely clouded by the darkness of the night. So much so that not even one jewel or gem of Islam is evident while they are in that state.

 

So while I was in the car, trying to recognize my watch, this hit me. I knew that this watch was jeweled and beautiful – whether it was in the dark or not. I knew this because I’ve seen it in the light and can recognize it as my own. If I, however, had constantly been in this darkness (without exception), I wouldn’t even realize there was a watch there at all.

 

SubhanAllah, this is how it is for them. Their perception intellectually is covered by darkness – to the extent where they would come across the gem and beauty of Islam, which regardless of whether or not they acknowledge it to be so, remains as priceless as it is – but lack the vision and proper state to recognize that this jewel in front of them is in fact, quite clearly and indisputably, the most valuable thing they’ll ever have the opportunity to come across in this life.

 

The amazing part is – when Allah subhanaHu wata’ala wills to guide them, they can be taken out of that darkness for even a tenth of a second (in relation to my watch at this point, there was a car passing us that let off some light and I saw a bit of the twinkle) – but if they noticed that gem shining, they would then realize that what they thought was light, wasn’t indeed light. But because they’ve been in darkness for their entire life, they’ve come to accept it as what they see by. At that point, if Allah wills to guide them, they will go out searching for more of this light so that they may perhaps see fully this gem that had initially caught their eye.

 

And so it is – the gem itself in beauty, magnificence and glory is a gem whether you cannot see it in the night, or whether you can. But to recognize that you have that gem is when Allah subhanaHu wata’ala allows from His Mercy to shed light on the gem of Islam (even if it be for a split second) – for you to recognize the beauty of it.

 

I believe in Islam like I believe in the sun rising, not just because I can see it, but because, by it, I see everything else.

-unknown

h1

the water spill

January 10, 2008

I was in one of my design classes learning an Adobe program a few years ago when this one guy next to me (it’s a computer lab, so not much choice on where to sit) started asking me about religion. I mentioned that I didn’t understand how they considered God to be one when they divided him into three parts. He told me to look at the clock (as if this would be my epiphany) – the dial, the numbers, etc – they were all parts to one clock – and that’s how God is.

Well of course at this I raised my brow and said…

“A clock? You’re comparing God to a clock? This is just like the time when someone I know compared God to an egg or an ice cube. I wouldn’t even want to be compared to a clock, let alone an egg or an ice cube, and yet you’re ascribing it to the Most Perfecting Being? And why do you have to make all of these confusing analogies just to understand the state of your Lord? God is One – He has no son, no wife, and no partners.”

As the debate continued, I started seeing the chairs in the room sliding more towards our direction. Some tried working while listening, and others gave up entirely and tried to slide closer to better hear the discussion. Yet they were all silent – not once interrupting what was going on. This was quite interesting indeed – especially since more likely than not, I would have jumped into that kind of discussion had I been in their position.

 

The conversation soon turned to the state of this world – and I said that in Islam we’re taught that we shouldn’t be attached to what is in this world because we’re not living for this life; rather, we live for the Hereafter, which is better and ever-lasting. And then he asked me a pretty random question – “so you’re saying, if you were to lose all of the information on your laptop (a pretty big deal for graphic designers), or if some one were to steal it, you wouldn’t be affected by it?”

Hmm… interesting. I replied – “in regards to how different Muslims would react, that is between them and their Lord. In regards to how I would react – no, I would not be affected.” It had, after all, happened to me before.
Many design projects, a few years, and an accidental water spill later – my relationship with my Dell Latitude D610 seems to be coming to an (seemingly irreversible) end. Granted, some might say that it wasn’t the ideal computer for design (and they’d be right), but it did what I wanted it to do pretty well alhamdulillah.

 

The water spill came at a very interesting point – my friend had just IMed me and told me that she had a dream that we were at a wedding, and all the girls were sitting in a room and I was teaching her adhkaar. At that point, my screen became white, and colorful at the same time. I started supplicating while trying to blot the water off – but the damage had already been done.

 

Alhamdulillah for everything.

I went and made wudu, prayed two rak’at shukr and thanked Allah. I do not know the wisdom behind it now, but I know Allah subhanaHu wata’ala knows better than I do, and whatever He decrees for me, I am pleased with.

Indeed, I feel that this was a blessing to me – an opportunity to come closer to my Rabb. I asked Allah to strengthen me in patience, and to bring me closer to Him – and He sent me tests and hardships. Through His Wisdom, Allah has answered my du’as in this way. Yet look at the state this poor soul is in – sinning without even realizing it, spending more time concerned with this world than with Him…and yet He answers our du’as in such beautiful ways; Is my Lord not then, the Most Merciful of those who are merciful?

Does He not say:

Say: “O ‘Ibadi (My slaves) who have transgressed against themselves (by committing evil deeds and sins)! Despair not of the Mercy of Allah, verily Allah forgives all sins. Truly, He is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful. [Az-Zumar; ayah 53]

and what is it then, that stops us from seeking His forgiveness?

h1

the power of our thoughts

January 6, 2008

When I was younger, I would ask my mom if it was ok to swear at an inanimate object – like a chair if it fell, or any other thing. Her answer was no. She said if I got used to swearing at a chair, who was to say in my time of anger that I wouldn’t swear at others too?

So then I would say ok, well is it alright if I swear in my mind without ever saying it aloud? Her answer was still no. Persisting, I asked – why not? I figured that I wouldn’t harm anyone with it if was in my mind, so what was the problem? She said that once you get used to swearing in your mind, you can easily start to swear out loud. Ahhh, ok, I get it now : D

 

So I started thinking – if this applies to swearing, this applies to everything else too. Whatever we keep and hoard in our minds is what determines our actions and the way we perform them. These thoughts start fermenting, determining how we think of others and how we ultimately view the world. This power of thinking, subhanAllah, can lead you to rise or it can lead to your demise.

 

An evil thought starts off very small and perhaps even unnoticeable, until everyone around you cannot deny the evil nature that you are emitting, and you yourself have been drowned in that stench far too long to know of anything else.

A good thought on the other hand is like a seed that is planted, however small. Every other good thought that you have acts as if it were water and sun to a much needed seedling. As these thoughts of goodness (once again, however small) accumulate, everyone around you would gather together and collectively notice this wonderful smell that flows from you, and you yourself come to know only of this goodness and this favorable smell as well.

Ibn alQayyim speaks timeless words of wisdom in his al-Fawāid when he says:

“Ward off passing thoughts, for if you do not, they will become ideas.
Ward off ideas, for if you do not, they will become desires.
Fight the desires, for if you do not, they will become resolve and determination.
And if you do not ward them off, they will become actions.
If you do not resist them with its opposite, they will become habits.
And it will be difficult for you to get rid of them.”

SubhanAllah, I learned when I was younger that even if I was upset at something, or at someone, to never think badly of them in my mind. Yeah, alright, perhaps there would be an occasional fight with my mother or father – but would I ever say in my mind “I hate them?” No (alhamdulillah) – and if I even started to think it, I would reprimand myself and say –

How could you say this about them? This is how you appreciate everything they’ve done for you? What a terrible daughter you are then! They sacrifice all of these things for you, and Allah tells you to be content with them and obey them, and all of a sudden, they disagree with you on something and you start thinking like this? How could you? What kind of person are you then?

No, you do love them, and this disagreement they’ve had with you is a sign that they love you to, even if it might not seem that way. Even if you think you’re right, you can’t talk to them in any way you please. Go and apologize to them, before they’re upset with you for even another minute. And what if Allah doesn’t forgive you for it? Go!

And then I would go to them, my head down and my eyes teary and I would apologize to them. SubhanAllah, what a blessing I was able to think that way when I was 11. Indeed my parents were so pivotal to my upbringing and I thank them and Allah subhanaHu wata’ala for it.


This is a blessing that I cannot pay for, but I can pray for – and that makes all the difference
; which of us is grateful and which of us is ungrateful? By Allah there is not a sajda that I make except that I include a du’a for my parents in it. May Allah preserve them and have mercy on them, for He has indeed been merciful to me through them.

h1

such is the state of this world

January 3, 2008

On Tuesday, my eldest sis and I went to attend an engagement party at Byblos Banquets. As we were both sick, we didn’t know at first whether or not we should attend. Our desire to follow the sunnah encouraged us to go, however late we were. We arrived there at 8 pm, just in time for the dinner they were serving. It was a joyful enough party – though I think my sister and I were mainly elated over the fact that they had only played anasheed for the majority of the time, having decided we would duck out early were they to have any music.

We saw a close friend, who upon getting ready to leave, had told us of another friend who’s cousin had passed away in Palestine. My sister and I decided we should visit right away as well, so we all picked up our things and left for her house, arriving there at 9:30 pm.

 

This cousin of hers that passed away was shot by soldiers when he was exiting a masjid after praying either Dhuhr or Asr. He was 22 years of age and had been a hafith at 12 years old; may Allah grant him the highest levels of Paradise, and sakinah in his grave.

SubhanAllah – imagine a mother losing her son while she is still alive to witness it! May Allah make it easier on their family. I keep thinking on how young he was – at the age where others are mapping out their lives and goals, his was ending. Indeed what Hasan al-Basri said rings true:

 

“O son of Adam, you are but a bundle of days. As each day passes, a portion of you vanishes away.”

Time assuaged us to say our salam’s and set off towards our homes. My eldest sis and I went to drop off my close friend and her mom. It was 10:30 when we arrived in her driveway where I made the suggestion that we visit her neighbor (another good friend of ours), since she had just given birth the past Friday. She rang her up and gave us the ok to drop by. SubhanAllah, seeing the miracle of a newborn after hearing about the calamity of death…the night indeed had come full circle – and it hadn’t even reached 11 pm!

 

How could I not reflect, when in less than three hours I had congratulated someone for their marriage, given condolences to a friend who had just lost a member of her family, and then rejoiced with another friend over her baby, a life Allah allowed into this world. Allahu Akbar walillahil Hamd – indeed, that is the state of this life!

 

And what joy can we bring in a life that doesn’t stay constant with goodness? What joy can we truly have when we have yet to stand before our Lord humiliated with our sins? What joy can we have when we know that the grave is our next home, and the dirt our next companion? What price will we have purchased to reside comfortably therein?

 

Is he whom We have promised an excellent promise (Paradise), which he will find true, like him whom We have made to enjoy the luxuries of the life of (this) world, then on the Day of Resurrection, he will be among those brought up (to be punished in the Hell-fire)? [Al-Qasas, ayah 61]

 

Umar radiyaAllahu ‘anhu said: “Every day we say: ‘So and so has died, and so and so has died,’ and a day will come when people will say: ‘Umar has died.’” And he cried after mentioning this.

h1

the nafs wars

December 31, 2007

“There is no heart that does not have clouds like the clouds that cover the moon. When the cloud covers it, it is dark and when the cloud moves away, it shines.”

Prophet Muhammad sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam

My nafs and I often have a discourse that takes place regularly on Sunday evenings. It usually goes something like this:

i: Hey, tomorrow is Monday, don’t forget to fast.

nafs: C’mon, again? Can’t you just stop for this Monday, and then you’ll fast the next one?

i: Hmm…that does sound like a good idea.

i: But hey, wait… isn’t that what you’re going to tell me the next Monday too? Man, why are you so lazy?

nafs: But think about it, are you really going to be fasting for every Monday for the rest of your LIFE?

i: Hmm…that does sound like a long time huh.

nafs: Yes it does, might as well take a break!

i: Wait wait, no! How can you guarantee that I will be alive next monday? What if I die tomorrow? How long does my life sound then? By Allah, I will fast tomorrow, unless He plans otherwise. And that’s final.

nafs: Dang it. I lost again didn’t I? Man, but fasting on Mondays… ma shaa Allah, you’re so dedicated.

i: Man that’s low – don’t even try the arrogance trap on me. There’s only one reason you lost and one reason only, and that’s because Allah granted me tawfeeq over you and may you never have tawfeeq over me!

 

“O Allah, I am tough, make me soft. I am weak; make me strong. I am miserly; make me generous.”

Umar radiyaAllahu ‘anhu

Currently I’m considered a traveler (in Toronto) probably until Monday night or early Tuesday morning, so I didn’t need that nafs war alhamdulillah. Indeed there is a hikmah in everything, and Allah subhanaHu wata’ala knows what we are able to handle.

 Current exciting news – alhamdulillah I was able to purchase the new Usool al Fiqh CD set from EmanRush while at the RIS convention; it was one of my favorite classes so I’m tickled (yes tickled : D ) that I get to review it : ) walhamdulillah!

h1

while i was driving

December 28, 2007

There was one day a few months back where I had gotten off to a late start in the morning and found myself hurrying to get to work on time. Of course this meant I was speeding, but I was trying to be reasonable about it. 45 on a 30 mile per hour zone sounded reasonable to me anyway, especially since that particular street is quite popular with cops (otherwise I probably would have been going 60). My speeding plans were going well, until one car turned onto the one lane street I was on and decided to follow the law.

 

It would seem at that anxious moment in time that nothing would be more frustrating than a civilian who ardently follows the law, and happens along in front of you when you so ardently planned on breaking it. Man, this guy was going t-h-i-r-t-y painstakingly slow – m-i-l-e-s p-e-r h-o-u-r. SubhanAllah, I thought – if some cops were to see him pass, they’d have waved at him for sticking so enthusiastically to the law.

 

Now, I couldn’t beep at him for following the speed limit, and I couldn’t pass him either. In the time where I was completely rushed, Allah subhanaHu wa Ta’ala made it so that I was forced to slow down.

 

During the (painstakingly) slow trip down Tireman St. behind the law abiding car, I thought of how this situation reminded me of the characteristic of a good friend.

 

Here I was (“the bad friend”) fervently trying to break the law (ie speed). I had mapped it out in my mind, and while I knew that there could be repercussions for my actions (cops >> tickets), I was willing to take that chance anyway. After all, I was mainly thinking of what I wanted right at that instant – to get to work – and it had nothing to do with following the law.

 

Everything would have been fine – had that car directly in front of me been somewhere else. I couldn’t swear because that’s just not nice and quite unislamic too (plus this version of the bad friend doesn’t swear alhamdulillah : ). I couldn’t get angry because… well after all, he is following the law, not even one mile under it. And I couldn’t even pass him so that he’d be able to go on following the law on his merry own without forcing me into it too – but good Gracious God. There was no way to get past him.

 

I started thinking… am I like this law abiding car to my friends? Do I force them to slow down and take it easy when they so ardently want to commit a sin – when many or even one sin is beautified to them?

 

Or was I the one being slowed down by one (or all) of my good friends? And if I wasn’t being slowed down, what kind of friends did I keep? One’s that would pull me out of the HellFire? Or ones that would cause me to enter it?

 

I am definitely still reflecting over this analogy, and I pray that Allah makes me (and my friends) of those who allow their friends to enter into goodness while leading them away from haram.

And that, alhamdulillah, is how my attempt at speeding allowed me to remember Allah and the condition of my nafs, even when I thought I was too busy to remember it. Look at the Graciousness of our Rabb! : ) Walillahil Hamdu waShukr.

 

Abu Musa Al-Ash`ari (may Allah be pleased with him) reported that the Prophet (sallaAllahu ‘alayhi wasallam) said:

“The example of a good companion and a bad one is the bearer of musk and the worker on the bellows. A bearer of musk would give you some, you might buy some from him, or you might enjoy the fragrance of his musk. The worker on the bellows, on the other hand, might spoil your clothes with sparks from his bellows, or you get a bad smell from him.”
(Reported by Al-Bukhari and Muslim, this version found in Muslim)

 

On the authority of Abu Hurairah:

“Man models himself after his companion; so let each one of you see who he chooses for companion”
(At-Tirmidhi)

May Allah subhanaHu waTa’ala make us of those who are blessed with having good friends, and who are blessed with being good friends. Ameen!