By Dr. Jasser Auda
If He takes you away from people, then know that He is opening to you the doors of His Company. And if He allows you to ask, then know that He wants to give you something.
God allows us to ask because He wants to give us something.
This word of wisdom is another example related to understanding God’s giving and deprivation. The Sheikh says: “If He takes you away from people, then know that He is opening to you the doors of His Company.”
Sometimes God may test you by the death of a friend, a spouse, a brother, etc. You might travel to a remote country for one reason or another. You may be put in jail or taken to hospital. In all these cases, you feel loneliness and isolation.
The Sheikh makes it clear that all such trials may be a giving from God in the form of deprivation. This word of wisdom is supported by the hadith in which the Prophet says: “If God wishes to benefit someone, He will take him away from people.”
By the loss of your beloved ones and feeling loneliness, God is opening for you the door of remembrance, meditation and being in His Company which you cannot feel if you are mixing with people day and night. You may think that such trials are a form of deprivation which in reality is the actual giving.
One of my teachers always remembers some stages of his life which he spent in jail or in exile and says: “If it were not for the imprisonment, I would not have written my books or developed my ideas.” Therefore, imprisonment and loneliness were a reason for being in God’s Company and benefiting the people with his knowledge.
Then the Sheikh says: “And if He allows you to ask, then know that He wants to give you something.” This means that God may put you to a test for which there is no solution except praying to God. It is likely that before the trial you did not pray to God. You must have thought that you were not in need of praying to God or that you prayed to God without feeling distressed.
Getting Closer to God
Sometimes one faces a serious crisis and the only way out of this crisis is seeking God’s help. So, one earnestly prays to God and seeks His help and immediately comes God’s answer. God says: “Nay – who is it that responds to the distressed when he calls out to Him…” (An-Naml 27:62)
Praying to God may continue for days or weeks, and this is considered a giving from God not a deprivation because you are in a continuous worship. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Supplication is an act of worship.” (At-Tirmidhi)
But the Sheikh says: “And if He allows you to ask, then know that He wants to give you something.” God gives abundant rewards just for praying to Him. Not only that but He answers those who pray to Him either in the world or in the next or both in this world and the next.
Therefore, God allows us to ask because He wants to give us something. If you ask a generous person for help, surely he will answer you. What about if you ask God Himself!
In other cases, God may give you very little providence just to offer a sincere repentance to Him.
Are they, then, not aware that they are being tested year-in, year-out? And yet, they do not repent and do not bethink themselves (of God). (At-Tawbah 9:126)
And, indeed, We tested them through suffering, but they did not abase themselves before their Sustainer; and they will never humble themselves. (Al-Mu’minun 23:76)
God tests you by afflictions and hardships so that you repent to Him, humble yourself before Him, and pray to Him. Such difficulties are forms of deprivation which is an actual giving if understood well.
Deprivation and giving should be measured by human standards which are based on material gains. The true standard is your relation with God.
Sometimes God puts you to a test and after God removes the affliction your relation with Him improves. This is in itself the actual giving from God.
At times gifts from God come only through hardships. For example, if I do not thank God for His blessings or do not perform the acts of worship properly, God may test me by depriving me from one or two blessings. I may show some concern for what happened to me, but soon I repent to God.
The article is excerpted from “Some of Al-Hikam Al-Ataiyyah” (The Path to God: A Journey with Ibn `Ata’illah’s Words of Wisdom In the Light of the Quran, the Prophetic Tradition, and Universal Laws of God- By Dr. Jasser Auda
As the days of Ramadan leave us, we get a feeling of emptiness. Many of us may have achieved a great deal this month whilst others may have been disappointed in how they spent their blessed Ramadan days. But, how could we stay connected to its good deeds, particularly our relationship with the Qur’an, after Ramadan?
The passing of Ramadan so quickly usually leaves the hearts of Muslims around the world saddened. But, what is it that truly saddens us? Is it the end of the iftar (breaking the fast meal) party invites? The rumbling belly at lunchtime? Or perhaps something much more important and frightening? The fear of not being able to maintain as much `ibadah and concentration on the faith as in the month that has passed, and the distractions of life that overwhelm us soon after `Eid?
Whilst this is the case, like in any battle, the soldiers must prepare themselves to win. Our battle in this instance is to maintain a relationship with the Qur’an and continue to build on whatever we have accomplished this Ramadan. Even if it was not as productive as you would have liked, to learn from the mistakes in Ramadan and kick start a solid relationship with the Qur’an in the coming months is equally as important.
`Abdullah ibn Mas`ud (may Allah be pleased with him) said:
“The house in which the Qur’an is not recited is like a derelict (forsaken) house that has no one to maintain it.” (Al-Musannaf)
Never let your home become forsaken; so long as you have breath in your lungs, you are able to stay connected , hold tight to the Qur’an and its teachings. There are no excuses.
We all take time to ensure we smell nice, look good and eat well. So, give your soul as well the food it requires by nourishing it with the Qur’an, and never neglect it. Our bodies are finite entities, so feed the soul that will hold you up when your body is no longer strong. Feed the soul to keep your heart awake.
Here are 8 tips to help you start, develop and maintain a strong relationship with the book of Allah (Glorified and Exalted be He) even after Ramadan in sha’ Allah:
1- Treat every month as if it’s Ramadan
While the blessed days have passed, this does not mean our mentality should change. We make time in this month because we are aware of the blessings and importance of spending time in ibadah. However, this does not mean the time outside of Ramadan should be wasted.
This is the Book about which there is no doubt, a guidance for those conscious of Allah. (Al-Baqarah 2:2)
This verse applies to everyday; Ramadan is a special time to spend with the Qur’an, get truly connected to it, but that does not mean we should neglect it outside of this month.
Imagine every month to be like Ramadan and try to put as much passion into developing your relationship with the Qur’an as you can. The truth is, any day could be our last and therefore we should optimize our time spent in reading and pondering over the book that was sent as a guidance for us.
2- No excuses to get Connected!
We procrastinate with excuses as to why we cannot regularly recite and ponder over the Qur’an.
You might ‘lack time’ – but you are reading this which means you have time to surf the net! Cut out idle activities or wake up 15 minutes earlier.
You feel bad because ‘you don’t understand’ what you read – find a Qur’an teacher, read translations and tafseer (exegesis of Qur’an) or start learning Arabic.
You may think ‘you’ll do it on the weekend’ – give yourself the reality check of life. You may not have tomorrow so do what you need to today!
Sadly, it may just be a case of “I don’t know why, I just can’t get in the habit”. In order to make a habit, you must strive. The climb up the mountain is never easy but if you stop midway you will never reach the top. Small steps are better than no steps.
3- Have a monthly goal
At the beginning of each month, set a target for yourself. Do you want to complete the entire Qur’an or focus on particular surahs?
Is there a portion you want to successfully memorize? Or perhaps you want to focus on your recitation rather than a particular quantity?
Whatever the case may be, having an idea in mind about what your goal is will help keep you focused to achieve it in sha ’Allah. This is a personal goal for you, your abilities and what you are in need of to boost your iman. Write it down in your diary, phone or wall – keep it around you before your eyes so you always remember what the goal is.
4- Set a time for Qur’an
We can set as many goals as we like, but without being prepared or planning the journey to that destination, it can be extremely difficult.
On a weekly basis, work out when you will have the time to read the Qur’an and associated activities that you are focusing on. Are you able to have a set time? It is great if you can but if not, do not panic. Use whatever time you have to do as much as you can.
5- Catch up on what you’ve missed
Some days may be busier than others and you may not be able to read whatever portion you had planned for.
Hold yourself accountable for this and ensure to catch up with what you have missed on top of the planned activities for the next day. This is important in ensuring you have a regular habit in place that you try to maintain to attain the goals you have made for that month.
Even better, create a post-Ramadan Qur’an group with your friends to help you stay motivated and connected to the Qur’an even when you feel your enthusiasm dipping.
6- Focus on understanding
As well as reciting the Qur’an, make time to read the translation and tafseer. This could be by reading them on your own, or by attending classes at a local masjid or institute.
This is really an important part of developing an understanding of the Qur’an; many of us fall out of the habit of reading the Qur’an and stay connected to it because we fail to understand what it is that we are reading. Allah (Exalted be He) says that the Qur’an is “a guidance for the people and clear proofs of guidance and criterion. (Al-Baqarah 2:184)
We should not miss out on obtaining this guidance because we do not understand the language. Make it a goal to learn Arabic, however in the meantime, utilize the translated works available to understand, absorb and implement the message of the Qur’an in your daily life.
7- Implement what you learn
The stories in the Qur’an are full of lessons. Take time to ponder over them and ask yourself how you can implement what you have learned into your life?
The Qur’an highlights for us the imperfections we have, whilst giving us the ideas on how to change for the best. Listening to the Qur’an can be healing and soothing, however the fundamental reason for the verses to be revealed is to guide a person to the straight path. Whatever portion you read, ask yourself how you can change your life based on it.
Keep a journal with the points you have learned and how you will work towards developing a personality complementary to the Qur’an. Remember the hadith of `A’ishah (may Allah be pleased with her):
“The character of the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) was the Qur’an.” (Abu Dawud)
Lastly, but by no means least – always ask Allah to help you in your quest to understand His words. We are unable to achieve anything without Allah granting us the ability to do so. The beauty of this is that Allah can help us achieve that which everyone else thinks we are unable to do.
Never let the words or actions of others put you down; whatever your goals are concerning the Qur’an, getting connected to it and understanding it, put your trust in Allah (Exalted be He) that He will make it possible.
Whatever rocks, boulders or mountains come in your way, never forget that Allah knows your soul can handle the struggle. Break down whatever blocks that try to prevent you from grasping the Qur’an by always turning to Allah and asking Him to make the Qur’an the light of your life and heart!
Share with us your tips on maintaining a close relationship with the Qur’an post-Ramadan. What do you do to stay connected to it?
Source: productivemuslim.com. – By Aishah Iqbal
The Prophet was raised to heaven to receive the teachings that were to become the foundation of Islamic worship and ritual.
The Prophet liked to go to the Ka`bah enclosure at night. He would stand there in prayer for long hours. One evening, he suddenly felt deeply tired and in great need of sleep. He therefore laid down near the Ka`bah and fell asleep.
Muhammad has related that the Angel Gabriel then came to him. Gabriel shook him twice to awaken him, but Muhammad slept on; the third time the angel shook him, Muhammad awoke, and Gabriel took him to the doors of the mosque, where a white animal (looking something like a cross between a mule and a donkey, but with wings) was waiting for them. He mounted the animal, which was called Al-Buraq, and started with Gabriel toward Jerusalem. There Muhammad met a group of prophets who had preceded him (Abraham, Moses, and others), and he led a group prayer with them on the Temple site.
When the prayer was over, the Prophet was raised with the Angel Gabriel beyond space and time. On his way, rising through the seven heavens, he again met the various prophets, and his vision of the heavens and of the beauty of those horizons permeated his being. He at last reached the Lotus of the Utmost Boundary (Sidrat Al-Muntaha). This was where the Prophet received the injunction of the five daily prayers and Revelation of the verse that established the elements of the Muslim creed (al-`aqidah):
The Messenger believes in what has been revealed to him from his Lord, as do the believers. Each one believes in God, His angels, His books, and His Messengers. We make no distinction between one and another of His Messengers. And they say: ‘We hear, and we obey: (we seek) Your forgiveness, our Lord, and to You is the end of all journeys. (Al-Baqarah 2:285)
Muhammad was taken back to Jerusalem by the Angel Gabriel and Al-Buraq, and from there to Makkah. On the way back, he came upon some caravans that were also traveling to Makkah. It was still night when they reached the Ka`bah enclosure.
The angel and Al-Buraq left, and Muhammad proceeded to the home of Umm Hani, one of his most trusted Companions. He gave her an account of what had happened to him, and she advised him not to tell anybody about it, which Muhammad refused to do. Later on, the Quran was to report this experience in two different passages. One is in the surah whose title Al-Israa’ (the Nocturnal Voyage), directly refers to the event:
Glory to He Who took His servant for a journey by night from the most sacred mosque to the farthest mosque, whose precincts We blessed, in order that We might show him some of Our signs: for He is the One Who hears and sees (all things). (Al-Israa’ 17:1)
It is also in the Surat An-Najm (the Star):
It is no less than inspiration sent down to him: he was taught by one mighty in power, endowed with wisdom. For, he appeared in angelic form while he was in the highest part of the horizon. Then he approached and came closer, and was at a distance of but two bow lengths or nearer. So did God convey by inspiration to His Servant what He meant to convey. The heart in no way belied that which he saw. Will you then dispute with him concerning what he saw? For indeed he saw him at another descent, near the Lotus of the utmost boundary near it is the Garden of Abode-when that which covered the Lotus covered it. His sight never swerved, nor did it go wrong. For truly did he see, of the signs of his Lord, the Greatest! (An-Najm 53:4-18)
The Night Journey and ascension were to give rise to many comments, both when the Prophet recounted the facts and later among Muslim scholars. When Muhammad went to the Ka`bah and reported his experience, jeers, sniggers and criticisms quickly followed. The Quraish believed that at last they had proof that this so-called prophet was indeed mad, since he dared claim that in one night he had made a journey to Jerusalem (which in itself required several weeks) and that he had, furthermore, been raised to the presence of his one God. His madness was obvious.
The Night Journey experience, presented in classical accounts of the Prophet’s life as a gift from God and a consecration for the Messenger, the Elect (Al-Mustafa), was a real trial for Muhammad and those around him. It marked the boundary between those believers whose faith radiated in their trust in this Prophet and his message and the others, who were taken aback by the improbability of such a story.
A Quraish delegation hastened to go and question Abu Bakr about his mad and senseless friend, but his immediate, forthright answer surprised them: ‘If he says such a thing, it cannot but be true!’ Abu Bakr’s faith and trust were such that he was not in the least disturbed, even for a second. After that, he personally went to question the Prophet, who confirmed the facts; as a result, Abu Bakr repeated forcefully: ‘I believe you; you have always spoken the truth.’ From that day on, the Prophet called Abu Bakr by the epithet As-Siddiq (he who is truthful, who confirms the truth).
The trial that Muhammad’s Night Journey presented for his fellow Muslims occurred at a moment when they were struggling with a most difficult situation. Tradition reports that a few Muslims left Islam, but most trusted Muhammad.
A few weeks later, facts confirmed some elements of his account, for instance the arrival of caravans whose coming he had announced (having seen them on his way back) and of which he had given a precise description. Thanks to the strength of this faith, the community of Muslims would be able to face future adversity. From then on, `Umar ibn Al-Khattab and Abu Bakr were always to stand in the front line of this spiritual force.
Muslim scholars have, from the outset, pondered the question of whether the Night Journey was of a purely spiritual nature or whether it was also physical. The majority of scholars consider that the journey was both physical and spiritual.
All things considered, however, this question is not essential in the light of the teachings that can be drawn from this extraordinary experience undergone by the Messenger. There is first of all, of course, the centrality of the city of Jerusalem: at the time, the Prophet prayed facing the holy city (the first qiblah, or direction of prayer), and during the Night Journey it was on the site of the Temple that he led the prayer together with all the prophets.
Jerusalem thus appears at the heart of the Prophet’s experience and teaching as a dual symbol, of both centrality (with the direction of prayer) and universality (with the prayer of all the prophets). Later, in Madinah, the qiblah (direction of prayer) was to change- from Jerusalem to the Ka`bah- to distinguish Islam from Judaism, but this by no means entailed a diminution of Jerusalem’s status, and in the abovementioned verse the references to the ”most sacred mosque“ (the Ka`bah, in Makkah) and the “farthest mosque“ (Al-Aqsa, in Jerusalem) establish a spiritual and sacred link between the two cities.
The other teaching is of a purely spiritual essence: all revelation reached the Prophet in the course of his earthly experience, with the exception, as we have seen, of the verses that establish the fundamental pillars of faith (iman) and the duty of prayer (as-salat). The Prophet was raised to heaven to receive the teachings that were to become the foundation of Islamic worship and ritual, al-`aqidah and al-`ibadat, which require that believers should accept their form as well as their substance.
Unlike the field of social affairs (al-mu`amalat), which calls for the creative mediation of people’s intellect and intelligence, human rationality here submits, in the name of faith and as an act of humility, to the order imposed by revelation: God has prescribed requirements and norms that the mind must hear and implement and the heart must love. Raised to receive the injunction of ritual prayer, the Prophet and his experience reveal what prayer must in essence be: a reminder of and an elevation toward the Most High, five times a day, in order to detach from oneself from the world, and from illusions.
The Mi`raj (the elevation during the Night Journey) is thus more than simply an archetype of the spiritual experience; it is pregnant with the deep significance of prayer, which, through the eternal word, enables us to liberate our consciousness from the contingencies of space and time, and fully comprehend the meaning of life.
The article is an excerpt from Professor Tariq Ramadan’s ‘In The Footsteps of The Prophet: Lessons from the Life of Muhammad’.
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