Story: Was I Being Ungrateful?

6456560959_af9047a35b_z

Streaks of sunlight streamed in through the red velvet curtains. Lost in her thoughts, Sameera was busy scribbling away in a diary.

“The lonely rose,
Jolted in misery and gloom,
Darkness all around,
My fate is never to bloom…”

She loosely constructed some verses of poetry to empty out the cries of her aching heart. She could no longer bear it. “Why are my prayers not answered? Why am I destined to never achieve what I desire? Why?” There were so many unanswered questions circling inside her mind. She had racked her brain on the monthly budget this time to manage saving for a few extra things she wanted. Three new sweaters and a pair of sandals for Bilal, a new dress and handbag for herself, a cutlery set and a few other accessories; the list of things she had made will have to be postponed for yet another month. Bilal, her two year old son was down with fever and all her savings ended up with some clerk in the medical stores.

Sameera could picture her sister in law, Raheela, boasting about her tableware. She could imagine her friends swaggering about the attire of their children. “Oh! I choose the best for my chipmunks! Sadaf so wanted this frock and I didn’t have the heart to refuse.” She recalled one her friend’s remarks. Anger, frustration and self-pity stewed inside her heart. The poor soul thought about how she would feel out of water among all the other fishes as they discussed their shopping sprees. Sameera would just have her lips tightly closed. She had nothing to tell. At times, the others would quip about the number of times they had seen their comrade in the same clothes, carrying the same handbag and wearing the same shoes. Their memories were sharp enough to remember what she wore months back in the wedding of a distant cousin.

“Why??” she mumbled aloud. “Life is terrible!” Sleeping on the bed beside, her husband could now hear the sound of muffled cries. He knew his wife too well to wonder what must have gone wrong. He, with the caring nature he had, tried his utmost to provide the best for his family. However, the winds were bitter and despite all his efforts the needs in such a society never end.

A tiny finger tugged at the end of her shirt. “Kids will never let you sit in peace”, Sameera sighed and turned to the darling face. It was Bilal wanting to cuddle in the heavenly spot that heals and comforts; his mother’s lap. Overcoming her previous feelings she started ruffling his curls and rummaged for the thermometer. Alhumdulillah, after copious wakeful nights, Bilal was now recovering.

“I am going to meet an old friend of mine, Sameera. It has been a long time since I met him. Do you want to come along?” Asim asked as he was getting ready to leave the following day.

“I don’t want to ruin another evening with a snooty woman boasting around me. I’ll just stay home I guess.”

“She won’t be that way I hope. I’ve heard her to be very simple.” He assured.

After a quiet twenty minute drive, the three of them arrived at the gate of a fairly old but well-kept house. Brother Ismael welcomed them inside. His two sons whom she assumed were identical twins jumped up and down in excitement, they wanted to shake hands with a sleepy Bilal. Sameera was lead inside as the men settled themselves in the guestroom. All the while the woman in her was doing the same job she detested. Those eagle eyes scanned everything in the house from top to bottom; the furniture and their polish, the curtains and their rods, the carpet and upholsters. Nothing was as grand, as new or as perfect. However, the house-keeper deserved an extra mark for neatness. A plump little lady greeted her as she entered the lounge. She was holding a baby in the other hand. “Whoa!” Sameera exclaimed instinctively. The sofa had sunk as she tried to sit down. “Oh I’m sorry! You may take this chair over here; the kids have broken the sofa springs!” Asiya smiled and offered an arm chair. Sameera noticed that the baby did not appear normal. He was a mentally disabled child.

The table had been set for tea beforehand. Spicy egg sandwiches, biscuits and a delicious looking cake were waiting to be tried over. The host poured out tea as the two of them introduced. A vigorous tête-à-tête followed; it was all about children, food, family and the town. All the while the woman was patiently tending to the child, as well as her two naughty twins who kept interrupting from time to time for a biscuit, or to tell that daddy needed something.

“How old is your daughter Asiya?” Sameera asked inquisitively.

“Five years.” She replied with a smile. That warm smile looked as if it was fastened to her face.

“Hmm…I feel so sorry for you Asiya. I see you are having a real tough time.” said Sameera.

“Sorry? There’s nothing to be sorry for. Ahumdulillah! I am so blessed. I have food in my fridge that can last for more than a week, I’ve a ceiling over me to safeguard and I have a loving family. There’s everything I can ask for. And this dear little daughter over here, she is the greatest blessing of all. She reminds me of Allah! What if in her absence I never turned to Him, never prayed to Him and just cascaded away in the luxuries of this world?

I know what you mean though; at first I felt the same. But then, it was a small incident that changed the whole perspective. It was as if someone took my dust covered glasses and rubbed them sparkling clean.”

Asiya paused to take a lavish sip of tea. Sameera was listening intently. “I was waiting for the bus one evening.” She continued. “My eyes fell on a shabbily dressed lad probing through the garbage bins. His face and hands were covered in dirt. Wash his face, change his clothes and he was as charming as a prince, with the beautiful blue eyes that he had. He was stunningly handsome, I repeat. All of a sudden the boy shrieked with joy. I kept looking on; he had found some rotten fruit to eat. I most unconsciously followed him to his so called home. I don’t know what to call it; it wasn’t even a proper tent, just a few tattered pieces of cloth tied together. More than fifteen people were living there. All of them dressed in rags, eating leftovers thrown in the garbage and fighting like chickens over stale bread. Obviously they had no beds, no kitchen ware, there was nothing at all! I’ve seen poor people all my life but that instance just crept inside my heart and decided to stay. Being a teenager, I was in those days craving for a new cell phone, but seeing them made me forget all about it. For days these people stayed hooked on my mind. I thanked Allah for all that He blessed me with. It is true; sometimes in life we are so busy looking uphill that we forget the view below us….”

Sameera listened quietly as she reflected on her own state. The forlorn heart that lied inside her was in such dire need of this reminder. “Yes”, she thought to herself, “the sweaters can wait; the older ones are still as good as new. The new cutlery set I wanted was just a luxury. The dress Mama gave me last month will suffice for the upcoming wedding…” she was reviewing her list. This was not a list of needs; it was a list of wants. She reminded herself of all the bounties she had been blessed with, they were immeasurable! Contentment and bliss engulfed her heart.

“Alhumdulillah, indeed you are right.” She replied with a nod.

Sameera blinked away a tear that had crept up silently. Do I really not have enough? Or was I being ungrateful?

[This story won in the Islamic Writer's Alliance Islamic Fiction Story Competition 2013. http://islamicwritersalliance.net/ifwnr_adult_2013.html%5D

The Best Days

season

Do you know what days are better than all other days of the year? The days of Ramadan? No! (The last ten nights of Ramadan are higher in status though, as they comprise Laylatul Qadr) It’s the first ten days of Dhil Hajj as narrated by Ibn Abbas (ra)

 Prophet Muhammad (saw) said: “There is no deed that is better before Allah or more greatly rewarded than a good deed done in the (first) ten days of al-Adha(sacrifice).” It was said: “Not even jihad for the sake of Allah?” He said: “Not even jihad for the sake of Allah, unless a man goes out himself for jihad taking his wealth with him and does not come back with anything.” [Bukhari,Darimi]

 Surprisingly, the masses are unaware of these virtuous days and miss the opportunity to gain rewards and Allah’s pleasure in these blessed days. According to the Sunnah these are some of the important actions done in the first ten days of Dhil Hajj:

  1. Hajj: Hajj is the fifth pillar of Islam. Those who get the opportunity of Hajj should make the most of this opportunity as an accepted Hajj eradicates all past sins. Hajj is not just a ritual that needs to be finished; it is a spiritual cleansing, a treasure chest of lessons that need to be learnt and safe kept for life long.
  2. Sacrifice: Eid ul Adha, the second Muslim festival, also comes in the blessed month. The price of the animal purchased for slaughter and quality of the barbeque served at Eid parties is not just it. What matters is the intention and Taqwa behind our actions. Allah says:                                                                                                 “Their meat will not reach Allah, nor will their blood, but what reaches Him is piety from you.” [Surah Hajj 22:37]
  3. Fasting: Fasting on the first nine days of Dhil Hajj (The tenth day is Eid!) is an established sunnah of the Prophet (saw). [Nasai, Abu Dawood]
  4. Remembering Allah: The rememberance of Allah is one of the most beloved of deeds to Him, especially during these days. Prophet Muhammad (saw) has said: “There are no days that are greater before Allaah or in which good deeds are more beloved to Him than these ten days, so recite a great deal of tahleel (La ilaha illallah), takbeer (Allahu Akbar) and tahmeed ( Alhumdulillah) during them.” [Narrated by Ahmad]

So, there is something for everyone. If you’re not going for Hajj, you may sacrifice. If you cannot afford an animal, you can still fast. If you’re incapable of fasting you can always remember Allah! Moreover, we must race after every virtue that we can lay our hands on. Life is too short and every passing second is an asset. Don’t miss the deal!

fasting_on_the_day_of_arafat_by_abukhashiyah-d5ipyr0Published on HibaBlog

Disclaimer: The Adds you may see here are from WordPress and I don’t have anything to do with them. Please do use Adblock!

My Family on Fire!

Imagine waking up one morning to the horror of finding your loved ones brutally killed. All of them, one by one, were killed like carrots. In every room that you peek, your brothers’, your sisters’, your parents’, your children’s, you find they’ve been tortured, cruelly massacred and mutilated. What will your reaction be? Will you sit still? Or stay utterly optimistic that you will be spared? Or you won’t have time to think about them and you’ll just have breakfast and go to college like you always do? Or will you be cowardly and evasive giving excuses that you can’t do anything…..

If you think it’s just a fictitious scenario that I’m talking about, you’re wrong! Step out of this shell covering yourself;’my life and my world’, and look around! A sister in Iraq, a brother in Palestine,a father in Philippines, a mother in Syria, a brother in Afghanistan, a son in Burma, a cousin in Xinjiang (China), another in North Pakistan, a brother in Yemen, sisters in Somalia, friends in Algeria, an aunt in Egypt……and so many others in many of the ‘Muslim’ lands being persecuted. My family, Your family is on fire! Yes, they are our family!

Prophet Muhammad (sallallahy alayhi wasallam) has said:

“The Believers, in their mutual love, mercy and compassion, are like one body: if one organ complained, the rest of the body develops a fever.” [Bukhari & Muslim]

Do you feel for them, pray for them and shed tears for them like you would have for a family member? Have you done anything practical to aid and support them?

Do give this a thought and draft an action plan, for on the day of judgement, you will be answerable  before Allah Almighty, The Judge. Do prepare an answer! Today is all you have…….

[There are plenty of articles and books out there about Muslim Unity. This tiny piece or anything I write can do no justice to the topic. It is just a reminder for me and everyone else Insha Allah.]

unity

Unmatched Love….!

keep-calm-because-allah-loves-you-2Yesterday, just as we began  taraweeh behind Salih’s youngest Chacha and he began reciting verses from Surah Kahf, Salih came up to me and started asking for ‘sharbat‘. In his innocent and tired voice he continued his chant, on verge of tears: ‘ammi sharbat dai dain…ammi sharbat dai dain‘ throughout the lengthy two raka’ahs – not even stopping once! I knew he was tired running around and playing all day, and must be thirsty not having drunk anything in a while.

None can appreciate a mother’s feeling but a mother, and this very special bond can only be understood when you’ve stepped into the world of motherhood! My heart was liquefying as I stood there, waiting for the prayer to end. Those few minutes seemed to go by so sluggishly. The only thing on my mind at that time was to give him a drink!

In the morning I related this to Salih’s father and  he said: “You, as a mother, really wanted to answer him and fulfill his desire, then think about Allah who loves us more than seventy mothers, He surely listens to us and will answer our prayers….Insha Allah!”

SubhanAllah! This realisation is so soothing….Allah the All Hearing(Al Samee’), The Most Near (Al- Qareeb), The Most Loving (Al-Wadood), The One aware of all our fears and concerns, our weaknesses and trials, won’t He answer our prayers? Be assured! He sure will, for His love for us is more than that of seventy mothers combined. His love for us is……love unmatched!

40_60

And your Lord says, “Call upon Me; I will respond to you.” [Surah Ghafir 40:60]

“Any muslim who supplicates to Allah in a Du’a which contains no sin, breaking of kinship, Allah will give him one of three things: either his Du`a will be immediately answered or, it will be saved for him in the hereafter, or it will turn away an equivalent amount of evil (from him)” The companions said “so we will ask for more”   [Tirmidhi, Ahmad]


[Part 2] The Gates of Mercy….Now Open!!

[...continued from here.]

2. Patience = Allah’s mercy!

Mentioning His Sunnah about trials and tribulations Allah (swt) says in Surah Baqarah:

2_156

2_157

Who, when disaster strikes them, say, “Indeed we belong to Allah , and indeed to Him we will return.” Those are the ones upon whom are blessings from their Lord and mercy. And it is those who are the [rightly] guided. [2:156-157]

Patience during trials is another source of Allah’s mercy. Whether it is the loss of a loved one or loss of a beloved possession, whether it is a trivial test of everyday life or a greater affliction comes upon you, endurance and patient perseverance is what Allah wants; it is the key to His mercy.

Ramadan too is the month of patience, as our Prophet Muhammad (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) has said:”This is indeed the month of patience, and the reward for true patience is Jannah.”{Nasai-Bayhaqi} In Ramadan we go through a training program for patience, restricting ourselves and controlling our desires itself entails patience. This endurance does not only require us to keep away from food and drink but also to restrain our eye from watching whatever displeases our Beneficent Rabb, restrain our mouth from blurting out Haram, our ears from hearing that which Allah forbids and our feet to drive us to places that are displeasing to Allah.

The Prophet said, “Whoever does not give up forged speech and evil actions, Allah is not in need of his leaving his food and drink (i.e. Allah will not accept his fasting.)” [Sahih Bukhari]

Sulaymân b. Mûsâ [d119H]  said:

When you fast, your hearing and sight should also fast, and your tongue should fast by keeping away from lies; and do not harm your servant. Don’t let the day you fast be the same as the day you don’t fast. [Tarikh Damishq]

3. Repentence:

6_54

And when those come to you who believe in Our verses, say, “Peace be upon you. Your Lord has decreed upon Himself mercy: that any of you who does wrong out of ignorance and then repents after that and corrects himself – indeed, He is Forgiving and Merciful.” [Surah An'aam 6:54]

The ayah mentioned above relates that” whoever repents from the sins he has committed, intending not to repeat them again and turns towards a rightful life, Allah out of his compassion and beneficence will forgive him. Allah loves that His slaves turn back to him and He has obliged His Most Honored Self to grant mercy.”[Tafsir Ibn Kathir]

The Messenger of Allah said: “When Allah finished with the creation, He wrote in a Book that He has with Him above the Throne, `My mercy prevails over My anger‘.” [Musnad Ahmad]

If we’re tracking on the path of Allah’s wrath, now is the time, and Ramadan is the prime time to turn back to Allah. The mercy of the Merciful is flourishing in Ramadan and performing righteous deeds is relatively easier, why not then return to Allah?

4. Ihsan

Allah Almighty says in Surah A’raaf:

7_56

Indeed, the mercy of Allah is near to the doers of good.[7:56]

The characteristic specified here for availing Allah’s mercy is Ihsan. This, like many others, is a special terminology of the Quran which is used for a higher level of Imaan. According to a Hadith, Ihsan is worshiping Allah as if you can see Him and keeping in mind that He is watching you. This way a person stops himself from doing everything that displeases Allah and races towards good deeds, searching and seeking them wherever they can. This is Ihsan, doing what is best and in the best possible way.

In Ramadan, when the gates of Jannah are open;i.e, the opportunities of righteousness are abundant, we must aim to collect as many rewards as we can from the showering blessings of Allah. When rewards are multiplied and fasting is singled out for an even greater reward.

The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Every deed of the son of Adam will be rewarded between ten and seven hundred fold. Allaah said: ‘Except fasting, for it is for Me and I shall reward for it’” – i.e., I shall reward it greatly, without specifying how much.[Muslim]

This greater reward depends on the quality of our fast! The Husn (beauty, goodness) of it. So let us struggle and work hard to make this Ramadan meaningful….a Ramadan with the power to keep us charged for the whole year to come! A Ramadan of Transformation!

ramza

The Gates of Mercy…Now Open!!

open-sign

The month of Ramadan is fast approaching. 30 days, 720 hours, 43200 minutes of Allah’s mercy, forgiveness and blessings. The gates of Jannah are open for all, the gates of Hell fire are closed and the devils are chained. It is our ‘bonus’ month of the year for collecting hasanaat(rewards), renewing faith and re-building our relationship with the Quran.

Abu Huraira reported Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying:

When there comes the month of Ramadan, the gates of mercy are opened, and the gates of Hell are locked and the devils are chained. [Sahih Muslim: Kitab us Saum]

Am I Worthy?

The admission test of a college/university is open for all, a number of candidates appear on the test, but then, only those students are admitted who prove their merit. Similarly, Quran is an open book; a guidance for all mankind[ھدی للناس]. However, only those having taqwa qualify to benefit[ھدی للمتقین].

In the same way, the gates of mercy are open wide in Ramadan, but one will have to take a step towards them. They’re open does not mean everyone will have a definite share. What we collect depends on our intentions and efforts!

Before Ramadan I tried to mark all the places in the Quran where Allah has mentioned the ones worthy of his mercy. Up till now I could only do this for the first ten para’s. Insha Allah I’ll share these highlighted verses so that we can endeavor to gain the mercy of the Most Merciful and Beneficent in these blessed days, under the light of Quran.

1. The Scripture is a Mercy:

Allah(swt) says about the Quran in Surah Yunus:

10_5710_58

O mankind, there has to come to you instruction from your Lord and healing for what is in the breasts and guidance and mercy for the believers. Say, “In the bounty of Allah and in His mercy – in that let them rejoice; it is better than what they accumulate.” [10:57-58]

In Surah Nisa, verse 174-174, Allah says:

4_1744_175

O mankind, there has come to you a conclusive proof from your Lord, and We have sent down to you a clear light. So those who believe in Allah and hold fast to Him – He will admit them to mercy from Himself and bounty and guide them to Himself on a straight path. [4: 174-175]

In Surah An’am, Allah says:

6_155

And this [Qur'an] is a Book We have revealed [which is] blessed, so follow it and fear Allah that you may receive mercy.[6:155]

In ayah 157 of the same surah Allah (swt) has again defined Quran as ‘clear evidence from your Lord, and a guidance and mercy.’

In Surah A’raaf, Allah says:

7_52

And We had certainly brought them a Book which We detailed by knowledge – as guidance and mercy to a people who believe.[7:52]

In Surah A’raaf, verse 63, Allah says that Nuh (alayhi salam) proclaimed to his people:

7_63Then do you wonder that there has come to you a reminder from your Lord through a man from among you, that he may warn you and that you may fear Allah so you might receive mercy.[7:63]

In the passages that follow Allah says about Torah:

7_154

And when the anger subsided in Moses, he took up the tablets; and in their inscription was guidance and mercy for those who are fearful of their Lord.[7:154]

Ponder over these Ayat and you’ll clearly see that Allah has termed his message; the previous scriptures and Quran as a mercy for mankind. In the profound darkness of ignorance Allah’s message came as a savior for human kind leading them out to the light of Tawheed, to the goodness of this world and the hereafter.

holy-quran

For this ummah Quran is the life line; the tool for salvation. Through this book Allah arranged for our guidance. This book is actually the reason that makes Ramadan so special! Ramadan is as Noman Ali Khan puts it ‘the month to celebrate the inauguration of the Quran’. The night of Al Qadr, better than a thousand nights has this special status because of the Quran. Hence, the most important goal in Ramadan is to revive our connection with this book. Spend quality time with this merciful and compassionate friend. A friend that will hold hands and guide, touch our heart and cleanse it, remind us and show us the right way. A friend that will accompany through hardships and ease, the only friend who’ll be there for us in the grave.

Quran indeed is a mercy from Allah. This Ramadan let us struggle to open up our hearts, minds and souls to gain as much as we can from this blessing.

Our Goal: Recite, reflect, act and spread….the Quran!

[To be continued... we'll explore more paths to Allah's mercy Insha Allah!]