"O my soul, it is only a few days, bear them patiently.A lifetime seems long but a flitting reverie"

~Imam Shafi~
" “The heart will rest and feel relief if it is settled with Allah and it will worry and be anxious if it is settled with people.” – Ibn al-Qayyim"....Say : "This is my way; I invite unto Allah with sure knowledge, I and whosoever follows me with sure knowledge" (Qur'an - 12:108) "Say: we believe in God and in what has been revealed to us, and what was revealed to Abraham, Isma'il: Isaac, Jacob and The Tribes, and in (the Books) given to Moses, Jesus and the Prophets, from their Lord: We make no distinction between one and another, among them, and to God do we bow our will (in Islam)." (Qur'an, Al-Imran 3:84) . "And if he (Muhammad SAW) had forged a false saying concerning Us (Allah),We would have seized him by the right hand;And then certainly should have cut off his life artery (Aorta),And none of you could withhold Us from (punishing) him" (Qur'an,Al-Haqqah 69:44-47) "Do they not ponder the Quran! If it were revealed from a source other than Allah,certainly they would have found,many contradictions."[Holy Quran 4:82] " O man! Verily, you are returning towards your Lord with your deeds and actions (good or bad), a sure returning, and you will meet (i.e. the results of your deeds which you did)" [Holy Qur'an, 84:6] Say, "Is it other than Allah I should desire as a lord while He is the Lord of all things? And every soul earns not [blame] except against itself, and no bearer of burdens will bear the burden of another. Then to your Lord is your return, and He will inform you concerning that over which you used to differ." ~Holy Quran 6:164 Imam Malik (rh): “Do not look to the sins of people as if you are Lords, but look to your own sins as if you are slaves. Have mercy on the people of affliction and praise Allah for your well-being, and never say, ‘This person is from the people of Hellfire, and this person is from the people of Paradise.’ Do not be arrogant over the sinners, but rather ask Allah to grant them hidayah and rashad (i.e. guidance).” Ibn Kathir (Ra) narrated: كان نقش خاتم عمر بن الخطاب رضي الله عنه : كفى بالموت واعظاً ياعمر “The engraving on ‘Umar ibn al Khataab’s(Ra) ring was: “Sufficient is death as an admonisher O Umar”. ["Al-Bidaayah wan-Nihaaya]. "When you fear the creation, you run away from it, but when you fear the Creator, you feel close to Him,& run towards Him.".Ibn Qayyim . "Allahumma la‘aisha illa‘aish-al-Aakhirah": 'There is no life but the life of the next world' "And worship your Lord until there comes to you the certainty (i.e. death)". (Quran 15:99) “And those who strive for Us – We will surely guide them to Our ways.And indeed, Allah is with the doers of good.” [Quran: 29:69] "... And my success is not but through Allah . Upon him I have relied, and to Him I return." ~ Al Quran 11:88
"Nothing in this world is really useful to you unless it has some utility and value for the next world"-Imam Ali(R)

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

How Sura Ad-Duha Can Change Our life

How Sura Ad-Duha Can Change Our life

Many of us know surah ad-duha off by heart and have probably read its meaning many times as well, which seems quite straightforward. How many of us, though, have actually gone into the reason behind its revelation and derived the lessons and implications this surah has in our lives?

This surah was revealed to Prophet Muhammad (saw) at a time when he had not received any revelation for six months, not even in the form of a dream! The Prophet (saw) was in a very disturbed state of mind, feeling negative and depressed and believing that Allah was displeased with him, had forgotten him, and did not want him as a Nabi anymore.

Don’t we have similar feelings in our lives? Times when our level of imaan is low, our khushoo insalah wavers and we feel a drop in our connection with Allah? We feel like our duas are not being answered, our salah is not having a positive impact on our hearts, and worst of all the feeling that we’re horrible human beings, that Allah doesn’t love us or doesn’t care about us anymore.

Surah Ad-Duha was revealed to the Prophet (saw) to relieve him of these negative feelings and to give him hope, positivity, and the assurance that Allah is with him no matter what. From it we too can find peace, hope, and a renewed faith in Allah when we go through similar states of depression, sadness, and hopelessness.

So what does this surah say?

Wad duhaa— By the morning brightness

This is the first thing you need to hear when you’re depressed: Wake up, look at the sunshine! Everything in life is not doom and gloom– you just have to look up!

Wal laili iza sajaa— And [by] the night when it covers with darkness,

Why is this aayah immediately talking about darkness? As a reminder to us that the night is meant to cover and give us comfort and rest.

Generally when we’re depressed, we tend to get into a very bad sleep pattern by staying up at night and sleeping all day, thereby worsening our state of mind. This aayah reminds us to use the night as a comfort to ease our distress.

Ma wad da’aka rabbuka wa ma qalaa— Your Lord has not taken leave of you, [O Muhammad], nor has He detested [you].

This is a very powerful verse from Allah telling us that He doesn’t hate us and hasn’t forgotten us– reminding the depressed person that He is always by his or her side!

Walal-aakhiratu khairul laka minal-oola— And the Hereafter is better for you than the first [life].

Many times when we’re depressed we think: Is this all my life is going to be? Is it never going to get better?

This aayah serves as a perfect answer to those questions, reminding us that life in this world is temporary and that Aakhira is certainly a better, more permanent place for us than this world could ever be.

This makes us look forward to attaining our place in Jannah and helps us look at any problems in our lives as temporary tests of our faith from Allah.

Wa la sawfa y’uteeka rabbuka fatarda— And your Lord is going to give you, and you will be satisfied.

A promise from Allah that very soon he will give us a massive reward (Jannah) and we will be happy! Subhanallah!

Isn’t this the best thing to hear when you’re depressed and fed up with this worldly life and the problems you’re facing?

Alam ya jidka yateeman fa aawaa – Did He not find you an orphan and give [you] refuge?

From this verse onwards, Allah gives us reason to believe His declarations and promises in the first half of the surah.

Now many of us may think:  how would this aayah about orphans relate to the majority of us?Think about it– weren’t there many times in your life when you were sick or lonely and felt like you had nobody who cared about you? Who was the only one by your side at that time? Allah! It was He who took care of you and guided you out of that stage in life.

Wa wa jadaka daal lan fahada— And He found you lost and guided [you].

How many of us, despite being born Muslims, have found ourselves misguided and straying away from Islam in the past? It was Allah who gave us that hidaya and brought us back to the straight path and to Him and made us practicing Muslims. Alhamdulillah!

Wa wa jadaka ‘aa-ilan fa aghnaa— And He found you poor and made [you] self-sufficient.

Many of us have probably gone through many periods in our lives when we have been short of money and wealth. Now when we look back we realize that it was only Allah who gave us thatrizq in some form and got us through those tough financial times.

When a person is depressed, giving him or her examples of how Allah has helped them in the past will strengthen their conviction and belief in the promises Allah makes in this surah for their future.

Fa am mal yateema fala taqhar — So as for the orphan, do not oppress [him].

This aayah is the ultimate antidote to depression!

Depressed people are mostly consumed with their situation and feel that nobody could possibly be in a worse situation.

This aayah reminds us to look at people who are in far worse situations than ourselves when we’re feeling hopeless and depressed— Look at the orphans, who have no family or loved ones and nobody to care for them. We have families and parents who love us, a roof over our heads and food on the table and we still think we’re in a bad situation? Subhanallah!

Wa am mas saa-ila fala tanhar— And as for the petitioner, do not repel [him].

Another example is of the beggar – to once again remind us of the many material blessings that Allah has given us that we take for granted – food, clothing and shelter. How many of us have ever gone to sleep hungry? How many of us don’t have clothes to wear? Or don’t have a home to go to?

These examples of the orphan and the beggar are ones we should constantly remind ourselves of to be thankful for the numerous blessings Allah has given us, get over our depression and feel connected to Allah again, out of gratitude.

Wa amma bi ne’mati rabbika fahad dith – But as for the favor of your Lord, report [it].

This final aayah is about maintaining that renewed faith and bond with Allah – by pondering, glorifying and talking about the blessings of Allah! Either in terms of halaqas, discussions with family and friends or even da’wah! Dhikr, reading quran and listening to lectures are also great ways to keep the remembrance of Allah close to your heart!

So the next time you feel disconnected, disheartened or depressed with your level of Imaan and your connection with Allah – read Surah Ad Duha and ponder over its meanings – Inshallah it will restore your faith and increase your belief in the greatness and power of Allah.

by Amani Iqbal

Monday, September 14, 2015

For the intellectual and contemplating people ...

The Augustness and Excellence of the Passage

The passage of present discussion spans ayahs (verses) 190-195 of surah (chapter) Al-e-`Imran.This passage is of particular significance for it outlines the Qur’anic mode of reasoning as it relates to thesynthesis of iman (faith). The excellence of this passage is indicated by the fact that the ProphetMuhammad (SAW) had an especial fondness for these ayahs. It would suffice to quote two hadiths (sayings of the Prophet) to convey the excellence of this passage:

“Abdullah bin `Umar once inquired of Aisha (RAA):’O Mother of the Faithful! Tell me something about the Prophet (SAW) which was most dear to you.’ She replied, ‘Everything about the Prophet (SAW) was endearing and charming. However, as you have enquired, I will convey to you an incident. One night the Prophet (SAW) came to me (to spend the night and after a while), he asked me, ‘O Aishah! Permit me to worship my Lord tonight.’ I replied, ‘O Messenger of Allah! I fancy your company but that which is beloved to you is even more beloved to me. You have my permission.’ The Prophet (SAW) then stood in prayer and began to weep to the point that his beard became drenched with tears. Then he made a long prostration and during this time he kept weeping so much so that the place of prostration became drenched with tears. Then he lied down (after prayer) but his weeping continued until it was dawn. 

At this time Bilal (RAA) came to inform him (SAW) of the morning prayer and upon seeing the Prophet’s condition,tried to cajole him: ‘O Prophet (SAW) for what reason do you weep? Even if you have committed a mistake then Allah (SWT) has already forgiven all your mistakes.’ To this the Prophet (SAW) replied, ‘O Bilal! Why would I not weep when my Lord has revealed tonight these ayahs upon me.’ After this the Prophet (SAW)recited: ‘Behold! in the creation of the heavens and the earth and the alternation of night and day there are indeed Signs for men of understanding… ‘” [Quoted in Al-Tafseer al-Kabeer]

In another hadith Ali (RAA) relates:
It was a routine of the Prophet (SAW) that whenever he (SAW) woke up for night prayers he (SAW) wouldrecite these (same) verses.  [Quoted in Al-Tafseer al-Kabeer]
These two narrations indicate that the Prophet (SAW) had a strong penchant for the ayahs underdiscussion.

The Theme of the Passage: Synthesis of Faith

The theme of this passage is the synthesis of iman; that is, how does iman come into being?What is the mutual relation among the three main articles of iman –Allah (SWT), the Hereafter and the Prophets? What is the Qur’anic mode of argument regarding iman? What is the Qur’anic approach towards the confirmation of the life Hereafter? What are the practical manifestations of iman once it takesroot in a believer? These are all important questions that lie at the heart of the Qur’anic discourse, for iman is the very foundation of Islam. Therefore, before proceeding on with the piecemeal analysis of the concerned passage, let us discuss a few basic points pertaining to the subject of iman.

Some Basic Points Regarding Faith

Faith is essentially to believe in certain metaphysical, unseen realities. It lends itself to two levels: verbal attestation and heartfelt conviction. The first level of faith – legal faith or iman al-fiqhi – is simply the verbal affirmation in the unity of God, the messengership of Muhammad (SAW), the Hereafter, the Hellfire, theParadise, the Resurrection, the Day of Judgment, the Prophets, the Angels, the Divine Books, theRevelation, etcetera. Anyone who simply professes to believe in these realities is considered a Muslim.The vast majority of Muslims today have inherited this type of faith from their parents or the surrounding environment.

The second level of faith – true faith or iman al-haqeeqi – deals with the heartfelt conviction.  This is thelevel of faith at which the believer consciously asserts and affirms his belief, beyond any shadow of doubt,in the aforementioned metaphysical realities. It is this type of faith which is actually required of a believer for it becomes the basis on which he will be judged in the Hereafter. Thus, it is this true faith which is the subject of the passage under discussion.

A point to be noted here is that inherited faith, though of an unconscious nature, will also incur a type of conviction in a person through the constant observance of Islamic practices and rituals. For just as man’sinner being has an effect on his outer personality, so his conduct and actions affect his inner being.However, this type of conviction, devoid of an intellectual dimension as it is, is not the subject of this passage. This passage deals with the faith which is laboriously and consciously attained through reflection and contemplation. In these ayahs, people of such faith are termed ulul albaab – people of intellect, deep discernment and contemplation.
The Stages of Intellectual Maturity

The process of contemplation and reflection leads the ulul albaab through various stages of intellectual maturity. The first of these stages is the gnosis of Allah (SWT) acquired through constant examination and thoughtful observation of natural phenomena present in the external universe. 

The second stage of this intellectual journey is that of establishing a close relationship with Allah (SWT) and continued reflection upon the signs present in the universe. This confers upon the ulul albaab and awareness of the reality of an afterlife. Hence, the gnosis of Allah (SWT) and recompense of deeds, in consequence of which an awareness of an afterlife, are arrived at via their own personal analysis,observation, reasoning and contemplation. The third stage of this evolutionary thought process is that of a passionate response to the call of a messenger sent by Allah (SWT); for the call of a messenger is nothing more than the reassertion of truths already reverberating in their hearts.

The last ayah (195) of this passage portrays the personality traits of the ulul albaab: such people are not cowardly or weak; they stand up for the Truths that they have come to believe in and put everything at stake for upholding these Truths. They are always ready to spend their wealth, part with their families and, in the final analysis, lay down their lives for the truths they have come to believe in.


Who are the Ulul Albaab?
The passage we are trying to explain deals with the subject matter of iman in reference to a particular type of human individuals viz, the ulul albaab. Naturally, the question arises as to what is meantby ulul albaab? In Arabic, albaab is the plural of lubb which means “core”, “essence”, and “innermost”. This means that the real essence of something is called its lubb. The lubb of the human being is consciousness, intellect, and intelligence. For this reason the philosophers have defined man as an“intelligent and rational being” (Haiwan-e-aqil), pointing to the fact that the essence of man is his intellect and reasoning capacity. Ulul albaab, therefore, are the people of deep reflection and contemplation who follow their intellect and not their vain desires or the carnal promptings of their baser self.

A golden rule of Qur’anic comprehension is that one part of the Qur’an is supported or explained by other parts. Inspecting the Qur’an, we find a similar discourse in ayah 164 of surah Al-Baqarah:

“Behold! In the creation of the heavens and the earth; in the alternation of the night and the day; in the sailing of the ships through the ocean for the profit of mankind; in the rain which Allah sends down from the skies and the life which He gives therewith to an earth that is dead; in the beasts of all kinds that He scatters through the earth; in the change of the winds and the clouds which they trail like their slavesbetween the sky and the earth; (here) indeed are signs for a people that are wise (qaumun ya`qiloon).”  [al-Qur’an 2:164]

Note that the above ayah ends with the term “qaumun ya`qiloon” (the people of intelligence), whereas thepassage of surah Al-e-`Imran under discussion used the term ulul albaab. Consequently, qaumunya`qiloon and ulul albab are one and the same; that is, they are the people of intellect, deep thought andreasoning whose vision of reality has not been beclouded by prejudices and pursuit of purely carnal desires.

One should keep in mind that the vast majority of mankind does not comprise of people who utilize their intellect and reasoning faculty. It would not be too far fetched to term such people as “two legged animals”. They follow their society’s conventional trends and simply mimic the behavior of those around them. They swim in the direction of the social current and tide of their time and only change their direction as the current changes. They never question as to who they are, where have they come from or where they are going?

Contrary to such a character, there always exists, in each society, a minority group who is never satisfied with the practices and beliefs prevalent in their society. They demand rational arguments and logical proofs for the validity of all beliefs and practices. They want to discover for themselves the realities of life via their own intellect and reasoning.

 This group comprises a society’s intelligentsia (the intellectualelite or the brain trust). These are the people whom the Qur’an calls qaumun ya`qiloon or ulul albaab.When these people study the universal, natural phenomena, they find them laden with the signs of theCreator-Lord (SWT) – His Creativity, Wisdom and Power. Hence, the universal, natural phenomena leadthem to the gnosis of Allah (SWT).

Meaning of “ayah”

Both quoted passages (of Al-Baqarah and Al-e-`Imran) use the word “ayaat”. What exactly ismeant by this term? ayaat is plural of ayah which literally means: “sign”, “signpost”, and “memento.” Anayah then is something that reminds you of something else. For example, a handkerchief of an old friend,whom you have forgotten, may serve as a memento to remind you of him. This implies that the memory of the friend had always been in your subconscious mind; the memento simply helped to activate it and bringit to the plain of your consciousness. In this way, the objective of an ayah is thus identified – to remind oneof a forgotten truth or reality. From the Qur’anic perspective, the two universes – the outer universe ofnature and the inner universe of the self – are replete with the signs (ayaat) that serve as mementos andreminders of the Creator (SWT). Qur’an distinctly points to this reality:

“Soon shall We show them Our signs in the universe and within themselves, until it becomes clear to themthat this Qur’an is indeed the truth.” [al-Qur’an 41:53]

The creativity in the universe should remind the thoughtful person of the Creator who created the universe.The artistry of the universe should point to the Artist who painted the universe. The unity of laws andregulations working in all constituents of the universe, both at microcosmic and macrocosmic levels,should indicate the Ultimate Unity responsible for the presence of such laws. The presence of moral lawwithin should direct one’s attention towards the moral being who embedded these laws deep within thehuman psyche. In this manner, everything in the universe is an ayah (sign) of the Creator’s existence(SWT).

The Qur’anic Mode of Argument

The Qur’an does not employ the method of logical reasoning or rational arguments to prove theexistence of Allah (SWT). All the rational arguments put forth to prove the existence of God have beenrejected by philosophers. This is because logical arguments making a case for the existence of God arenegated by other, equally sound, logical arguments. Contrary to this approach, the Qur’an asserts that thecognition of Allah (SWT) is inherently present in the inner denizen of human psyche. Henceforth, when areflective observer, a person of sound intellect whose human nature has not been perverted, studies theuniversal phenomena realizes that the grand design of the universe is too coherent, too integrated, tooorganized and too purposeful to be the work of blind, material and accidental forces. Instead, there is anintelligent, creative, artistic, and Powerful Being who brought the universe into existence with a definitepurpose in mind. Such inquiries into the universe activate, in a person, the inherent, dormant cognition ofAllah (SWT), which leaps from the depths of his sub-conscious mind and illumines the plain of hisconsciousness. The arousal of such an idea dawns upon the person the forgotten truth that the powerfuland creative force working behind the universe could be none other than Allah (SWT) Himself. This is thechain of arguments that the Qur’an employs to establish the existence of Allah (SWT) on an intellectualplain. As is clear, the  Qur’an does not base its argument for Divine existence on strictly demonstrativelogical reasoning. Rather it is based on self-evident truths appreciated by thoughtful minds and primordialhuman nature.

Outcome of Contemplation: Gnosis of Allah (SWT)

A vital issue in the field of theology is: how do we come to know God? What are the means viawhich we can gain recognition of and knowledge about God? The Islamic view on this issue is that there isonly one way to gain knowledge about Allah (SWT) and that is via pondering over His attributes. Thisraises another question: how do we come to realize the attributes of Allah (SWT)? The passage of surah Al-e-`Imran under discussion points to the answer.

The investigation of the universal phenomena reveals a few basic attributes of Allah (SWT) and reflectionupon these attributes leads one on the path of knowledge about Him (SWT). The investigator of universalphenomena first of all realizes that the Creator of the universe is an All-Powerful Being who has controland power over everything. His Power is Absolute and there is nothing which falls outside His Jurisdiction.Secondly, the Creator must also be All-Knowing for the one who designed and created the universe musthave complete and total knowledge of all that occurs throughout the expanse of the universe; that is, HisKnowledge must be Absolute. The Qur’an points to this reality in the following words:

“Should He not know, He who created? And He is the One who is subtle (understands the finest mysteriesand) is well-acquainted (with them).” [al-Qur’an 67:14]

Thirdly, even a cursory glance upon the universe unfolds Allah’s (SWT) attribute of Wisdom. For all thathas been created seems to have a definite purpose behind it. Hence, the Creator of this universe must bean All-Wise Creator whose Wisdom is manifested in all the workings of the universe.

Once the ulul albaab grasp Allah’s (SWT) basic attributes, these become the basis of furthercontemplation into the finer mysteries of the universe. Charged with the conscious cognition of Allah(SWT), they now constantly remember their Lord (SWT) and continuously praise Him at all times andcontinue the quest to quench their thirst for further comprehension:

“Men who celebrate the praises of Allah standing sitting and lying down on their sides and contemplate the(wonders of) creation in the heavens and the earth (with the thought): “Our Lord! Not for naught have Youcreated (all) this! Glory to You! Give us salvation from the penalty of the fire.” [al-Qur’an 3:191]

Mutual Relation and Correlation between Remembrance and Contemplation
The passage quoted above mentions remembrance and contemplation in close proximity. It is necessary to understand the relationship between these two processes. The term, in Arabic, for the remembrance of Allah (SWT) is zikr and the term for contemplation is fikr. It is apparent from the ayah thatthese two processes should be carried on hand in hand, in parallel.

 The functioning relationship of the two processes is similar to the two wheels of an automobile; to move forward, both wheels must move forward together and with the same velocity. It is a sad and unfortunate fact of our history that these two processes have been separated, and consequently, estranged from each other. The separation and estrangement resulted in the unfortunate fact that each process took on a distinct identity, far apart from the prescribed practices of the Prophet (SAW) and his companions (RAA): one group concerns itself only with zikr and pays no heed to the dimension of fikr. While the group involved in fikr is bereft of zikr. This is why the envisioned results have not been achieved. In reality, the correlation between the two is that zikr provides the impetus and the motivation for fikr.

Note that zikr should not be taken in its conventional, limited understanding as the verbal chantingof some prescribed words. Rather, it should be taken in its widest sense. zikr embodies verbalremembrance and silent contemplation of Allah (SWT), His Omnipresence, His Omnipotence, and soforth. The true implication of zikr is to keep the remembrance of Allah (SWT) alive in one’s heart in allplaces and at all times, whether through contemplation, verbal chanting or any other act which remindsone of his Lord (SWT).

A Necessary Consequence of Intellectual Insight and Primordial Human Nature: Recompense of Deeds

The convergence of parallel processes of zikr and fikr results in the awareness of an afterlife,mentioned  next in the passage in the following words:
“…our Lord! You have not created this (universe) in vain! Glory to You! Give us salvation from the penaltyof the fire.”  [al-Qur’an 3:191]

A thoughtful reader will notice that there is a lapse in the logical chain of arguments from zikr and fikr tothe seeking of refuge from Hellfire. For how do the zikr of Allah (SWT) and the contemplation over theuniverse yield the conception of an afterlife and Hellfire? The argument goes as follows: the contemplationover the universe reveals the truth that everything in the universe, macroscopic and microscopic, has apurpose. Therefore the question naturally arises: how is it possible that the universe as whole and its mostfantastic, superb and highest evolved life-form – the human being – may have been created in vain,without a purpose. And if the human being has a purpose in this life then his deeds must be accounted for.For according to a Persian proverb – “planting of wheat should yield wheat and barley that of barley” – the plantation of good deeds should be harvested as reward and the plantation of evil deeds should beharvested as punishment. The Qur’an points to these arguments in its own mode of expression:

“Nor can Goodness and Evil be equal”.[al-Qur’an 41:34]
“Shall We then treat the People of Faith like the People of Sin? What is the matter with you? How foolishlydo you judge!”  [al-Qur’an 68:35-36]

Reality on ground is, however, quite to the contrary. For common observation shows that the evildoers live a grand life and are often saluted and honored in the world, whereas the righteous and pious are oftenscorned and looked down upon with contempt. The result of this observation points to the fact that thereshould then be another life where good should be rewarded as such and evil should be punished as such.For if good is good and evil is evil and these values are objective and absolute, and whereas their result isnot being produced in this world then this proves that this world is incomplete in relation to ethical conductand its desired outcome. This necessitates the existence of another world where full justice will be metedout to everyone in accordance with his or her deeds.


According to Shaikh al-Hind, Mahmood Hassan (RA), ayahs 190-192 of surah Al-e-`Imran are concerned with “iman-e-`aqli” (intellectual faith) – the process of attaining faith in Allah (SWT) and and awareness of the Hereafter via the intellectual reasoning as outlined in the previous section. The subject ofnext three ayahs (193-195) is labeled as “iman-e-sam`ee” (audition based faith) by Shaikh al-Hind. That is,when the ulul albaab, having successfully traversed the process of iman-e-`aqli, hear the call of a prophet,they instantly answer his call. This is so because the call of the prophet is based on truths and realities that ulul albaab have already grasped intuitively by their intellects. Hence, the call of the prophet seems to them as nothing more than the echoes of truths reverberating in their own hearts. Upon accepting the call of a prophet, their emotions and feelings are spontaneously articulated in the form of a supplication:

“Our Lord! We have heard the call of one calling (us) to faith `Believe in the Lord’ and we have believed.Our Lord! Forgive us our sins, blot out from us our iniquities and take to Yourself our souls in the companyof the righteous. Our Lord! Grant us what You promised unto us through Your prophets and save us fromshame on the Day of Judgment: for You never break Your promise.” [al-Qur’an 3:193-194]

We should pause at this juncture to reflect upon the significance of du’a (supplication) in Islam.According to two sayings of the Prophet (SAW): du’a is the essence of `ibadah (worship); and du’a is itself(a form of) `ibadah. This is due to the fact that du’a is the link between the Lord (SWT) and His slaves bywhich the slaves communicate to their Lord (SWT), call upon Him and converse with Him (SWT). Inaddition, du’a is a manifestation of faith for it proves that the believer recognizes the Lord (SWT) asAll-Hearing and All-Seeing, that He (SWT) alone can answer his call for He (SWT) is All-Powerful and hasAbsolute Authority over all matters.
Condition of the Faith of True Believers

Within the Qur’anic discourse, the people whose faith in Islam is the result of intellectual and audition based faiths are termed siddiqeen (singular siddeeq). The major characteristic of siddiqeen, whichdistinguishes them from other believers, is that they leap forward to accept a prophet’s call without a moment’s hesitation. They are likened to the believer who, after performing wudu` (ritual purity),impatiently waits for the prayer-call and the moment the call is sounded scurries to the masjid. Among thesiddiqeen, the personality  of Abu Bakr (RAA) is prominent about whom the Prophet (SAW) said:whosoever I invited to Islam took some time to accept it except Abu Bakr (RAA), who did not hesitate evenfor a moment. It is for this reason that Abu Bakr (RAA) is called “al-siddeeq al-akbar” (The Greatest siddeeq i.e. testifier).

We must ponder why this was so? It was because Abu Bakr (RAA) had no difficulty in accepting theProphet’s (SAW) call for the call was nothing more than a reverberation of Abu Bakr’s (RAA) own thoughtsand beliefs that he had come to accept having traversed the process of iman-e-`aqli. Abu Bakr (RAA) wasnot the lone case however. In that land of vulgar paganism and polytheism, a land sunk deep in thedarkness of ignorance and backwardness, there were individuals whose hearts were illumined with thelight of tauheed (Unity of God) and whose inner nature was pure and pristine. Among them, as statedabove, was Abu Bakr (RAA) who had never associated gods with Allah (SWT); just as the Prophet (SAW),

Abu Bakr (RAA) was also a follower of tauheed from day one. Same was the case with Uthman bin `Affan(RAA) and Sa`eed bin Zaid (RAA), both of whom were among the ten companions given the glad-tidingsof Paradise in their lifetime. In this very land lived the father of Sa`eed bin Zaid (RAA), named Zaid bin‘Amr bin Nufail – who died before the revelation descended upon Prophet Muhammad (SAW) – aboutwhom it is known that he used to supplicate while clinging to the drapes of Ka’bah: “My Lord! I want toworship You alone. I proclaim my disassociation with all these false-gods that the people of Makkah worship.

I want to worship none except You, but do not know how!” In this very land once roamed a manby the name of Waraqah bin Naufil who renounced paganism and sought to discover the True Reality oflife. His search took him to Syria where he learned the Hebrew language and converted to Christianity. At the time when the first revelation descended upon the Prophet (SAW), his (SAW) wife Khadijah (RAA)took the Prophet (SAW) to Waraqah. Waraqah confirmed that the man who appeared to the Prophet(SAW) was the same angel who had descended upon Musa (AS) and Isa (AS). He further informed the Prophet (SAW) that he wished to live to see the day when the people of Makkah would force him (SAW)out of the city so that he can help him (SAW). However, he died soon thereafter. In summation, thesiddiqeen are characterized by sound intellect and pristine pure nature; people whose iman is the result ofboth iman-e-a`qli and iman-e-sam`ee. The Qur’an mentions them in another place:
“And when they listen to the revelation received by the prophet you will see their eyes overflowing with tears for they recognize the truth: they pray: ‘Our Lord! We believe! Write us down among the witnesses.’”[al-Qur’an 5:83]
The especial regard for the siddiqeen by Allah (SWT) is evident from the fact that their supplication (ayahs 192-194) mentioned above is promptly responded to by their Lord (SWT):
“And their Lord has accepted of them and answered them (their prayers): ‘Never will I suffer to be lost the work of any of you be he male or female: You are members one of another (equal to one another).”[al-Qur’an 3:195]

Spiritual Equality of Men and Women

Ayah quoted above states the view of Islam in relation to the equality of men and women. TheAyah refers to the fact that men and women enjoy an equal status in the domains of spirituality, morality and seeking of  religious stature. The apparent differences in disposition and bodily makeup of the two genders is only for sociological reasons. Whereas, in reality, when it comes to virtuous deeds, charitable works, and working for the cause of Islam, there is absolutely no difference in the status of two genders.The field is wide open for both genders to outdo each other in these arenas. No efforts of anyone shall be lost, whether male or female. This is evident from the fact that due to their spirituality, morality and purity,many great and exalted women – for example, Maryam (RAA), Khadijah (RAA), `Aisha (RAA) and Fatimah(RAA) – will outdo, surpass and be elevated much higher  above the ranks of a great number of men inthe Hereafter.

A Glimpse of Siddiqeen’s Character

The remaining Ayahs of the passage portray the personality traits of the siddiqeen:
“…those who have left their homes or been driven out or suffered harm in My cause and killed and were killed. Surely I will blot out from them their iniquities and admit them into gardens with rivers flowing beneath; a reward from the presence of Allah and with Him is the best of rewards.” [al-Qur’an 3:195]

The above Ayah mentions hijrah which is usually understood in a limited sense of migration. However, it may be taken here in its widest sense. The literal meaning of hijrah is: “to part”, “to leave”, and “toabandon”. This abandoning admits of various stages and levels during the course of a person’s life. The Prophet (SAW) was questioned: “Which hijrah is the greatest?” To this he (SAW) replied, “That you abandon all that is disliked by your Lord”. This defines the first stage of hijrah:,that of abandoning all haram (unlawful) practices. The final stage is the one mentioned in the passage under discussion: to leave one’shomeland where it becomes impossible to adhere to one’s religion and migrate elsewhere for the sake of Islam. Hence, siddiqeen are people who give up all actions disliked by their Lord (SWT); they even part from their families if they insist on disobeying Allah (SWT) and, in the final analysis, if it is so required, they leave their homelands and migrate to another place to uphold their faith and to act on Islamic injunctions in their totality.

The next portion of the Ayah refers to those who were “driven out.” One may object to thi sassertion and instead say that the Makkans did not ask the Muslims to leave Makkah. In fact they wanted to keep them there. However, the fact of matter was that the persecution meted out to the Muslims had become so severe that it became impossible for them to stay in Makkah. Hence, the Muslims were forcedto leave their houses in Makkah and migrate elsewhere to freely practice their faith in peace and security. The severity and extent of the persecution dished out to Muslims is mentioned in the next portion as“suffered harm in My cause”. The physical torture of Bilal (RAA) and Khabbaab (RAA) and the murders of Sumiyyah (RAA) and Yasir (RAA) are only few examples of oppression and tyranny suffered by the Muslims at the hands of the pagan Makkans. One may ask: what was the crime of these individuals? It was nothing more than that they renounced the pagan ideology and practices of their godless society and proclaimed their belief in the Unity of God (SWT) and divine messenger-ship of Muhammad (SAW).

Thus far the conditions mentioned were those of Makkan life. Now the Ayah mentions the struggle experienced in the life of Madinah as: “killed and were killed.” In Makkah, the Muslims were commandedto refrain from retaliation, however, this restriction was lifted in Madinah and they took to the battle field. Inthis endeavor they fought, killed, and were killed themselves. The martyrdom on the battle field for thesake of Truth, justice and peace is the highest good, the epitome of virtuous conduct in Islam. Hence, the siddiqeen are not just the people of spiritual pursuits alone; rather, they fully partake of the struggles and hardships of life, without seeking escape to jungles and mountains. They are so dynamic and full of religious conviction that they do not hesitate to move forward in the battlefield and lay down their lives forthe cause of their faith. For this service and loyalty, they are promised by their Lord (SWT): 

“Surely I will blot out from them their iniquities”; that is, all mistakes and sins (major and minor) committed by them will be washed away in return for their struggle for Islam and hardships suffered in this cause. More than this,they will be admitted “into gardens with rivers flowing beneath; a special reward from Allah”. 

The mentionof “special reward from Allah” is of particular importance. These rewards shall be bestowed upon themfrom special treasures of Allah (SWT) possessed only by Him. The final words of the passage, “with Him isthe best of rewards”, should be heeded. Our whole life is defined by struggles and hardships. We struggle,toil and labor for the sake of our children, our careers, for other worldly benefits, but none of these objectsof fancy provide us any certainty of due payback. Often all such worldly efforts fail and in the end we areleft with nothing but sorrow and loss. However, every deed, every investment and every moment spent forthe sake of Allah (SWT), for His cause, for His deen is saved and earns blissful eternal life for the rewardsof such endeavors are everlasting.  Consequently, only Allah (SWT) has the Power and the Authority tofully recompense all our deeds in due proportion.


Sunday, July 12, 2015

Steps to Draw Closer to Allah

It should be the desire of every Muslim to draw nearer and closer to Almighty Allah the most compassionate and the most merciful. By drawing closer and near to Allah we gain his help in every aspect of our lives in this world and to be merciful to us so that we may gain mercy in the hereafter in order to enter Jannah in the next world.

When we call upon him he would answer our calls and when we ask of him for anything he would give it to us and when we draw nearer to him then our sincerity and intentions will enable us to become closer to him.

So we should strive to draw nearer to Allah, the Glorified the Exalted, who is the majesty of honour and generosity and the giver of peace, the most high and the most honoured.

So what can we do to draw closer to him? The following are 10 steps for us to draw closer to our Almighty Allah:

1. Fulfilling obligatory duties and abstaining from prohibited matters

The Prophet (May Allah bless him and grant him peace) has guided us. And Allah, the Glorified and the Exalted, has guided us how to draw near to Him. As He said According to Hadith Qudsi:

“Whoever draws near to Me among those drawn near by fulfilling what I have made obligatory on them….

You do not draw near to Allah except by fulfilling the obligatory duties which Allah has made obligatory on you; (that is) the obligatory duties from the obligatory duties (Faraid) such as Prayers, and Zakat (obligatory charity), and Hajj, and Fasting and being good to Parents and all these obligatory duties on you draw you near to Allah, the Glorified and the Exalted. And the faraid (obligatory duties) are the first things that draw you near to Allah. You do not reach the door of nearness nor do you reach to the presence of nearness except by fulfilling the obligatory duties. This is the first thing that draws you near to Allah, the Glorified and the Exalted, and you are in His Presence.

So the first thing we need to do is fulfil ALL of our obligatory duties and abstain from that which Allah and his messenger have forbidden us from.

2. Nawafil prayers (superogatory prayers)

Allah says in Hadith Qudsi:

….and My slave keeps on coming closer to Me through performing Nawafil (voluntary deeds) until I love him, so I become his sense of hearing with which he hears, and his sense of sight with which he sees, and his hand with which he grips, and his leg with which he walks; and if he asks Me, I will give him, and if he asks My Protection, I will protect him..." [Bukhari]

A Source of Elevation for you

The Prophet (sallAllahu alayhi wasallam) said: "Ask (anything)." Rabi'ah said: "I ask of you to be your companion in paradise." The Prophet said: “Anything else?" Rabi'ah said: "That is it." The Prophet (sallAllahu alayhi wasallam) said to him: "Then help me by making many prostrations (i.e., supererogatory prayers)." [Muslim]


Allah Most High said, “Establish worship at the going down of the sun until the dark of the night, and (the recital of) the Qur’an at dawn. Lo! (the recital of) the Qur’an at dawn is ever witnessed. And some part of the night awake for its recital, as voluntary worship for you. It may be that your Lord will raise you to a praised estate.” [Qur’an, 17: 78-79]

Abu Hurayra (Allah be pleased with him) reports that the Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace be upon him, his family, and companions) said, “The best prayer after the obligatory prayers is the night prayer.” [Muslim]

Abu Umama al-Bahili (Allah be pleased with him) reports that the Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace be upon him, his family, and companions) said, “Hold fast to night prayer, for it was the way of the righteous before you, a way of drawing closer to your Lord, an expiation for wrong deeds, and a shield from sin.” [Tirmidhi, and others] In some narrations, there is an addition, “And it repels sickness from the body.”

And because night vigil time is the best of times for voluntary worship and prayer, and the closest a servant is to his Lord.

So let us make the habit of reading as many Nawafil prayers as we can for more prayers means more prostrations and one is truly the closest to Allah in prostration.

….bow down in prostration and bring yourself the closer (to Allah)." (96:19)

3. Zikr (remembrance of Allah) and glorification of Allah

"…Verily, in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find rest." (13:28)

Remembrance of Allah indeed is the greatest virtue.(29:46).

O ye who believe, remember Allah much. And glorify Him morning and evening (33:42-43)

Remembrance of Allah is the foundation of all good deeds. Whoever succeeds in it is blessed with the close friendship of Allah. That is why the Prophet, peace be upon him, used to make remembrance of Allah at all times. When a man complained, "The laws of Islam are too heavy for me, so tell me something that I can easily follow," the Prophet told him, "Let your tongue be always busy with the remembrance of Allah." [Ahmad].

Remembrance of Allah the best of deeds

The Prophet, peace be upon him, would often tell his Companions, "Shall I tell you about the best of deeds, the most pure in the sight of your Lord, about the one that is of the highest order and is far better for you than spending gold and silver, even better for you than meeting your enemies in the battlefield where you strike at their necks and they at yours?" The Companions replied, "Yes, O Messenger of Allah!" The Prophet, peace be upon him, said, "Remembrance of Allah." (Tirmidhi,Ahmad)

Abu Musa Al-Ash`ari (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: The Prophet (PBUH) said, "The similitude of one who remembers his Rubb and one who does not remember Him, is like that of the living and the dead.'' [Al-Bukhari and Muslim].

Zikr can be done anywhere and anytime

A person may ask, ‘How can we do Zikr all the time whilst we have so many things to do in life such as we go to work, feed the family, pay bills, etc.? Well, the answer to this is that, firstly, it is the Sunnah of Allah's Messenger to work and feed the family which is rewarded by Allah and, secondly, that when a person is working or at school or wherever a person may be this does not mean that he should stop remembering Allah while he is working, while he is serving his customers or while he is programming his computer.

In fact the heart of the believer should be attached to Allah's remembrance throughout his day to day activities such that he protects himself from falling in love with the materials and temptations of this world and that his love for Allah and his Messenger becomes stronger and stronger as time goes by. When a person begins to remember Allah all the time it is then that he becomes conscious of his actions.

Remember: in a place where people are oblivious to dhikir, remembrance of Allah is like being steadfast in jihad, when others are running away. (Targhib, p. 193, vol. 3 ref. Bazar and Tibrani)

"... And the men and the women who remember Allah much with their hearts and tongues. Allah has prepared for them forgiveness and a great reward (i.e., Jannah).'' (33:35)

4. Calling upon Allah in Dua (supplication)

Allah the most compassionate says in the Holy Quran, "Call on Me. I will answer your prayer, but those who are too arrogant to serve me will surely find themselves humiliated in Hell" (40:60).

Allah the Exalted, has said: "And your Lord says: Pray unto me: and I will hear your prayer" (Quran 40:60),

"Call upon your Lord Humbly and in secret" (Quran 7:55),

"When My servants question thee concerning Me, I am indeed close (to them): I listen to the prayer of every suppliant when he calleth on Me" (Quran 2:186),

"Is not He (best) who listens to the (soul) distressed when it calls on Him, and who relieves its suffering." (Quran 27:62)

Dua’s are never wasted

Aisha radhiallaahu anha said, "No believer makes Dua and it is wasted. Either it is granted here in this world or deposited for him in the Hereafter as long as he does not get frustrated."

Allah’s anger at those who don’t make dua

In fact, it is even wrong to never make Dua, "Whosoever does not supplicate to Allah, He will be angry with Him." [Saheeh Jaami`as-Sagheer #2414]

Dua is a weapon for the believers

Rasullullah is reported to have said, “Dua is the weapon of a Muslim”.

Dua for ones brother in his absence

"The supplication that gets the quickest answer is the one made by one Muslim for another in his absence." [Abu Daw'ud and Tirmidhi]

So let us build a close relationship with Allah by making much dua to him. He loves it when his slave calls upon him and it angers him if his slave does not call upn him.

Let us have full hope that our dua’s will be accepted and if you think they won’t they know Allah is keeping the rewards for you in the hereafter and those rewards are so great that one would wish that none of there duas were excepted in this world just so that one can gain all the rewards for their duas in the next world.

5. Building a close relationship with the Qur’an

Recite the Holy Qur’aan as much as we can for It will come as an intercessor for its reciter’ on the Day of Judgement [Muslim]
Learn the Qur’an and recite it, because the example of one who learns the Qur’an, reads it and recites it in Tahajjud is like an open bag full of musk whose fragrance permeates the entire place. And the person who has learnt the Qur’an but sleeps while the Qur’an is in the heart is like a bag full of musk but with its mouth closed.

Virtues of reciting the Qur’an

“Whoever reads a letter from the Book of Allah will receive a hasanah (good deed) from it (i.e. his recitation), and the hasanah is multiplied by ten. I do not say that Alif-Laam-Meem is (considered as) a letter, rather Alif is a letter, Laam is a letter, and Meem is a letter.” [At-Tirmidhi, Ad-Darimi]

“There is no envy (acceptable) except in two (cases): a person whom Allah has given the Qur’an and recites it throughout the night and throughout the day. And a person whom Allah has given wealth, that he gives out throughout the night and throghout the day.” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]

It was narrated that Abdullah ibn Mas’ud said: Whoever reads Tabarakallahi Biyadihil Mulk [i.e. Surah al-Mulk] every night, Allah will protect him from the torment of the grave. At the time of the Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him) we used to call it al-mani’ah (that which protects). In the Book of Allah it is a surah which, whoever recites it every night has done very well. (an-Nasa’i)

Abdullah Ibn ‘Abbas and Anas Ibn Malik (Ra) reported that the Prophet (Peace be upon him) said, ‘Whoever recited Surah Zilzilah (99) would get the reward of reciting half the Qur’an. Whoever recited Surah al Kaafirun (109) would get a reward as if reading a quarter of the Qur’an. Whoever recited Surah al Ikhlas (112) would get a reward as if reading one third of the Qur’an’. (At-Tirmidhi 2818/A)

Reading, understanding and implementing the Qur’an in our daily lives

The virtues of reciting the Qur’an are too numerous to list. In order to get closer to Allah we need to recite the Qur’an, understand it and implement it in our daily lives.

We should make a target of reading at least a chapter a day. If one can’t manage that then at least half a chapter. If one still can’t manage that then recite at least quarter of a chapter or even a page a day. However much we can manage we should try to recite each day with its meanings and implement what we learn into our daily lives.

Reading a little each day is better than reciting a lot once in a while. We should build a close relationship with the Qur’an which is in fact building a close relationship with Allah!

“Verily Allah raises nations by this book (the Qur’an) and puts down (i.e. destroys) others by it.” [Muslim]

6. Keeping good company

One of the most important things we must do, which sadly many people neglect, is that we should avoid bad company. People we should avoid taking as friends those who speak too freely, who miss Salah, who do not dress modestly, who backbite, slander etc.

The company of such people is poison; just even sitting and talking with them will lead one to commit sins. Just as a person who sits for a long time with a perfume seller begins to smell nice, and a person who sits by a gutter cleaner begins to smell awful, similarly a person who spends time in the company of the wicked eventually gets affected badly by them.

Rather, we should seek out pious friends who fear Allah taala and who have the qualities of humility, charity, compassion, modesty and knowledge. If we sit with them we will always benefit and they will be a means for us to get closer to Allah taala!

The Prophet (saws) said, “The case of the good companion and the bad companion is like that of the seller of musk and the blower of the bellows (iron-smith). As for the seller of musk, he will either give you some of the musk, or you will purchase some from him, or at least you will come away having experienced its good smell. Whereas the blower of the bellows will either burn your clothing, or at least you will come away having experienced its repugnant smell.” [Al-Bukhaaree and Muslim]

Remember: “All friends will be enemies of one another on that Day (Day of Judgment) except those of the virtuous.” (al-Qur’an 43:67)

7. Having fear and hope in Allah

Indeed, no one despairs of relief from Allah except the disbelieving people. (Surah Yusuf 12:87)

One must be hopeful of Allahs mercy and forgiveness and fearful of His punishment. It is this fear that should lead one to seek Allahs forgiveness with hope. Allah says:

Know that Allah is severe in punishment and that Allah is Forgiving and Merciful. (Surat al-Maaidah 5:98)

In the above verse, Allah gives us reason to fear because His punishment is justly severe, as well as good reason to have hope, since He is the Most Forgiving and Merciful. There should be a balance between fear and hope and not too much or too less of one or the other.

We should always remain between fear and hope. For, the right and the approved kind of fear is that which acts as a barrier between the slave and the things forbidden by Allah. But, if fear is excessive, then the possibility is that the man will fall into despair and pessimism.

On the other hand the approved state of optimism is of a man who does good in the light of the Shari'ah and is hopeful of being rewarded for it. Or, conversely, if a man committed a sin, he repents sincerely, and is hopeful of being forgiven. Allah (swt) said:

"Verily, those who believed, and those who migrated and fought in the way of Allah, it is they who are hopeful of Allah's mercy. And Allah is very Forgiving, very Merciful." (Al-Baqarah, 218)

In contrast, if a man indulges in sins and excesses, but is hopeful that he would be forgiven without doing anything good, then, this is self-deception, mere illusion and false hope. Abu 'All Rowzbari has said, "Fear and hope are like the two wings of a bird. If they are well balanced, the flight will be well balanced. But, If one is stunted, the Right would also be stunted. And, to be sure, if the two are lost, the bird will soon be in the throes of death." Allah has praised the people of hope and fear in the following verse:

'Is one who worships devotedly during the night, prostrating himself or standing, fearing the Hereafter, and hoping for the mercy of his Lord (is equal to him who doesn't do these things)?' (Al Zumar, 9)

Hope then also demands fear. If that was not the case, one would be in a state of false security. Conversely, fear demands hope. Without that it would be despair.

Fear and hope, both should be equally proportioned in our hearts, in our worship, and in our dua to Allah. Allah says:

Call out to Him with fear and hope. (Surat al-Araaf 7:56)
They forsake their beds to call their Lord in fear and hope. (Surat as-Sajdah 32:16)

8. Voluntary fasting for the pleasure of Allah

Fasting in general and voluntary fasting in particular is a great worship. Fasting is not restricted to Ramadhan, but it is an act of worship that can be [and should be in some cases] performed at any time and at any place except when not recommended. Indeed, it is a worship that draws the believer closer to Allah and closer to perfection.

Fasting Mondays and Thursdays:

`Aa'ishah said: The Messenger of Allah, salla Allahu alaihi wa salam, used to fast Mondays and Thursdays". [An-Nasaa’i; Sahih]

Abu Hurairah reported that the most the Prophet, salla Allahu alaihi wa salam, would fast would be Monday and Thursday. He was asked about that and he said: "The deeds of people are presented to Allah on every Monday and Thursday. Allah forgives every Muslim except for those who are deserting each other. He says: "leave them for later." [Ahmad; Hasan]

Intention for voluntary fasting

As opposed to Ramadan, the intention does not have to be made before dawn. The person can intend fasting [and start fasting] after dawn any time [even after noon] given that he did not eat anything. `Aa'ishah said : The Prophet, salla Allahu alaihi wa sallam, came to us one day and said, "Do you have any [food]?" We said "No". He said: Therefore, I am Fasting". [Muslim and Abu Dawood]

Fasting three days of every month(White days):

Abu Tharr Al-Ghefari said: "The Messenger of Allah, salla Allahu alaihi wa sallam, said "O Abu Tharr! if you fast three days of every month, then fast the 13th, the 14th and the 15th [these are call the al-ayaam al-beedh, the white days]". [Ahmad, an-Nasaa'i and at-Tirmithi; Sahih]

“Fasting and the Qur’an will intercede for the slave on the Day of Resurrection. Fasting will say: ‘O My Rabb! I prevented him from food and desires, so accept my intercession for him.’ And the Qur’an will say: ‘I prevented him from sleep during the night, so accept my intercession for him.’ He (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) said: ‘And they will (be allowed to) intercede.’” [Ahmad, at-Tabarani, Al-Hakim, Sahih]

So let us get closer to Allah by fasting Mondays and Thursdays or at least 3 days every month on the 14th,15th and 16th. If we leave something for the pleasure of Allah then we will get MUCH greater in return!

9. Sincerely repenting to Allah

Allah says: O son of Adam, if your sins were to reach the clouds of the sky and you would then seek My forgiveness, I would forgive you.

When a person sins and then sincerely turns to Allah for forgiveness, one will find Allah ready to accept his repentance and to forgive him, as this verse indicates:

And whoever does a wrong or wrongs himself, but then seeks forgiveness from Allah, he will find Allah forgiving and merciful. (Surat an-Nisaa 4:110)

Everyone commits sin and does wrong, but Allah is always willing to forgive and He always gives them a chance to repent and seek His forgiveness. A believer should never forget the fact that Allah is so forgiving. If Allah had willed, He could have held everyone accountable for his or her sins, but He has decreed that He shall allow His servants to seek His forgiveness and that He shall in fact forgive who and what He wills. In fact, Allah commands that His servants seek His forgiveness:

And seek Allahs forgiveness. Certainly, Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.
(Surat al-Muzzammil 73:20)

Repentance is an act, which purifies the soul and brings the servant closer to Allah. It puts the heart at rest from guilt. It protects one from falling prey to his desires and lusts and increases his faith.

We must ask ourselves this question: Would we be willing to forgive anyone who hurts us and disobeys us constantly as easily as Allah is Able to forgive? Most probably, the answer would be no. But our Creator is the Most Kind and He is the Most Perfect.

Lo! Allah is a Lord of Kindness to mankind, but most of mankind give not thanks. (Surat al-Baqarah 2:143)

In this Hadithi Qudsi, mankind is encouraged to seek Allahs forgiveness and repent, but there are five conditions of repentance, which must be met for ones repentance to be accepted. The first and most important is that the act of repentance be sincerely for Allah alone. Secondly, the person must feel remorse and guilt over his actions so much so that he wished he had never done it in the first place. The third condition is that the person must immediately cease performing the wrong and sinful act. Fourthly, the repentant person must have a firm intention to never commit the sin again. And lastly, the person must repent before it is too late, meaning before death approaches.

However, there is a condition. One must not associate any partners with Allah, which is shirk. And Allah does not forgive shirk and if one dies without believing in Allah alone as ones Creator, then he will be doomed to the Hellfire for all of eternity. So, Allah emphasizes the importance of calling on Him alone. He has no and needs no partners, associates, wives, children, etc. There is no god, but Allah. None forgives sins except Him, so one who is seeking forgiveness should seek it only from Allah.

Allahs forgiveness and mercy is far greater and vaster than the sins of the creation. One must always have trust and hope in Allah in both good times and bad times and especially when seeking Allahs forgiveness. And the believer who calls out to his Lord for forgiveness demonstrates his true weakness and that he is totally dependent on the Creator.

When one confesses his sins to Allah and sincerely repents with hope in Allahs mercy, the heart should come to peace and the soul should feel rest. When a person has hope, he has no reason to despair because it only leads to destruction. Allah gives hope to all, especially those who despair that there is no reason to despair because Allah is the Most Merciful of all those who show mercy. Allah praises those who repent and turn to Him:

And those who, when they commit a lewd act or wrong themselves with evil, remember Allah and ask forgiveness for their sins and who forgives sins except Allah? And they do not persist in what (wrong) they were doing while they knew it. For such, the reward is forgiveness from their Lord and Gardens with rivers flowing through, wherein they shall abide forever. How excellent is the reward of the doers (of good)! (Surah Ali Imran 3:135-136)

10. Having good manners, character and being humble

Many of us think that “a perfect Muslim” is simply one who is correct in the observance of the salah (ritual Prayer), the fasting, the zakah (payment of a certain portion of one’s wealth to the poor), and the Hajj (pilgrimage to Makkah). This indeed is not the case.

If the ritual observances do not help the person to be humble, virtuous and truly God-fearing, then he or she is not a real Muslim. A Muslim should be good and just in dealing with others, no matter their religion, and take special care to keep away from all the shameful and sinful things Allah (God) has forbidden.

One can never get close to Allah by being arrogant, full of pride and having a bad character and manners. Those who have humility and are humble and have good character and manners are the closest to Allah and Allah raises their ranks in the hereafter.

The superiority of good character:

Hadrat Abu Darda, may Allah be pleased with him, relates that the Holy Prophet Muhammad, may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said, “Nothing is heavier in the scales of a believer on the Day of Judgement than his good behaviour. Allah detests a person who is obscene and shameless”. (Tirmidhi)

Having humility and being humble:

The Prophet (PBUH) said: "He who was humble for the sake of God by one degree, God (SWT) would then elevate them to a degree till they reach the uppermost of high Orders, and he who was arrogant to God (SWT), God (SWT) would then lower him for a degree till he reaches the lowest of low Orders", (Narrated by: Muslim (Hadeeth: 6535).
Al-Nawawi said:

The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “And no one humbles himself before Allaah but Allaah will raise him (in status).”

Humbleness is to know the value of oneself, to avoid pride, or disregarding the truth and underestimating people. As the Prophet sallallahu `alaihi wa sallam said, according to Muslim and others, "Al-Kibr is rejecting the truth and looking down upon people" [Muslim, Tirmidhi and Abu Dawud].

Humbleness is for one who is important and significant and he fears to gain notoriety or to become too great among people. Humbleness is that one should humble himself with his companions.

Humbleness is to humble oneself to one who is below you. If you find someone who is younger than you, or of less importance than you, you should not despise him, because he might have a better heart than you, or be less sinful, or closer to Allah than you. Even if you see a sinful person and you are righteous, do not act in arrogance towards him, and thank Allah that He saved you from the tribulation that He put him through. Remember that there might be some riyaa' or vanity in your righteous deeds that may cause them to be of no avail, and that this sinful person may be regretful and fearful concerning his bad deeds, and this may be the cause of forgiveness of his sins.

Humbleness is that your deed should not become too great in your eyes. If you do a good deed, or attempt to get closer to Allah ta`ala through an act of obedience, your deed may still not be accepted, "Allah only accepts from those who have taqwa (fear of Allah)." (Surat al-Maida: 27)

Humbleness is that, when you are advised, if Shaytaan calls you to reject the advice, you must negate him. Because the purpose of advice is that your brother points out the defects that you have.

The arrogant never gives credit to anybody or mentions good about someone, and if he needed to do so, he would also mention five defects of that person. But if he hears somebody reminding him about his own defects, he will not be flexible nor comply due to his inferiority complex. This is why it is among man's moral integrity to accept criticism or comment without any sensitivity or discomfort or feelings of shame and weakness.

We can summarize the teachings of Islam about the Muslim character in the following list:

Be truthful in everything, don’t lie.
Be sincere and straightforward, don’t be hypocritical.
Be honest, don’t be corrupt.
Be humble, don’t be boastful.
Be moderate, don’t be excessive.
Be reserved, don’t be garrulous.
Be soft-spoken, don’t be loud.
Be refined and gentle in speech, don’t curse and use foul language.
Be loving and solicitous to others, don’t be unmindful of them.
Be considerate and compassionate, don’t be harsh.
Be polite and respectful to people, don’t be insulting or disrespectful.
Be generous and charitable, don’t be selfish and miserly.
Be good natured and forgiving, don’t be bitter and resentful.
Share and be content with what Allah has given you, don’t be greedy.
Be cheerful and pleasant, don’t be irritable and morose.
Be chaste and pure, don’t be lustful.
Be alert and aware of the world around you, don’t be absent-minded.
Be dignified and decent, don’t be graceless.
Be optimistic and hopeful, don’t be cynical or pessimistic.
Be confident and have deep faith, don’t be doubtful and wavering.
Be spiritually oriented and not materialistic.
Be confident of the mercy of Allah, don’t be despairing and lose heart.
Be diligent and vigilant of your duties, don’t be negligent.
Be thankful to Allah and constantly pray to Him, don’t be forgetful of His innumerable blessings.

Finally as the righteous say, "The love of Allah is the axis around which all good revolves." If you fall in love with Allah, and then strive to be true in your love--in accordance with the way of the Beloved of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace), then you'll find nothing but increasing light and contentment in your life.

And Allah alone gives success.