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

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How to Prepare for Ramadan

August 16, 2009

A lot of us yearn to prepare for Ramadan, but we have no idea how to start. Below are a few tips to insha’Allah help prepare our minds and hearts for this upcoming Month of Mercy.

1. Making the Intention

Simple to do and has a powerful impact. Maybe you want to prepare for Ramadan, but between school, work, family, and any other activities, you just have no idea how to fit in ‘Preparing for Ramadan’ time. Instead of making ‘preparing for Ramadan’ something separate from your daily activities, MAKE your daily activities a means of preparation for Ramadan.

For example, perhaps your mom asked you to pick up your brother from school on the day you finally had time to read a few extra pages of Qur’an. Instead of feeling upset and feeling like you have lost a great preparation for Ramadan opportunity, make the intention that you are picking up your brother to please Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala and prepare for Ramadan by obeying your mother, helping your family members, building ties of kinship… and the list continues.

The point is that preparing for Ramadan does not have to be some magnificent, enormous, extra-special thing that needs to be done at a certain time of the day. Many of your daily actions can be turned into Ramadan preparation actions with a sincere intention, insha’Allah.

2. Do these easy-to-reap-reward actions:

Asking 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]

It was narrated that Abu Hurayrah (r.a) said “The Messenger of Allah (sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam) said: ‘Whoever says subhanAllah wa bi hamdih (praise and glory be to Allah) 100 times, morning and evening, his sins will be erased even if they are like the foam on the sea.” Narrated by al-Bukhari, 6042; Muslim 2691

If a person says “SubhanAllah” (glory be to Allah) 100 times, a thousand good deeds are recorded for him and a thousand bad deeds are wiped away. Narrated by Muslim 2073

Remember Allah when you go shopping : “Whoever enters a market and says: “Laa ilaha illallah wahdahu la shareeka lah, lahul mulku wa lahul hamdu yuhyi wa yumeetu wa huwa hayyun laa yamoot, bi yadihil khair, wa huwa ‘ala kulli shayin qadeer’[there is nothing worthy of worship except Allah, alone without partner, to Him belongs dominion and praise, He causes life and death and He is the Living and does not die. In His Hand is all the good, and He is over all things competent]Allah will write for him/her a million good deeds and erase a million bad deeds and raise him a million levels.” [at-Tirmidhi, classed as hasan by al-Albani]

3. Up your worship

To help condition your heart for this blessed month, intensify your worship before Ramadan begins. Just a small, consistent amount is enough. The Prophet, sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam told us:
“The deeds most loved by Allah are those done regularly, even if they are small.”

For example, if I always pray 2 rakats of sunnah after ishaa, from this day until Ramadan begins- and even through Ramadan, let me make the intention that I will now pray 2 extra rakats of sunnah after ishaa. And every time I pray these extra 2 rakats, which are more than what I normally pray, let me remember that I am doing these with the intention of asking Allah to help me be prepared to strive and exert my utmost effort during Ramadan.

4. Make a duaa list today

This is THE MONTH to ask for EVERYTHING, both related to this life and the Next. Let us not wait until the last 10 nights to make special duaas, and then once Eid passes realize that we had completely forgotten about fifty other things we needed to make duaa for. Let us start making our lists now, and add to it as more things come our way. Insha’Allah this should help us remember to make constant duaa in this month where duaa is accepted, and help our hearts pour out to the One Who can make those duaas happen, subhanahu wa ta’ala.

5. Write out your objectives for Ramadan

Praying all of your fard prayers? Praying all of your sunnahs? Reading the entire Qur’an? Giving $1 charity a day? Making itikaaf in the masjid? Leaving one serious sin that you’ve been trying to get away from for some time now? Sincerely turning completely back to Allah?
Write out a list, put them somewhere you will see them, and make duaa for your success in fulfilling these objectives.

6. Make a plan!

Look at your objectives, and try to make a plan on how to actualize those objectives in this month.

For example, perhaps you are really struggling to pray your sunnah prayers. In this month, realize the enormity of the ajr of praying the sunnah prayers… think that perhaps these sunnahs will be the deeds that will be so heavy on your scale of good deeds when you are intense need of them- on yowm al qiyamah. Therefore, fight to keep doing them all throughout Ramadan. If you can’t pray your 2 rakats after dhur right away, make sure to do them as soon as you get a chance.

Thus, your plan might look something like this:
Objective: Pray all of my fard prayers.
Method: Envision myself on the day of judgment seeing the insha’Allah weight of praying my sunnah consistently during this month. Make sure to pray sunnah salah immediately after salah. If I cannot, do it as soon as the opportunity arises… don’t let myself put it off!

Another example is that of finishing the Qur’an:
Objective: Finishing the entire Qur’an in this month.
Method: Read 4 pages of the Qur’an after every salah. 5 prayers X 4 pages = 20 pages. 20 pages= about 1 juz. 1 juz X 30= the entire Qur’an.
——-
So many Muslims have passed away since last month. So many people have not made it to Ramadan this year. Last year was their very last Ramadan. Will you make it to this Ramadan? Will this be your last Ramadan?

Aim to strive in this Ramadan. With a very small amount of effort, such as just making a small intention, or adding a few extra acts of worship, we pray that Allah will help our hearts soften and honor us with making it easy to turn to Him and open up to Him.

May Allah make us of the successful in Ramadan, and make it easy for us to turn to Him completely and perpetually. Ameen

(Written by Sr. Maryam from www.suhaibwebb.com)

By Abdul Sattar

Recently, we talked about the concept of Qur’anic recitations done in a gathering and that they should not be criticized when done with the proper intention – that is – to understand and ponder upon the Qur’an.

It is important however, to really understand what this means – “to ponder upon the Qur’an.” One of the greatest criticisms we can make about our communities, and even about gatherings like the one we previously discussed, is that we will see dozens upon dozens of people, some who do not understand a single word of the Qur’an in its recitation – praising and getting excited when the reciter “busts out” in beautiful recitation.  Though this is fine by itself, it can sometimes lead to the following situations:

One of my friends told me that at a recitation some time back, he went and asked a brother what he thought of the recitation. He responded: “Alhamdulillah it was so peaceful and calming. It brought joy and peace to my heart.”

When my friend spoke to another brother who knew some arabic, he responded: “Those verses were some of the scariest verses about the punishment of sinners in Hellfire.”

When he said this, I realized that the reciter could have been reciting Arabic poetry, and many of us would have the same response: “This book is magical!”. Imagine, that we are smiling at the verses in which Hellfire is being threatened upon those who rebel against God.

When this is happening in our community, that we have a situation where we are listening to the book of Allah in this way, with absolutely no contemplation or thought, no true khashya, but rather a superficial obsession with the beautiful sounds of a person’s voice, we should truly think of the ayah:

أَفَلا يَتَدَبَّرُونَ الْقُرْآنَ أَمْ عَلَى قُلُوبٍ أَقْفَالُهَ

Will they not then ponder over the Qur’an, or is it that they have their locks on (their) hearts (which bar them from reason) [47:24]

As we look at this verse, it is important to recognize the way this ayah is constructed – with the particle أَم. When this particle is used, it breaks the sentence into two parts – two mutually exclusive possibilities. With regards to this phrase, this ayah is essentially saying EITHER they ponder upon the Qur’an…..OR there are locks upon their hearts. It doesn’t allow for other possibilities (at least in the ayah). We should realize that in context the ayah is talking about rejectors of the revelation, but at the same time, we must strive our utmost to ensure that even if we believe, we do not have the characteristics of those censured in the Qur’an.

We cannot afford to let this book become a center piece of our pseudo-spiritual gatherings (pseudo when we have no idea what it is telling us). We cannot afford, spiritually, intellectually, or in context to our state today, to allow the message, the purpose, and the mission of this book, be lost in beautiful voices and flowery scripts, without a single word understood or acted upon. It is time to ask ourselves, where the locks are upon our hearts – whether they are locks of desire, anger, negligence, or the daily dunya grind.

Many might say: “But there is baraka in the Qur’an, even without understanding.” This is correct. There is barakah in Alif, in Laam, and in Meem alone. But when we look at the names of the Qur’an, Barakah is not the central theme…Guidance is. Barakah is a benefit.

Noor (the light) – So the Muslim should never feel in darkness.

Shifaa (the healing) – So the Muslim should know this book has a cure for his afflictions.

Huda (the guidance) – So the Muslim should never feel misguided/lost.

Tanzil (that which is sent down [from the heaven]) – So the Muslim should be confident in its authority.

Kitab (the book) – So the Muslim should know it is permanently inscribed and unwavering.

Qur’an (the recitation) – So the Muslim should know this is a Word to be Proclaimed.

Fadl Allah (the bounty of God) – So the Muslim should know this a bounty and a Mercy from Him.

Furqan (the criterion) – The Muslim should base his decisions on it’s guidance without fear or doubt.

Some practical tips to understanding and benefiting from the Qur’an:

1. Sit with Wudu’ and a clear mind. Turn off the cellphone, computer, and TV.

2. Sit knowing that you are reading words that came from the highest heavens, to the lowest heaven, to the heart and speech of the Angel Gabriel, to the heart and hearing of the Prophet (saw), to his companions, to their descendants, through 1428 year of preservation, propagation, and recitation, to you. There are billions of people in this world who do not know this book, but you do.

3. If you don’t know Arabic, learn Arabic. We have so many online resources, books, and teachers right now, there is no excuse. From the Islamic American University, to Sunnipath, to Toronto’s Shariah Program, you can learn it from Antarctica if you needed to. If you cannot devote so much time (1-3 hours a week), there is a list of words which contain 80% of the basic Qur’anic vocabulary in a very concise fashion – learn a few of these a day. If you are a young college student, you shouldn’t settle for this, learn the language. Preferably, find a teacher in your area.

4. While getting to that point, read the Arabic, and after every page, read the translation. Ask yourself:

-What do I need to do to implement this in my life?

-What do the attributes of Allah that He mentions here have to do with me? What effect should they have in my life?

-How can I connect this verse with what I already know about Islam?

There are thousands more questions we can ask, but these are just some we can start with.

5. Read a fixed amount regularly without measurably increasing or decreasing that amount unless you decide to increase it permanently. This will keep you from burning out and will allow consistency.

6. Invest in a tafsir. It is important for the serious student of the Qur’an, that he/she invests in a solid explanation of the Qur’an. For English speakers, I suggest having the following together – because each one of them makes up for one another’s gaps:

-Ma’riful Qur’an – Mufti Muhammad Shafi. An amazing work in 9 volumes, about 1000 pages each. In depth analysis meant for the commonly educated person. Touches on community, spiritual, and asbab ul nuzul (reasons for revelation) as primary focus. Has a Hanafi Fiqh bent to it, but is still a very powerful tafsir to have. Can be found online in PDF form for free.

-Tafhim ul Qur’an – Maulana Abul Ala Maududi. A powerful work which can be found on http://www.englishtafsir.com. Touches on community, social, political aspects of the Qur’an’s message and the importance of actualizing the Deen in social life to cause change in society. Focus on Islam as it was sent as a means of civilizing human beings and the goal of the Muslims to establish the Shari’ah in every aspect of their lives. Has a strong historical grounding as well.

-Tafsir Ibn Kathir – I’m sure you have heard of this one. Essentially compiles numerous hadith which have to do with each verse and provides some commentary connecting the ayaat and the hadith together. There are a few online versions as well as a downloadable online tool.

These three for the English speaker, when placed together and read consistently, can give a person a well balanced understanding of the Qur’an’s meaning and message for the laymen.

7. With all of the focus on youth, many communities and organizations do not cater to the needs of older people and seniors with regards to Islamic education. We forget that no one should be deprived of the message, and every iota of ‘ilm is better for us and our relationship with Allah. So we should remember this when doing activities especially with regards to educating parents – because they are the best teachers of their children.

InshaAllah with this, we can start to fulfill the rights of the Qur’an upon us
of believing in it, learning it, understanding it, implementing it, and spreading it.

And Allah Knows Best.

www.suhaibwebb.com

By Imam Suhaib Webb

Imam al-Nawawi related the following:

“Purify your hearts [for the knowledge] the way land is purified for cultivation.”

Imam al-Shaf’i on Humility:

None of you will seek this knowledge with a domineering attitude and exaggerated self worth, then succeed. However, one who seeks this knowledge, struggles with his/her soul, [enduring] strained provision and [struggles in the] service to the scholars is successful.

 

I remember my Sheikh telling me: “My mother used to send me with gifts to my father. Although he was my father, she did this because, in reality, he was also my Sheikh. She did this so my knowledge would be blessed.”

I recall my teacher saying to me, when I tried to serve him, “I don’t want that type of service.” Then he paused and said, “But you need to do it. This is the way of blessing.”

Avoid Complaining, it is the Opposite of Shukur:

When we land overseas we must be very careful that our attitude is not what are these scholars going to do for us. Do not ask what your scholars can do for you, but what you can for your scholars.

Serve the ‘Ulema and treat them with respect.

Once a Sheikh from South Africa told me the following, “We had a very intelligent student with us. He was so gifted and one day he began to debate our teacher and was very rude with him. He won the debate, but our teacher turned to him and said, “If you are not careful, your knowledge will go un-blessed!” Suhaib, by Allah he was the most intelligent, gifted and bright student amongst us, however today he is working serving tea to people in the markets. All of that knowledge, all of that intelligence, and he is not asked by even one person a single question.”

Hardships:

Imam Malik said, “No one will attain this knowledge until he is afflicted with poverty that touches upon every aspect of his life.”

al-Shaf’i [may Allah have mercy upon him said], “No one will acquire this knowledge except the bankrupt.”

Once I came across some brothers in al-Azhar who told me about a brother who came to study in Egypt. He was very poor and his mother’s goal was for her son to become an Azhari. With no way to purchase the ticket for the trip, his mother sold her house in order to send him! I’ve meet a large number of brothers and sisters here who haven’t seen their families in 6-7 years. I knew some sisters who sold food in order to stay in Egypt and complete their masters in Shari’ah. It is these efforts, these struggles which plant the seeds for the future.

My Sheikh told me: “When I was young I remember seeing the brothers out at night under the street lights until late. Later on I realized that they were memorizing the Qur’an and had no electricity in their homes.”

Once one of the Shanaqita told me, “You memorize the Qur’an in your nice homes. I memorized it by the camp fire! You, Westerners go for fun to Disney Land. We used to spend our time making tafsir!”

My Sheikh told me, “I remember when I as young and the Shanaqitah would come with their kids to our city. I saw their kids playing by making ‘Irab of the language!”

I knew a student of knowledge who came to Egypt and was homeless! He used to attend classes in the day and sell watches at night. When he wanted to splurge on himself he would go, once a week, and buy Koshari. [equal to a $1.00 meal]

Western Muslims have a great opportunity since the have been blessed with wealth. However, how many times have blessings, as Ibn Taymiyyah mentioned, become trials?

The Poet wrote:

قد ينعم الله بالبلوى وإن عظمت……… ويبتلي الله بعض القوم بالنعم

Perhaps Allah will bless with trials, even if abundant………. and perhaps He will try some people with blessings!

Avoiding Hatred and Jealousy:

It moves through us like our blood. Raised on WWE,  Kimbo Slice and the Gladiator, Western Muslims are prone to make studying out into an epic adventure the likes of the Lord of the Rings. However, we are all, for some strange reason, the heroes and never the bad guys? I’ve experienced this a lot here and I’m sad to say that there are problems amongst us that I would have never imagined. Let’s move beyond these things and realize that what holds us together is stronger than what pulls us apart. This is a very serious disease of the heart and its cure, as Sidi Zaroq mentioned, in his famous principles on tasawwuf, is to do the opposite. This was also the statement of Sh. Bin ‘Uthyamin who said that the way to destroy this is to act on its opposite. Let us pray for each other, work to facilitate each others affairs and remove these evil shadowy feelings in our hearts. If not, the outcome of our knowledge will be tainted and our time spent will not be complete.

Summer Break: Know that you Don’t Know

Let us take the time, oh students of knowledge, to humble ourselves. Many of us are going back for the summer. When we get back, let’s not impose, nor direct others. We’ve spent a year or so learning, now lets spend the summer learning humility, respect and mercy. The art is not mastered by knowing, it is mastered by knowing that you don’t know. For that reason the scholars said: “I don’t know” is half of knowledge.

Often times when we go back we run into conflicts with other scholars, imams and activist in the community. Let us understand that our goals are the same, our destination is one and we need each other to arrive at, “And to your Lord is the ending.” We are not going back as the latest upgrade to ImamVirus 2009 Plus. We need to be humble. If we hear things that are wrong, let’s check ourselves and make sure we are hearing with our hearts that are clean and not with the deaf ear of arrogance and conceit. The same holds true for the masses, perhaps people will say things that, according to an Azhari, are out there, make no sense and, perhaps, are un-orthodox. Subhanallah! We ourselves have troubles, struggle to encompass the knowledge and expect people who sit 40 hours a week in front of an office desk, or burning paratas to know these things. Allah says that the Disciples of Jesus said, “Can your Lord send a table from the heavens?” This is a question that, on the surface, amounts to a major mistake in creed. None can say about Allah, “Can He do….” because He is Allah. However, as al-Qurtubi mentioned, some scholars stated that this question was acceptable because these people had just accepted Islam. If this was the case of those who lived and walked with a great Messenger of Allah, what of those who’s secretaries look like Beyonce, are struggling to raise their kid, pay the bills and keep their marriages together? Let us remember to “lower your wings to the believers” exercise humility and teach with the caress of a loving father.

Allah knows best

http://www.suhaibwebb.com