Posts Tagged ‘people’

Quran Reflections – Juz Sixteen‏

Tuesday, July 15th, 2014

Juz Sixteen

Sūrah Al-Kahf

This sūrah starts in the fifteenth juz and is concluded in the sixteenth. It is highly recommended that we recite it every Friday. Several ahadith promise that those who do so will be protected from the deceptions of Dajjāl. The Dajjāl will be a person who personifies deception. His will be an era of extreme trials and tribulations for the believers. We are asked to always pray for protection against those trials. While the Dajjāl has not yet appeared, we are indeed living in an age when dajjālic deceptions are increasingly manifest all around us.

The story of the People of the Cave is narrated in āyahs 9-26. These were young people for whom their faith was all important. They lived at a time when the people of faith were being persecuted by a ruthless king. They could not fight him, nor could they surrender to him. So they took refuge in a cave. They put their affair in the Hands of Allāh and He saved them from persecution through a miraculous sleep that lasted for three centuries.

The story of Prophet Mūsā and Khiḍr is narrated in āyahs 60-82. Its most important moral is that things are not always what they appear to be. We should not be deceived or disheartened by the events that unfold before us every day. What seems to be an imperfect world is  actually a perfect testing ground.

The story of Dhul Qarnayn is told in āyahs 83-98. He was a powerful, just, and Allāh fearing king. Two actions of his are specially highlighted.

1) His declaration that he would punish the unjust and deal kindly with the virtuous. This makes moral purpose and virtue as the yardstick with which to measure any ruler. In contrast secular western democracy holds that the government has no business deciding morality or virtue.
2) He refused to tax the people for a national project even when the tax was offered by the people. This was obviously not for the purpose of improving his chances of reelection; it was the extension of morality and virtue to the economic field.

Here are reflections on some āyahs from this sūrah.

InshāAllāh

َلَا تَقُولَنَّ لِشَيْءٍ إِنِّي فَاعِلٌ ذَٰلِكَ غَدً إِلَّا أَن يَشَاءَ اللَّهُ ۚ وَاذْكُر رَّبَّكَ إِذَا نَسِيتَ
And never say about anything, “I shall surely do this tomorrow,” without (adding), “If Allāh so wills.” And remember your Lord if you forget. (Al-Kahf, 18:23-24).

Here is the background for this āyah. The account of the Seven Sleepers, the encounter between Prophet Mūsā  and Khiḍr, and the story of the king Dhul  Qarnayn  were unknown to the Arabs. The Quraysh of Makkah were advised by Jewish scholars in Madinah to ask the Prophet ﷺ about them as a test of the authenticity  of his prophethood. He promised to answer the question the next day expecting the revelation to come by that time. This sūrah was the answer. (This was a most brilliant answer that not only gave details about them, but also applied their stories to the situation at hand to show that the Quraysh were on the side of wrong in the stories about right and wrong. Unfortunately obstinacy kept the Quraysh and the Jews from accepting the Truth.)

This sūrah was the answer, but it was delayed by two weeks. The two anxious weeks were a Divine reminder of an important message mentioned in this āyah. We should never announce plans about the future as if we control it. Rather we should qualify these by the words, inshāAllāh (If Allāh wills). There was a time when in the Western world, the phrase God willing, carried the same message. Today the secularized discourse shies away from acknowledging that we do not control the  future. And even when it  does acknowledge that, it refuses to acknowledge that the control belongs to God. So “God willing” is replaced by any number of clumsy expressions, whose common concern is to avoid mentioning God, like “If fate decrees,” “If the wind blows right,” “Hope it’s my lucky day,” “Barring some unforeseen (circumstance/ incident/accident),” “If things work out,”  and  “If things go according to plan.” Superstition also reigns supreme as people normally  say “knock on wood” or “keep your fingers crossed.”

We should not give in to this secular madness. We need to bring inshāAllāh2  (and God willing) back to our everyday discourse—on  every continent and in every language of the world. For wherever we are and whatever language we speak, the future is always totally in the Hands of Allāh.

Extremism

وَاصْبِرْ نَفْسَكَ مَعَ الَّذِينَ يَدْعُونَ رَبَّهُم بِالْغَدَاةِ وَالْعَشِيِّ يُرِيدُونَ وَجْهَهُ ۖ وَلَا تَعْدُ عَيْنَاكَ عَنْهُمْ تُرِيدُ زِينَةَ الْحَيَاةِ الدُّنْيَا ۖ وَلَا تُطِعْ مَنْ أَغْفَلْنَا قَلْبَهُ عَن ذِكْرِنَا وَاتَّبَعَ هَوَاهُ وَكَانَ أَمْرُهُ فُرُطًا
Keep yourself content with those who call their Sustainer morning and evening, seeking His countenance, and let not your eyes overlook them, seeking the splendor of the worldly life. And do not obey the one whose heart We have made heedless of Our remembrance, and who has followed his desire and whose behavior has exceeded the limits. (Al-Kahf, 18:28)

Here is the most profound—and ignored—truth about extremism. Those who do  not  remember Allāh end  up following their own desires and go to extremes in satisfying them. It  all starts from a single minded devotion to the splendor of this worldly life. Extremism is thus a direct and inevitable result of materialism and unbelief. And turning to Allāh—and away from obedience to our lusts and greed—is the only way to fight it.

Recently the spelling of this expression has received undue attention due to some misconceptions about the meaning of the phrase when “inshā” is written together in English (as opposed to “in shā”). The fact is that readers of English tend to pronounce and understand it in the same manner when written as “inshallāh” or “inshāAllāh» or «in shaa Allāh.» In all cases they clearly understand it to mean «If Allāh wills.» So all are valid forms as affirmed by many scholars.

The Life of this World.

وَاضْرِبْ لَهُم مَّثَلَ الْحَيَاةِ الدُّنْيَا كَمَاءٍ أَنزَلْنَاهُ مِنَ السَّمَاءِ فَاخْتَلَطَ بِهِ نَبَاتُ الْأَرْضِ فَأَصْبَحَ هَشِيمًا تَذْرُوهُ الرِّيَاحُ ۗ وَكَانَ اللَّهُ عَلَىٰ كُلِّ شَيْءٍ مُّقْتَدِرًا
Set forth to them the similitude of the life of this world: It is like the rain which we send down from the skies: the earth’s vegetation absorbs it, but soon it becomes dry stubble, which the winds do scatter: it  is  (only)  Allāh  who  prevails  over  all  things.  (Al-Kahf,18:45)

All the pleasures and riches of this world are short-lived. Here today, gone tomorrow. How foolish that one should make them the yardstick to measure success in life. This comment follows the  account of the  encounter of two characters: a rich non-believer and a poor believer. The latter was not at all impressed by the riches of the former and was much concerned about his unbelief and ungratefulness towards Allāh. The former refused to listen to him and was destroyed. This āyah captures the moral of the story. That encounter continues today and so does the need for remembering the story and its moral.

The Greatest Loss

قُلْ هَلْ نُنَبِّئُكُم بِالْأَخْسَرِينَ أَعْمَالًا. الَّذِينَ ضَلَّ سَعْيُهُمْ فِي الْحَيَاةِ الدُّنْيَا وَهُمْ يَحْسَبُونَ أَنَّهُمْ يُحْسِنُونَ صُنْعًا. أُولَٰئِكَ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا بِآيَاتِ رَبِّهِمْ وَلِقَائِهِ فَحَبِطَتْ أَعْمَالُهُمْ فَلَا نُقِيمُ لَهُمْ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ وَزْنًا
Say, “Shall We tell you about the greatest losers in respect of (their) deeds? Those are the ones whose effort in the worldly life has gone in vain, while they think they are doing well. Those are the ones who rejected the signs of their Sustainer and (the concept of ) meeting with Him, so their deeds have gone to waste, and We shall assign to them no weight at all.” (Al-Kahf, 18:103-105)

Good deeds without the right motives are a waste. Motives are the soul of every action. In turn motives are driven by belief. When belief in Allāh and the Hereafter is absent then one’s good deeds are soulless. This is an all important reminder that we need to purify both our intentions and our actions. If we do not seek rewards from Allāh in the Hereafter, we’ll surely not get them.

The Blessed People

أُولَٰئِكَ الَّذِينَ أَنْعَمَ اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِم مِّنَ النَّبِيِّينَ مِن ذُرِّيَّةِ آدَمَ وَمِمَّنْ حَمَلْنَا مَعَ نُوحٍ وَمِن ذُرِّيَّةِ إِبْرَاهِيمَ وَإِسْرَائِيلَ وَمِمَّنْ هَدَيْنَا وَاجْتَبَيْنَا ۚ إِذَا تُتْلَىٰ عَلَيْهِمْ آيَاتُ الرَّحْمَٰنِ خَرُّوا سُجَّدًا وَبُكِيًّا
Those are  the  people  on  whom  Allāh  bestowed  His  grace,  the prophets from the progeny of ’Ādam, and of those whom We caused to board (the Ark) along with Nūḥ, and from the progeny of Ibrāhīm and Isrā’īl ( Jacob), and (all of them were) whom We guided and selected. When the āyahs of The Raḥmān (The All-Merciful) were recited before them, they used to fall down in Sajdah (prostration), while they were weeping. (Maryam, 19:58)

In sūrah al-Fātiḥah we make the dua to be shown the path of those on whom Allāh bestowed His grace. Here the same exact word is being used to tell us that the prophets were the people who were so favored. So anyone sincerely looking to find Allāh’s true favors and blessings should be following in the footsteps of the prophets.

And the thing to note in their behavior is their attitude toward the words and commands of Allāh. Falling down in sajdah with tears of love and awe in their eyes captures  their willing and loving devotion to Allāh and His commands.

We can judge where we stand with reference to Allāh’s true blessings and grace, by seeing where we stand in relationship to Allāh’s words and commands.

Reflections on Āyahs of Sajdah (Prostration)

This is one of the fourteen āyahs of sajdah in the Qur’ān. These āyahs are themselves a reminder of the miracle of the Qur’ān. When reciting any of these āyahs, or listening to their recitation, inside the ṣalāh or outside, believers always perform sajdah. That simple act of prostration that we do not think much of is in reality an extraordinary event. To realize that we can ask if anyone can produce a book such that whenever readers reach a certain point in it they will perform a prescribed act of devotion. All of them. All the time. We can challenge the multibillion dollar publishing empires to pool all their resources and marketing talents to produce such a book. They will fail. For only the Words of Allāh can command such devotion.

There is another important  message  here. We cannot approach the  Qur’ān  as  another  book,  to  be  critically evaluated and judged and selectively  accepted or rejected based on one’s understanding. This is the way an Orientalist will approach the Qur’ān. But for a Muslim these āyahs set the tone for all our interaction with it; it is one of total and loving submission.

Importance of Ṣalāh

فَخَلَفَ مِن بَعْدِهِمْ خَلْفٌ أَضَاعُوا الصَّلَاةَ وَاتَّبَعُوا الشَّهَوَاتِ ۖ فَسَوْفَ يَلْقَوْنَ غَيًّا
Then came  after  them  the  successors  who  neglected  Ṣalāh  and followed their lusts and desires. So they will soon face Destruction. (Maryam, 19:59)

This emphasis on Ṣalāh came in Makkah (in the 5th  year of Prophethood) about five years before the five daily prayers were ordained. After narrating the stories of many prophets, we are told how deviations came in their followers. The prophets had shown the Straight Path. With the passage of time, their followers were overcome by lusts and turned away from this path. And the first error they committed, which finally led to this tragic result, was being negligent in ṣalāh. A famous hadith gives the same message. Ṣalāh is the pillar of dīn, the Islamic way of life. Whoever destroys it destroys his dīn. In other words one cannot build an Islamic life, an Islamic community, an Islamic institution,  or an Islamic government while neglecting or weakening this pillar.

In one of his circulars Sayyidnā ʿUmar ibn al-Khaṭṭāb sent instructions to all his administrators saying,  “In my opinion, ṣalāh is the most important of your obligations. Whoever takes good care of it and safeguards it safeguards his religion and whoever neglects it will neglect other things even more.” He then added instructions about the times for the five ṣalāhs and admonition against dozing off before Isha.

This letter from the ruler of a vast empire to the officials of his government—shall we call it Executive Order?—gives us a lot to reflect upon. For ṣalāh is among the most emphasized

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A hundred ways to win peoples heart

Friday, January 27th, 2012

Anyone involved in a particular activity wishes to excel in order to achieve his objectives. The one who loves wealth specialises in accumulating it and further aspires to learn the tricks of his trade. Satellite television channels specialise in attracting viewers by airing a variety of shows using the latest technology.

Hey also train their presenters in attracting viewers for current as well as forthcoming programs. The same can be said of newspaper, radio and television. The same applies to those who market various products, whether halaal or haram. All these people endeavour to specialise in techniques that are needed in order for them to excel in their respective fields

Winning hearts is also an art with its own ways and means.

Suppose you enter a gathering of forty men and as you pass by each of them, shaking everyone’s hands the first shakes your hand indifferently and says very coldly, “welcome”, the second is busy speaking to the next person, and as you greet him by surprise, he responds to you very impersonally and without even looking at you, then continues with his conversation with the next person; the third person is speaking on the phone, so he simply stretches out his hand without saying a word or showing any respect. However, when you get to the forth person, he sees you and immediately stands up to greet you. When your eyes meet his, he smiles and demonstrates that he is glad to meet you. He shakes your hand warmly and welcomes you, even though you don’t know each other at all! You then greet the rest of the people and takes a seat. Do you doubt that your heart will have the most respect for the fourth person? No doubt  it will, even though you do not know his name, nor his status or profession. Despite that, he successfully captures your heart, not with wealth, status or lineage, but merely by his interpersonal skills.

Hence hearts are not won by force, wealth, beauty or status. They are won by much less of a sacrifice, yet few are able to win them.

I recall one of my students at university, who had become physiologically ill due to severe depression. His father held a high position in the police force and had come to visit me at the university quite a few times, asking me for my help with his son. I would visit his house every now and then, which was a towering mansion. I would notice that his house would always be full of guest I was amazed a how much this family was loved and respected.

Years went by and the man retired. I went to his house for a visit. I entered his mansion and went into the guest room to notice more than fifty chairs, but only one person watching television and a butler offering him coffee or tea. I sat with him for a while. When I left I began to compare his situation while the man was working with now that he had retired. What was it about him that had attracted the people then? I realised that the man did not win people over by manners, kindness and good treatment of others. Rather he had only attracted them by mean of his status, position and the fact that he was well connected. When he lost his position, he also lost the love people had for him.

Therefore, learn a lesson from this man. deal with the people so skilfully that they love you for who you are and what you say, and for your smile, gentleness and generosity. They will love the fact that you overlook their faults an stand by them at times of hardship. Do not allow their hearts to be attached merely to your status and your purse!

The one who provides his children and wife with the wealth, food, drink only does not win their heart by doing so, but only their stomachs! The one who showers his family with wealth while he mistreats them does not win their hearts; rather, he only wins their pockets.

For this reason, do not be surprised if you see a young man who faces a problem and therefore complains to his friend, teacher or the imam of a mosque, but not to his own father. This would be because the father has failed to win over his heart and break down barriers. On the other hand, it is the teacher or the friend, who has managed to win his heart.

Another important point: have you ever noticed that when certain people visit a gathering packed with people and look left and right for somewhere to sit, there always seems to be no shortage of people calling them over to sit next to them. Why?

Or a buffer, where everyone serves themselves food and then looks somewhere to sit, have you noted that such people, as soon as they have filed their plates, are subject to large numbers of people calling them in order to at with them? Whereas, other may fill their plates and have nobody taking any interest whatsoever, so they have a very lonely meal?

Why are people so eager to sit with one type but not the other? Is it not that certain people have the ability to attracted hearts wherever they may be, as if they are magnets? How extraordinary!

How did they manage to win people? by using clever techniques, to capture people’s hearts.

Resolution….

Our ability to capture people’s heart and win heir love brings us great happiness in life.

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Do not cry over spilt milk

Saturday, June 4th, 2011

Some people believe that the traits they have been nurtured on, which they are recognised by and which have left a certain impression about them on the minds of others can never be changed. They surrender to this thought, just as a person would surrender to the fact that he cannot change his height or skin colour.

On the other hand, an intelligent person thinks that to change one’s nature can perhaps be easier than changing his clothes. Our nature is not like spilt milk that cannot be scooped up again, rather we are always in control of it and there are certain ways in which we can alter it, and even the way we think!

Ibn Hazm mentions in his work Tawq al-Hamamah a tale of a famous Spanish businessman: There was competition between him and four other businessmen and as a result, they disliked him. They were therefore determined to aggravate him. One morning, he left his house to go to his workplace, wearing a white shirt and turban. One of the four businessmen met him on the way, he  greeted the Spanish businesman, looked at his turban and said, “How beautiful this yellow turban is!” The businessman said,”Are you blind? This turban is white!” He replied,”No, it is yellow! It is yellow, but it looks good.”

The businessman left him and moved on until he met the second of them, He greeted him, then looked at his turban and said, “You look handsome today! Your clothes look fine! Especially this green turban!”

The businessman said, “Actually, the turban is white.”

“No, it is green,” he insisted.

He replied, “lt is white! Go away from me!”

The businessman walked on, talking to himself, and every now and then looking at the flank of his turban to make sure that it was indeed white. He reached his shop and opened up the lock. Meanwhile, there came to him the third of the four businessmen and said,”How beautiful this morning is! And especially your clothes, they look fine! And your beautiful blue turban only adds to your good looks!”

The businessman looked at his turban to ascertain its colour, then rubbed his eyes and said, “Dear brother! My turban is white!”

“No, it is blue. But the important thing is that it looks good, so don’t worry!” the man said, and left, as the businessman began to yell after him saying,”The turban is white!” as he looked at his turban to ascertain its colour once again.

He sat in his shop for a while and couldn’t take his eyes off his turban. Meanwhile, the fourth person came and said, “Greetings! mashaAllah! From where did you buy this red turban?”

The businessman shouted, “My turban is blue!”

He replied, “No, it is red.”

The businessman said, “No, it is green! Actually, no, it is white! No, it is blue, or black!” He then laughed out loud, then screamed, then began to cry and then started to jump up and down!

Ibn Hazm said, ‘Thereafter, I would see him in the streets of Spain. He had gone mad and children would pelt stones at him.’

lf these four people, by using their skills, were able to change not only the nature of the person but also his mind, then how about the tried and tested skills that are supported by revelation which a person can put into practice in order to become closer to Allah?

Put into practice whatever good skills you come across and you will be happy.

lf you say to me, “i cannot.”

I would say to you, “At least try!”

If you say to me, “i don’t know how.”

I would say, “Yes, you do!”

The Prophet  pbuh said, “knowledge is only gained through learning, and clemency is only gained through perseverance.”

A point of view…

The hero is the one who goes beyond his ability to improve his skills, until he becomes able to improve, and perhaps even alter the skills of others.

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Improve yourself

Friday, June 3rd, 2011

You sit with someone who is twenty years old and notice that he has particular etiquettes, logic and thought.You then sit with him when he is thirty to discover that he is exactly the way he was ten years ago and has not improved at all.Yet, you sit with others and you feel that they are actually taking benefit from their lives.You discover that they improve themselves on a daily basis. ln fact, not an hour passes except that they improve either religiously or otherwise. lf you wish to ponder upon the different types of people with respect to self-improvement, then think about the following:

There are those who like to watch those satellite television channels that help their general knowledge and intelligence grow.They beneht from other people’s experiences by watching
constructive discussions, from which they learn the characteristics of debating and improve their language, understanding, and expertise in debate and persuasion.

Then there are those who cannot miss out on a series about a failed love story, or an emotional play, or a horror film, or films about useless fantasies with no link to reality at all. Notice the difference between the two after five or ten years.

Which of the two would have improved the most in his skills and ability to fathom information, gain general knowledge, have the power to convince others, or successfully be able to cope with diverse situations? No doubt the first person! You will find the mannerisms of the first person to be completely different.

When he argues, he does so on the basis of legal references, facts and figures, while the second can only quote the words of actors and singers, so much so that one such person once said during a discussion, “Allah says: ‘Strive, my servant, and l shall strive with you!”

We informed him that this is not a verse from the Qur’an. His complexion changed and he fell silent. l then thought about the phrase and it occurred to me that it is an Egyptian idiom which was imprinted on his mind after watching a drama series!

Let’s look at it from another angle that of reading newspapers and magazines. How many people take an interest in reading beneficial news and information that helps them in developing their personality, improves their skills and increases their general knowledge? Yet, how many are those who cannot read except,  sports and entertainment news? This is true to such an extent that many newspapers compete with each other by increasing the sports and entertainment pages at the cost of other sections.The same can be said about our gatherings and the things in which we spend our time.

Hence, if you would like to be a head instead of a tail, then eagerly try to practice all skills, regardless of what they may be.  ‘Abdullah was an energetic person but lacking in certain skills. One day, he left his home to pray Dhuhr in the mosque.  lt was his zeal for the prayer and respect for his religion which brought him out to pray. He was walking fast in order to reach the mosque before the lqamah was given. On his way, he passed by a date-palm tree on top of which there was a man in uniform, working on the tree. ‘Abdullah became surprised and thought, “Who is this man that does not care about the prayer! It is as if he didn’t even hear the Adhan, or doesn’t care about the lqamah, which is about to go!”

He shouted in anger,”Get down and pray!” The man responded coldly,”OK, OK…” He said, again,”Hurry up and pray, you donkey!”

The man screamed,”You called me a donkey?!” He then took a branch of the tree and descended in order to hit him over the head with it! ‘Abdullah hid his face with his headscarf so the man wouldn’t recognise him and went on to the mosque.The man descended from the tree in anger, went to his house, prayed and rested for a while. He then returned to the tree to finish his job. Then ‘Asr time came and ‘Abdullah went to the mosque again. On his way he passed by the same tree and noticed the same man working. He decided to change his method altogether and said,‘As-salamu ‘alaykum! How are you?”

The man replied, “Al-hamdulillah, I am fine!”

He said,”Give me some good news. How are the dates this year?’

The man said,”Al-Hamdulillah.”

‘Abdullah said, “May Allah give you success and provision,
make your life easy for you, and not deprive you of the reward for your work!”

The man was overjoyed at hearing this supplication and said ameen to the prayer.

‘Abdullah then said,”it seems that you are so preoccupied with work that perhaps you didn’t notice the Adhan for ‘Asr prayer.The Adhan has been called and the Iqamah is about to be
given. Perhaps you should get down, relax a little and get ready for prayer. After the prayer you can get on with your work again. May Allah keep you healthy.”

The man said, “inshaAllah… inshaAllah…” and began to descend gently.

He then turned to ‘Abdullah, shook his hand warmly and said, “i would like to thank you for your excellent manners.As for the one who passed by me at Dhuhr time, I wish I could see him and show him who the real donkey is!”

The resuIt…

Your skills of dealing with others determine how they deal with you.

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