Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Imaan After Ramadhaan...

Lecture by Br Yahya IbrahimAlhamdulillah on Sunday I was blessed with the opportunity to  attend a talk by our respected Brother and Shaykh Yahya Ibrahim (May Allah SWT reward, bless and protect him and his family Ameen).  The topic had to do with keeping one’s Imaan strong after Ramadhaan. Shaykh started off with a reminder that the life of every Muslim should be focussed on our inevitable return to Allah SWT. A truly humbling reminder indeed.

As Brother Yahya continued, some points that stood out to me were as follows:

The Phenomenon of Muslims who do not pray yet fast every Ramadhaan every year! Why is that many Muslims can fast for up to 12 or even 16 hours a day making such a prolonged effort and sacrifice YET they struggle to simply do ‘Asr prayer which takes only 5 minutes? I thought this was such an eye opening point to make. Why is it more desirable for some to go without food and drink all day long, than to take 5 minutes from their day to pray to their Creator? Bizarre!
The answer was that prayer is difficult except for those who have true commitment to Allah SWT. It makes me think of the verse:
 "And seek help in patience and prayer and truly it is (prayer) extremely heavy and hard except for Al-Khashi'un (i.e. true submitting)" [2:45].

for some fasting is a ‘challenge’ and some like the thought of being ‘challenged’. For example thoughts such as ‘I wonder how long I can last without food and water?” and not to mention those who may have ‘weight loss goals’ and may see fasting as a way to lose a few unwanted kilos perhaps? May Allah protect us from having the wrong intentions, Ameen.

Explanation of the last few verses of Surah Al Baqarah:
Shaykh mentioned the hadith where it is reported on the authority of Ibn Mas’ud from Rasoolillah (SAW) that he said: “Whoever recited the last two verses of Suratul Baqarah at night, they will be sufficient for him.” [Bukhari] Some explanation of what ‘enough’ was referring to included that reciting these verses would be as if you have prayed the whole night, or that you would be protected from the Jinn, or that you would have the help of Allah in all of your issues. And Allah knows best.

Also discussed were the 3 things that the Prophet SAW received when he was on his journey of Isra Wal Mi’raj and got to speak with Allah SWT directly. These 3 things were:
1) Salah (for which we were originally prescribed 50 but was reduced to 5 with the reward of each prayer equalling 10 i.e. 10 x 5 = 50). So we were reminded that when we miss one prayer it is like we missed out on 10! Subhanallah!
2) The last 2 verses of Surah Al Baqarah
3) That Allah will allow anyone who has not committed any major sins to enter Jannah (He will have Mercy upon and forgive these individuals).

Next mentioned was that when reciting the last 2 verses, we also include the one before it:

Baqarah- 284: To Allah belongs all that is in the heavens and all that is on the earth, and whether you disclose what is in your ownselves or conceal it, Allah will call you to account for it. Then He forgives whom He wills and punishes whom He wills. And Allah is Able to do all things.

Upon hearing this verse recited to them by the Prophet SAW, the Sahabah were afraid of being accountable to Allah for what they harboured in their chests!

All believers have at least ONE sin they struggle with and always return to until he meets Allah and is still committing it. The key to making mistakes is in making Tawbah (repentance). When we stray from the right path we must return to Allah, ask Him for help and be Merciful to those around us.
Baqarah – 285: The Messenger (Muhammad ) believes in what has been sent down to him from his Lord, and (so do) the believers. Each one believes in Allah, His Angels, His Books, and His Messengers. They say, "We make no distinction between one another of His Messengers" - and they say, "We hear, and we obey. (We seek) Your Forgiveness, our Lord, and to You is the return (of all)."

As we know the pillars of Imaan are to believe in Allah, the Angels, Books & Messengers (as well as the Last Day and Destiny of course). Isn’t it amazing that those 4 aspects of our belief are mentioned in the order as they happen? Allah reveals His diving message to the Angels, who record them in books and then deliver to the Messengers! Allahu Akbar! There were an estimated 124,000 Prophets and Messengers, with around 300 Messengers being given a new constitution and legislation. The strongest of the Messengers were Noah, Abraham, Musa, ‘Isa and Muhammad because the the difficulties and hardships they had to endure in order to spread the message of Al Islam. The very Islam we have been blessed with today Walhamdulillah.

Do we really hear and obey when we are commanded by Allah and His Rasul SAW? Unfortunately not always. A great analogy to reflect upon is when we call our children to come to us  or to go and get something for us and along the way they get so distracted and end up either forgetting what we requested or doing 10 other things along the way! Subahnallah! Likewise when Allah and His Prophet (S) have called us to the truth and towards the belief and practice of Islam we get so very distracted and pulled away by this dunya. May Allah guide us to the straight path Ameen.
Life is NOT simply ‘existence’. Life is more than just mere living and being. Life is about having faith as it is faith that makes someone TRULY living. Without belief in the One true Creator and a life with guidelines and purpose, you will become a dead man walking.Allah says in the Quran:
“Is one who was dead and then We revived [with faith] and made for him a light by which to walk among the people like one who is in darkness from which he cannot exit?”

(Al-An’am, 122)
The Quran is what will give us life. "Verily he who has nothing of the Qur'an in his heart, is like a house (which has been) destroyed." [At-Tirmidhi} Jibreel AS was known as the ‘Rooh’ which is often translated is spirit or life because he was the one who carried the Message of the Quran to the Prophet SAW and the message of Islam to all the other Prophets AS!
Baqarah – 286: Allah burdens not a person beyond his scope. He gets reward for that (good) which he has earned, and he is punished for that (evil) which he has earned. "Our Lord! Punish us not if we forget or fall into error, our Lord! Lay not on us a burden like that which You did lay on those before us (Jews and Christians); our Lord! Put not on us a burden greater than we have strength to bear. Pardon us and grant us Forgiveness. Have mercy on us. You are our Maula (Patron, Suppor-ter and Protector, etc.) and give us victory over the disbelieving people."
What are you thinking about Allah? When we think good of Allah it brings us closer to Him. We need to ask ourselves if we think more about sinful behaviour than we do of righteous behaviour? Our negative thoughts will lead us away from Allah so it is important to stay positive.
Allah burdens not a soul more than he can bear. All the burdens and tests you go through in life were MEANT for you and decreed by Allah! You can handle it Insha Allah! Even the Prophets of the past felt overwhelmed and their chests were tight with anxiety over their trials and heavy responsibility yet they managed to persevere due to their strong trust in Allah SWT. Everything in life is seen and known by Allah – if you remind yourself of this it will give you a FEARLESSNESS of the hardships you might endure. Because REMEMBER Allah will NEVER give you more than you can handle. Allahu Akbar!

Remember if you do a good deed you get 10 rewards. If you commit a sin you get 1 sin. How Generous and Gracious is Allah SWT! Allah SWT will not call us to account for wrong we commit out of forgetfulness. Rather, we will be held accountable for what we commit out of HEEDLESSNESS. May Allah make us of those who are NEVER heedless of His commands and prohibitions Ameen.

Astaghfirullah = the word comes from the root word Ghifar, which means armour or helmet. Making Istighfar is like a protection for us if we fall into unknown sin. We often say or do things that we don’t realise causes harm or is sinful. How often do we utter words that offend or upset others? Like in the example where one of the wives of the Prophet SAW commented about another of his wives being ‘short’. The Prophet said that if what she said had been dipped into the ocean it would have polluted it. So just imagine how awful are some of the things that we utter in the sight of Allah SWT! Astaghfirullah…

Tawbah = When we repent for sins that we KNOW we committed.
‘Afw = Seeking pardon from Allah SWTNasr = Defined as ‘victory’ over the believers however refers to victory in the sense that your influences over disbelievers is more than their influence over you.
The session ended with a few questions and answers, one that I benefitted greatly from was regarding:
How do we ensure that Allah opens a person’s heart?The word ‘naseehah’ is often translated as meaning ‘advice’ however it also refers to SINCERITY. So if we want our heart or anyone else’s heart to be open to true belief and righteousness then we need to be sincere. We should focus on 3 things when wanting to help guide someone (or ourselves for that matter).
1. Information & knowledge
2. Good conduct and manners
3. Dua!!!

Those who follow the guidance (of the Quran and the Sunnah), they will receive peace.
If we want to make dua and ask Allah for so much yet we refuse to PRAY to Him, how can we expect our dua to be answered???
Hidayah (guidance) is given to those who PRACTICE Islam. The more you follow guidance, the more you will be guided Inshallah.

Final reminder: CALL OTHERS TO TAWHEED (Oneness of Allah). Remember EVERYTHING you have has been given to you by Almighty Allah SWT. Everything you’ve ever done or achieved is only because ALLAH gave you the ability and opportunity. So turn to Him, thank Him and pray to Him Alone.
*Any errors or points taken incorrectly are from me and my own faults and weakness. Everything correct is from Allah and I pray you find benefit from this. Ameen.

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Why the Name?

You're all probably wondering why this blog is called 'Diamonds of Islam' and what exactly I'm referring to. So I thought I should explain!

To be honest I thought of the name in a pretty random way and it was actually when I was in the process of getting some so-called 'free' business cards made (and of course by the end of the order the cards were no longer 'free' and I had been somehow pulled into ordering an extra 250 cards! Sucked in right?) Anyhow I was deciding which background I wanted for some cards that I wanted to make up in order to give my contact details to people to make them aware of the different things that I could perhaps help them with i.e. Islamic classes, exercise sessions, homeschooling, family planning etc. I ended up liking a Diamond background one and had to give the card some kind of 'title' because technically I didn't actualy have a business but needed to put something on the card. Then 'Diamonds of Islam' popped into my head and there you have it! Also along the way, I started a teenage girls Youth Group and they decided to call it Diamonds of Islam too. Alhamdulillah.

Since having the cards made almost 2 years ago, the name has really become quite deep and meaningful to me. Nowadays when I read the name or say 'Diamonds of Islam' it makes me FEEL a sense of honour, inspiration and hope that all Muslims will strive to become true DIAMONDS of Islam.

A definition of the word Diamond that I came across is: "A precious stone or gem excelling in brilliancy and beautiful play of prismatic colors, and remarkable for extreme hardness."

I would hope that Muslims would be like this definition and feel that they are indeed extremely precious, and capable of excelling and becoming brilliant and colourful personalities whilst also being very strong individuals! Inshallah!

To me the true Diamonds of Islam are the mothers  who take seriously their responsibility as mothers, teachers and nurturers of their precious children; the Diamonds are also are the Youth who have all the hope and potential to shape this world; the Diamonds are also the innocent children who are born in total purity in which we should be in awe of, the Diamonds are the fathers who take their role seriously and are dignified maintainers and protectors of their families, the Diamonds are also the Converts to Islam who have made the (often very difficult) choice to embrace this beautiful way of life, and a Diamond of Islam is every other Muslim who strives to do their best for Allah and for their fellow human beings and creations.

How do you feel about the name 'Diamonds of Islam'?

Ramadhaan Reflections!

Assalaamu'alaykum! Peace be upon you!

As you can see, my last post was over a MONTH ago! I told you I'd struggle with posting regularly. I must say though, I constantly have blogging ideas and things on my mind that I want to write about. Finding the time to do so, is a whole other thing though unfortunately! Alhamdulillah (Praise to Allah).

Subhanallah by the end of this Ramadhaan, I really felt that it just absolutely flew by. It almost seems that each year this blessed month comes and goes quicker than the last. A sign of the times, many might say, Allahu A'lam (God knows).

The usual way that Ramadhaan starts out is that no matter how aware you are (prior to the month) that it is coming up, it still manages to sneak up on you and you feel you're not 'prepared enough'. At least that's how I often feel. The result of your conceived 'lack of preparation' is that you might feel panicky and anxious about the upcoming month a few days before. I often wish I could have so much more organised and ready so that I can get the utmost benefit out of the month and focus ONLY on my worship and Ramadhaan routine and fasting.  But sometimes, you've just got the get through it with the best preparation efforts that you've managed to make.

The first day, your body experiences the shock of a day of hunger, thirst, lethargy and headaches as your body adjusts to the fasting and 'detoxifies'. By the end of the first week, you've kind of got the hang of your new routine as the headaches and lethargy subside and you actually start to feel good. Your efforts and worship are accelerating and the sweetness of the month begins.  By the middle of the month you are quite comfortable in your routine and your body is feeling in a relaxed state as you get into the Ramadhaan 'high'. As the last week approaches you increase your efforts and focus with the hope of catching Laylatul Qadr in the last 10 nights. (I pray we all caught that night and are rewarded accordingly Inshallah!). Then the familiar feeling of panic returns in the last few days however this time it's not worry about not being prepared enough, rather it's the feeling of sadness like a close companion is about to leave. You've now just spent 29/30 days and nights with a totally different routine & focus and you now fear going back to the 'old' routines and habits. Let's pray that we make the most out of this month each time it comes and that Allah blesses us with the chance to worship Him the next year, Ameen!

Alhamdulillah for the happiness and business of Eid, as it manages to drown out these feelings of sadness at the departure of Ramadhaan. It's funny how at the beginning of the month of Ramadhaan you never expect to feel so sad about not waking up for Suhoor and fasting the day & praying into the night once the month has passed. Yet we experience this same cycle, often year after year Subhanallah. For me personally I hope to be super dooper prepared for Ramadhaan next year and I hope to spend the two weeks beforehand in getting myself organised and clearing out my schedule so that I can just 'be' in the month and savour every day, hour and minute of the blessed month.

How do you usually feel at the beginning and end of Ramadhaan?