Birthday – Happy or Not?

Birthday-party-candlesSalim was over joyous; he had just reached home after submitting the application form for one of the most difficult exams, the ACCA. “Wow! I am going to be a certified professional this year!” and then a brilliant idea struck him. “Why don’t I call all my friends over for an exam party?” After doing all the planning in his head he made the calls. Everyone was so eager to have another day to celebrate. While he spent the next two days going in and out preparing for a grand get-together his mother watched worriedly.

“Salim! Are you OK? You should be calling them over to study; your exam is just a month away! I have never ever heard of anything as absurd as an exam party!” She pleaded anxiously. “You are supposed to celebrate after you succeed in the exam, are you sure you are going to clear it when you haven’t even touched your books?!”

Salim ignored his mother, “Mom, it’s the trend these days, everyone does it! Please don’t be so backward! Besides it’s a good thing to make others happy and we are celebrating to thank for this blessing.”

His mother felt like crying. What can I do?

 

What do YOU think? Have you ever heard of such a pre exam party? No?

Well… I have! Read on…

“Afnan is turning 15 tomorrow! Masha Allah she is growing up so fast! I’ll call all her friends and aunts for a surprise party.”

The next day when Afnan opened her facebook account she was shocked to see so many notifications. “Happy Birthday Afnan” they had all wished. ‘Oh’ she remembered.

On her arrival at home she was even more surprised to find that her relatives and friends had come over to celebrate her birthday. It was a day full of wishes, hugs, gifts and a grand cake. To celebrate the day she entered this world…

Can you relate between the first and the second scenario? No? Well…Read on…

We all live according to our views and perspective about life. The non-believers regard this life as everything; enjoy it to the utmost, enjoy it while it ends. For them this is the time to gain all that they can; to them there is no hereafter.

For a Muslim on the other hand life is a serious matter, it is a responsibility that they shall be accountable for. Life is a tough exam; based on the curriculum of Quran, Seerah and Sunnah. It is a journey on a thorny road to Hell-fire or Paradise. A Muslim is not free to do anything and everything that they desire. They willingly bind themselves in the boundaries set by Allah, so that they can be free in the eternal life; in the gardens of Paradise, near their Lord who is pleased with them. When a Muslim enters this world, their assessment begins.

Prophet Muhammad SAWS explained the reality of this world in a beautiful parable. He said: “The world is a prison-house for a believer and Paradise for a non-believer.” (Sahih Muslim)

With this in mind, does celebrating birthday really make sense? Does it make sense to rejoice on the commencement day of your examination each year? Have you ever seen a prisoner partying the day he entered his prison cell? No! The reason to celebrate will only come afterwards…

This is why we see the best generations of Muslims far from such celebrations. We never hear the Sahaba, the tabi’en or later scholars celebrating various days; Badar day, Fatah Makkah (conquest of Makkah) day or Ahzaab day. Instead we read about them being hasty in racing after good deeds, seeking forgiveness and wishing they were birds and trees from the fear of accountability before Allah.

The History

One of the gifts of colonialism and media is the rising tide of western values and culture which has brought with itself their futile celebrations. It is the nature of human beings that they copy those who overpower them with a sense of inferiority. Same is the case with Muslims today, having forgotten their own glorious civilization they are ready to accept everything being handed down to them by the west.

A little research will show that birthdays were originally celebrated by the pagans, the pharaohs and the ancient Greeks to honour their ‘gods’. Even the Christians believed it to be a pagan celebration and admonished it at first, until in the 4th century they themselves started celebrating the birthday of Isa AS. It is a celebration rooted deeply in shirk (polytheism).

“Lighting candles on a birthday cake originates from pagan beliefs in gods. People had believed that their gods lived in the sky among the stars. Lighting candles or torches during ceremonies were a way for people to send messages and prayers to the gods. Making a wish and blowing out the candles on the cake personified the idea of sending prayers up to the gods. Germans were recorded putting candles on birthday cakes over 100 years ago. The number of candles on the cake represented the age of the birthday honoree. Blowing out all the candles in one breath would give your wish a better chance at coming true.” (http://history.answers.com/language/the-history-of-birthdays)

Stand Apart – From those who Disbelieve

The Prophet SAWS warned us about imitating the non believers. He said: “He who imitates any people (in their actions) is considered to be one of them.” (Abu Dawud; Sahih).” In every sphere of life he wanted us to be distinguished from the non-believers. He once said: “Act against the polytheists, trim the mustache closely and grow the beard.” (Sahih Muslim) At another point he said: “Act differently from the Jews, for they do not pray in their sandals or their shoes.” (Abu Dawud; Sahih)

These are some of the many examples from ahadith that instruct us about not imitating the non-believers in their customs, traditions and celebrations. We the Ummah of Muhammad SAWS are a distinct nation.

The irony is that the non- believers, as a whole, continue to oppress and support the oppression of Muslims throughout the world. Countless children, women and men are their victims each day. Whereas, turning a blind eye to this, Muslims are busy in celebrating the days and events borrowed from them.

So, the next time we wish someone on their birthday, or think of celebrating it let us review the purpose of life in our minds. Let us take pride in our exclusive 1400 year old Muslim identity and culture given to us from the Lord of the worlds. Let us be the trendsetters for the world and not let the tides set our course. Let us distribute to the world the true perspective of life. Let us stand apart – from those who disbelieve.

May Allah make our best day the day we meet Him. Ameen!

The Gates of Mercy…Now Open!!

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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:

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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:

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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:

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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:

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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:

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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.

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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!]

[Surah Yusuf – Post # 3] Allah is enough for us!

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So, the story continues…..the intelligence agencies of Quraysh went to the intellectuals of Jews to probe them for a question that would leave Muhammad (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) speechless. The question they came up with was “How did the children of Israel end up in Egypt when all their ancestors were from Palestine and Syria?”. In their hearts the Jews and Quraysh were confident that Muhammad(sallallahu alayhi wasallam), an ummi (illiterate), would be clueless about this and the opportunity will be an excellent propaganda against him. However, Allah (subhanahu wata’ala) revealed this surah which was not only a proof of His prohethood but also a warning for the disbelievers.

Firstly, Muhammad (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) had no other source of  knowledge provided in this surah other than revelation, and hearing the answer to their ‘ah-we-got-him!’ question they were left flabbergasted!

Secondly, the Quraysh were plotting and planning, persecuting the Muslims and trying to remove Muhammad (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) from their view the same way that the brothers of Yusuf (alayhi salam) had done before with Yusuf. However, by throwing him in the darkness of a well they ended up elevating Yusuf (alayhi salam) to the kingdom of Egypt, something they surely wouldn’t have wanted! Likewise, the very tactics that the disbelievers were using against the mission of Muhammad (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) were aiding the mission itself! Hence, this surah was a silent warning to the people of Quraysh; O brethren of Muhammad (sallallahu alayhi wasallam), your jealousy, hatred and plans against the best of your people will lead to nowhere but your doom!

From this we can deduce some very important FACTS:

1. When you’re righteous and follow the true path [path of the favored ones 🙂 ] it’ll sure gain you enemies. There’s no way around!

2. The enemies will do their very best to desensitize and derail you. Don’t bend in!

3. The disbelievers always conceive plans against the friends of Rahman; they did yesterday and they do today. Their chief concern is the presence of these ‘trouble-makers’, ‘insurgents’, ‘terrorists’ and ‘fundamentalists’. These people were never accepted by them then, and today when the religion has returned back to a state of strangeness, these ghuraba won’t be accepted by the enemies of Allah – not at all!

4. Allah is the Master Planner, He has a better plan and in the end its His plan that is implemented. However well they plan Allah is enough for us!

In surah Ibrahim Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) the All-Knowing tells us:

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And they had planned their plan, but with Allah is [recorded] their plan, even if their plan had been [sufficient] to do away with the mountains.So never think that Allah will fail in His promise to His messengers. Indeed, Allah is Exalted in Might and Owner of Retribution.[Surah Ibrahim: 46-47]

History repeats itself….yesterday it was the brothers of Yusuf, 1400 years ago it was the Quraysh and today it’s the modern, enlightened, democratic Kuffar and their alliances. They’ve thrown money, minds and men in a war against the friends of Ar-Rahman the same way their predecessors had done and will surely loose likewise insha Allah.

Spider web with dew

Have you ever observed a spider’s web from nearby? See the intricate build, all threads are woven up so neatly; well planned and well placed! Yet with a small phoo it will vanish and fly away unnoticed in the air. Similar are the plots and plans of disbelievers, indeed they seem conceding, over whelming and mind obscuring, However, they are but a ball of crumpled threads and against these plots; Allah is enough for us!!

“And indeed, the weakest of homes is the home of the spider, if they only knew.” [Ankaboot: 41]

[The information regarding Surah Yusuf’s background has been taken from Tafheem ul Quran by Mawdudi and Tayseerul Quran by Abdur Rehman Kelani]

P.S: I’ve added a Subscribe via email option in the sidebar for those who wish to be updated. Jazak Allah Khayr for stopping by!

[Surah Yusuf – Post # 2] In the alleyways of Makkah…

“The subject matter of this Surah indicates that it was revealed during the last stage of the Holy Prophet’s residence at Makkah, when the Quraish were considering the question of killing or exiling or imprisoning him.” [Tafheem-ul-Quran– Mawdudi]

Let us go back fourteen centuries, in the alleyways of Makkah. This is the place Muhammad (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) and his followers dwell. We are witnessing the last few years before the migration to Madinah was made, the most difficult, tense and precarious days. The persecution has reached its limits; the believers are being tortured and tormented both physically and emotionally on a constant basis. The disbelievers of Quraysh are plotting and conspiring, conniving the most hideous of plots against al-Mustafa, the chosen one. The condition is such that the general body of Quraysh has met in Dar –an –Nadwa; their parliament, and is now willing to exile, incarcerate or execute the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam). They can not stand it any more! As the Quran mentions:

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“And [remember, O Muhammad], when those who disbelieved plotted against you to restrain you or kill you or evict you [from Makkah]. But they plan, and Allah plans. And Allah is the best of planners.”[Surah Anfal: 30]

It is during these days that the beautiful verses of Surah Yusuf were revealed from above seven heavens to console the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) and his followers. They were not merely reciting the Quran, these people were living through it, and whosoever, where so ever treads the path of Muhammad (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) and the Sahaba (May Allah be pleased with them all) will confront similar conditions, and will find these very verses to sooth and suffice him. Quran is not just a ‘recite-and-enjoy-on- the-cosy-sofa-book”, it is the book that carves people, it is a mission, a movement…..from the mount of Suffa, to the battle ground of Tabuk, from the shackles of Sha’b abi Talib to the treaty of Hudaybia. If you walk this book, you’ll face all and this same book will come to reassure and comfort you.

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Allah (subhanahu wata’alla) the Most Gracious is acquainting us beforehand with the path of his favorites. He is informing Muhammad (s.a.w) through the story of Yusuf that these ups and downs are bound to come. You are not the first one going through these trials  and these very trials pave the road to success; both worldly and eternal. Also, this story is a ray of hope,we’ve been re assured; the well proved to be the first step towards the kingdom of Egypt!

At a different place in Quran Allah says:

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“And each [story] We relate to you from the news of the messengers is that by which We make firm your heart. And there has come to you, in this, the truth and an instruction and a reminder for the believers.”[Surah Hud: 120]

At times our hearts start to dwindle and shake, and through these word Allah is providing to reassure and placate these hearts. Don’t loose hope in times of difficulty and while facing trials for with every hardship comes ease. Allah says:

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“For indeed, with hardship [will be] ease.” [Surah Sharh:5]

This is how Allah strengthens our staggering souls and revives the dwindling flame of Imaan in our hearts. In your journey of tribulations just remember: What you are going through shall pass and may become long forgotten past but the reward generated will be greater, everlasting and eternal!  

The most important point for us to learn from is how these pious predecessors acted and reacted in similar situations. In this surah we will learn from our dear teacher Yusuf (alayhi salam) InshaAllah! O Allah! we ask you for beneficial knowledge and that this beneficial knowledge adorns our actions. Ameen.

Once more…Imagine being in the alleyways of Makkah, facing all that was being faced by Muhammad (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) and you hear the story of Yusuf (alayhi salam)…. won’t you be just tranquilized?

[Surah Yusuf -Post # 1]…and we aspire to follow you..!

Assalam u Alaykum warahmatullah,
For the past few weeks I’ve been going through a thorough study of Surah Yusuf with a bunch of my classmates, taught over by a marvelous teacher Alhumdulillah! Indeed every single verse and each and every chapter of the Quran is jam-packed with pearls and rubies; of wisdom and lessons, all we need to do is just dive in! Moreover, if there is an expert diver alongside, instructing on how to do the ‘dive in’, how to enjoy the whole thing and meanwhile pointing out the hidden beauty of this boundless ocean  your journey will sure turn out to be memorable. Scores of people out there have substantial knowledge of Quran, However, those who walk their talk and enlighten their path with the street bulbs of Seerah are very rare to find, and Alhumdulillah our teacher is one of those precious souls! Over here insha Allah I plan to briefly share some of what we have gone through. I’m no writer, I’m no scholar….I’m simply a student and seeker of knowledge passing on what I’ve learned.

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Reciting Surah Fatiha in each Rak’ah of Salah is compulsory and  while we are doing so we ask Allah to show us the path of those upon whom he has bestowed his favors. The ones that have trodden the straight path and gained His pleasure. We say:

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“Guide us to the straight path -The path of those upon whom You have bestowed favor, not of those who have evoked [Your] anger or of those who are astray.”[Surah Fatiha: 6-7]

We are then compelled to ask: Who are these people with the favours of Allah conferred upon them? No need to look here and there! No need for our guesses and assumptions. The Answer comes in the Quran itself. A verse in Surah Nisa goes:

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“And whoever obeys Allah and the Messenger – those will be with the ones upon whom Allah has bestowed favor of the prophets, the steadfast affirmers of truth, the martyrs and the righteous. And excellent are those as companions.”[Surah Nisa:69]

Yes, Indeed the Prophets, the affirmers of truth, the martyrs and the righteous, these are the ones favored by Allah and in order to locate the Straight Path we must follow their steps. People in these four categories are our instructors, our mentors and our guides on the path to eternal success. The love of these people is an integral part of Faith.

One of these beautiful teachers is the Prophet of Allah Yusuf (Alayhi salam), well known for his spectacular beauty. Yet his inner beauty, the handsomeness of his soul goes unheeded. Allah Ta’alla in the Quran has dedicated a whole chapter to his life story, a story that contains numerable lessons and gives us an insight into the stunning and strong character of Yusuf (alayhi salam). Is Allah (subhanahu wata’ala) narrating this story ‘just for fun’, just so we listen and enjoy like any other story and pass on? No, this isn’t merely a story. It is the seerah of one of the beloved Prophets of Alla that has been mentioned in the Quran for a reason; for us to pay attention to the lessons therein, aim to be like him, learn from him and try and follow.

Before beginning this Surah let us make an intent intention, a firm resolution in our hearts. We are not learning Quran for merely adding to our knowledge or for a pass-time, we are going through this Surah because….. we aspire to follow the steps of this Prophet we so dearly love! InshaAllah!