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 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:
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’.
Develop a deeper sense of humility – would you fidget a lot when meeting with someone respected? This is how you measure khusyuk.
Plan your day around salah, everything else will then fall into place
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 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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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. 🙂
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.
Al-Furqan means The Criterion. The Qur’an has been called Al-Furqan because it is the Criterion for judging right and wrong, virtue and vice, truth and falsehood.
The first part of the Surah deals with the doubts and objections that were being raised against the Qur’an, the Prophethood of Muhammad (peace be upon him) and his teachings by the disbelievers of Makkah.
In it, answers to each and every objection have been given and the people have been warned of the consequences of rejecting the Truth. Actually even today, when Non-Muslims mock and question the Quran, Nabi Muhammad (SAW), or the Sunnah, this Surah can help us to answer these questions and to see how we can talk to them.
In the 2nd part of the surah (in particular verse 63-75), the Quran tells us a couple of qualities of true servants of Allah.
Being Humble – “And the servants of the Most Gracious are those who walk upon the earth in humility“.
Forbearing or Patient – “and when the ignorant address them [harshly], they say [words of] peace”. So for example when someone makes fun of them, insults them or hurts them, they don’t strike back or seek revenge. They forgive and overlook.
Devotion in Tahajjud – “And those who spend [part of] the night to their Lord prostrating and standing [in prayer]”. The true servants of Allah pass their nights in worshipping and remembering Him as much as they can.
Fear of Allah’s Punishment – Those who say, “Our Lord, avert from us the wrath of Hell. Indeed, its punishment is a grievous affliction. Evil indeed is it as an abode, and as a place to rest in.” For true servants of Allah, Hellfire is not a theoretical concept, but a reality.
Moderation – “Those who, when they spend, are not extravagant and not miserly, but hold a balance between those extremes.“
Doesn’t sin – “And those who do not invoke with Allah, any other god, or kill the soul which Allah has forbidden [to be killed], except by right, and do not commit unlawful sexual intercourse. And whoever should do that will meet a penalty. Multiplied for him is the punishment on the Day of Resurrection, and he will abide therein in ignominy or humiliation.“
Tawbah – “Except for those who repent, believe and do righteous work. For them Allah will replace their evil deeds with good. And ever is Allah Forgiving and Merciful. And he who repents and does righteousness does indeed turn to Allah with [accepted] repentance.“
Doesn’t lie – “And [they are] those who do not testify to falsehood. The Prophet s.a.w.s. said: I guarantee a house in the surroundings of Paradise for a man who avoids quarrelling even if he were in the right, a house in the middle of Paradise for a man who avoids lying even if he were joking, and a house in the upper part of Paradise for a man who made his character good.“
Steer away from evil conversation – “and when they pass near ill speech, they pass by with dignity”. Here what it means is The true servants do not take part in gossip or obscenity or foul language, even if they overhear or chance upon it as an observer they would walk away.
Accept guidance – “And those who, when reminded of the verses of their Lord, do not fall upon them deaf and blind”. The true servants of Allah do not behave like the blind and the deaf towards the Revelations of Allah when they are recited to them for their admonition. They do not turn a deaf ear to their teachings and Message and do not deliberately close their eyes to the Signs that they are asked to observe, but are deeply moved by them. They follow and practice what they are enjoined and refrain from what is forbidden.
Turning to Allah – The most distinctive characteristic of the true servants is their eagerness for prayer to Allah. In verse 65 their “prayer” for their own salvation and in verse 74 their prayer for their wives and children have been cited: “Our Lord, make our wives and children true believers so that they should practice righteousness and become a source of comfort for us.” Their prayer shows that the true servants of Allah are more concerned about the salvation of their beloved ones in the Hereafter than the enjoyment of the world.
There are many other verses in the Quran itself that tell us what kind of qualities we should strive to have to attain Jannah.
Focus on Moderation – Verse 25:67
Today, I want to focus on number 5 – moderation.
Allah SWT also says in surah Al-A’raf verse 31:
O children of Adam, take your adornment at every masjid, and eat and drink, but be not excessive. Indeed, He likes not those who commit excess. [7:31]
According to Islam extravagance is:
To spend even the smallest amount of money in unlawful ways,
to go beyond one’s own resources in expenditure even in lawful ways, or to spend money for one’s own pleasure, and
to spend money in righteous ways not for the sake of Allah but for mere show.
On the other hand, someone is miserly if he does not spend money for his own needs and requirements and those of his family in accordance with his resources and position, or if he does not spend money for doing good.
Personally, I used to always browse shopping apps on the train to work, or before going to sleep, or even just waiting for a parcel delivery every other day. There was never a night I wasn’t browsing on shopping apps.
Doesn’t help that ZALORA, FashionValet or ASOS keep sending emails and notifications every other hour about another offer. And the thing is, I was well aware of this addiction.
Like, is there still room in my wardrobe for another dress or top? Do I need so many shoes? Do I need so many tudungs? I always have these thoughts, but every time I still hit checkout. Or in some cases try to justify my buying.
But the light at the end of this is: Somehow, once I started growing closer to Allah SWT, by his grace, these urges stopped. Instead of browsing online shops, I’m listening to khutbahs, or talks. Doing something more meaningful with my time.
Now I think back about all the money I spent, could that money instead be used for sadaqah?
I think I’m still a bit poor on giving to charity, either with money or time, but I believe other forms of sadaqah, like treating friends and family to a meal, or sharing food with neighbours are charitable deeds as well.
Debt and Loans
Sometimes in order to buy what we want, we use credit cards or instalment plans. Sometimes we hear of people who own luxurious cars or stay in big houses, and we think of them as rich. But we may not know the actual story. Those luxuries may be paid by credit card, so in a way they are accumulating a lot of debt as they are spending without any cash.
Personally, I had one experience with debt that made me really avoid it at all cost.
A few years back I think around 2012, some of us here had to work and study part-time. So university fees as you know are not cheap. So I took a DBS Cashline loan (don’t do it, it’s a trap) of about $4000. You may think it’s only $4000, but do you know how much I ended up paying the bank? Almost $10,000 with interest. It took me 4 years to clear the debt using money from every bonus I had. After I closed the account I was really relieved of this burden.
In the hadith it said Our Prophet, Nabi Muhammad (PBUH) did take loans from time to time. But in general he was wary of it. He used to make a lot of dua against incurring overburdening debts. Here is the du’a:
O Allah [Allahumma] Suffice me with that which is lawful against that which is prohibited. [ikfinee bihalalika an haraamik] and make me independent of all those besides You [Wa aghninee bifadlika am-man siwaak]
In this, we ask Allah Ta’ala to help us pay off our debt using lawful and permissible avenues and not through impermissible resources. And to make us dependent on Allah and no one else.
“O Allah! Lord of power and rule, You give the power to whom You please, You take away the power from whom You please; You give honour whom You please, You humiliate whom You please; all the good is in Your authority. Surely, You have power over everything. You make the night into the day and You make the day into the night. You bring out the living from the dead and You bring out the dead from the living. You give sustenance to whom You please without limit.” (3:26-27)
As we mentioned in our very first podcast, to ask for Allah’s help is to be grateful first so this verse is to encourage gratitude to Allah so that InshaAllah he will answer our prayers and increase our rezeki. InshaaAllah.