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.
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.