Hijab Story

By Tara Dahane

I want to share my story about my journey to wear hijab in the hope that some aspiring sisters will glean strength from it. Sisters, you can do it! Just keep in mind that you need to please Almighty Allah before you please anybody.

I converted to Islam in May 1996 after having been reading about it for almost 6 years. I have never regretted it only wish that I had took shahadah sooner. I did not wear hijab at first, only to wear to the mosque and during prayer times. I was aware that the condition of being a Muslimah required covering modestly yet I couldn’t act on it because of my fear of other people. I was afraid of how they would treat me such as looking upon me in pity, in utter disgust, or just plain hatred.

Actually my first bad encounter with hijab happened with my sister. She picked me up from the mosque one day and when I got inside the car she told me to “take that “s***” off my head” I am so glad that the people standing out in front of the mosque and especially my hubby did NOT hear what she said. Needless to say, I refused to take off my hijab until I got home.

Over the next three years my faith would increase gradually as I pursued knowledge in Islam more. In 1999 my faith was even stronger than the preceding years so much so that the hijab issue began to trouble me. It worried me so much because I actually thought of myself as “sinning” I had a choice to make, who was I supposed to be afraid of Allah or other people? Of course Allah is number one so my next step was the issue between head covering and face covering. I researched the Qur’an, Hadith, articles, and spoke with other sisters who wore hijab, even to the brothers. My conclusion was based on the fact that yes hijab is obligatory based on two verses in the Qur’an, Al-Ahzab 33:59 and An-Nur 24:30-31, as well as the hadith of Asma (may Allah be pleased with her) the daughter of Abu Bakr came to the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) while wearing thin clothing. He approached her and said: “O Asma! When a girl reaches the menstrual age, it is not proper that anything should remain exposed except this and this.” And he pointed to the face and hands. I believe face veiling is optional as you are striving to emulate the Mothers of the Believers who by the way were special and no one can ever be like them. I believe that
there is no sin for not wearing the face veil but rather it is a symbol of more modesty and a higher reward.

Armed with this I planned to wear my hijab in to work the first day of Ramadan. I had even laid out my veil and pins the night before so I didn’t have the excuse of “forgetting” to wear it. Once I arrived at work I became more nervous because there were people looking at me in the parking lot already! With each step I got closer and closer to the building where I worked and strangely more and more calm. Until I was on the elevator and in my office in no time. I breathed a sigh of relief that I hadn’t run into anyone in the halls though. And my did I have a surprise waiting for me. Each co-worker that passed me by just treated me like they always did on a normal day. One even remarked that my veil was beautiful and at least two asked me if it was a special occasion (I had to laugh at that one). At the end of the day, I couldn’t believe that I had worked myself up about nothing all of these years!

It was truly a success to wear hijab and I feel beautiful because I am doing a thing that pleases Almighty Allah I even get more respect when I am out. I don’t care what people think anymore. If I find them staring at me I look back and smile. I am more often than not surprised to see them smiling back at me. For the ones that consider me a source of amusement, the feeling is mutual!

I recommend this book on hijab: “Dearest sister: why not cover your modesty” by Abdul Hameed Al-Balali translated by Wael F Tabba That’s all folks! Tara.

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Source: www.islamfortoday.com

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Discovering One’s Flaws: The Tenth Stop of Your Spiritual Journey to God

By Dr. Jasser Auda

Trying to discover the flaws within you is better than trying to discover the worlds hidden from you.

One may start his journey to God the right way. But unfortunately, he might feel self-conceit or feel that he is doing God a favor and forget that he has many flaws. After setting the rules of how to perfect the beginning of the journey, Ibn `Ata’illah says: “Trying to discover the flaws within you is better than trying to discover the worlds hidden from you.”

“Human” Flaws

A servant, who does extra rituals, might think that is able to know the Unseen or that he has the piercing sight about which the Prophet said; “Beware of the piercing sight of the believer, for he sees with the light of God.” (At-Tirmidhi) Therefore, Ibn `Ata’illah is warning us saying: “Trying to discover the flaws within you is better than trying to discover the worlds hidden from you.”

If one thinks that he is free from flaws, surely he is mistaken, because this is the nature of human beings. God enjoys the perfect attributes, while humans suffer from flaws.

God is the Generous, but man is miser: “Say: “If you were to own all the treasure-houses of my Sustainer’s bounty, lo! you would still try to hold on (to them) tightly for fear of spending (too much): for man has always been avaricious (whereas God is limitless in His bounty).” (Al-Israa’ 17:100) God is the Mighty, but man is very weak: “God wants to lighten your burdens: for man has been created weak.” (An-Nisaa’ 4:28) God is Merciful, but man is cruel. God is much-forbearing, but man is angry. God is forgiving, but man does not forgive easily. God is patient, but man is prone to be hasty in his judgments. God is the Knower, but man is ignorant. God is the Just, but man does injustice to others.

Self-purification

One should do his best to discover the flaws within himself. This is much better than trying to discover the worlds hidden from him because one can not discover hidden worlds before purifying himself from flaws. Man will never purify himself completely, but he should do as much as he can to purify it. Purifying the inner self eventually helps one realize his nature and attain the quality of humbleness. Self-purification and humbleness make one spiritually elevated and bring about divinely bestowed knowledge and spiritual lofty status.

Scholars have identified several ways through which one discovers his flaws. This includes:

First, being criticized by people: if someone criticizes you, you have to think deeply about this criticism. Is it a constructive criticism that will help you discover your flaws? You have to take into consideration every criticism that comes from everybody even if it comes from those who are not in good terms with you. You have to ask yourself: does this criticism show me my flaws?

Second, a good friend; a good friend helps you discover your flaws when he offers you a sincere advice. `Umar ibn Al-Khattab (may God be pleased with him) said: “May God have mercy on the one who shows me my flaws.”
A sincere friend comes to you directly telling you about your flaws. From your part, you should listen to him and look within yourself for those flaws and try to amend them.

Third, God’s tests; when you are put to a test, this test will reveal your flaws and shortcomings. God says; “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)

The verse here is talking about the hypocrites. God always puts them to tests, but they never repent to Him and they do not bethink themselves of God. If you are under pressure or put to test, you have to discover your flaws so that you will pass this test easily.

We pray to God to conceal our flaws and to help us amend them. We pray to God to grant us forgiveness in this world and the world to come.

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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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Self-criticism: The Eleventh Stop of Your Spiritual Journey to God

By Dr. Jasser Auda

After looking within oneself and discovering its flaws, one has to know the origin of these flaws so that he can get rid of them. This is self-criticism. In this connection, Ibn `Ata’illah says; “The origin of every sin, forgetfulness, and lust is in being self-righteous, and the origin of every good deed, awareness, and chastity is in being self-critical.”

The origin of flaws -sins, forgetfulness, lusts, etc. – is to feel self-righteous, i.e. one tells himself “I am a good believer, and I am doing good deeds. I do not have to worry.” God the Almighty swore by the “Nay! I call to witness the Day of Resurrection! But nay! I call to witness the accusing voice of man’s own conscience!” (Al-Qiyamah 75:1-2) The accusing voice of man’s own conscience is the one that does not feel content with what one does and always blames him.

In another verse we read’ “And yet, I am not trying to absolve myself: for, verily, man’s inner self does incite (him) to evil, and saved are only they upon whom my Sustainer bestows His grace. Behold, my Sustainer is much-forgiving, a dispenser of grace!” (Yusuf 12:53) We notice that this statement was said by Prophet Yusuf (peace be upon him), then what about us?

The accusing voice of man’s own conscience will be saved from the Hellfire by God on the Day of Judgment. The inner self that does not blame itself may think that on the Day of Judgment it will be saved from the Hellfire.
In the story of the people of the Cave we read that the owner of the two gardens, who was very content with his inner self, said; “And neither do I think that the Last Hour will ever come. But even if (it should come, and) I am brought before my Sustainer, I will surely find something even better than this as (my last) resort!” (Al-Kahf 18:36) He hoped that on the Day of Judgment he will find a better garden than the one he had in this worldly life.

The original situation according to the Qur’an and the prophetic tradition is not to feel self-righteous. This is what the Prophet taught his companions. Therefore, they doubted even their faith. Hanzalah, one of the Prophet’s Companions, had knowledge about the names of the ten major hypocrites who were unknown to other companions. `Umar ibn al-Khattab used to ask Hanzalah if his name was among the ten people. Why did Umar ask Hanzlaha this question? Because he did not feel self-righteous. Abu Bakr As-Siddiq used to say: “I would not feel safe from God’s deep devising even if one of my feet was in paradise.” Why did Abu Bakr say that? Because he thought that he does not deserve paradise as a reward from God.

This is Abu Bakr about whom the Prophet (peace be upon him) said; “If the faith of Abu Bakr is put on one side of the scale and the faith of all people is put on the other side, the side of Abu Bakr will outweigh that of all people.”(AlBaihaqi, At-Tirmidhi, and Ahmad)

The Forbidden Lust

Feeling self-righteous is the origin of all sins. If you feel self-righteous and think that you have a special status in God’s sight, surely you will commit sins. If you fear God and think that you are a normal believer, you will avoid committing sins.

Ibn `Ata’illah is talking in this word of wisdom about the forbidden lust, i.e. arrogance, miserliness, greed, extravagance, etc. Feeling self-righteous is the origin of every forbidden lust. If you avoid this feeling, you will keep yourself away from committing sins. This was the practice of the prophets, messengers, and righteous people.

However, the believer blaming himself should not come under self-criticism. Self-criticism means that you always blame yourself until you feel desperate. For example, if you keeping telling yourself that you are not a good person, you are not doing good deeds, etc., you will feel hopeless and will abandon everything. This course of action is rejected in Islam.

Moderation is a virtue that lies between two vices, one of blaming oneself until one feels desperate, and the other not blaming oneself at all until one feels self-conceited. With moderation, our inner self will improve and we will advance in the course of our spiritual journey 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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Good Friends: The Twelfth Stop of Your Spiritual Journey to God (1)

By Dr. Jasser Auda

Do not befriend someone who does not elevate you with his state, or guide you to God with his speech. It could be that you are doing evil, yet you think that you are doing good because you are comparing yourself to your friend who is worse than you. So, how should the believer choose his friends?

Friends along the Way

Throughout our journey to God, we have learned how to dig for our flaws. We also learned that the origin of every sin, forgetfulness, and lust is in being self-righteous, and the origin of every good deed, awareness, and chastity is in being self-critical. Likewise, we have learned that one should be like the accusing voice of one’s conscience by which God swore in the Qur’an.

Here Ibn `Ata’illah talks to about another flaw which is that of the bad choice of friends. How should the believer choose his friends? He says; “Do not befriend someone who does not elevate you with his state or guide you to God with his speech. It could be that you are doing evil, yet you think that you are doing good because you are comparing yourself to your friend who is worse than you.”

Therefore, it is either that you befriend someone who is better than you or that you befriend someone who is worse than you.

Being Better

Ibn `Ata’illah says that when you befriend someone who is worse than you will think that you are doing good because you are comparing yourself to your friend who commits minor and grave sins and does not care.

However, if you befriend someone who elevates you with his state, or guides you to God with his speech; i.e. you befriend someone who is religiously not worldly better than you, this friend will have a good influence on you.

The Prophet (peace be upon him) is reported to have said; “A good friend and a bad friend are like a perfume-seller and a blacksmith: The perfume-seller might give you some perfume as a gift, or you might buy some from him, or at least you might smell its fragrance. As for the blacksmith, he might singe your clothes, and at the very least you will breathe in the fumes of the furnace.”

If you befriend someone who is of a good character, he might give you a physical perfume because the believer has a good smell. He might also give you a moral smell in the form of offering you a piece of advice, reminding you of a particular Quranic verse, guiding you to a good action, or smiling in your face.

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said; “Smiling in the face of your brother is charity.” (At-Tirmidhi) He might be a good example for you, i.e. you see him giving in charity, doing a good action, or worshipping God. Therefore, you will imitate him by doing the same things.

The other friend who is like the blacksmith he might burn your clothes if you approach him because he smokes in reality. If you get closer and closer to him, he will burn your heart, i.e. he will incite you to commit sins like backbiting, gossip, giving false testimony, etc.

To be continued…..

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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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Good Friends: The Twelfth Stop of Your Spiritual Journey to God (2)

Good Friends: The Twelfth Stop of Your Spiritual Journey to God (2)

By Dr. Jasser Auda

Do not befriend someone who does not elevate you with his state. How can one’s friends draw them closer to God and elevate their spiritually? And, how should the believer choose his friends?

“Do not befriend someone who does not elevate you with his state.” The meaning of the “state” and its influence on elevating one’s spirituality has been emphasized by the Prophet (peace be upon him) in different traditions.

The Prophet said, “One dirham has become greater than a hundred thousand dirhams.” The Companions asked, “How can that be O Messenger of God?” He replied, “A rich man takes a hundred thousand dirhams from his wealth and gives it away as charity. Another man has nothing except two dirhams, and so he takes one dirham and gives it away in charity.”

The only difference between the two men is in the state of their hearts though the second man gave one hundred thousand of dirhams in charity, and the first man gave one dirham only in charity.

It is reported that the Prophet performed the Fajr Prayer and he read the Chapter of Ar-Rum and he got confused in the recitation. When he finished the prayer, he said; “What about people who pray with us while they do not perfect their ablution. So we get confused in the recitation of the Quran because of them.” The hadith is about the state of an individual which affects negatively on the society as a whole.

Jubair ibn Mut`im reported that: I heard the Prophet reciting Surat At-Tur in the Maghrib Prayer, and when he reached the verse:
“(Or do they deny the existence of God?) Have they themselves been created without anything (that might have caused their creation)? or were they, perchance, their own creators? (And) have they created the heavens and the earth? Nay, but they have no certainty of anything! (How could they?) Are thy Sustainer’s treasures with them? Or are they in charge (of destiny)?” my heart was about to fly (when I realized this firm argument.)

Ubayy ibn Ka`b reported: I was in the mosque when a man entered and prayed and recited (the Qur’an) in a style to which I objected. Then another man entered (the mosque) and recited in a style different from that of his companion. When we had finished the prayer, we all went to God’s Messenger and said to him: This man recited in a style to which I objected, and the other entered and recited in a style different from that of his companion. The Messenger of God asked them to recite and so they recited, and the Messenger of God expressed approval of their affairs (their modes of recitation). There occurred in my mind a sort of denial which did not occur even during the Days of Ignorance. When the Messenger of God saw how I was affected (by a wrong idea), he struck my chest, whereupon I broke into sweating and felt as though I were looking at Allah with fear.”

It is as if the Prophet was asking Ubayy if he doubted the authenticity of the Qur’an. Ubayy was one of those who wrote down the Qur’an when it was later collected in one book. He was the head of the committee which supervised the process of collecting the Qur’an. The Prophet struck his chest, he changes his state form that of doubt to that of excellence which means “to worship God as though you are seeing Him, and while you see Him not yet truly He sees you.” Whereupon Ubayy said; “As though I were looking at Allah with fear.” Here Ubayy is describing the state to which the Prophet changed him in a moment.

I have seen many of my teachers who used to speak one word and this word would elevate my state for days. They may not even speak at all, but they are in a state of remembering God, or in a state of fearing God. This state draws you closer to God and elevates you spiritually.

Then Ibn `Ata’illah says; “And does not guide you to God with his speech.” If your friend does not elevate you with his state, he might guide you to God with his speech when he sincerely advises you or speaks to you about something good.

We pray to God to keep us away from bad friends and help us make good friends. We also pray to God to elevate us spiritually through our state and speech.
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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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