Halaqa Lessons: How You Should Be Using Your God-Given Super Powers.

muslim

In today’s halaqa, we focused on the following Quranic Ayah (3:49):

وَرَسُولًا إِلَىٰ بَنِي إِسْرَائِيلَ أَنِّي قَدْ جِئْتُكُم بِآيَةٍ مِّن رَّبِّكُمْ ۖ أَنِّي أَخْلُقُ لَكُم مِّنَ الطِّينِ كَهَيْئَةِ الطَّيْرِ فَأَنفُخُ فِيهِ فَيَكُونُ طَيْرًا بِإِذْنِ اللَّهِ ۖ وَأُبْرِئُ الْأَكْمَهَ وَالْأَبْرَصَ وَأُحْيِي الْمَوْتَىٰ بِإِذْنِ اللَّهِ ۖ وَأُنَبِّئُكُم بِمَا تَأْكُلُونَ وَمَا تَدَّخِرُونَ فِي بُيُوتِكُمْ ۚ إِنَّ فِي ذَٰلِكَ لَآيَةً لَّكُمْ إِن كُنتُم مُّؤْمِنِينَ

And [make him] a messenger to the Children of Israel, [who will say], ‘Indeed I have come to you with a sign from your Lord in that I design for you from clay [that which is] like the form of a bird, then I breathe into it and it becomes a bird by permission of Allah . And I cure the blind and the leper, and I give life to the dead – by permission of Allah . And I inform you of what you eat and what you store in your houses. Indeed in that is a sign for you, if you are believers.

When Isa (AS) is talking to his people about the skill and power he was given, he keeps attributing it back to Allah (SWT) – “… by the permission of Allah.”  This is a reminder for us, when we get any recognition for the good or great things we do, that we need to first attribute it to Allah (SWT) who had given us the skills and ability to accomplish those things.

Secondly, regarding the power which Isa (AS) to return health to his followers, Moosa (AS) was also given powers around magic to show Pharaoh the evil of his ways.  What we can learn from the reasons they were given their respective gifts is that health and medicine was the topic of the day for Isa (AS) and magic was the major discussion topic in Musa’s (AS) time.  The powers they were given were relevant to their time and place and helped in fulfilling their respective missions.  So what we can learn from here is that we too, should utilise our skills in a relevant way to help others around us and spread the message of Islam.

Obviously one of the biggest things is to simply be better Muslims ourselves, but other than that… what is the most relevant topic today which people are interested in?  Technology, Media, Social Media, etc.   We should use these tools / skills / whatever to the best of our ability.

Stop Lying to Yourself.

time

Today’s halqa covered the topic of time management. More specifically, how we make time for physical, emotional, spiritual and social aspects of our lives. If we have to prioritise activities for each of these every day, which one would automatically be number one? As Muslims, obviously, we answer spiritual should be first but how often is that really true. Do our words really transform into action?

Take for example Fajr salaah in Jamaah, if the spiritual dimension is number one, how often do we actually pray Fajr Salaah at the mosque? I certainly don’t.

So I have to ask myself, am I really treating the spiritual dimension in my life as a priority?

Ironically, although we give less priority to this spiritual aspect, it is the one thing that will help us acheive all other aspects. For example taking time to start the day with Quran recitation may feel like it’s delaying you from starting your tasks for the day but actually that time will give you so much more barakah – in your time, mindset, abilities, etc.

When we talk about the spiritual dimension, we might think its all up in the air and not very tangible. But what it really is, is our connection with Allah (SWT). So now ask yourself – “Do I prioritise connecting with Allah(SWT) over everything in my life?”

In order to keep ourselves on the straight path we need to be, first and foremost, honest with ourselves as to where we are right now with regards to our connection with Allah (SWT) and what we are going to do to improve that connection.

How To Get Close to Allah(SWT) When You’re SO BUSY!

I get it. I’m sure most of us do. With the way the world is connected today, everything is moving faster, boundaries are falling when it comes to the many parts of ourselves.  Work life blends into home life which blends in to our social lives…. etc., etc.  In all our “busy-ness” and struggle to separate these different parts of ourselves, how can we connect and get close to Allah (SWT).

“Don’t we need time and space to sit for a few minutes so that we can get  close to Allah? Sometimes I just barely have time to make my salaah before getting back to work!”

I know how you feel and you’re not the only person to have this thought float to the surface and then you feel bad because, really, shouldn’t you be finding time to get close to Allah? Well, recognising that you need to, and want to, get closer to Allah(SWT) is already a first step which you will get rewarded for insha’Allah.  May Allah (SWT) reward you for clicking on whatever link you did because this topic resonated with you, and believe me, you are not alone.

First, recognise that our ibaadah is not limited to the 5 pillars of Islam alone. Yes, they are important and we have to tend to these first, but… our entire lives as Muslims can be ibaadah should we make the correct intention.  For example, “Oh Allah, I am going to work today so that I can earn Halal income in order to take care of my family as is your command.”  or some variation of that… you’ve just turned your work commute into ibaadah, you get rewarded for sitting on a train and reading your book, listening to your podcast, or whatever… AND its a small step to getting closer to Allah(SWT)!

How absolutely awesome is this?!?  Think about the implications, our entire lives can become ibaadah, one big swirling journey to Allah(SWT). Alhamdulillah.  This isn’t easy, however, this takes a mix of will and mindfulness. We are already stuck in our day-to-day habits where we just go through the motions and are unaware of life around us and more importantly, what it means and how it affects us.  So take time, one little piece of life at a time. Choose it, reframe it with your intention and try to live it that way every day. Remember that Allah (SWT) loves the smaller actions that are done consistently more than the big grand gestured which are done only once.

After this hard work, you will see little aspects of your life change as well because of the barakah your actions will bring.  You will see Allah (SWT) in every day little things when you pay attention to it.  you will see His hand in your daily life. I have seen this my self and I realised that it’s just little things where you see the sign of Allah(SWT) and it might be something very mundane but you get this feeling and realise that what you’re looking at has a very special message for you and you alone.  It’s hard to describe, but trust me… follow what I’ve mentioned above and insha’Allah you will see for your self.

The main message here is that you should turn your daily life into one where you are constantly aware of Allah(SWT), this will change your perspective which will lead to your actions changing and insha’Allah your life in this world will only change for the better and in turn build your Aakhirah as well.

May Allah(SWT) guide us all to the path which gets us closer to Him.
Aameen.

Dua for Having Difficult Conversations

In life and work we often come up against having to have very difficult conversations. It may be with our relatives, spouses, our boss at work or our colleagues. As Muslims, we often take our guidance from the Quran and Sunnah when dealing with any of life’s situations, difficult or not, and this case is not any different.
I’ve come across this dua by Musa (AS), in a situation which is so very emblematic of facing a difficulty and so beautiful in its simplicity and humanity. Musa (AS) was asked by Allah (SWT) to go and face Firaun in Egypt. Keep in mind the context of this request, Musa (AS) had, by mistake, already killed a man and was being looked for by the police. The police had an order to actually kill him on sight. Everyone in Egypt knew him and his face because he grew up in the Firaun’s household, so by him even entering Egypt, the police will eventually find out that he is there.

In this troubling context, Musa (AS) asks Allah (SWT) for the following:

… and what we learn from this dua is the following:
1.  When faced with a challenge or obstacle, we need to pray to Allah to help us calm down, steady our hearts (chests) so that we can face the situation and what we need to do head-on. Pray that He equips us with the intellect, resilience and courage to face it and succeed. Nabi Musa (AS) was told to challenge Firaun, the most powerful man in Egypt, and return to the same place from where he was exiled from, yet there were no excuses or conditions, and all he requested was for Allah to make the task easy for him, to “open his chest”, calm him down and give him the strength and resilience to do what he needed to do. There is tremendous power in this.

2.  When we are required to deliver a difficult message, or if we are struggling to articulate ourselves to someone, the first step is to understand what needs to be done and then all we have to do is make this Dua, with full conviction, and the rest will take care of itself. Even if things don’t work out the way we want them to, we can at least be content that we had done our part and sought Allah’s guidance, and that Allah has something better in store for us.

3.  Realise that Success in this world depends on only two things: Our Effort and Allah’s Help.
May Allah (SWT) guide us All!
Aameen.

Trusting in Allah All of the Time.

Photo source: MuslimahzandMe’s blog

Recently, I’ve been in a position which has really scared me. I’m sure most of us have been in this situation where we face a loss of some kind, whether it’s wealth, a loved one, something we hold dear. The fear is borne out of not knowing any reality outside of having that wealth, person, thing in our lives. This is truly where the “test” comes in. Our faith being put up front and centre and having us face it dead on. Making a definite choice of what we believe because it will affect our next actions and contribute to the type of person we become.

It’s hard and it’s a choice. Knowing that Allah(SWT) is the all-sustaining, the One in whose hand all things are dependent. We can own nothing, we can do nothing without His knowledge and without His will. Our perspectives are dependent on a finite reality which deceives us at every turn. Making us believe that this is all there is, that it is really important, that it deserves all of our being dedicated to it. A slow burn to Shirk. The reality is that we do not need anything in this world, our only purpose is to worship Allah(SWT) through everything we do and that means doing our best in our relationships and our work in this world to achieve that end.

The circumstances in which our work and relationships build and decline are not dependent on us but are part of the test in which Allah(SWT) wants to see where our loyalty truly lies. Do we really depend on ourselves, our wealth, our family ties, our friends and our material possessions… or do we truly depend on HIM.

Regarding this, I’ve found how Allah(SWT) has made it so easy for us to remind ourselves and turn to him every single day. The five daily Salaah put us constantly having the opportunity to turn to Him. Where we have to remind ourselves that He is our only help, the Only One we worship. There can be no help without Him. All of the things we depend on in this world ultimately depend on Him as well. We are who we are because of Him.

“The coolness of my soul is in the Prayer.” (An Nasa’i, 3940)

It is in this realisation that we can find peace in our situations. But it does take that leap of faith because we do not know what the future holds, what is going to happen next. We can only ask of Him and believe that the best will come to pass. Allah (SWT) does not burden a Muslim with anything more than he can bear and he rewards those who believe in him through any trials they go through depending only on Him. This is a fact. This is His sunnah.

“Do not lose heart against the heaviest trials and never be in a state of grief, for you are bound to succeed if you are true in faith. [Quran, Surah: Al-Imran, Verse: 139]”

It makes us realise that we do not need to be afraid anymore, of anything or anyone in this world. We are in the service of Allah (SWT) and He is our Protector, our Sustainer. The little dance we go through in this world are just that… a shifting of resources and relationships all leading to our ultimate destination – where we have to face Him and account for ourselves and our actions. If there is anything that should worry us it is that. Are our actions truly in line with pleasing Allah(SWT)?

So, with this in mind, I hope you realise that the only first action you need to take is to turn to Allah and trust in Him. I can guarantee that this trust is never misplaced. Allah (SWT) is always there for those who turn to Him.

“O you who believe! Seek help in patience and the Prayer.” (Quran, Al-Bakarah:153)

May Allah(SWT) make your journey in this world easy for you, help you turn to Him and Him alone… and grant you success in this world and the next.

Aameen.

Thoughts on Ramadan

Someone made a comment today which irked me becuase of its ignorance. “Why does religion promote self-torture?”, obviously in relation to the fact that I was fasting. The main thing which gets to me about that question is that I know for a fact that that person had never really taken the time to understand what they was criticising. Judgment without knowledge.

But let’s answer the question in this context… is Ramadan a form of self-torture? I’d argue the question itself shows narrow-mindedness. You can’t answer the question without understanding the entire belief system around which the act of fasting is based.  Secondly, you have to define fasting itself… is it merely the not eating of food and drink? No, it’s bigger than that.

Thirdly, you have to look at what a person benefits from fasting, this in itself is an argument against the question, but if you look at the effects fasting has on the physical body (Google it, it’s documented), the spiritual elevation every fasting person normally experiences just through the act itself, bring into it the sense of community around coming together to eat and pray.

Above all, it shakes us out of our comfort zones. For 11 months of the year we’re exactly like everyone else, and in this one month we get to see who we really are, what we’re made of. It makes us question why we’re fasting which brings up all of the thoughts in this post, it pushes us into deeper questions as to why do we believe? what do we believe? It challenges us to dig deep and know at your core, why are you a Muslim? Do you really believe? Why are you sacrificing food, water and sex for an entire day?

Personally, it’s my favourite time of year because of the above. How boring life must be to just trudge on in the same state of affairs without any break to help you understand the more basic elements of why we are on this Earth, and what our true purpose is in life.

Dunya: Taking It All For Granted.

“Do you suppose that you will enter Paradise untouched by the suffering endured by the men of Faith who passed away before you? They were afflicted by misery and hardship and so convulsed that the Messenger (SAW) and the believers with him cried out: ‘When will Allah’s help arrive?’ They were assured that Allah’s help was close by.” Surah Al Baqarah, 214


We go through so many trials, each thinking our own burden’s aren’t alike to any other person on the Earth and that we’re under enormous troubles alone. The truth is that everybody has obstacles and trials to overcome in one way or another, and a Muslim doubly so. A Muslim should know that their responsibility of delivering the message and living in this life will not come as easy sailing. The afterlife is earned, the price is the life of this world.

We sometimes take it for granted that we are Muslim and that Jannah is guaranteed. That type of thinking breeds arrogance, ignorance and laziness. We need to keep in mind the bigger picture as often as we can. Our little worlds are not all that exist… there are others around us, There is an entire world out there which we need to interact with and take into our world view.

If you are irritated by every rub, how will your mirror be polished? – Rumi

The Fear of God by Robert Frost

Something I’ve come across which is very pertinent for every Muslim to take into account, despite it being a poem by a non-Muslim.

“The word of wisdom is the lost property of the believer, so wherever he finds it he has a better right to it.” – Nabi Muhammad (SAW) (Tr. 39:19.)

    The Fear of God by Robert Frost


If you should rise from Nowhere up to Somewhere,
From being No one up to being Someone,
Be sure to keep repeating to yourself
You owe it to an arbitrary god
Whose mercy to you rather than to others
Won’t bear to critical examination.
Stay unassuming. If for lack of license
To wear the uniform of who you are,
You should be tempted to make up for it
In a subordinating look or toe,
Beware of coming too much to the surface
And using for apparel that was meant
To be the curtain of the inmost soul.

How Our Entire Body Remembers Allah(SWT)

I’ve been on a course recently on the Life in the Hereafter and once of the things which have stood out for me was the aspect of how every part of our body has its own way of remembering Allah(SWT).

“Two eyes will not be touched by fire; an eye that sheds a tear out of the fear of Allah and an eye that spends the night inthe service of Allah.” [Tirmidhi]

From the above hadith we can understand that the eye’s way of remembering Allah is to shed a tear, obviously tied in with the emotion behind it – the fear and awe of our Creator and Sustainer. This also points to the understanding that the other parts of our body have their ways of remembering Allah (SWT) as well. For example, the skin would be the shivering or the hairs standing up on our arms, the hands would be it’s being lifted up for dua, the mouth will be the dhikr of Allah(SWT), the legs would be the walking towards good actions or the pain it feels from sitting in Salaah, the entire body could be it’s tiredness from ibaadah.

We should acknowledge these forms of the remeberance of Allah(SWT) and aim to make our entire bodies reverberate with Ibaadah in His name. He is our sustainer and Creator, He has given us so many mercies and goodness in this life, it is only fitting that we submit our entire being to him in everything we do.

Wasalaam.