Clips from when I did a talk on what is Islam at my university.  It goes over the 5 pillars of Islam.  Somewhere in the middle I go into a brief discussion on what is the purpose of life, what is the definition of worship, what is salvation, etc:

Part 1:

Part 2:

by Maryam Amir-Ebrahimi

Before I got married, I was given unsolicited advice on how to change in order to make myself “more appealing” to brothers. Sisters would voluntarily tell me I should be more outgoing when with men, dress more attractively to get their attention and stop being as involved with Islamic activism so I would not scare them away.

Since when is our purpose in life marriage? Where in the Qur’an does Allah ask us to change our personalities, dress style and tone down our activism in hopes of getting hitched? Nevertheless, with marriage being such a huge concern in our community, many face the temptation to change their values to find a spouse.

Here’s an idea: Instead of working to please a potential suitor, perhaps we should first seek to please Allah, the One who sows the seed of love in our hearts and can bless us with our dream husband or dream wife.

Instead of looking for marriage at every event, let’s look for marriage in our relationship with al-Wahhab, the Giver of All. Let’s be honest. We are talking about al-Mujeeb, the Responder to Prayer. Those are amongst the Names of Allah! Allah gives and He answers!

If you are an individual who struggles to lower your gaze and protect your eyes, heart, tongue and body from falling into the haram, don’t you know that Allah will indeed reward you?

Every time you glance up and see someone you wish you could be with, turn away and in that moment ask Allah to bless you with a spouse who will be the sweetness of your eyes. Would not Allah listen to and accept your supplication to Him? How could Allah possibly not accept the supplication of His adamant worshipper who is painfully struggling to maintain his or her modesty and guard his or her chastity? The Prophet ﷺ has encouraged us to “Ask and you will be given…” (at-Tirmithi) Allah will give you! How could He not when you are striving only for His Sake?

In those moments in the last third of the night, in those two rakahs which you make out of pure frustration of your situation, weeping, asking Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala – exalted is He) to answer you –  do you not think Allah the Rabb al-`alameen (Lord of the Worlds) will not respond to you? Allahu Akbar (God is the Greatest), this is Allah! Without doubt Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) is going to answer you!

The Prophet ﷺ relates from Allah in a hadith Qudsi:

“Our Lord (glorified and exalted be He) descends each night to the earth’s sky when there remains the final third of the night, and He says: ‘Who is saying a prayer to Me that I may answer it? Who is asking something of Me that I may give it him? Who is asking forgiveness of Me that I may forgive him?’” (Bukhari)

What is hooking up with a brother or sister on gchat or facebook worth in comparison to hooking up with the One who can hook you up?

As Shaykh Muhammad Faqih once said, “Hook up with Allah, Allah will hook you up!”

Let’s hook up with salah! Hook up with the Qur’an! Hook up with community work for Allah’s Sake! And have certainty that when we struggle to please Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala), Ash-Shakoor is the Most Appreciative of our work and will undoubtedly reward us.

Will that reward be in the form of an amazing spouse and an amazing marriage? Allah knows best. But the best part is that Allah knows what is BEST for us and that His bounties are limitless.

The Prophet ﷺ has told us, “Any Muslim who supplicates to Allah in a du`a’ which contains no sin [of] breaking of kinship, Allah will give him one of three things: either hisdu`a’ will be immediately answered, it will be saved for him in the hereafter, or it will turn away an equivalent amount of evil (from him)…” (Ahmad).

Thus, we must know that if we connect with Allah, we can trust that Allah will grant us whatever is best, whether it be an answer to exactly what we are asking for or something better. Allah has got our backs! Who better to trust our future with than the One who already knows it?

Easier said than done? Maybe. But what have you got to lose? If at the end of the day you are only increasing in closeness to Allah, increasing in reading the Qur’an, tasting the sweetness of your salah, and making more sincere du`a’ then insha’Allah (if Allah wills) you will have gained more than simply “a spouse” if you get married and you would have gained much more than facebook “cruising for a spouse” time while you’re attempting to find your better half…Insha’Allah you will gain more in this life and the next, and an unwavering relationship with Allah!

Here are some short, quick and amazing ways we can increase our relationship with Allah through good deeds massively rewarded inshaAllah:

–> Get what you really want: “Allah will grant whoever recites this seven times in the morning or evening whatever he desires from this world or the next” (Ibn As Sunni, Abu Dawood – both reports are directly linked to the Prophet ﷺ):

HasbiaAllahu la ilaha ila huwa `alayhi tawakaltu wa huwa Rabbu’l`arshi’l`atheem.

“Allah is Sufficient for me, none has the right to be worshipped except Him, upon Him I rely and He is Lord of the exalted throne.”

To be recited seven times in the morning (after Fajr) and seven times in the evening (between `Asr and Maghrib).

–> Say “Subhan’Allah” (glory be to Allah) 100 times. For a person who does this, “a thousand good deeds are recorded for him and a thousand bad deeds are wiped away.” [Muslim]

–> Ask Allah to forgive your brothers and sisters: “Whoever seeks forgiveness for believing men and believing woman, Allah will write for him a good deed for each believing man and believing woman.” [at-Tabarani, classed as hasan by al-Albani]

–> Work to protect yourself from the Hellfire: “Allah will spare whoever says this four times in the morning or evening from the fire of Hell” (Abu Dawood, was also reported in Bukhari).

Allahumma inni asbahtu ush-hiduka, wa ushidu hamalata `arshika, wa mala’ikataka, wa jamee`a khalqik, annaka Ant Allah, la ilaha illa Ant, wahdaka la shareeka lak, wa anna Muhammadan `abduka wa rasuluka (when saying this in the evening, say “Allahuma inniamsaytu” instead of “asbahtu.

“O Allah, verily I have reached the morning and call on You, the bearers of Your throne, Your angels, and all of Your creation to witness that You are Allah, none has the right to be worshipped except You, alone, without partner and that Muhammad is Your Servant and Messenger.”

To be recited four times in the morning (after Fajr) and evening (between `Asr and Maghrib).

The Lord of the Worlds speaks to us and tells us, “And when My slaves ask you concerning Me, then I am indeed near. I respond to the invocations of the supplicant when he calls on Me. So let them obey Me and believe in Me, so that they may be led aright” (Quran, 2:186).

You are coming to Allah with rajaa (hope), with a powerful combination of seeking Allah’s pleasure, striving to leave anything which may gain His displeasure and making a consistent effort to ask Him to open the best of ways for you and then putting your trust in Him that He will give you whatever is best. Of course Allah is going to answer you.

As was once stated, “A person has never held certainty in Allah only for Allah to disappoint him/her.’ Never will Allah disappoint those with yaqeen (certainty), tawakkul(reliance) and husn al-dhann (good opinion) of Him.” Hook up with Allah and know that without a doubt, Allah ‘azza wa Jall will hook you up in the best of ways.

Source: http://www.suhaibwebb.com

On Being Awake

April 4, 2010

By Abu Abdil-Kareem

Ibn Hazm, rahimahullaah, said, “One hour of neglect can undo a year of pious effort” [“In Pursuit of Virtue”, point #93]. I think this is a very scary thought.

Shaytaan will sometimes let a worshipper worship long and hard, but will seek a way to nullify his deeds in a way that the worshipper may not notice. It is related in al-Baihaqi’s “Branches of Faith”, that the big shaytaan sends his army to deceive worshippers, and tells them to first look at the food he eats. If his food is not halaal, then “let him worship long and hard,” since shaytaan knows that prayers of one who eats haraam are not accepted. So the worshipper will work hard and think he is doing good, while his efforts may not be accepted. This is similar to those about whom Allaah ta`aalaa says, “Say: Shall We inform you who will be the greatest losers by their works? Those whose effort goes astray in the life of the world, and they reckon that they do good work.” [18:103-104] A brother once told me that a Muslim scholar once said that no verse causes fear in him more than this one.

I think there is many lessons we can learn from this. One is that we must keep our hearts alive by remembering Allaah subhaanahu wa ta`aalaa at all times. Another one is that we must seek knowledge of our religion so as to be certain about the correctness of our actions. Also, most importantly, we must realize our dependance on Allaah ta`aalaa and His guidance. Whoever He guides there is no one to misguide, and whoever He misguides there is none to guide. Unless Allaah is Merciful with us and grants us taufeeq (guidance) to do rightheous acts, we shall never be able. Therefore we have to strive to improve our worship and our character and supplicate to Allaah for guidance. Then, in shaa’ Allaah, we will be from among those about whom Allaah says,

“As for those who strive hard in Us (Our cause), We will surely guide them to Our Paths (i.e. Allaah’s Religion).”[29:69]

May Allaah guide us and give us steadfastness in religion. One can find a number of ways that can potentially ruin one’s many acts – for example, missing a single prayer, uttering something inappropriate, or reading a horoscope.

via http://7cgen.com/

1. Increase dhikr (remembrance of Allah): “Those who believe, and whose hearts find satisfaction in the remembrance of Allah: for without doubt in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find satisfaction (Qur’an, 13:28).”

2. Increase prayers: “O you who believe! Seek assistance through patience and prayer; surely, Allah is with the patient (Qur’an, 2:153).” Regardless of the type of meditation, recent studies have verified the physiological effects of meditation. Most of those mediations consist in focusing on something, repeating some words and breathing (Greenberg, p.142, 143).

3. Perform ablutions: The most important component of relaxation is what Hans Loehr calls “the rituals of success.” These rituals may be as simple as making ablution; yet, they must be performed properly for it is not enough to pass water on the body parts – those parts must be massed.

4. Ask for forgiveness : Even if a person has not done anything wrong, he must insure the forgiveness of Allah. “Then I said, ‘Ask forgiveness of your Lord; surely, He is the most Forgiving'” (Qur’an, 71:10).

5. Recite the Qur’an: The Prophet (SAW) said, “. Qur’an is a remedy for illnesses of the mind” (Bukhari). “The echo of sound has a medical effect and is now widely utilized,” says Dr. Greenberg. “The recitation of or listening to the Qur’an has an effect on the body, the heart and the mind! It is said that the letter Alif echoes to the heart and the letter Ya’ to the pineal gland in the brain.

Dr Ahmed El Kadi of Akber Clinic (Panama City, FL) conducted and published the effects of listening to Qur’anic recitation on physiological parameters ( i.e., the heart, blood pressure, and muscle tension), and reported improvement in all factors, irrespective of whether the listener was a Muslim or a non-Muslim, Arab or non-Arab. Obviously, it can be postulated that those who understand and enjoy the recitation with a belief in it will get maximum benefits,” writes Dr Athar.

6. Make the hereafter one’s main concern: “Whoever has the hereafter as his main concern, Allah will fill his heart with a feeling of richness and independence; he will be focused and feel content, and this world will come to him in spite of it. Whoever has this world as his main concern, Allah will cause him to feel constant fear of poverty; he will be distracted and unfocused, and he will have nothing of this world except what was already predestined for him,” said the Prophet (SAW). One of the greatest causes of stress is money – how to pay the loans, whether one’s job will be lost, what will happen to the family if the father dies, etc.

7. Think positively: Muslims should forget about the bad things of the past and think of good things, always having hope that he can be better. Trying to change the past is a foolish and crazy waste of time, “for saying ‘if only.’opens the way to Shaytan” said the Prophet (SAW). The Prophet (SAW) also said, ” Know that victory (achievement) comes through patience, and that ease comes through hardship.” Muslims understand that there’s no reason for panic in the case of crisis – no reason to be distressed or worried for we know that after hardship come ease!

8. Do not waste time on thoughts of fear or stress: “The search of time is one of the most frequent causes of stress” (Seyle, p.102). Laziness is the mother of all evils, and the Prophet (SAW) used to seek refuge in Allah from it. Understanding that this life is short and time precious, Muslims should try to work hard and pursue worthy knowledge .

References
Athar, Shahid, MD. “Modern Stress and Its Cure From Qur’an.”
Greenberg, Jerrold S. CSM = Comprehensive Stress Management.
via the AlMaghrib Forums

By my brother, Muhammad Tim, 4th year student at Madinah University:

Assalaamu alaykum warahmatullahi wa barakaatuhu,

All praise is due to Allah, and may peace and blessings be upon the Messenger of Allah, and upon his family and his companions.

With regard to the matter of sincere intention, it seems that some people are confused with regard to certain aspects. Therefore, I wished to make the following points, and all success is from Allah:-

1. Firstly, the correct intention is one of two conditions for every act of worship to be accepted, along with the action being in accordance to the Sunnah of the Messenger of Allah – may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him. The proof for this is the statement of Allah, the Exalted, The proof for this principle can be found in Allah’s statement: “So whoever hopes for the meeting with his Lord – let him do righteous work and not associate anyone in the worship of his Lord.” [Al-Kahf 18:110].

2. Secondly, the essence of the correct intention is for an action to be sincerely for the sake of Allah, and not to contain any form of shirk, or giving some of Allah’s rights to someone or something else. Fadl bin Ziyaad said, “I asked Abu Abdullah (i.e., Imaam Ahmad) about the intention in action, how should it be? He said, ‘One should treat his self when he intends to do an action, not desiring by it the people (i.e. showing off).’”

3. Thirdly, intention is something that needs to be constantly reviewed and worked upon. Sufyaan ath-Thawree said, “I have not battled with anything more difficult than my intention.”

4. Fourthly, the fact that another person is the cause for some of your good deeds, or that they call you to guidance, or that they encourage you to do something which you were not intending to do, does not affect your intention. This is part of the foundation of da’wah and calling people to guidance. The Prophet – may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him – used to encourage some of the companions to do actions that they were not intending to do, and he encouraged others to do the same. The Prophet – may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him – said, “Whoever calls to guidance has the reward of it and the reward of everyone who acts upon it, until the Day of Resurrection, without their reward being decreased in any way.” So if a brother comes to you and says, ‘come to the masjid’, and you were not intending to come, but because of him calling you to guidance, you decide to come, and you make your worship for the sake of Allah alone, then your intention is correct, if Allah wills, and the fact that another brother called you to do something that you had not planned to do does not affect your intention.

Similarly, if your intention was not pure, and then you realise that you have been showing off in some of your deeds, then you correct them and seek Allah’s forgiveness, then your intention returns to being correct, and if you do so before you complete the action (such as before you finish praying), then you do not lose the reward of the entire prayer.

5. Fifthly, showing off is a form of minor shirk and is extremely serious, but it is equally serious to not perform good deeds out of fear of showing off. Al Fudayl bin ‘Iyaad considered it another form of riyaa’. Rather you should say, ‘O Allah, I seek refuge with you from making partners with you while I realise, and I ask your forgiveness for what I do not realise.’ Leaving that which Allah has ordered you out of fear of what people may say can even reach the level of major shirk, so do not allow the shaytaan to open a door to your destruction!

To answer the question, “if a person became Muslim because of worldly reasons but later changed their intention sincerely for the sake of Allah and repented, then that is okay?”

To answer this question, my point was that it may happen, and that a person may correct themselves. A person’s Islam is not accepted by Allah until it is sincere – this is one of the conditions of laa ilaaha ill Allah, but as Muslims we are commanded to treat them as normal Muslims, since the matter of intention is left to Allah. In general, we shouldn’t rush to encourage a person who is not sincere. This does not benefit Islam and the Muslims, and the person themselves may be harmed.

However, we may see someone who has some fault in their intention, and we believe that there is a good chance that the person will be corrected, based on their environment and their character. First of all we should try to correct their intention before they become Muslim. In the example of marriage, we try to make the marriage secondary to pleasing Allah. If we believe that they will change, then we may accept their Islam. However, if the person who they are marrying is not even practising Islam, then it is unlikely that they will see the beauty of Islam, when the person they are marrying does not even see it. So, I think that we should be very careful in some of these cases. More information here: http://islamqa.com/en/ref/26758

6. Sixthly, a person may enter Islam for the sake of the dunyaa, or with a fault in their intention and then correct his or her intention, as Imaan enters their hearts, and so become from the true Muslims. This was the case of some of the companions, especially those who became Muslim after the conquest of Makkah. Some of them became Muslim for worldly reasons, but the sun did not set before Allah and His Messenger were more beloved to them than the earth and whatever was in it. This does not mean that we should encourage people to become Muslim who do not want to, however, we have not been asked to rule based on the hearts of the people, and it is possible for people to change once they see the beauty of Islam.

7. Finally, do not succumb to the whispers of shaytaan, that when a person calls you to do something good you say, ‘my intention is not right’ – this is nothing but the whisperings of the shayaateen, may Allah protect me and you from them. Rather embrace this good deed and make it sincere for Allah without showing off. This way you will get the reward for your action, as will the person who called you to do good. At the very least be honest and say, ‘I am too lazy to do it’, rather than inventing a religious excuse that Allah has given you no authority for; perhaps Allah will open your heart to the truth because of your honesty.

Don’t forget that intention alone is not enough for your deeds to be accepted. They must also be in accordance with the Sunnah of the Messenger of Allah – may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him. ‘Aa’ishah – may Allah be pleased with her – narrated that the Prophet – may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him – said, “Whoever does an action that is not in accordance with my affair [i.e., my sunnah] then it is rejected.”

May Allah grant us all beneficial knowledge and the ability to act upon it, and save us from the whisperings of the shaytaan,

Wassalaamu alaykum warahmatullahi wa barakaatuhu,
Muhammad Humble.

Do You Forgive?

February 23, 2010

Often times, Muslims generally seem to have beef (problems) with other Muslims whether it comes to masjid politics, MSA drama, basketball on the court, or whatever else may be an issue between two Muslims.  However, this is obviously not the way of the believer.  As Muslims, we are told to forgive one another as the believers are described as “those who avoid major sins and acts of indecencies and when they are angry they forgive” (Translation of the Meaning of the Quran, 42: 37). 

So ask yourself, have you forgiven those that have wronged you in any way in the past?  You may be thinking, but my situation is different as this specific person doesn’t deserve my forgiveness.  However, is it?  Forgiveness, by definition, is given to those people that don’t deserve it.  So why not forgive those that may have done something harmful towards you?  Even if you don’t want to forgive that specific person for their sake, forgive them for your sake so that you may be forgiven by your Lord as we are told, “The reward of the evil is the evil thereof, but whosoever forgives and makes amends, his reward is upon Allah” (Translation of the Meaning of the Quran, 42:40)

We all want mercy, love, and kindness from our Lord.  Do we strive to exhibit these same qualities to others?  So ask yourself, do you forgive?

By Asma Bint Shameem

Wudu is such a beautiful thing. It is done so that we can purify ourselves before we stand for prayer in front of Allah. And all of us make wudu, because we know that without it our prayer will not be valid. But usually we do it routinely, swiftly washing our hands and feet, splish splash on the face, a quick wipe over the head and we are done, not thinking much of it. And sometimes we even get lazy and don’t do it properly, especially at times like Fajr, when we are sleepy and during cold weather.

But there is more to wudu than just being a condition for worship. Something that makes it more than just a routine thing before prayer…… something higher and more complete…. something that most of us neglect or overlook.

And that is…..that the very act of wudu is a form of worship in itself. By performing wudu you can get closer to Allaah….you can increase your Imaan and strengthen your faith. By performing wudu, you can intensify your love for Allaah and His Messenger (Sal Allahu Alayhi wa Sallam)…and you can have your sins forgiven. And how can one do all that ?

Every time you make wudu, be conscious of Allaah, your Rabb, and remember that it is Him, Who ordered you to perform wudu in the first place. And you are carrying out His Orders, His Command….you are obeying Him. And you love to obey Him. So be conscious of your obedience to Him and thank Him for enabling you to carry out His Command as He says:

(O you who believe! When you intend to offer As-Salat (the prayer), wash your faces and your hands (forearms) up to the elbows, rub (by passing wet hands over) your heads, and (wash) your feet up to ankles) [Surah Maidah:6]

This will increase your love for Allaah, and strengthen your Imaan….and improve your relationship with Him. It will make you more conscious of Him when you stand in front of Him in prayer and give you more Khushoo.

And every time you perform wudu, be conscious that you are following the Sunnah of our beloved Prophet (sal Allaahu Alayhi wa Sallam). It is the same way he did wudu….. the Prophet that you love and honor and respect….and it is his Sunnah that you love to follow. Not only will Allaah will reward you for following His Messenger (sal Allaahu Alayhi wa Sallam), but it (the wudu) will also increase your love for the Sunnah as well.

The Prophet (sal Allaahu Alayhi wa Sallam) said: “He who performs wudu like this wudu of mine and then offered two rakahs of prayer without allowing his thoughts to be distracted, all his previous sins are expiated.” (Muslim)

So the key to sins being expiated is performing wudu like the Prophet (sal Allaahu Alayhi wa Sallam) and then praying. And every single time you perform wudu, do it sincerely for the sake of Allaah, expecting a reward from Him, asking Him to accept it from you, hoping that He will forgive you.

Because wudu expiates sins. “When the Muslim or believing slave does wudu and washes his face, every wrong thing that he looked at with his eyes comes out from his face with the water or with the last drop of water. When he washes his hands, every wrong thing that he did with his hands comes out from his hands with the water or with the last drop of water. When he washes his feet every wrong thing that he walked to with his feet comes out from his feet with the water or with the last drop of water, until he emerges cleansed of sin.” (Muslim)

And whenever you do wudu, think of the People who will have bright hands and faces on the Day of Resurrection and know that if you try to do your wudu properly, doing it sincerely for the sake of Allaah, then He will make you among those. The Prophet (sal Allaahu Alayhi wa Sallam) said: “(On the Day of Resurrection) You will have distinctive marks “Al-Ghurr-ul- Muhajjalun” which nobody among the peoples (except you) will have; you would come to me (at the Cistern of al-Kauthar) with blazing forehead and bright hands and feet on account of the traces of ablution.” (Muslim)

Try and maintain your wudu at all times as this is a sign of a believer. The Prophet (sal Allaahu Alayhi wa Sallam) said: “Only the believer will remain with his ablution (sustaining it at all times).” (Saheeh al-Jamee) And even if you have difficulty in doing wudu, like cold weather, or any other situation that makes wudu difficult, still try your best to maintain it, since there is tremendous reward.

The Prophet (sal Allaahu Alayhi wa Sallam) said: “Shall I not tell you something by which Allah effaces the sins and elevates ranks (in Jannah)?” The Companions said; “Certainly, O Messenger of Allah.” He said, “Performing the Wudu thoroughly in spite of difficult circumstances, walking with more paces to the mosque, and waiting for the next prayer after observing a prayer; and that is mindfulness”. (Muslim)

And don’t forget the Siwaak. It is something that Allaah and His Messenger love. He (sal Allaahu Alayhi wa Sallam) said: “Siwak is a purification for the mouth and satisfaction for the Lord”. (al- Nisaee and Ibn Khuzaima -Sahih at Targheeb)

And when you finish wudu, be sure and say the Sunnah duas that the Prophet (sal Allaahu Alayhi wa Sallam) taught us to say AFTER we are done with wudu. Remember there are NO duas to be said during wudu. There is nothing proven about that from the authentic Sunnah. Just START your wudu with Bismillaah and when you are DONE, then say the following:

1) Ashhadu an laa ilaaha ill-Allaah wahdahu laa shareeka lah, wa ashhadu anna Muhammadan abduhu wa rasooluhu. (Meaning: I bear witness that there is no god except Allaah alone, with no partner or associate, and I bear witness that Muhammad is His slave and Messenger.) (Muslim)

2) Allaahumm ajalni min al-tawwaabeena wajalni min al-mutatahhireena (Meaning: O Allaah, make me one of those who repent and make me one of those who purify themselves). (Tirmidhi-Saheeh by Albaani)

3) Subhaanaka Allaahumma wa bi hamdika, ashhadu an laa ilaaha ill anta, astaghfiruka wa atoobu ilayka (Meaning: Glory and praise be to You, O Allaah, I bear witness that there is no god but You, I seek Your forgiveness and I repent to You) (al-Nasaai, etc.- Saheeh by Albaani)

May Allaah make us among those who purify themselves for His sake, physically as well as spiritually. Ameen.