Learning in Islam

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If any of you listeners are like us, working adults, wives and mothers, you will understand how we feel when we say we are ALWAYS tired. If you’re like me, you will say you simply have NO TIME.

So between juggling all our daily activities, we still have to keep learning because the first revelation received by Prophet Muhammad sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, is:

“Read in the name of the Lord, Who is the Creator, Who created the whole universe and everything in it. Recite: and your Lord is Most Generous, Who taught by the pen, taught man what he did not know.”

Surah Al-‘Alaq 96:1-5

I guess my experience with learning when I was younger is working while studying for a part-time degree, travelling from one end of Singapore to the other, taking several public transports just to get to school and then back home.

Then when older, having to keep myself awake on Friday nights for Quran classes. Eventually, I stopped for certain reasons but of course, even with Tadabbur the learning never stops.

So if you feeling weary and unmotivated to learn, there are 4 pieces of advice by Syaikh Muhammad bin Shalih Al-‘Utsaimin, a Saudi Arabian scholar, when seeking knowledge.

Firstly, whoever seeks knowledge will indeed get a reward, and they are included in the words of the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam,

لَكَ ا لْتَمِسُ لْمًا، لَ اللهُ لَهُ ا لَى الْجَنَّةِ

“Whoever follows a path to seek knowledge, Allah Ta’ala will make easy for him the path to heaven.”

HR. Muslim no. 2699

For some people who studies overseas, they will have endured the weight of travelling (long distances), separated from their families and hometowns. But inshaallah Allah will make it easy for them.

Two, someone who trains (accustoms) himself to endure difficulties while studying is a form of ibadah that draws him closer to Allah Ta’ala. Because it is included in the word of Allah Ta’ala,

ا ا الَّذِينَ ا اصْبِرُوا ابِرُوا ابِطُوا اتَّقُوا اللَّهَ لَعَلَّكُمْ لِحُونَ

“O you who believe, be patient and strengthen your patience and stay firm in your faith and fear Allah, so that you may be successful.”

SuraH Ali ‘Imran 3:200

Three, You will benefit from the knowledge gained, but (more important are) the benefits of practicing and (changing) morals. Because the purpose of having knowledge is to put it into practice. It is not the intention of knowledge as an argument (hujjah) to show people you are better than them.

It is obligatory on you to do good deeds with all the authentic knowledge that has reached you, so that it is useful, stuck and solid in your hearts. Therefore it is said,

العلم العمل، اب لا ارتحل

“Knowledge calls for practice. If the call is welcomed, knowledge will remain. But if the call is not answered, knowledge will go away.”

This saying is true. Because if you practice your knowledge, then it will strengthen knowledge and be more useful. Verily, Allah Ta’ala will add to you knowledge, light, and also blessing.

Fourthly, students who seek knowledge, when seeking knowledge, should help their brothers according to their abilities and have no ill will towards them. Don’t say, “If I teach him knowledge, I’m afraid he will become more knowledgeable than I am.” In fact we say, “If you teach your brother, you become more knowledgeable than him.” Because Allah Ta’ala has given you knowledge that you did not know before.

There is a hadith from the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, he said,

اللهُ الْعَبْدِ ا انَ الْعَبْدُ

“And Allah will always help His servant when His servant helps his brother.”

HR. Muslim no. 2699

If you help your brother by teaching him a problem (chapter) of knowledge, Allah Ta’ala will help you by teaching him other knowledge that You do not have. So don’t be jealous with your brothers, spread knowledge among them, want for them as you want for yourself.”

When seeking knowledge, we should choose an appropriate time for learning. Choose an appropriate method for studying at that time. Because putting something out of place is a waste of time and a waste of energy. The following are some advice of the Salaf scholars regarding this matter.

“The best time for memorizing is the time of sahur, in the middle of the day, then in the morning. Memorizing at night is better than during the day. And a time of hunger is better than a time of fullness”.

Al Faqih wal Mutafaqqih , 2/103

Imam Ibn Jama’ah said,

“(including a student of knowledge) is to divide the time of night and day, and take advantage of his age. Because the remaining life is priceless to him. The best time for memorizing is sahur, morning for research, midday for writing, and night for studying and mudzakarah (repeating)”.

Tadzkiratus Sami’ wal Mutakallimin

Hope this helps in your learning journey!

Importance of Good Influence (for your child)

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What the Quran says

In Surah Al-Furqan, verse 25-29, it says:

And ˹beware of˺ the Day the wrongdoer will bite his nails ˹in regret˺ and say, “Oh! I wish I had followed the Way along with the Messenger!

Woe to me! I wish I had never taken so-and-so as a close friend.

It was he who truly made me stray from the Reminder after it had reached me.” And Satan has always betrayed humanity.

The company we keep says a lot about us. Friends have a tremendous influence over how we behave, think and even feel.  This verse comes to us as a warning to be careful of the type of people we choose to be our friends.

At the time of the Prophet sallal-lāhu ‘alayhi wasallam there were two friends among the polytheists named ‘Uqbah and ‘Ubay.  Whenever ‘Uqbah returned from a journey he used to prepare food and invite people to share in the meal.  Though he had not accepted Islam, he still liked to go to the Prophet (s) and be with him.

One day as usual when he prepared the meal to share, he invited the Prophet (s) as well.  When the food was ready to be served, the Prophet (s) told ‘Uqbah, I will not eat your food unless you testify to the unity of Allah and my mission. ‘Uqbah agreed.

Upon hearing this news, his friend ‘Ubay expressed his anger and disappointment and convinced him to stand against the Prophet (s) and insult him.  ‘Uqbah listened to him and apostatized.  ‘Uqbah was killed in the battle of Badr, and ‘Ubay was killed in the battle of ‘Uhud. This verse was one of three verses that were revealed to explain the destiny of a man who had a friend who influenced him and caused him to go astray.

Parable on friendship

In the Hadith, Abu Musa reported: The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “The likeness of a righteous friend and an evil friend, is the likeness of a (musk) perfume seller and a blacksmith. As for the perfume seller, he may either bestow something on you, or you may purchase something from him, or you may benefit from his sweet smell. And as for the blacksmith, he may either burn your clothes, or you may be exposed to his awful smell.”

The above hadith meant that if we are in the company of good people or friends, we’ll tend to follow his/her good character and are influenced by their good habits. If you’re hanging out with a good companion, it is equivalent to being friends with a perfume seller, you’ll smell good, pleasant and naturally feel good. The righteous person will bound to influence you to do good deeds and Insya Allah you’ll benefit from it.

During the days of the Prophet (salAllahu alayhi wasalam), blacksmiths laboured for hours in a choking, smoky environment of extreme heat in order to design their desired object. In the company of the blacksmith one is permanently harmed by the heat or even the sparks resulting from the labour. This means one has adopted an evil habit from the one he keeps company. If not, then the very company of the blacksmith gives no relief to the conscience.

Guiding our children

When I selected this topic for tadabbur, it actually stemmed from what I have been pondering about since late last year. The backstory is my daughter is turning six this year, and if there are moms out there listening, you know this is THE Primary One registration year. Our education ministry says every school is a good school but in our minds I’m sure we also have some schools that we blacklist because they are notorious for being bad.

So while researching, I read a piece of writing by Ayatollah Ibrahim Amini who was a high ranking Iranian Islamic scholar. He wrote many books on issues including marital life, and bringing up children. Let me share a summarised version with you.

As grown ups we need friends, and we can know what kind of friends we want. Children also want friends, and at their young age they typically only choose a friend from their fellow classmates or the children they play with in the neighbourhood. Sometimes they may have acquaintances but no friends. Why they decide to choose a particular person as a friend we do not know but perhaps there is an affinity between them.

We cannot force them or stop them from being friends with anyone. The child must be free to make his own choice of friends. But this freedom will be with some conditions and restrictions:

The character and conduct of the friends will have to be observed by the parents before they permit the child to pick a friend. If a child selects a courteous and polite friend, he will definitely benefit by picking up his good habits. To the contrary, if the friend has undesirable habits then, naturally, the child will take to some of his bad habits. There are plenty of children and youths fallen into the morass of sin because of indiscreetly selecting bad friends.

Responsible and thoughtful parents will not be totally unconcerned with the type of friends their children cultivate. While the parents must know the type of friends a child has, they should not appear to be interfering in their personal matters.

If the parents can provide a good friend to their child, they have made a great contribution to his virtuous future. But this is not such an easy task. The best way is to acquaint the child with what is good, and what is not, when he comes to the age of understanding. They should explain to the child the defects that might be there in undesirable friends.

The parents must keep a subtle watch over the activities of the child and his friends from a distance. If they find that the friends are good, they must appreciate them. They should create opportunities for the child to meet such friends. But if they notice that the child has picked up an undesirable acquaintance, then they should discreetly try to cut this friendship short. If the child persists in such friendship, deal with the matter strictly.

The parents can help the child in making good friends by another method. They should pick children in their neighborhood with good behaviour, character and background. Create opportunities for the children to meet and react with one another. If they become friends, encourage them to cement the friendship. This way, even if there are some minor defects in their own child, they can be warded off in the company of good children.

For example, if a child is timid, he might overcome his timidity by being friends with a bold and courageous child.

The parents should not be totally oblivious of the type of friends their child has. Particularly when the child is on the threshold of youth. This will be the period in his life when habits take root. Any negligence on the part of the parents might result in irreparable harm to the character and conduct of the child, if he persists to be in bad company. They should remember the phrase: Prevention is better than cure!

You are the average of your friends

Have you heard the famous quote “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with”. Apparently it’s not true. According to a Framingham heart study, if a friend of your friend becomes obese, your likelihood of gaining weight increases by about 20 percent — even if you don’t know that friend of a friend. The effect continues one more person out. If a friend of the friend of your friend develops obesity, you are still 10 percent more likely than a random chance to gain weight as well. Your friends make you fat, but so do their friends, and so do their friends of friends.

While the researchers looked for a variety of explanations, the most likely one appears to be norms. If your friend is obese or a friend of a friend is obese, that changes your perception of what is an acceptable body size and your behavior changes accordingly. This is the same when they did a study on happiness. People who are surrounded by many happy people and those who are central in the network are more likely to become happy in the future.

So actually you’re not the average of the FIVE people you surround yourself with. It’s way bigger than that. You’re the average of all the people who surround you. 

So this made me think that having good influence doesn’t just stop with friends, but also our surroundings. When we buy a house, do we intentionally choose to live in a good neighbourhood? As parents are we improving our own circle of friends to improve our child’s?

It’s a reminder for parents to make decisions wisely and purposefully.

Addiction to Busyness

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Assalamualaikum. Today, I want to share with you the 53rd verse from Surah An-Nahl (16:53) – “And whatever you have of favor – it is from Allah. Then when adversity touches you, to Him you cry for help.”

As humans, we often overlook that whatever blessings or wealth we have is from Allah. We think that if we work for what we want, we will definitely get it, be it wealth, success or even having children.

This is not to say we won’t be rewarded for the difficulties and hardships we face while looking into our own and our family’s needs with regards to wealth, as long as the work itself is not haram. But we should use it as a means to fulfill a goal, which is the worship of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala, because spending hours working for the sake of acquiring extra wealth will only be at the cost of our ibadah to Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala.

As Muslims we should not justify our actions as “work is a form of ibadah”, when we forget the other important pillars and compulsory worship when doing so.

Eating with the intention of having strength for the sake of fulfilling acts of obedience to Allah, is a form of worship, but does it mean that eating becomes a major aspect of our lives? No.

Having sexual relations with your spouse, with the intention of keeping chaste and pure, is also considered worship but this does not mean that a person remains persistent in this matter, neglecting prayers, and other obligatory duties.

Similarly, striving in our job and seeking halal earnings, is all worship, but does it mean that we constantly engage ourselves in this, so much so that it hinders us from congregational prayers, our relationships with other people, learning about Islam and worshipping Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala?

For example, if one job is enough for you, there is no need for a second; if one shift suffices your needs, don’t take on another in overtime, and if you are able to cut the number of hours you work, don’t hesitate. This is intended for the self-employed and those who can control their hours. It is not meant by this that people should evade their duties at work, as this is Islamically impermissible.

Abu Huraira reported: The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “Allah Almighty said: O son of Adam, busy yourself with my worship and I will fill your heart with riches and alleviate your poverty. If you do not do so, I will fill your hands with problems and never alleviate your poverty.”

The explanation of this in Fayd al-Qadir, a scholarly piece of work, is: “Free yourself of your interests in order to worship Me and do not busy yourself in earning that which exceeds your needs and the needs of those under your care.”

We have to beware that we do not busy ourselves in acquiring beyond what we need because in this way we will be establishing our worldly life but destroying our Hereafter.

It is a reminder for me, still running madly after the world and by so doing placing difficulties and hardships upon myself, embarking upon projects, one after the other, which I can possibly do without.

Even in the path of deen, act upon those things which are obligatory, before the acts that are good but not required. Obligatory actions are also of different levels of importance, so give preference to the most important of them first, and then to the next in importance. Only then move on to the good and recommended actions, giving precedence to that which is most important amongst them.

It is also recommended to start with yourself before inviting the members of your family on the path. Then, attend to your spouse, before your neighbour and your companions, so that they can help you in bringing up the children. Because they are the ones who will pray for you when you pass on.

At the end of the day, Islam is a practical religion. None of us have the leisure to sit around doing nothing all day, every day, and we must also not make being productive at every moment of every day as something to aim for. Our rezeki is in the hands of Allah. What’s in ours is to prioritise what will bring us to our end goal – which is Jannah – faster. May Allah have mercy on us all.

Sources: About Islam, Sunnah Online

Overcoming Fatigue

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Assalamualaikum wr wb. Let me start off this post by telling a story about Fatimah (AS), the daughter of Prophet Muhammad (SAW) and Ali, her husband.

Fatimah and Ali were known to be a hardworking couple. In the day, Fatimah kept her house as clean as possible such as sweeping the floor, washing the dishes and doing laundry. She also assisted her husband with his needs, fed the animals they owned and used to grind oats for flour. She also prays throughout the night from dusk to dawn.

One day Fatimah (AS), complained to her husband, Ali, about how tiring the house work has been on her. Her hands were getting very rough and she was physically getting really exhausted. Ali, told her: “Your father has received prisoners of war, so go to him and request one of them in order to provide us with support.”

At that time, it was a known practice that some prisoners of war could be sent to certain homes to serve them.

Upon knowing that, Fatimah went to her father’s house to explain the situation she was in and to notify him of the immense need of having some extra help at home. When Fatimah arrived to her father’s house Aisha, the wife of the prophet (SAW), opened the door and told Fatimah that her father was not home. Fatimah eventually told Aisha about the purpose of her visit and then she returned back home.

Not too long after that, the Prophet (SAW) came home and Aisha told him about Fatimah’s visit. The Prophet (SAW) upon hearing that, being the great father he is, went right away to the house of Fatimah and Ali.

Once he arrived, he sat with Fatimah and Ali and taught them this priceless du’a, found in Sahih Al-Bukhari.

Our Quran Journey – The Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad SAW

The Prophet (SAW) said to them: “ألا أدُلُكُمَا على خيرٍ ممَّا سأَلْتُمَا ؟” shall I not guide you and direct you to something better than what you have asked for?

  • “إِذَا أَوَيْتُمَا إِلَى فِرَاشِكُمَا” When you go to bed:
    • “فَسَبِّحَا ثَلاَثًا وَثَلاَثِينَ”  do tasbih 33 times (i.e. say SubhanAllah)
    • “وَاحْمَدَا ثَلاَثًا وَثَلاَثِينَ” do hamd 33 times (i.e. say Alhamdulillah)
    • “وَكَبِّرَا أَرْبَعًا وَثَلاَثِينَ” do takbir 34 times (i.e. say Allahu Akbar)
  • “فَهْوَ خَيْرٌ لَكُمَا مِنْ خَادِمٍ” for that is better for you than having a servant.

Some scholars further explained that you will then have more energy the following day as if you had a servant supporting you or that you wouldn’t be as tired or as exhausted while doing your daily work.

Ali said that he never went to bed afterwards without saying this du’a even during the toughest days of his life.

The Prophet (SAW) also used to make du’a: “O Allah! I seek refuge with You from helplessness, laziness, cowardice and feeble old age; I seek refuge with You from afflictions of life and death and seek refuge with You from the punishment in the grave.” (Sahih Al-Bukhari)

This brings me to Surah Al-Balad verse 4 whereby Allah SWT says “Indeed, We have created man (to live) in hard struggle”.

We will go through many hardships in the course of our life. Imagine, we were struggling even while coming out of our mother’s womb. Our struggles can be big or small, physically, mentally or both. In the case of Fatimah (AS), she was struggling to do the house work because she was simply exhausted. Similarly some of us may struggle to pray on time because we’re facing a crisis at work, or even just out of pure laziness.

Sometimes after eight hours of sleep, some of us still wake up feeling tired and lazy. But the truth about laziness is that it is mostly in our mind. Laziness is actually an action and we are almost always the culprits in letting that action take control of our minds. If it becomes a habit, or appears to span weeks or months, it may even be a sign of depression.

You’d think that working from home because of COVID-19 we’d be less tired because we don’t have to wake up early to travel to work. But it seems like time goes by faster at home. Some of us still have to cook lunch and dinner for our families and clean up the house more often since it’s 50% more untidy when everyone’s always home.

Narrated Abu Hurairah:

Allah’s Apostle said, “Satan puts three knots at the back of the head of any of you if he is asleep. On every knot he reads and exhales the following words, ‘The night is long, so stay asleep.’

“When one wakes up and remembers Allah, one knot is undone; and when one performs ablution, the second knot is undone, and when one prays the third knot is undone and one gets up energetic with a good heart in the morning; otherwise one gets up lazy and with a mischievous heart.”

The Prophet said that the People of Paradise will only regret one thing: not having made enough dhikr (remembrance of Allah) in the world.

Even when we’re tired, we are told to remember and give thanks to Allah for the blessing of fatigue.

Narrated Abu Sa’id Al-Khudri and Abu Huraira: “The Prophet said, ‘No fatigue, nor disease, nor sorrow, nor sadness, nor hurt, nor distress befalls a Muslim, even if it were the prick he receives from a thorn, but that Allah expiates some of his sins for that‘ [Bukhari].

So next time you decide to snooze your alarm for Subuh prayers or you decide to sit at home all day and binge watch on Netflix, think about these tips that the Sunnah has provided us. Insha’Allah you can do something to stop your fatigue or laziness and get up and do something good for yourself and others.

Nurun Ala Nur ✨

I first heard of this verse in a webinar with Mizznina and Ustaz Mizi Wahid about istiqamah. How is it related? I’ll get to that in a bit. This verse is called ayat al-Nur, verse of light. Rightfully so, as it describes Allah’s light.

In this verse, Allah gave a parable of His light, where He said:

“The example of His light is like a niche within which is a lamp…”

Qur’an, Surah An-Nur, verse 35

From this part above, we can understand two things.

The Light of Allah Itself

Allah likens His light to that of a niche with a lamp. A niche is a hole in a wall, like a indent and arched. So when the light hits it, the whole room will be lit up. Allah also mentions that that lamp is lit with the oil of a blessed olive tree that is either eastern nor western and is a metaphor to describe perfection and brilliance of the lamp. It would require the most pure of oils and most refined to give off a good, strong light. So why does Allah make this comparison? It’s because it is what our human minds can comprehend, or relate to. Personally I thought that this highlighted another layer of Allah’s mercy and love, in wanting for us to be able to understand it.

When I heard of the tafseer for this, I immediate thought the light of Allah is indeed very much like the verse describes. When we have Allah present in our lives, we feel a certain sense of calm that even when the world seems to be a dark place in that moment, we still have Allah’s light and it radiates to every corner. And that brings me to the second point.

The Light of Allah in Our Hearts

In his lecture, Ust. Nouman compared the metaphor to our hearts. The rib cage is like a niche, and the heart is the lamp. He described our ruh (and in Sh Yasir’s lecture, our iman) as the light that Allah has put in every heart and referenced to the olive oil that Allah says is neither eastern nor western, signifying it has it’s own illumination already. This light, when it meets with the light of revelation and guidance would result in the entire entity of human being to be lit up. Allah calls that nurun ala nur, light upon light. Subhanallah, how amazing! It gave me goosebumps when I listened to the lectures.

In order for the light to meet the lamp that is our heart, must be clean. Could you imagine if the lamp was dirty? It wouldn’t be easy for light to pass through. It’s such a great reminder to us to constantly seek to cleanse and purify our hearts in order to receive light (guidance and Qu’ran). Sh. Yasir also mentioned that pure hearts will always find Islam and therefore he urges us to practice Islam in its totality.

Istiqamah

Istiqamah means to be consistent. Now that we know all about the amazing nur that Allah has blessed us with, would we want to lose it? Make Allah’s love and light your motivation to continue your ibadahs. It’s worth remembering that Allah will give guidance to those who works hard towards it.

In the talk that I attended (mentioned above), Ust. Mizi Wahid mentioned to purify our hearts from unwanted things like ego, envy, and the likes. I finally understood the importance of doing this in order to maintain istiqamah.

Here are some tips to maintain istiqamah:

  1. Start with fardhu prayers. Consistently try to pray on time. After that, work towards understanding what you are reading. This will help you to attain khusyuk. Perfect your salah and wudhu’.
  2. Develop a deeper sense of humility – would you fidget a lot when meeting with someone respected? This is how you measure khusyuk.
  3. Plan your day around salah, everything else will then fall into place
  4. Purify your heart – get rid of ego, envy and unwanted ill feelings Avoid arguments and have husnuzon billah.

May we always be surrounded by Allah’s light and may we be a means of Allah’s light to others. Ameen.

The Clear Quran

I recently acquired – ok bought – The Clear Quran: A Thematic English Translation of the Message of the Final Revelation after recommendations by the other girls of OQJ. The version I have is the hardcover copy with English translation and Arabic text.

Truth be told, I already have 3 different copies of the Al-Quran at home, so why another one right?

After reading The Clear Quran, I am particularly amazed at the translated verses and how easy it is to comprehend what they mean. In other books, I felt that some of the tenses and vocabulary used were archaic, for example, ‘thy’, ‘hath’ and ‘behold’.

I don’t speak Arabic (except in reading the Quran), but it is said that as a Semitic language, it has words that have meanings and nuances that do not easily translate into English. It can be almost impossible for translators, who are not masters of both English and Arabic, to reflect the Arabic style, rhythms, and figures of speech 100% accurately.

To achieve accuracy, the translator of The Clear Quran (Dr Mustafa Khattab) has made use of the greatest and most celebrated works of old and modern tafsir (Quran commentaries), and shared the work with several Imams in North America for feedback and insight. For clarity, every effort has been made to select easy to understand words and phrases that reflect the beauty, flow, and power of the original text. Along with informative footnotes and surah (chapter) introductions, verses have been grouped and titled based on their themes for a better understanding of the chapters, their main concepts, and internal coherence.

Source: Wardah Books
The Clear Quran – Themed verses

I really like the themed verses in The Clear Quran as the breaking up of verses gives a clearer picture of the lessons to be learnt as I am reading. The footnotes also provide more context to the terms and references mentioned in the Quran.

You will also be relieved to know that this translation has been officially approved by Al-Azhar University and endorsed by ISNA and the Canadian Council of Imams.

Although it does not have transliteration of the verses and the tajweed rules, I have been seeing myself go back to this Quran more often than my other ones, especially for Tadabbur if I need better understanding of the verses in the Quran.

I do believe everyone should own a copy of The Clear Quran. It is available at Wardah Books in Pocket size, Paperback, Flexicover and Hardback.

May Allah SWT ease our affairs in learning the sacred verses of the Quran. InshaaAllah.


In the month of July, OQJ is also hosting a mini book giveaway of The Clear Quran, kindly sponsored by Real Estate Dad. To win a copy, head to Our Quran Journey’s Instagram for more details.

Of Knowledge and Power

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The fourth parable that Allah Almighty mentions in Surah Al-Kahf is the story of a great king during the sixth century BC named Dhul-Qarnayn who travelled all across the world to help the people who were in need and spread good wherever he went.

Vast Empire

Allah SWT gave him a very vast kingdom and he ruled his kingdom very well. People loved and obeyed him.

Dhul-Qarnayn hated injustice. He was a just ruler and treated everyone fairly. In his journey to the west, he found some people. Allah gave him the option to treat them badly or be kind. The king responded “Whoever does wrong will be punished by us, then will be returned to their Lord, Who will punish them with horrible torment. As for those who believe and do good, they will have the finest rewards (in Jannah), and we will assign them easy commands.”

In his journey to the east, he found the sun rising on people who had no shelter from it. They either had no clothes or homes to protect them from the sun. Even after conquering a major part of the then inhabited world, Dhul-Qarnayn had lost none of his humility. He gave the entire credit of his feats to the blessings of Allah.

A great ruler or leader is careful of the safety of his subjects. He did not take this ‘amanah’ from Allah for granted and he travelled around to know what is happening to his people in his kingdom.

The Iron Wall

On his third course, Dhul-Qarnayn reached a pass between two mountains. He found a tribe of people who could not understand his language – what it probably means here is that they were cut off from civilisation so they had their own way of communicating with each other. They pleaded to the king to build a wall to block off the people of Gog and Magog who were spreading corruption throughout the land. The tribe wanted to pay the king to help them erect a barrier. Being a pious ruler, Dhul-Qarnayn responded “what my lord has provided for me is far better”. So he did not ask for anything in exchange for his help, instead, he asked the tribe to supply their own people for the task. Blocks of iron and molten copper were used to erect the iron wall which the enemies could neither scale nor tunnel through it. The iron wall closed the gap between the mountains and Gog and Magog did not trouble the mountain people again. After building the iron wall, Dhul-Qarnayn said: “This is a mercy from my lord. But when the promise of my lord comes to pass, he will level it to the ground. And my lord’s promise is ever true.”

In this parable, we learn that true believers always remain humble even after performing a great feat. The lesson to be learnt from this story is that power is also a gift from Allah and to those whom He gives power; He tests them by doing so.

Some people may get drunk on power and become disrespectful of others, like for example the most ruthless ruler Firaun. When people have the power to abuse or opress, they can lose control of their senses much like someone who is intoxicated.

Dhul-Qarnayn clearly overcame the fitnah of power by deferring to the code of justice established by Allah, the AL-‘ADL or The Just.

So the way to deal with the fitnah of power is to have sincerity in your deeds to Allah, as it was mentioned in verse 103-104:

Say, ˹O Prophet,˺ “Shall we inform you of who will lose the most deeds? ˹They are˺ those whose efforts are in vain in this worldly life, while they think they are doing good!

Surah Al-Kahf (18:103-104)

There is also a du’a in Surah Al-Imran that you can recite praising Allah’s infinite power:

“Say, O Lord, King of Kings. You give rulership to whom you will and take it away from whom you please. You raise up who you will and cast down whoever you will. All that is good lies in your hands. You have the power to will anything.”

Surah Al-Imran (3:26)

Power creates ego and self-pride in a man. Abu Huraira r.a. reported, The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “The strong are not those who defeat people. Rather, the strong are those who defeat their ego.”

A believer couldn’t be an egoistic person. This story is a lesson to all powerful people whose power couldn’t even reach to what Allah has given to Dhul-Qarnayn and yet he was a humble soul and submissive to Allah for what he had.

Personally, I can’t really relate because I’m not a person of power. But the first person I think of is Donald Trump and how he is everything Dhul-Qarnayn is not. Trump seems drunk on power and he thinks what he is doing is the best for America, but I don’t think anyone here agrees.

I guess on the other end of the stick, as regular people with not much or no power, we should choose to be on the side of just and kind leaders so that we will not transgress into corruption or sin of unscrupulous leaders.

Killing our ego is also another point that we can learn from. We can learn to use criticism constructively to kill our ego. Every time we make a mistake and repent and make amends, we are diminishing our ego. Especially for us ladies, every time we scold ourselves, for falling into gossip or vain talk about other people, we are throwing aside our ego.

May Allah SWT bless us with the strength and humility to use the abilities He has bestowed upon us to help those in need, much like the great King Dhul-Qarnayn. InshaaAllah.

Gratitude to Allah

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Gratitude has been something that I struggle with from time to time and it is even more apparent in times of crisis. It’s difficult to be thankful for when whatever we’re facing feels like there is no way out. Previously when I hit a setback or face some difficult situation, I’ve always felt like what is there to be grateful for? I didn’t know any better then and I certainly couldn’t see the wisdom behind it.

While watching the lecture by Ust Nouman Ali Khan, I was gifted a new perspective of things and I invite you to listen to the following lecture as well:

The Story of Prophet Musa (a.s) and Pharoah

The verse is in context of this particular story of Prophet Musa (a.s.) and Pharoah. To put briefly, it was a difficult time for the Bani Israil. The Pharoah as we all know was a tyrant and life was difficult under his rule. The Bani Israil was often oppressed and male babies were ordered to be killed. Prophet Musa (a.s) made du’a and brought the Bani Israil to escape from the Pharoah. Allah told Prophet Musa (a.s) to strike the sea with his staff and Allah parted the sea for them to pass through. Upon passing through, they realized that they had nothing (to start life over with). Prophet Musa (a.s.) gave a sermon that Allah wants to remind them that if they are grateful, Allah will surely give them more. After all, Allah did see them through to safety from the oppressor.

Shift your Focus

Ust Nouman says to shift your focus on something that you are grateful for when times are hard.

“And ˹remember˺ when your Lord proclaimed, ‘If you are grateful, I will certainly give you more.”

Allah says that if we are grateful, He will increase us. Increase us in what exactly? Well, it can be anything – rizq, peace, blessings but only at His time. It takes a lot to find things to be grateful for when facing hardships, but when we practice it we can be sure that Allah will reward us. Shifting your focus also helps you to deal with your hardship better.

Positive Thinking

A believer thinking positive is to be grateful to Allah. The more I think about it, the more it made sense! When you shift your focus to be grateful for something, even if it’s for past hardships that Allah took you out of you are already moving towards positive thinking. When you are grateful for what Allah has blessed you with despite the situation, you will feel some sort of peace and calm flooding into your heart and mind. And truly, when you are grateful, Allah will give you more, because you know He will bring you through whatever hardships that you are facing again and again. When we don’t have a sense of gratitude, the only harm we do is to ourselves and we may even start to feel vengeful.

Allah’s Mercy

I remember listening to a lecture (I apologize, I cannot remember from where) that Allah’s mercy comes in layers and what we are experiencing right now is jut 1/100 of the mercy that Allah has. Subhanallah! I cannot imagine the rest, and even now the thought of Allah’s infinite mercy could make me tear up. How loving Allah is, how nice Allah is.

Ustaz Nouman mentioned we should also take note of the language used here. Allah used “if” and “then” which means if we are grateful, the direct consequence is an increase (in blessings).

“But if you are ungrateful, surely My punishment is severe.”

In the second sentence, it serves as a warning or a reminder that the punishment for being ungrateful is severe. Allah wants to only remind us to not go down that path towards your own destruction. He is saying that the punishment severe but He does not want that to happen to us.

Subhanallah. How loving Allah is towards us.

Reflection

Gratitude has to be constant. It has to be a way of life and not something you say once in a while just for the sake of. Gratitude isn’t just lip service. Gratitude comes from your heart and you need to feel it sincerely. I intend to start practicing gratitude by first remembering all those times that I didn’t have what I have now, and the countless times that Allah rescued me from my own crisis/bad days/hardships/unsavory situations in ways that I couldn’t imagine. He made it all better and that was His favour to me. Having gratitude shapes our attitude and actions. When we live in a state of gratitude, we will start to see the blessings of Allah.

Gratitude Journal (Action Plan)

Several weeks ago, I tuned in to Sumi’s seerah sharing and she mentioned gratitude journal. I decided to try it for myself and this is also one of the things that changed my perspective and made me more grateful for even the littlest things daily. I bought a notebook with gratitude prompts and made sure I wrote at least one thing I was grateful for daily. I remember writing down about being able to buy bubble tea even, because this rizq is indeed from Allah! I recommend you try it too. 🙂

Alhamdulillah ala kulli haal.

The Man with Two Gardens

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The Man with Two Gardens is the second parable in Surah Al-Kahf (18:32-44) in which lies the lesson of the trials of wealth.

It tells the story of a rich man whom Allah blessed with two beautiful and luxurious gardens. It is believed that the rich man’s lush gardens consisted of grape vines, surrounded by date palms. The gardens also yielded maximum output and the rich man did not have to lift a finger for irrigation as Allah SWT provided a river in the gardens. Apart from the gardens, the rich man’s wealth included gold, silver, horses and carriages.

One day, the rich man and his companion had a conversation, where the rich man boasted about his wealth and children. On a side note, wealth and children are mentioned together in the Quran as they signify worldly status. However, the Quran warns that the blessings are not necessarily the signs of Divine Favor and cannot protect one against Divine Punishment (as of the following verses: 9:55, 9:85, 23:55-56).

Despite receiving the blessings and rizq from Allah SWT, the rich man became arrogant and boastful. He opined that all of his blessings were the results of his own hard work. The rich man became ungrateful and did not attribute his wealth to Allah.

The rich man assumed that the wealth he had at that point were everlasting. He was engrossed with the paradise of the world that he did not care about the real paradise i.e. Jannah. The rich man was also doubtful of the Hereafter or resurrection as he was enjoying the paradise in this world. Despite his doubt of the Hereafter or resurrection, the rich man was confident that if he were to be resurrected, he would find something better than his abundant gardens. The rich man also believed that his wealth and good fortune belonged to him on the basis of his own personal merit and assumed that the merit transcends death. Therefore he expected to enjoy wealth and children in the Hereafter as well.

While the rich man spoke so highly of himself, inadvertently insulting his companion, the companion remained silent. However, the companion could not accept the man’s insult of Allah SWT. The companion advised the rich man against being ungrateful to his Lord and reminded the rich man of his origins as of all human beings.

The companion also declared that he would not associate any partners with His lord. This was in relation to the rich man attributing the success of his lush gardens to himself thus, making himself an idol besides Allah.

The companion also reminded the rich man to be less arrogant and have more humility when he entered his garden. The companion suggested that the rich man should be grateful to Allah SWT and ascribed to the blessings.

MasyaAllah La Quwwata Illa Billah

What Allah willed [has occured]; there is no power except in Allah

Surah Al-Kahf [18:39]

Despite having been insulted by the rich man, the companion accepted his qadr and believed that Allah SWT will grant him something better.

As the companion warned the rich man of Allah’s punishments due to the rich man’s arrogance, the rich man’s gardens were destroyed. Consequently, the rich man felt remorseful and regret.

From this parable, we learn that wealth is also a test from Allah as He is testing the recipient of wealth on their gratitude. Secondly, we also learn that things of this world are temporary and transient. All the pleasures and riches of the world are short-lived. Therefore, when they are available, one must thank Allah and spend on the ones who don’t have the worldly pleasures available to them.

May Allah keep us all away from arrogance and plant seeds of gratitude in our hearts. InsyaAllah.