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How to Beat Hard Times

How to Beat Hard Times

By Wael Hamza

We can emerge from difficult times closer to Allah, stronger, united, more skilled, and more guided, but only if we know how to live through them and respond to them.

We can emerge from difficult times closer to Allah, stronger, united, more skilled, and more guided, but only if we know how to live through them and respond to them.

How to Beat Hard Times

Whether you are a Syrian suffering from oppression and massacres by a criminal regime, an Egyptian fearing the brutal attacks of the corrupt supporters of the former government, a Palestinian who has lived his whole life under occupation, a Bengali who faces government crackdowns due to your political views, an American facing guilt by association and discrimination, or someone who observes all of these with a heavy heart, you are just an example of the difficult times our global Muslim community is going through. You may not be going through those trials but you may be faced with personal calamities, such as losing loved ones, facing financial difficulties, or dealing with family conflicts.

Difficult times are part of Allah’s laws in this universe; they are part of the tests that people go through.  They are not necessarily something evil, however. A difficulty we go through, on the contrary, could be a learning experience, a reminder, purification from sins and mistakes, a test of patience and perseverance, or all of these together.

We can emerge from difficult times closer to Allah, stronger, united, more skilled, and more guided, but only if we know how to live through them and respond to them.

There is no one to learn from who better responded to difficult times other than our beloved Prophet, Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him). Not only was he a great man with noble character, he was also guided by revelations from Allah Almighty. Following his footsteps is essential to live a successful life and is part of us being Muslims. By definition, Muslims are the ones who bear witness that there is no god but Allah and that Muhammad is His Messenger. Therefore, following his example is an integral part of Islam.

The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) went through a lot of difficult times both on a personal and a community level. His life was extremely successful, yet it was the most challenging. By the will and the guidance of Allah, he was able to meet all the challenges he faced and come out of difficult times much stronger than ever before.

In this article, we will learn from our prophet some of the guidance to help us through difficult times we are going through and to enable us to use these challenges to our advantage.

The Prophet Facing Tough Times

We read the Prophet’s story hundreds of years after it was over. It is a successful story that contains one victory after another with a very positive final outcome. This positive experience masked all the difficult times in his life and we tend to overlook them when reading or relating the story, especially in the absence of deep analysis.

The fact of the matter is that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) went through a lot of challenges and difficult times throughout his whole life. In one year, his uncle and his wife, who both supported him emotionally and physically, died. In the very same year, he was subjected to physical abuse from the people of Makkah. The following story, as narrated by one of the Prophet’s companions, Abdullah Ibn Mas`ud, tells you how he was treated during this very tough year:

Seven from the leaders of Makkah were gathering next to Al-Ka`bah while the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) was praying. He elongated his prostration. Abu Jahl, one of those leaders, said,

“Who would bring the innards of the camel so-and-so family just slaughtered? We can put it on top of Muhammad while prostrating!”

`Uqbah Ibn Abi Mu`ait, the most idiot amongst them, brought it and put it on the back of the Prophet while prostrating. The Prophet did not move and I (`Abdullah is talking) could not dare to do anything, for I have no clan to protect me.

Fatimah, the Prophet’s young daughter, came and removed the dirt and insulted all of them. The Prophet then raised his head and started supplicating to Allah against them all.

He was also challenged as a messenger tasked by Allah to convey His message. He was called a liar, a sorcerer, a poet, and a fortuneteller, and people started calling him Mudhamam (dispraise worthy) while his name is Muhammad (praise worthy).

His reputation was attacked, and his companions were tortured to the extent that people stopped listening to him. For two consecutive years before he migrated to Medina, only four people believed in him, two of whom died shortly after.

His trip to the neighboring city of Ta’if was just another example of those tough times. He traveled, walking, for over fifty miles to deliver his message to the people of Ta’if and ask for their support. Not only did they mock him, disbelieve in him, and let him down, but also asked their slaves and youngsters to throw stones at him for a few miles until his sandals turned red from his bleeding.

Even after migration to Madinah, his life wasn’t easy. He suffered the curses and the disrespect of the hypocrites in Madinah. His noble wife `Aishah was subject to an ugly rumor spread in the society for days.

Madinah under his leadership was challenged by war from almost every single tribe in Arabia. He witnessed the killing of seventy of his companions among whom was his dear uncle Hamzah.

He faced a siege of ten thousand soldiers, an attack on which his whole city, where all the believers lived, was about to be destroyed.

He faced treason from Jewish tribes in Madinah: some plotted to kill him and others betrayed him to side with an attacking army.

Many of the messengers he sent to teach people Islam were killed in cold blood and he grieved for them for months, seventy of them in one incident and twelve in another.

Learning from our Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him)

How did the Prophet manage to face all these challenges?

How was he able to come out of them stronger and with even more influence?

How did he develop such a community that was able to be steadfast in the face of difficult times during his life and after he died?

Below are a few simple, yet very effective, concepts that the Prophet embraced and taught his Companions.

These concepts are extremely important for us to understand and embrace. While going through the ideas below, you will realize that they are a mix of:

•         Personal qualities the Prophet and his Companions displayed

•         Ideas taught by the Qur’an and the words of the Prophet

•         Practical actions taken by the Prophet to face difficult times

1. Know! Difficulties are inevitable tests

This is the first and the most important concept one should believe in: going through difficult times is almost inevitable.

“Do people think they will be left alone and they will not be tried? …” ( Al-`Ankbut  29:3)

When you claim to believe in Allah, stand for what is right, oppose what is wrong, support justice, or fight oppression, these claims will all be tested. Allah will show who is truthful and who is lying.

This is the tradition of those on the straight path at all times. The Prophet and his companions were asked in the Qur’an, a question that is also asked to all of us,

“Do you suppose that you will enter Paradise untouched by the suffering endured by the people who passed before you? They were afflicted by the misery and hardship and they were so convulsed that the Messenger and the believers with him cried out: ‘When will Allah’s help arrive?’” (Al-Baqarah 2: 214)

2. Know! Difficulties happen by the Will of Allah

It is very important to know and believe that nothing will happen to you except what Allah has decreed for you. The Prophet was asked to say,

“Nothing will befall us except what Allah has decreed for us.” (At-Tawbah 9:51)

He taught one of his young cousins, `Abdullah Ibn `Abbas, “Know that what hits you would not have missed you.

This belief gives you comfort and prevents fear from future difficulty, but more importantly, helps you overcome any difficulty you are already going through. Allah said,

“No misfortune ever befalls unless it be by Allah. And whosoever has faith in Allah, Allah guides his heart …” (At-Taghabun 64:11)

3. Flee to Allah

O Allah I display before you my weakness …” This phrase was part of the prayer of the Prophet while coming back from his trip to Al Ta’if. Taking refuge in Allah and asking for His help and support is a very important action we should do during the time of difficulty. This is a trial by Allah, it happened with His permission, and it is only He who can alleviate it.

4. Examine your actions

If you are not angry with me, I do not care …” was also part of the Prophet’s prayer returning from Al Ta’if. During times of difficulty, we should examine our actions. This difficulty may very well be a warning from Allah that we are doing something wrong. It may be because of our sins and mistakes:

“Whatever misfortune befalls you is a consequence of your own deeds …” (Ash-Shura 42:30)

It may be because we strayed and Allah sent this difficulty to us as a reminder to bring us back. Malik Ibn Dinar, one of the great scholars of Islam, transformed from being an alcoholic person to the great person we know as a result of the death of his own two-year old daughter.

5. Be optimistic

Having hope and being optimistic were two important attitudes the Prophet embraced when facing difficulty.

By Allah, Allah will perfect this matter until the traveler can travel from Sana’a to Hadhramaut fearing no one but Allah and the wolf that may eat his sheep“, The Prophet told Khabbab when he complained to him about the severity of torture he and other Muslims in Makkah were going through. (Al-Bukhari)

It was this hope in Allah, and confidence that there will be ease after difficulty, that kept them going.

This hope was not only kept in the hearts but was also spread through words and attitude. The Prophet mastered optimism and looked for optimism: “Evil omen is false! And I likes Al-fa’l (good omen)” the prophet told his companions. They asked, “What is Al-Fa’l?” He responded, “A good word.” (Muslim)

6. Do not get distracted

One of the very bad consequences of going through difficult times is the amount of distraction the difficulty creates. Ibn Al-Qayim says,

“It is a complete fiasco to be distracted by the blessing away from the One who blesses, and by the trial away from the One who tries.”

Sometimes the difficulty itself scares us away from the good we are doing. Allah says,

“And let it never happen that they might turn you away from the revelations of Allah after they have been revealed to you…” (Al-Qasas 28-87)

The prophet never stopped delivering his message because of a personal difficulty he went through or because of a threat or torture he received from his enemies.

7. Expect reward

This was one of the teachings the Qur’an instilled in the hearts of Muslims. Whether the calamity happens naturally, or whether it is due to the harm of others, being patient and perseverant results in a lot of reward. The calamity will eventually be over,

“Indeed with the difficulty there is an ease. Indeed with the difficulty there is an ease.” (Ash-Sharh 94:5-6)

And when the ease comes, the pain will go away and will be forgotten. What remains and will never go away is the tremendous reward one would get,

“We shall certainly test you by afflicting you with fear, hunger, loss of properties and lives and fruits. Give glad tidings, then, to those who remain patient.

Those, who when any affliction smites them, they say: “Verily, we belong to Allah, and it is to Him we shall return.”

Upon them will be the blessings of their Lord, and it is they who are rightly guided.” (Al-Baqarah 2:155-157)

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Courtesy onislam.net with slight editorial modifications.

Wael Hamza is a Muslim writer, thinker and an active figure in MAS (Muslim American Society), U.S.A.

 

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What to Do during the First Ten Days of Dhul Hijjah?

By Truth Seeker Staff

dhul hijjahMerits of the Ten Days of the Dhul Hijjah

As we enter the first 10 days of this blessed month, our hearts and prayers are with those undertaking the holy pilgrimage of Hajj during these days. While many of us are unable to make the blessed journey this year, there are still many ways for us to reap the blessings of this month.

The first ten days of Dhul Hijjah are often referred to as the best ten days of the year. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “There are no days on which righteous deeds are more beloved to Allah than these ten days.” [Sahih Al-Bukhari]

Here are some tips so we can all make the most of these blessed days:

What to Do during the First Ten Days of Dhul Hijjah?

Read the Quran

Reading the Qur’an is a good deed and Allah (swt) especially loves the good deeds done in these days. Read as much as you can, even if it is a few verses each day.

Increase in Nawaafil Prayers

There are a number of extra prayers you can observe during the day to increase your worship and good deeds.

Make lots of dhikr

Our Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “There are no days that are greater before Allah or in which good deeds are more beloved to Him, than these ten days, so recite a great deal of tahleel,  takbeer and tahmeed during them.” [Musnad Ahmad]:

Tahmeed: Al-hamdu Lillah (All praises be to God)

Tahleel: Laa ilaha ill-Allah (There is no god but Allah)

Tasbeeh: Subhaan-Allah (Glory be to God)

Istighfaar

Use these blessed days to seek forgiveness for all our wrongdoings.

Fasting

It is Sunnah for the Muslim to fast on the first nine days of Dhul Hijjah because fasting is one of the best of deeds. In a hadith Qudsi, Allah says: “All the deeds of the son of Adam are for him, except fasting, which is for Me and I shall reward for it.” [Sahih Al-Bukhari, 1805]

The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “Fasting the day of `Arafah expiates the sins of two years: the past one and the coming one.” [Sahih Muslim]

Give in charity

Give in charity in these blessed days, as much as you can.

Preserve ties of kinship

Maintaining the ties of kinship is from the best of deeds due to the saying The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him): “Whoever would like his provision to be increased and his lifespan to be extended, let him maintain the ties of kinship.” [Sahih Al-Bukhari]

And finally, as Eid approaches, don’t forget to give your Qurbani (Udhiyah or Animal Sacrifice).

 

Editor’s Note:

According to `Abdullah Ibn `Abbas and many others among the Salaf and the later generations, what is meant by the ten nights mentioned at the beginning of Surat Al-Fajr is the first ten days of Dhul Hijjah. The Qur’an says, “By the dawn.  And [by] ten nights” (Al-Fajr 89: 1-2)

It has been confirmed in Sahih Al-Bukhari from Ibn `Abbas that the Prophet said, “‘There are no days in which righteous deeds are more beloved to Allah than these days.” meaning the ten days of Dhul Hijjah. They said, ‘Not even fighting Jihad in the way of Allah’

He replied, ‘Not even Jihad in the way of Allah; except for a man who goes out (for Jihad) with his self and his wealth, and he does not return with any of that.‘” (Sahih Al-Bukhari)

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Taken with slight editorial modifications from islamic-relief.org

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Steps Towards Inner Peace

Steps Towards Inner Peace

By Salman al-`Awdah

God knows the sincerity that is in our hearts and He helps those who are sincere.

God knows the sincerity that is in our hearts and He helps those who are sincere.

Steps Towards Inner Peace

Inner peace is the source of all peace.

When a person is at harmony with himself, he is able to live in harmony with others.

God says:

“When you enter houses, greet yourselves with peace.” (Al-Nur 24: 61)

Believers recite the following words in all of their prayers: “Peace be upon us and upon Allah’s pious servants.” In the Qur’an, we encounter the word “self” being used in the context a group of people.

Indeed, it is from the depths of the self that peace radiates forth. Inner peace requires that a person’s relationship with himself is clear, and that his goals and objectives are understood and at harmony with his inner being.

Indeed, after knowledge of the Lord, the most important thing for a person to have knowledge of is knowledge of his self and how to perfect it and purify it. He needs to be sensitive to his own gifts and talents, aware of his weaknesses and strengths. Would he describe himself as patient or hasty, forthright or timid, tenacious or easily bored?

A person needs to know the truth about himself so he can go make good progress in a direction where he can best capitalize on his strengths and potential. This does not mean that a person must explore the nature of his existence and of the human soul. Such knowledge is outside of our grasp except for what is revealed to us in the sacred texts. (Al-Isra’ 17: 85)

At the same time, it is quite possible for a person to become acquainted with the dimensions of his personality, his talents, and his true nature. He can then use this knowledge to help him toward what is good and to safeguard him from misfortune.

Inner Peace and Human Nature

Islamic Law takes a person’s nature into account and often legislates in accordance with it without blame or reproach. This applies even to the Prophets and Messengers when they acted according to their instincts and their natures, for they were human beings, no more and no less. Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said:

We are more deserving of doubt than Abraham was when he said: {‘My Lord, show me how you resurrect the dead. And (Allah) said ‘Do you not believe?’ And he said: ‘Yes, but it is just to make my heart content.’} And may Allah have mercy on Lot, for he had betaken himself to a powerful support. Had I languished in prison as long as Joseph had, I would have complied with their demands.” (Al Bukhari and Muslim)

Prophet Abraham (peace be upon him) had sought after knowledge and desired to be acquainted with the true nature of things. This was just to satisfy his natural, human curiosity. When Prophet Muhammad said: “I would have complied with their demands” he was alluding to our natural, human love of liberty and freedom and our loathing of being confined and having our potentials held back, especially for a long period of time.

Moses (peace be upon him) knew himself well, and he was frank about his feelings, speaking about them unequivocally and without shame. He spoke about his natural fears when he said:

“And I had fled from you when I was afraid of you.” (Ash-Shu`ara’ 26: 21) And,

“Our Lord! Truly, we fear that he will fall upon us or transgress against us.” (Ta-Ha 20: 45)

When a person knows himself in this way and accepts himself, it keeps him to what is within his natural capacity and his abilities and defines for him his goals so he can go forward with a clear vision. Our submission should be to our principles and values in our heart, the values by which we relate to our Lord, and according to which we should speak and act.

These true and established values should be the basis of our conduct. Otherwise, by always seeking to please this person or avoid that person’s displeasure, our lives become nothing more than perpetual pretentiousness and flattery, in surrender to those around us so that we lose our individuality and our independence. One aspect of inner peace is for our inner selves to be in harmony with our outward conduct. What we profess should be reflected in what we do. (Al-Saff 61: 3)

This requires us to be upright and correct in our approach. Prophet Muhammad defined what it means to be upright on the occasion when Sufyan ibn `Abdullah al-Thaqafi asked:

“O Messenger of Allah! Tell me about Islam what will suffice me so I will not have to ask anyone else about it.” The Prophet replied: Say: ‘I believe in Islam.’ Then be upright.” (Muslim)

Our worship should be in harmony with the way we treat others.

Our worship should give direction to our affairs and make us uphold justice and honor the rights that other people have. We should not lead a double life, one persona for the mosque and an utterly different one for the outside world. Many failures take place and reversals take place because of the abysmal state of those who live lives of outward piety accompanied by inward wretchedness. We really need to strengthen and deepen our faith, so that it can be a pillar to support us through all of life’s trials and tribulations.

We are faced with problems and disappointments at home, at work, and within ourselves, and our faith in God must be strong if we are to endure them and prevail. This faith must be accompanied by genuine devotion that emanates from deep within the heart before manifesting itself in our outward worship. Inner peace requires our wants and aspirations to be in keeping with our abilities and with what is possible for us. Prophet Muhammad said:

O you who believe! Assume the works that you are capable of carrying out, for indeed Allah does not become disinterested until you do, and indeed the most beloved of works to Allah are those that are most constant, no matter how small they might be.” (Al Bukhari)

This applies to everything. In the pursuit of material gain, a person can destroy himself with avarice. Inner peace in what we call towards. No one of us can expect the whole world to respond positively to what he advocates, nor is it right that it should. This did not even happen for God’s Messengers. Whatever one of us works for, there is always someone else working to the contrary and who may obliterate our achievements. Inner peace requires being at peace with our own unique dispositions.

A person cannot compel himself to assume what is alien to his nature or at conflict with it. He must be in harmony with himself. We can see how Prophet Muhammad, when he was served a spiny-tailed lizard to eat, refrained from partaking in it. Khalid ibn al-Walid noticed this and asked if eating the meat of the spiny-tailed lizard was unlawful. The Prophet replied: “No. It is just that it is not found in the land of my people, and I find myself disinclined to it.” He did not eat it, simply because it did not agree with his disposition. It was not a question of whether or not its flesh was permitted by Islamic Law.

The same can be said for the companions; each of them had his or her own unique disposition. Abu Bakr was different than Umar. The question of how to deal with the prisoners of war at Badr is a clear case in point each one of them offered an opinion that concurred with his own personality and outlook, as long as the matter was open to more than one point of view. Abu Bakr was a man of gentleness and forbearance, and Prophet Muhammad acknowledged this about him. Umar was forceful and strict, and likewise, Prophet Muhammad took this into consideration. We must recognize our unique personalities and come to terms with them. We cannot force ourselves into a pretence of denying our individual qualities and temperaments. Umar ibn `Abdul-`Aziz had said: “The most pleasurable of things is a personal predilection that is in accordance with Islamic teachings.”

Inner Peace and Resignation

We must be at peace with what God decrees for us, though we should seek by way of God’s decree to avoid the harm of God’s decree. It is as Umar had said when he avoided entering a plague-stricken region: “We flee from Allah’s decree towards Allah’s decree.”

A believer is resigned to God’s decree and accepts it fully, so much so that he does not want to hasten what has been delayed nor defer what has been hastened on. The terminally ill, those homely of appearance, the feeble-minded, the bachelors and spinsters, the orphans, and all those who suffer from misfortunes – such people have a pressing need to come to make peace with what God has decreed for them, and then go forward with their lives, taking recourse to all practical means at their disposal while resigning themselves to that which is beyond their power.

Being fair and just is also an important factor in attaining inner peace. This requires us to do away with selfishness, vain desires, and avarice. `Ammar, the illustrious companion, used to say:

“There are three things that if someone possesses them all he will have comprehended faith: applying justice to yourself, greeting the world with peace, and spending in charity under straitened circumstances.” (Al Bukhari)

When some of us disagree with one another, why do we not try to put ourselves in the other’s place and try to see things from their point of view, and accept that for them at least what they accept for themselves? I am almost certain that there is no one on Earth who is truly fair with himself except the extremely few whom God graces with that ability. The Prophet said: “One of you sees the dust in his brother’s eye but fails to see the crud in his own.

Inner Peace of Mind

Inner peace also requires that we reconcile our minds to the knowledge of the unseen that the Messengers have brought us. That knowledge never contradicts with accurate scientific knowledge or with sound reason. We accept this knowledge of the unseen without allowing ourselves to succumb to the mindset of mythology that readily concedes every tale that is told without any discretion or discernment.

Matters of the unseen are matters that are beyond the powers of the human mind to ascertain, while fables and myths are beneath the level of the human mind. We must employ reason and eschewing blind acceptance. Indeed, the mind is for discernment; it is not a mere repository for information.

The eminent jurist and legal theorist `Izz al-Din ibn `Abd al-Salam pointed out that questions pertaining to welfare and harm are discernible by reason even before the revelation of the Law. I would like to add that these matters are still discernible to reason even after the Law has been revealed. This is how we understand the Qur’an and Sunnah and how we weigh various legal rulings against one another. We take matters of welfare and harm into due consideration, neither deriding the true worth of our minds nor exaggerating our estimation of their powers and burdening them with matters that are beyond their scope.

There are limits beyond which our minds must not transgress. We must also bring under control the misgivings that our human minds can fall victim to and that can spoil our lives by troubling us in both our worship and our worldly affairs. Most of these things that disquiet us so much are psychological in nature. The best and most effective treatment for such misgivings is to force ourselves to ignore them, to simply refuse to give them the time of day. We must beseech God to help us in this effort and seek refuge with Him in the manner shown to us by Prophet Muhammad by reciting Surah al-Ikhlas.

We must each muster our inner strength and resolve not to heed the demands of our misgivings, especially regarding doubts about our purification. We should even consider the affliction of being beset by misgivings to be an exceptional situation that allows us license to overlook things until God reveals for us a way out of our difficulties. God knows the sincerity that is in our hearts and He helps those who are sincere.

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This article is taken with slight editorial modifications from the author’s website, Islam Today – http://en.islamtoday.net.

Shaykh Salman was born in the village of Al-Basr near the city of Buraida in 1375 A.H. / 1955 A.C to a rich family which was known for its nobility and good name. The Shaykh became known for his intelligence at an early age. After completing his secondary studies, Shaykh Salman enrolled in the Arabic language faculty at the university of Imam Muhammad Bin Saud in Riyadh. He studied there for two years before transferring to the Shari’ah Faculty where he obtained his degree. On receiving his degree, Shaykh Salman returned to al-Qaseem where he studied at the Academic Institute at Buraida. He then transferred to the Shari’ah and Usul ad-Deen Faculty at the Imam Bin Saud Islamic University – Qaseem Campus, where he worked as a lecturer and continued his university studies. He received his Masters degree with a thesis on “The Estrangeness of Islam”.

 

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Hajj: A Journey without End

Hajj: A Journey without End

By Dr. Ali Al-Halawani

hajj

It is the responsibility of each and every pilgrim to observe the moral code observed during Hajj.

Hajj: A Journey without End

For any deed to be accepted from an Islamic perspective, it has to meet certain criteria: it should be both righteous and sincere. Allah the Almighty says in His Ever-Glorious Qur’an,

“Whoever expects to meet his Lord, let him work righteousness, and, in the worship of his Lord, admit no one as partner.” (Al-Kahf 18:110)

It is clear that righteousness and true respect for Allah—which excludes the worship of anything else—are the criteria of true worship. This is the divine rule, and Hajj is no exception. So for Hajj to be accepted by Allah the Almighty, it has to meet these criteria and thus its prerequisites, which will be highlighted here, must be met.

Some things are required of those who intend to perform Hajj while they are preparing themselves for that lifetime journey; other things are required while they are performing the rites; and others are required from them after they return home.

Before Setting Off

1 – One who intends to perform Hajj should provide for all the expenses of the journey from lawful gains. On the authority of Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “Verily Allah is Good and He accepts only what is good. He has commanded the believers with what He had already commanded the messengers as saying: [Oh, messengers, enjoy what is good and do good deeds.] And He said: [O you who believe, enjoy what is good from what We have provided you with.]” Then he said, “A man makes a long journey, appears disheveled and covered with dust, stretching his hands to heaven and saying, ‘O my Lord! O my Lord!’ But his source of food is unlawful, his source of drink is unlawful, his source of clothing is unlawful. How could his prayer be accepted then?” (Muslim).

This hadith makes mention of a man who worships Allah dearly and prays to Him so much that he has no time to clean his body; but in spite of that he eats from the unlawful and uses unlawful things. The prayers of such a person are not in any way answered by Allah the Almighty.

So the lawful earning of food, drink, clothing, and everything else should be every Muslim’s primary concern. This is the first precondition for one who intends to go on Hajj for Allah.

2 – One should pay back others’ rights and should return trusts to their owners.

3 – One should advise one’s family to commit themselves to the dictates of their religion and the guidance of their Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him).

4 – If the pilgrim is a woman, she should look for a mahram to accompany her and assist her in performing the Hajj rituals; or she can look for safe company with whom she fears nothing for her religion, life, or property. It is transmitted on the authority of Ibn `Abbas that a man said, “O Allah’s Messenger! I have enlisted in the army for such-and-such battle and my wife is proceeding for Hajj.” Allah’s Messenger said, “Go, and perform the Hajj with your wife.” (Al-Bukhari).

During Hajj

1 – Pilgrims must stick to the example of Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) in Tawaf, Sa`i, Rami, and all other Hajj rituals. This can be understood from his saying, “Learn from me your rituals (of Hajj)” (Muslim). This commitment to the Sunnah of the Prophet tends to make one’s Hajj valid, one’s sins forgiven, and one’s deeds accepted.

2 – Pilgrims should not associate anything with Allah in terms of worship or reverence.

3 – Pilgrims should avoid making any false statements.

4 – Pilgrims should perform every rite sincerely and loyally to Allah alone.

5 – Pilgrims should honor the rites and symbols of Allah.

Indeed, points 2–5 can be understood from the Ever-Glorious Qur’an where they are summed up in three verses:

“That and whoever honors the sacred things of Allah, then that is better for him with his Lord. The cattle are lawful to you, except those (that will be) mentioned to you (as exceptions). So shun the abomination (worshipping) of idol, and shun lying speech (false statements). Hunafa’ lillah (i.e., worshiping none but Allah), not associating partners (in worship) unto Him; and whoever assigns partners to Allah, it is as if he had fallen from the sky, and the birds had snatched him, or the wind had thrown him to a far off place. Thus it is and whosoever honors the Symbols of Allah, then it is truly from the piety of the hearts. In them are benefits for you for an appointed term, and afterwards they are brought for sacrifice unto the ancient House.” (Al-Hajj 22:30–33)

6 – In the same vein, pilgrims should observe the best of all morals, as breaching any moral value may ruin all their endeavors to reach an acceptable Hajj. Allah the Almighty says in His Ever-Glorious Qur’an:

“The Hajj (Pilgrimage) is (in) the well-known (lunar year) months (i.e., the 10th month, the 11th month and the first ten days of the 12th month of the Islamic calendar, i.e., two months and ten days). So whosoever intends to perform Hajj therein (by assuming ihram), then he should not have sexual relations (with his wife), nor commit sin, nor dispute unjustly during the Hajj. And whatever good you do, (be sure) Allah knows it. And take a provision (with you) for the journey, but the best provision is at-taqwa (piety, righteousness). So fear Me, O men of understanding!” (Al-Baqarah 2:197)

Hence, pilgrims should watch their tongue and keep away from nonsense and empty debates. They should also abstain from violating prohibitions or harming anyone or anything. Also, maintaining patience keeps them alert all the time to any breach or violation by any of their senses.

As pilgrims should keep away from all these bad things, they should at the same time do their best to acquire as many good deeds as they can. So they should perform as many of the acts of worship as they can.

All these things and more can be understood from the aforementioned Qur’anic verse. Any lapse done in the precinct of the Sacred House, however slight or trivial we may deem it, is a violation that should be avoided. Allah Almighty says:

“And whoever inclines to evil actions therein or to do wrong, him We shall cause to taste from a painful torment.” (Al-Hajj 22:25)

It was related that once when `Abdullah ibn `Umar was arguing with his wife, he went out of the precincts of the Sacred House. When asked why he had done so, he replied, “I do this to conform with Allah’s saying [and whoever inclines to evil actions therein or to do wrong, him We shall cause to taste from a painful torment].”

The Prophet’s Companions used to honor Allah’s symbols to this great extent, venerate the Sacred House, and avoid anything related to argumentation or controversy in any way, even if it were permitted.

In this way they deserved to aspire for their Hajj to be accepted by Allah!

After Returning Home

After pilgrims properly finish all the prescribed rites—while cloaking themselves with the best of all manners, committing themselves to the Sunnah of the Prophet, and devoting all their movements and even their silence to Allah alone—they still have some things to observe after returning to family and property. This makes their Hajj a never-ending ritual, even if they never perform it again in their life. This can be explained as follows:

1 – During Hajj, the pilgrims have attained a great dose of taqwa (piety), and hence, after their return they should be in constant fear of Allah and His mighty status. They should observe all their moves in order not to violate any of the rules set by Allah the Almighty to guide humanity to the right path.

2 – Throughout Hajj, the pilgrims should have realized the reality of tawheed (oneness of Allah). Thus after their return they should sincerely observe the following:

a. invoke none but Allah;

b. seek refuge from none but Allah;

c. ask no one but Allah for everything;

d. make oaths in no one’s name but Allah’s;

e. dedicate vows only to Allah;

f. recognize that legislation is the right of Allah alone.

On the contrary, if pilgrims return with any sort of lack or distortion in their creed, they have learned nothing from that magnificent journey.

3 – It is the responsibility of each and every pilgrim to observe the moral code observed during Hajj. So if, before going on Hajj, any were reluctant to abide by the best of all manners, they should, after their return, be more committed and constant in observing the moral system of Islam, which is a unique and distinguished one.

At the end, there is one remaining question: What is the value of an accepted Hajj, a Hajj mabrur?

To answer this question, let’s recall only three Prophetic hadiths.

Abu Hurayrah narrated: Allah’s Messenger was asked, “‘What is the best deed?” He replied, “To believe in Allah and His Messenger (Muhammad).” The questioner then asked, “What is the next (in goodness)?” He replied, “To participate in jihad in Allah’s cause.” The questioner again asked, “What is the next (in goodness)?” He replied, “To perform Hajj mabrur (Al-Bukhari).

Abu Hurayrah narrated: Allah’s Messenger said, “Whoever performs Hajj to this House (Ka`bah) and does not approach his wife for sexual relations nor commits sins (while performing Hajj), he will come out as sinless as a newborn child” (Al-Bukhari).

`A’ishah narrated that she said, “O Allah’s Messenger! We consider jihad as the best deed. Should we not fight in Allah’s cause?” He said, “The best jihad (for women) is Hajj mabrur (Al-Bukhari).

I do not think I need to add anything to this. What can anyone say after the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) says and teaches?

But what does all this mean? It means that pilgrims must spare no effort in adhering to these criteria and observances in order to render their Hajj valid and acceptable by Allah. If these criteria were not met while they are performing the rituals, their Hajj will be nothing more than one similar to the pilgrimage the polytheists used to perform in pre-Islamic times and it will bear no fruits whatsoever.

Would anyone like to go on Hajj—with all the difficulty and tremendous expenses of the journey—and come back empty-handed, without any reward from Allah? I doubt it.

 

References

1 – Translation of the Qur’an by M. M. Pickthal. (digital form)

2 – Translation of Sahih Al-Bukhari. (digital form)

3 – An-Nawawi Forty-Two Hadiths, published by El-Falah Foundation for Translation, Publishing and Distribution.

4 – For Our Ummah to Regain Its Memory by Dr. As-Sayed Rizq At-Tawil (Arabic).

————-

Dr. Ali Al-Halawani is an Assistant Professor of Linguistics and Translation, Misr University for Science & Technology (MUST); Former Editor-in-Chief of the Electronic Da`wah Committee (EDC), Kuwait; Former Deputy Chief Editor and Managing Editor of the Living Shari`ah Department, www.islamOnline.net; Member of the International Union of Muslim Scholars (IUMS); and member of the World Association of Arab Translators & Linguists (Wata). You can reach him at [email protected]com.  

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The Cobbler’s Hajj

The Cobbler’s Hajj

By Majd Arbil

HajjThe Cobbler’s Hajj

The Pilgrimage to Makkah is one of the essential elements of the Islamic faith. It is obligatory on all believers provided they have the financial capability and physical ability to endure the challenges of the pilgrimage.

According to Islamic tradition the Kaaba, a simple square cube structure in Makkah, was the first house of worship established to remind humanity of the One Supreme God. The structure was reconstructed by Prophet Abraham and his son Prophet Ishmael.

“And when We made the House (at Makkah) a destination for humankind and a sanctuary, (saying): Take as your place of worship the place where Abraham stood (to pray). And We imposed a duty upon Abraham and Ishmael, (saying): Purify My house for those who go around and those who meditate therein and those who bow down and prostrate themselves (in worship).” (Al-Baqarah 2:125)

The gathering of millions of faithful in Makkah during the days of the annual pilgrimage, Hajj is a fulfillment of Prophet Abram’s prayer.

“And, lo, Abraham prayed: “O my Sustainer! Make this a land secure, and grant its people fruitful sustenance – such of them as believe in God and the Last Day.” (Al-Baqarah 2:126)

The Pilgrimage to Makkah is a sign of supreme significance. It was Prophet Abraham’s unconditional commitment to God that led him to leave his wife Hagar and his infant son Ishmael in this desolated desert. Prophet Abraham was rewarded for his unwavering submission to God, by a promise from Him to make this uninviting land into a place of promise and plenty.

Muslims who visit Makkah for Hajj become part of God’s promise to Prophet Abraham.

Like any other article of faith, the pilgrimage can become meaningless if it is regarded as an end in itself rather than a means for the attainment of a meaningful life.

The following story reminds us of the spirit of Hajj

It is related that a noted Muslim scholar Abdullah bin Mubarak, had a dream while he was sleeping near the Kaaba.

Abdullah bin Mubarak saw two angels’ descend from the sky, and start talking to each other.

One of the angels asked the other: “Do you know how many people have come for Hajj this year?”

The other angel replied: “Six hundred thousand have come for Hajj.”

Abdullah bin Mubarak had also gone for Hajj that year.

The first angel asked: “How many people’s Hajj has been accepted?”

The second replied: “I wonder if anyone’s Hajj has been accepted at all.”

Abdullah bin Mubarak was grieved to hear that. He thought, “So many people have come from all over the world, crossing so many obstacles like rivers, jungles, mountains, suffered so many hardships, and meeting so many expenses. Would their effort be wasted? Allah does not let anyone’s effort go to waste”.

He had thought only so far when he heard the other angel speak: “There is a cobbler in Damascus. His name is Ali bin al-Mufiq. He could not come for Hajj, but Allah has accepted his intention of Hajj. Not only will he get the reward for Hajj, but because of him, all the Hajjis will be rewarded.

When Abdullah bin Mubarak woke up, he decided he would go to Damascus and meet that cobbler whose Hajj intentions carried such a lot of weight.

On reaching Damascus, Abdullah bin Mubarak inquired if anyone knew a cobbler named Ali bin al-Mufiq. The town people directed him to a house. When a man appeared from the house Abdullah bin Mubarak greeted him and asked his name. The man replied “Ali bin al-Mufiq”.

Abdullah bin Mubarak asked: “What do you do for a living?”

Ali replied: “I am a cobbler”. Then Ali asked the stranger’s name that had come looking for him.

Abdullah bin Mubarak was a very well-known scholar of Islam when Abdullah bin Mubarak introduced himself, the cobbler was anxious to find out why such a well-known scholar was seeking him out.

When Abdullah bin Mubarak asked Ali to tell him if he had made any plans to go for Hajj. Ali replied “For thirty years I have lived in the hope of performing the Hajj. This year I had saved enough to go for Hajj, but Allah did not will it, so I couldn’t make my intention translate into action.

Abdullah bin Mubarak was eager to find out how could this man’s Hajj be accepted and blessed for all the people who went for Hajj that year when he didn’t go for Hajj in the first place. While talking to the cobbler he could feel a certain purity in his heart. Islam regards greatness not in wealth or in power, but in civility, in good manners and the goodness of heart.

Abdullah bin Mubarak further asked: “why could you not go on Hajj?” In order not to disclose the reason, Ali again replied: “it was Allah’s will”.

When Abdullah bin Mubarak persisted, Ali revealed: “Once I went to see my neighbour’s house. His family was just sitting down for dinner. Although I was not hungry I thought my neighbour would invite me to sit down for dinner out of courtesy but I could see that my neighbour was grieved about something and wanted to avoid inviting me for dinner.

After some hesitation, the neighbour told me: “I am sorry I cannot invite you for food. We were without food for three days and I could not bear to see the pain of hunger of my children. I went out looking for food today and found a dead donkey. In my desperation, I cut out some meat from the dead animal and brought it home so that my wife could cook this meat. It is halal (lawful or permitted) for us because of our extreme condition of hunger, but I cannot offer it to you.”

Ali continued: “On hearing this, my heart bled with tears. I got up and went home, collected the three thousand dinars I had saved for Hajj, and gave my neighbour the money. I too had to go hungry but that was to save money for Hajj, but I thought helping my neighbour during his difficult times was more important. Although I still desire to go for Hajj if Allah wills.”

Abdullah bin Mubarak was greatly inspired by the cobbler’s story and told the cobbler of his dream.

God is merciful and shows mercy to those who do likewise to his creatures. This act of compassion on the part of the cobbler was so pleasing to God that it not only earned him the reward of Hajj but was extended to all the people who came for Hajj.

Hajj is a journey that can ignite the soul to be reminded of the time it was created and takes it beyond the dimensions of this life to the time it will meet the creator.

The sincere performance of Hajj can transcend a person’s day to day life into a spiritual awakening of the highest magnitude. A successful Hajj experience connects us to our creator and the greater compassion of humanity.

 

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Diminished Faith? 4 Easy Steps to Recovery

Diminished Faith? 4 Easy Steps to Recovery

By Raiiq Ridwan

At times, it is best to just talk to someone. Not anyone of course but someone whom you trust, someone you know will help you rather than hinder you.

At times, it is best to just talk to someone. Not anyone of course but someone whom you trust, someone you know will help you rather than hinder you.

You recently made the biggest decision of your life.

You have decided to leave years and years of your past behind and to embrace a life-changing ideology from God.

In spite of what others may think, internally this was a long arduous journey.

The final leap was a leap so big that it was almost as if you crossed the Atlantic.

There were people while you were taking the shahadah.

Lots of smiles, hugs, and laughter.

You had made the best decision of your life.

Having accepted, now you started to try and practice. Taking the baby steps to learn how to perform ablution, do the ritual prayer, and for probably the first time in your life really truly experiencing inner peace. Goosebumps and tingling down your spine as you marvel at what an amazing blessing that God Almighty had gifted to you.

However, soon things just turn out slightly different. You miss a prayer and feel absolutely devastated about it. You want to kill yourself for doing something so sinful! Add to that, you are also struggling to concentrate on your prayers anyway.

A million different things run through your head. You feel alien to the community of Muslims that you just joined, and your friends and family from your past life don’t really understand what’s going on either! You feel your faith slip slightly, and are worried. Worries envelop you so much that your day to day life is affected as well.

What is happening? Have I actually made the right decision?

Is God even listening to me?

Why is God doing this to me? Haven’t I just given up everything for Him?

No, no, God is so Merciful and Kind, it is me with the problem. Why am I so ungrateful?

He has given me so much and I can’t even say a prayer without thinking of something or someone else? I am so hypocritical! So on and so forth.

Among the toughest parts of the New Muslim journey is dealing with that “Iman dip”, that phase when your faith seems to slightly crumble, your prayers seem a bit all over the place, and your connection to God faltering.

So, how does one deal with it?

We will discuss 4 spiritual, social and personal ways of dealing with that dip!

Understand That It’s OK

In your early journey into Islam, it is normal to feel a bit intimidated…

Yes, it is!

The best of Prophets was our Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). After the Prophets, the best of humanity was the companion of Muhammad (peace be upon him), Abu Bakr.

One time Abu Bakr asked another of the companions Handhalah how he was doing. He answered that he was committing hypocrisy.

He explained that by saying that when they are with the Prophet (peace be upon him) and reminded of Heaven and Hell, they are as if they are seeing Heaven and Hell. Then when they retreat to their families, they forget much of what they felt earlier. Abu Bakr stated that he also experienced the same.

When they went to the Prophet (peace be upon him) for clarification, he clarified that it was a natural thing for the faith to increase and decrease.

So, yes that dip in faith is OK, it really is! You are not becoming a hypocrite for it!

On the contrary, it is a sign of your faith that you even care about that dip so much! Rather than be worried about it, try working on it, and increasing your faith!

Talk to Someone, Preferably a Convert

At times, it is best to just talk to someone. Not anyone of course but someone whom you trust, someone you know will help you rather than hinder you.

In your early journey into Islam, it is normal to feel a bit intimidated of all these really committed Muslims. You tend to compare yourselves to them and feel very poor about yourself! But know that theirs has been a long journey to where they are today, and yours is just fresh and new!

It is also tough to trust someone with the very intimate thoughts of your soul. You might fear getting judged. You might fear that your questions or thoughts might offend a practicing Muslim as well! But overall, it is still best if you talk.

Talk to someone who will accept you for who you are and share your feelings. Share your fears, share your emotions, your questions, and the uncertainties. It will help you feel a lot lighter, and there is a good chance that you will get some invaluable advice too.

And that is why it would be best if you talked to a convert. It is a journey they have gone through as well, and perhaps they know something a person born into a Muslim family may not know!

Understand the Greatness of God, and Turn to Him

If you are worried that you are failing in your prayers, know that God is Al-Ghaffar, the Perpetually Forgiving. If you feel the deeds you are doing for Him are not up to the mark then know that He is Ash-Shakoor, the Tremendously Appreciative.

If you feel that you have wronged God, then know that He is At-Tawwab, the Acceptor of Repentance.

If you feel that life is constricting upon you, know that He is Al-Fattah, the Opener who can open new pathways.

If you see darkness all around you, then know that He is An-Nur, the Light of the Heavens and the Earth, and He is Al-Haadi, the Guide.

Among the 5 billion or so people who are not Muslim, God chose you to turn back on that path and to decide to be a Muslim.

The God who brought you this far, will not suddenly let you go into ruin today. He is Al-Aleem, the All-Knowing, and He is Al-Khabeer, the Best Informed. He knows your pain, He sees your tears, and He understands your struggles even when no one does.

Know that God is the best friend you can have. He is Al-Wali, the Guarding Friend, and He is Ar-Ra’uf, Extremely Kind. He is Al-Wadud, the Excessively Loving. He loves you. And He is waiting to hear from you.

Turn your hands up to the sky, knowing that Al-Mujeeb, the Responder is ready to respond. Know that As-Samee’, the Listener is there to listen, and express it all to Him.

Talk to Him, and know He will listen. Read up on His greatness and be mesmerized. Read His letter to you, the Qur’an, and be guided by the Guide.

Visualize Paradise

God says in the Qur’an that Paradise is a place where:

“you will have therein whatever your inner-selves desire, and you will have therein whatever you ask for.” (Fussilat 41:31)

Visualize that place which has been created for you, by the Master of the Universe.

How would you like your paradise to be? Let your imagination go wild as you think of anything and everything you can ask for.

Ponder over how amazing it would be to finally meet God, the One for whom you have given everything.

And then, once you have, focus on getting back to your best, so that you can get into Paradise and have a good rest!

———–

Courtesy onislam.net with slight editorial modifications.

Raiiq Ridwan is a Bangladeshi medical student at the University of Bristol, UK. He is also pursuing a Bachelors In Arts in Islamic Studies at the Islamic Online University. He is founder of “The One Message”. He’s a certified life coach. He can write on topics related to Qur’an, dawah, depression, anxiety, achieving goals, productivity etc.

 

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