Witnessing God’s Bounty and Your Shortcomings: 23rd Stop of Your Spiritual Journey to God

Witnessing God’s Bounty and Your Shortcomings: 23rd Stop of Your Spiritual Journey to God

By Dr. Jasser Auda

The twenty third stop of your spiritual journey to God: “If you want the doors of hope opened, recall what He offers you, and if the doors of awe opened, recall what you offer Him.”

Hope & Owe

Sometimes our sins, forgetfulness, and lusts block our ways to God. Therefore, we do not feel an overwhelming longing to Him. The Sheikh here guides us to two doors which can be opened by reason, the tool that God granted us and that can be used at any time. The two doors are that of hope and awe.

The questions that the Sheikh is answering here are: how can the door of hope be opened while I do not feel this hope in my heart? How can the door of awe be opened for me while I do not feel this awe in my heart?

The answer is: try to calculate the bounties that God bestowed on you, and calculate the acts of worship and the good deeds that you offered for Him.

As for God’s bounties, they cannot be counted in any way. God says: “For, should you try to count God’s blessings, you could never compute them!” (An-Nahl 16:18) When you remember one of God’s bounties, you will realize how generous, merciful, and most forbearing He is. When you are preoccupied by these meanings, the door of hope in God’s generosity, forbearing, and mercy will be opened for you.

When you remember your shortcomings to ascend to the level of thankfulness, the level of mentioning God or the level of worship, then the door of awe will be opened in your heart.

A servant’s condition should vary between hope and awe so that he will become, as Ibn Al-Qayyim describes, like a bird with two wings; one wing for hope and the other for awe.

Striking a balance between the opposites is one of the invariable universal laws of God. Here we should strike a balance between hope and awe so that the bird can fly because it cannot fly with one wing.

One should be cautious that his hope does not turn to a feeling of being secured, i.e. one feels that he is saved from God’s punishment:

And they say, ‘The fire will most certainly not touch us for more than a limited number of days.’ (Aal `Imran 3:24)

The verse was revealed regarding some of the previous nations who had a belief that they are God’s chosen people, regardless of their actions. Nowadays, some Muslims think that as long as they are Muslims, they can do whatever they want and they will not be harmed. God says: “But none feels secure from God’s deep devising save people who are (already) lost.” (Al-A`raf 7:99)

Hope should not become a state of being secured or that there is a guarantee that God will bestow His mercy on you. The only guarantee is your actual admission to Paradise.

Without Despair

Awe should not lead one to a feeling of despair. God says: “Say: ‘Thus speaks God:’ ‘O you servants of Mine who have transgressed against your own selves! Despair not of God’s mercy: behold, God forgives all sins – for, verily, He alone is much-forgiving, a dispenser of grace!’” (Az-Zumar 39:53) In another verse, we read, “… and do not lose hope of God’s life-giving mercy: verily, none but people who deny the truth can ever lose hope of God’s life-giving mercy.” (Yusuf 12:87)

What we need is to strike a balance between hope and awe. We have to repent to God and seek His forgiveness. At the same time, we should worry that God may not accept our deeds or that He will not grant us forgiveness because of our sins and shortcomings. Our sins should not turn us away from having hope in God’s mercy. Likewise, hope should not keep us away from fearing Him.

We pray to God to grant us the good understanding and open for us the doors of hope and awe in order that our spiritual status is improved and that we follow the right path and do not go astray.

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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

 

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New Reverts’ Christmas Dilemma

New Reverts’ Christmas Dilemma

By Diva Allott

So you’re a new Muslim and it’s that time of year again, Christmas.

As a child it was one of our most awaited days of the year, to run downstairs and find all the beautifully wrapped gifts under the luminous Christmas tree.

Helping to prepare the dinner was a crucial part of this awaited day, we would then settle down on the sofa watching ‘Miracle on 34th. Street’ and then we would all pull our crackers and wear our Christmas hats.

As Muslims, we can’t celebrate Christmas as it is a Christian celebration. We believe that Jesus (peace be upon him) is a Prophet and not the son of God and that Allah is the only God, and we do not associate any others with Him. For many of you this can be a very difficult time as new Muslims, as your family may not understand and appreciate your new found beliefs.

In my first year as a Muslim I found Christmas very difficult, I had never celebrated Christmas in a religious way but just enjoyed all the traditions of sharing food, watching films and exchanging gifts with my family.

Also, I felt very bad as my mother is a widow and to leave her to celebrate Christmas alone pained me so much, I felt guilty. I knew that I couldn’t celebrate it so I tried my best to stay away over Christmas day.

I didn’t buy any gifts for any of my family as that is equivalent to celebrating it, and I struggled as I love seeing people’s joy when receiving an anticipated gift. I often went down a week or so before Christmas so my mother didn’t feel alone and she and other members of my family would always leave me gifts.

It is fine to accept the gifts on the grounds that it is not a religious emblem representing Christmas, or alcohol, or meat slaughtered purposely for Christmas or statues. I would accept the gifts and give thanks to them. The Prophet (peace be upon him) never used to refuse a gift from the Banu Israel (Jews) or from the Christians during their attributed festivities.

How to Cope with Christmas

Just think how much money you will save!

Now you know that you are not alone in your struggle and that al-hamdu lillah there are many more reverts experiencing a similar journey to you. Let’s focus on how to cope with Christmas.

First of all, don’t be sad that you have left Christmas behind in your new journey as a Muslim as God has blessed you with two celebrations Eid Al-Fitr and Eid Al-Adha. Just think how much money you will save! While everybody is running around like headless chickens worrying whether they have remembered everything on the Christmas list, sent all the cards and bought all the food, you can sit back and take the back seat. It is strange how funny the panic of Christmas is when you’re outside, watching all the fuss for just one day of the year.

Although Christmas may be difficult for you when you think how your family must be feeling having to continue their celebrations without you. Let them know why you can’t celebrate Christmas but that you are still the same person they know and love. Try avoiding going to visit family on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day or Boxing Day to avoid getting roped into the celebrations. Maybe you can go a few days before or after the celebrations just to let them know you’re there.

Another way of coping with Christmas is to use the holidays as a chance to improve on your Islamic knowledge, perhaps read some Quran, books of Hadith or just spend time making du`aa’ (prayer) and thanking God for the life He has given you as a Muslim.

This year, I decided to buy my family present for `Eid and try to involve them in my festivities to soften their hearts and in sha’ Allah (God willing) one day they will see the beauty of Islam and embrace it. For Eid al-Fitr I bought my mum and myself a trip to an all-women’s SPA for a chance for us to spend time together and to relax. She really appreciated the present as I don’t buy her gifts for Christmas, she felt like I had made an attempt to include her. For my aunt, I bought her a massive basket full of fresh fruit and decorated with ribbons. She loved the present and the feeling of being included. The first time I bought my mum a present for Eid I didn’t know whether she would be happy or offended. At first she said I don’t want anything for Eid because I don’t celebrate it. I said then: ‘I give you this present with the intention for `Eid, and if you wish to save it for Christmas then do as you will.’

Children & Christmas

Dealing with children in Christmas can also be difficult as they may feel jealous of their peers at school knowing they will return after the holiday bestowed with new gifts, toys and clothes. Teach your children the origins of Christmas and explain to them why Muslims do not celebrate it and that although the children have been offered many gifts for their celebrations that as Muslims, God has promised us much more in the afterlife and has blessed us with two `Eids.

When `Eid comes around, create your own family atmosphere as your family did with you at Christmas, build up the excitement and the anticipation of `Eid, but emphasize that it is not about gifts but about spending time with family and giving thanks to God on this special day. A good idea is to buy advent calendars around the Christmas period and keep them until `Eid and allow your children to begin opening them on the countdown to `Eid.

During this festive time, remember that you are not alone and that many others are on the same journey as you. Remember God and give thanks to Him for all that He has blessed you with at this time, don’t be envious of those celebrating Christmas as God has promised us so much more. Just be thankful for being shown the true light.

In sha’ Allah I hope that none of you struggle too much during this time and find the strength and faith to get through this busy period of the year.

You are all in my thoughts and my du`aa’ and may Allah bless each and every one of you for reading this article and seeking further knowledge.

Ameen.

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Source: onislam.net

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Learn the Qur’an in Arabic, Get Rewarded: How?

Learn the Qur’an in Arabic, Get Rewarded: How?

 By Amy Klooz

It can be intimidating for a new Muslim to be told that the Qur’an has to be read in Arabic when he or she can’t make heads or tails of the Arabic script in the first place. So learning not just letters but pronunciation, grammar, vocabulary seems a daunting task.

Do they know the blessings they are missing out on, that they can't even read the Qur’an in the original Arabic?

Do they know the blessings they are missing out on, that they can’t even read the Qur’an in the original Arabic?

But if I may say so, it is one of the more rewarding endeavors in which a person can dedicate his time. And in actuality, it’s not as difficult as it might seem at the start.

In fact, throughout the Qur’an, Allah describes Arabic and the Qur’an as easy:

So, (O Muhammad), We have only made the Qur’an easy in the Arabic language that you may give good tidings thereby to the righteous and warn thereby a hostile people. (Maryam 19:97)

Verily, We have made this (Qur’an) easy, in thy tongue, in order that they may give heed. (Ad-Dukhan 44:58)

And We have certainly made the Qur’an easy for remembrance, so is there any who will remember? (Al-Qamar 54:17)

So before we start complaining about it being hard, we should remember that Allah (the Lord of the Worlds) is making it easy for us; making it easy to learn to read Arabic, to speak it, and to understand it in the Qur’an.

Now, for some people the motivation for learning Arabic is more to learn spoken Arabic, perhaps to communicate with Arab Muslims, maybe new family members. In that case, I can’t promise it will be as easy, but the person whose intention is solely for the sake of Allah, to learn the Qur’an, I know will have the help of Allah.

I think it’s sad that to see Muslims who have had years of opportunities to learn and still haven’t made any progress regarding the Arabic language.

Do they know the blessings they are missing out on, that they can’t even read the Qur’an in the original Arabic?

Moreover, I know many converts struggle in trying to memorize the Qur’an, and we know from a hadith that Allah will reward their struggle. But for years, they go by having memorized only one or two surahs (chapters)!

Is it necessary to spend hours listening to audio over and over and over to try to pick up the sounds?

For anyone who wants to start memorizing more Qur’an, I would say they should focus their energy on learning to read Arabic. I can say from my own experience that memorizing became much faster, easier, and fulfilling, once I could read the Arabic. Sounds became words, words became phrases and phrases took on meaning. Being able to read the Qur’an in Arabic, while trying to memorize it, can only facilitate memorization.

So I have come to the opinion that one essential component of any program for helping new Muslims must be helping them to learn the Arabic language–not for speaking, not for conversation, but to start reading the Qur’an. And the minimum responsibility should be to teach them the letters–recognition and pronunciation–and proper recitation of the Qur’an.

A class for new Muslims to teach Arabic, starting with letters, should actively involve the students reading writing words as soon as they know the relevant letters. Seeing letters on a board or in a book is not enough to learn them.

Worksheets, tests and quizzes are good motivational tools to keep the students practicing the letters consistently. Consistency is the only way to make it stick constant use.

For students trying to learn the Arabic alphabet, flashcards are an exceptionally useful tool. Correcting the pronunciation requires a teacher with a good ear and lots of practice. The articulation of some letters is an acquired skill children can learn easily, but with dedication adults can become equally proficient and should not be deterred because a letter is difficult or not present in their native language.

But a person cannot stop their Arabic after learning the letters. They must progress immediately to learning tajweed (rules of Qur’anic recitation). This is to correct and improve their articulation, and to help them begin in reciting Qur’an.

When able to actually read and recite the Qur’an even without understanding, a person is at least establishing a connection with the Qur’an, and is consistently practicing the Arabic already learnt.

This ‘practice‘ keeps the knowledge (of the alphabet, articulation, tajweed, etc.) in the front of a person’s mind, building a skill that will undoubtedly brighten his or her heart and mind. It is a skill that opens up the Qur’an, and opens the heart to the Qur’an.

So I would suggest for new Muslims who haven’t started learning any Arabic yet, to make it a priority. And for anyone involved in educational programs for new Muslims, to incorporate some Arabic into those programs to help our communities build and strengthen their relationship with the Qur’an.

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Dealing with Challenges after Accepting Islam

Dealing with Challenges after Accepting Islam

Accepting Islam brings with it challenges. Before someone converts to Islam they may be concerned about many things to the extent that they may actually hold them back from taking the step, for example, how their parents are going to receive the news, how their friends are going to be shocked, all the change that will happen in their life.

Yes, it’s going to hard. It’s not easy. Life is going to change not for the better at least at the beginning in so many ways.

Thus, accepting Islam does bring with it difficulties and obstacles, so what mindset do we use to tackle with them?

Ustadh Nouman Ali Khan talks about this in the video here…


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Source: FreeQuranEducation

 

 

 

 

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Mercy with People’s Faults: Twenty Second Stop of Your Spiritual Journey to God

Mercy with People’s Faults: Twenty Second Stop of Your Spiritual Journey to God

By Dr. Jasser Auda

A person, who learns of people’s secrets and does not have Godly mercy on them, brings upon himself great danger and disaster.

When one’s knowledge and awareness increase, he will find himself in situations and incidents where he learns of people’s secrets, faults, and problems.

Mercy with People’s Faults-Twenty Second Stop of Your Spiritual Journey to God

One should not feel that he is authorized by God to act as a judge among the people.

This happens when one applies his mind to the study of the outward appearance of a thing with a view to understanding its real nature and its inner characteristics. One comes to know people’s secrets when he is consulted or becomes an arbitrator in a certain dispute on individual, family, and collective levels.

Learning people’s secrets and their weaknesses is a chance for practicing some influence on them. If you come to learn people’s secrets, you should treat them in the proper way. The Sheikh says: “A person, who learns of people’s secrets and does not have Godly mercy on them, brings upon himself great danger and disaster.”

One should not feel that he is authorized by God to act as a judge among the people or that he will establish justice among them. What one should do is to have Godly mercy on them.

Godly Mercy

Having Godly mercy on people requires that you should not reveal people’s faults because God is the One who conceals such faults. A man called Maiz came to the Prophet confessing his adultery. So the Prophet ordered that he be stoned as a punishment for his act. Hazzal came and said, “I ordered him to confess.” The Prophet then said, “It would have been better for you if you had covered him with your clothes, Hazzal.” (Abu Dawud)

It is a major sin to reveal people’s faults or take them as a pretext to harm them. The Prophet is reported to have said: “The servant (who conceals) the faults of others in this world, God would conceal his faults on the Day of Resurrection.” (Muslim)

Having Godly mercy on people also requires that you admonish people and call them to do good deeds with a view to correcting their faults. This is how the Prophet behaved with the hypocrites after God told him about what they hid in their hearts.

As for them – God knows all that is in their hearts; so leave them alone, and admonish them, and speak unto them about themselves in a gravely searching manner. (An-Nisaa’ 4:64)

When God Himself admonishes us He does so in the best manner. When He commands us to do something, His commandments are conveyed in a gentle way. God says in a hadith: “If they offer repentance, I will surely love them. If they do not repent, I will be like their physician (who helps them with their diseases until they are recovered).”

Personal Interests

A physician follows a gradual course in treating people’s diseases. He also tries different medicines until a certain medicine works out. A good physician resorts to surgery, amputation or cautery only as the last option. Cautery is recommended only as the last treatment option as the Arabian proverb suggests.

Besides, having Godly mercy on people requires that you free yourself from your personal interests when you handle people’s secrets or information which you learn about. As we said earlier, learning people’s secrets gives one an authority to exploit them for his own interests. This contradicts the concept of Godly mercy which urges one to overlook his own interests and aims only at fixing and correcting people’s behavior.

The servant, who does not have mercy on people after learning their faults, might have a feeling of pride, conceit, envy and suspicion. All these traits are dangerous and destructive to our moral system.

Also, the one, who does not have mercy on people, will be doing injustice to them. Injustice is punishable both in this world and the world to come. Therefore, the Sheikh says: “A person, who learns of people’s secrets and does not have Godly mercy on them, brings upon himself great danger and disaster.”  This word of wisdom is reinforced by the hadith in which the Prophet says: “No sin has a faster Divine punishment than the sin of injustice …” (Abu Hanifa)

The original situation is “do not spy upon one another” (Al-Hujurat 49:12)  But if one finds himself in a situation where people’s secrets are revealed before him, he should have Godly mercy on them as the Sheikh says. Otherwise, he will be journeying backward not forward to God.

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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

 

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Dealing with People’s Praise: Twenty First Stop of Your Spiritual Journey to God

Dealing with People’s Praise: Twenty First Stop of Your Spiritual Journey to God

By Dr. Jasser Auda

“When people praise you for what they assume about you, blame yourself for what you really know about yourself. The most ignorant is the one who denies what he really knows about himself and believes what others assume about him.”

While journeying to God we will be put to many tests. One of those tests pertains to people’s praise for what they assume about you. This word of wisdom answers the following question: how does one deal with people’s praise?

Dealing with People’s Praise

People’s praise may change one’s rituals from being done to please God to being done to please people.

People’s praise is a serious issue. A man was mentioned before the Prophet and another man praised him greatly. The Prophet said,

“Woe on you! You have cut the neck of your friend.” The Prophet repeated this sentence many times and said, “If it is indispensable for anyone of you to praise someone, then he should say, ‘I think that he is so-and-so,” if he really thinks that he is such. God is the One Who will take his accounts (as He knows his reality) and no-one can sanctify anybody before God.” (Al-Bukhari)

In another tradition, the Prophet said: “When you see those who shower (undue) praise (upon others), throw dust upon their faces.” (Muslim)

Negative Impact

People’s praise may change one’s rituals from being done to please God to being done to please people, earn their praise or avoid their criticism. It also discourages one to do more good deeds if he feels that he is perfecting his actions or that he has done many good deeds which attracted people’s praise.

Another negative aspect of praise is that it makes one overlook his flaws and, instead, look at his merits.

In this word of wisdom, Sheikh Ibn `Ata’illah says: “When people praise you for what they assume about you, blame yourself for what you really know about yourself.” People praise you based on their assumption about you. But you know yourself better. You know that you are suffering from many flaws.

Notice that when the Sheikh talked about the beginnings he advised us to discover our flaws. The Sheikh said: “Trying to discover the flaws within you is better than trying to discover the worlds hidden from you.”

One’s Flaws

If you are highly praised by people, you should discover your flaws and blame yourself for what you know about it. You should feel ashamed because people are praising you for things which are not in you. You should pray to God to forgive your sins and conceal your flaws.

This is reminds us of what Imam `Ali (may God be pleased with him) when he described the Companions (may God be pleased with them) in his famous sermon: Imam `Ali said: “If someone praises one of them, he says, “I know myself better than others (know me), and my Lord is more knowledgeable of me than myself. O God, don’t take me to task for what they say, and make me better than what they think of me, and forgive me for those sins which they are unaware of.”

According to Imam `Ali’s description, when someone praised one of the Prophet’s Companions, he responded to him saying: “I know myself better than others (know me)”, i.e. I know myself and others think good of me. This is the same meaning given by Ibn `Atta’illah. Then the Companion adds: “And my Lord is more knowledgeable of me than myself”, i.e. God is more knowledgeable of my flaws, sins, and mistakes than myself. Finally, the Companion ends his response by praying to God: “Make me better than what they think of me.” They think good of me, so make me better than this. “O God, forgive me for those sins which they are unaware of.” God does not reveal things which we do not like and which we cannot tell people about.

Sometimes people’s praise takes away the reward promised by God for a certain good deed. Because this praise is actually the reward that one was seeking, as his intention was not to please God, but to please people. This is an utter hypocrisy.

The Sheikh says: “If the believer is praised, he should feel ashamed of God that people praise him for things which are not in him. The most ignorant is the one who denies what he really knows about himself and believes what others assume about him.”

Should I leave what I know for sure about myself and believe what people assume about it? This is a sign of ignorance and conceit.

Glad Tidings

In some other cases, people’s praise is glad tidings for the believer. Abu Dhar (may God be pleased him) reported: It was said to God’s Messenger (peace be upon him): What is your opinion about the person who has done good deeds and the people praise him? He said: “It is glad tidings for a believer (which he has received in this mortal world).” (Muslim)

Therefore, the servant should thank God for that, and should not be self-conceited. He also should not believe what people assume about him and forget his own flaws.

We pray to God to conceal our flaws, grant us humility, and give us glad tidings in this world and the next.

For them there is the glad tiding (of happiness) in the life of this world and in the life to come…  (Yunus 10:64)

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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

 

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