Jihad-ul Nafs…The Battle That Never Ends!

“The most excellent jihad is that for the conquest of oneself.” 

This was a saying of Prophet Muhammad (SAW), our most blessed prophet. What does it mean to conquer oneself? It is when the ruh, the spirit, the soul of the body is in control of the body and the body is no longer in control. There is a lack of understanding of the reality of the ruh (soul) and it’s position in our lives, as Muslims. 
As Sheikh Riyadh al-Haq of London explained in a lectured he delivered: 

Allah created the angels and fused in them intelligence and created them from nur (light) and thus the nature of the angels is such that they have no needs or desires. No need for food, drink, associates, and relationships. Each angel is created for a certain purpose and all that angel does is what Allah has appointed him to do. Whatever his duty is, he will obey Allah (SWT). They do not change at all. 

On the other hand, Allah created animals, the beasts. But Allah did not give them any nur or intelligence like the angels, but Allah created in them the need as well as the desire for bestial things–food, drink, relationships, the need and the urge to reproduce, the need for company. But Allah gave them no intelligence, so the animals spend life eating, drinking, associating, growing up, and dying and there’s nothing more to their lives. 

In between these two, Allah has created man. And in man, Allah has given him a bit of both. Although man is made of dust, Allah has given him some intelligence, so man, on the one hand, shares characteristics with the animals and on the other hand, he shares characteristics with the angels. Allah has also given man choice and it is within man’s grasp and ability to change himself and because he can change, Allah has promised him reward for good and righteousness and punishment for evil and sinfulness. Man, according to his obedience or lack of obedience to Allah is inclined to either of the two. Either he becomes close to the angels, their characteristics, and their ways or man can fall so low, he becomes like the animals and the beasts. 

But, Subhannallah, we have neglected the ruh and we have devoted our entire attention to the body, the cage, the shell. If we devote our entire attention to this body, the cage, the shell, the flesh, the bones, then there could be none more foolish than ourselves. Just as the body needs food, drink and nourishment, the ruh needs food, drink, and nourishment. 

May Allah include us among those who are successful in His eyes, successful in this world as Muslims (who submit fully to Allah) and more importantly, successful in the akhirah (hereafter). 

May Allah give us the taofeeq to better ourselves and may He include us among those of whom He has favored, not those who earn His anger, nor those who go stray. Ameen. 

Richness of the Soul!

Being happy doesn’t mean that everything is perfect, someone once said; It means you’ve decided to look beyond the imperfections. That’s right; being content is a choice you can make— one of the best choices you will ever make.

Allah (SWT) speaks truly life-changing and stress-reducing words to you: “And do not extend your eyes toward that by which We have given enjoyment to [some] categories of them, [its being but] the splendor of worldly life by which We test them. And the provision of your Lord is better and more enduring. [Quran, 20:131]

Ibn Taymiyyah, may Allah have mercy on him, said:

Contentment is the greatest door that one enters to Allah. It is the source of tranquility for the worshiper and paradise on earth. Whoever does not enter it will not enter the Paradise in the Hereafter. Being content with the decree of Allah— ridaa in Arabic— is one of the greatest productivity boosters!

Let’s face it, for many of us being happy with what we have is easier said than done. Your life probably doesn’t always look exactly like you want it to, and guess what? It probably won’t. That’s why you have this world and you have Paradise. Allah (SWT) says: Verily We have created man in toil [i.e. in tiredness, hardships, afflictions and difficulties][Quran, 90:4]

If you realize from deep within that this world, its people, its possessions, its situations, its emotions are not meant to be perfect, an enormous freedom will come to your soul.  And don’t be tricked, being content co-exists with being ambitious as a believer; the key is to never let your desire for more spoil the present!May Allah ‘azza wajal bless our souls with contentment, ameen!

…which of the favours of your Lord shall ye deny?

The name of Surah ar-Rahman is especially relevant because it relates to the subject matter and theme of the Surah. This Surah discusses one of the many Attributes of Allah — His Grace and Mercy.

The oft-repeated verse, “Which is it, of the Favours of your Lord, that ye deny?”, serves to remind us of our lack of gratitude towards Allah. He has showered upon us an abundance of Blessings. Allah is Oft-Forgiving and Most Merciful. He has given us this life, our loved ones, as well as many other comforts.

However, we often tend to take many of His Blessings for granted. As such, we rarely offer thanks to our Lord. It is as if we are in denial of the obvious truth that without Allah’s Mercy, life cannot exist. As such, in Surah ar-Rahman, Allah repeatedly asks us: “Which is it, of the Favours of your Lord, that ye deny?”

The sun, the moon, the sky, air, water, and land are all among Allah’s Signs. He is the Lord of all the Worlds, and all that is within them. Allah is the One Who created two seas, sweet and bitter, flowing side by side but with an invisible barrier between them. He caused the earth to bear fruit and plantation, such that life can thrive on this planet. All creation will one day cease to exist, because Only Allah is the Ever Living, Free of all Needs.

On the Day of Resurrection, we will be judged according to our deeds. There will be no escape that Day. The righteous among us will be awarded for their good deeds, whereas the evil doers will be doomed to Hell.

We often hear people say “life is tough”, but that does not entitle us to belittle the wonderful gift of life that Allah has given us.

The repetition of the verse “Which is it, of the Favours of your Lord, that ye deny?” in Surah ar-Rahman serves a very specific purpose. It reminds us to be continuously aware (and grateful) of all that has been provided to us. Faith, money, food, wealth, health, environment, sea, air, and everything else — these are Favours of our Lord that we should always be mindful of.

All praise is due to You, O Almighty! Nay, our Lord! None of Your Favours do we deny.

Pledge Your Life to Allah

This statement was also made by the Holy Prophet (SAW) to declare his complete sincerity. All he did was only for Allah. He did not need anything the people could give him, for his focus and goal was to please his Lord.

To live for God, and God alone, adds a beauty to life that no worldly circumstance can tarnish. The believer who lives for God is unaffected by outside circumstances. Nothing can rattle the inner peace and calmness he feels from the strong connection to God. Although it may seem almost unattainable, this type of tranquility comes slowly through constant practice and reminders.

Living for God makes life in this world worth living. It adds zest to life, as each day is a new chance to better yourself and make the Lord happy with you. It stimulates movement towards perfection, in all aspects of life, for you want to return to God having perfected yourself as much as possible.

Living for God makes death a reunion to look forward to. Apprehension may be a part of it, but because the focus of the journey was always the Lord, the destination when it looms is a relief. It is the moment you have been waiting for all throughout life.

Say, Indeed, my prayer, my sacrifice, my living and my dying are for Allah, Lord if the Universe. Quran [Q6V162]

Make this verse your daily motto. Recite it every day, and pledge your life to God. It will give you inner peace and help you handle life with a strength you didn’t know you had.

May Allah ease our tasks (ameen)

Give Thanks to Allah

If you are ungrateful, Allah is unaffected. If you become grateful, then you have taken the first step towards becoming a true Believer. It is for this reason that the Prophet exhorted us to “Love Allah as we benefit from His grace” (Tirmidhi). 

Allah reminds us: “And whoever is grateful, he is only grateful for the benefit of his own self” (Luqman 31:12). 

“For surely if it was not for the grace of God on you and His mercy, you would have been among the losers” (Al-Baqarah 2:64).

Allah explained in the Quran that the only people who truly worship Him are those who give gratitude to Him, so those who are not among the people of gratitude are not among the people of Ibadah (worship and obedience). “… and be grateful to Allah, if it is Him you worship” (Al-Baqarah 2:172).

The classical Muslim scholars have indicated Shukr can be shown in three ways: 

– Shukr of the heart (Qalb), which is achieved by harboring and intending good for all of Allah’s creation.

– Shukr of the tongue (Lisan), which involves celebrating the praises of Allah, such as utterance of Alhamdulillah, and expressing gratefulness to Allah with our tongue. 
– Shukr of the limbs (Jawarih), which is fulfilled by using our external senses to do good. 

Every time Allah gives us a blessing, we must use it in a way that benefits humanity and that pleases Allah.

May Allah continue to grant us mercy (ameen)

Remind Yourself: We Belong to the Hereafter

Each one of us can bear witness that a thing we had longed for since a long time, once we achieve it, it loses its worth and novelty after a while. That is a part of innate human nature. The hearts of the believers, and all human beings, cannot attain eternal happiness in this life. You cannot eat the same kind of meal continuously for more than a few days, even if it is your favorite meal. Out of boredom, the followers of Prophet Musa were willing to change the decadent meal of quails to the ordinary meal of lentils and onions. 

That is the reason Allah created heaven for us, wherein even similar-looking fruits will have a different taste every time we eat them. A place where our every new desires will be fulfilled. When we start considering this life to be a journey towards the eternal Paradise, and its trials as hurdles of this journey, the hope for the pleasures of Paradise will act as a barrier for hopelessness to come into our lives. The Messenger of Allah  said,

“On the Day of Resurrection the disbeliever who lived the most luxurious will be brought, and it will be said: ‘Dip him once in Hell.’ So he will be dipped in it, then it will be said to him: ‘O so- and-so, have you ever enjoyed any pleasure?’ He will say: ‘No, I have never enjoyed any pleasure.’ Then the believer who suffered the most hardship and trouble will be brought and it will be said: ‘Dip him once in Paradise.’ So he will be dipped in it and it will be said to him: ‘O so-and-so, have you ever suffered any hardship or trouble?’ He will say: ‘I have never suffered any hardship or trouble.’” [Sunan Ibn Majah]

So there will be a time very soon, where the trials of this life will seem like nothing in comparison to pleasures of Paradise.

These are a few points we must keep in our mind when going through a tough phase in life so that we pass through it without hopelessness or ungratefulness creeping into our hearts. Allah has promised in the Qur’an, for those who patiently endure their trials,

“Those will be given their reward twice for what they patiently endured,” [Q28, V54]

We pray to Allah to ease the trials of those who are suffering and to protect us from trials; and when a trial befalls us, grant us patience to endure it with gratefulness, Ameen!

Do Not Underestimate Du’a

Just like WhatsApp, if we could see blue ticks every time Allah heard our du’as, how amazing would that be? But we don’t even need that, because more amazing is the promise of Allah to us:

“And when My servants ask you, [O Muhammad], concerning Me, indeed I am near. I respond to the invocation of the supplicant when he calls upon Me.” [Qur’an: Chapter 2, Verse 186]

The most amazing part about this ayah is that Allah did not say, “when my pious servant calls upon Me”, He just says – ‘supplicant’, which could be anyone. Allah promises that He will respond to the supplication of anyone without the need of a mediator. 

So sit in a quiet place, raise your hands and talk to Allah  – He is the One who knows you the best, the One to whom you can complain, the One who can rectify any situations for you.

The Prophet (SAW) has promised that Allah responds to our duas in three ways. He said, There is no Muslim who calls upon his Lord with a dua in which there is no sin or severing of family ties, but Allah  will give him one of three things: either He  will answer his prayer quickly, or He  will store (the reward for) it in the Hereafter, or He  will divert an equivalent evil away from him.” [Jami’ at-Tirmidhi]

In this month of Ramadan, let’s ensure we make as much du’a as possible, for ourselves, our families, and the ummah at large.

May Allah accept our du’as (ameen).

Some Time Allah Gives While Depriving You, and Sometimes Allah Deprives While Giving You!

“Let not a delay in the timing of a gift [response to your prayers] – despite persistence and firm continuance in making du’a – be a cause of despair. For Allāh has promised you a response, “Call upon Me and I will respond to you” (Q40:60)– in the time that Allāh chooses and not you. For He knows what is better for you than you do. Allāh has guaranteed you a response in the time that Allāh chooses, not in the time of your choice.

An author writes, “Sometimes Allāh gives while depriving you, and sometimes Allāh deprives while giving to you.” Sometimes, Allāh’s withholding from you is, in reality, a form of giving.

Ḥaḍrat Mūsā (AS) made a du’ā to Allāh against Fir’aun and his followers (Qur’ān, 10:88) which got answered 40 years later. Not straight away. Why? Because Allāh has perfect timing and only Allāh knows best when that is.

Maybe Allāh is delaying a response to your prayers because Allāh loves to hear your voice whilst calling out to Him. Maybe Allāh is delaying a response because Allāh wants you to reach a certain status in Jannah which you can’t achieve just by your deeds so Allāh is testing you in different ways so you may become successful.

Patience and avoiding hastiness befits the servant. Do not lose hope in your du’ās as they are a weapon of a believer.

The Messenger of Allāh (SAW) has said: “The du’ā of any one of you will be answered so long as he is not impatient and says, ‘I made du’ā but it was not answered.” [Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim]

Allāh has perfect timing; never early, never late. It takes a little patience and faith, but it’s worth the wait.

May Allah continue to ease our affairs, ameen.

Potato, Egg or Coffee Bean…Which One Are You?

Once upon a time a daughter complained to her father that her life was miserable and that she didn’t know how she was going to make it.

She was tired of fighting and struggling all the time. It seemed just as one problem was solved, another one soon followed.

Her father, a chef, took her to the kitchen. He filled three pots with water and placed each on a high fire.

Once the three pots began to boil, he placed potatoes in one pot, eggs in the second pot and ground coffee beans in the third pot.

He then let them sit and boil, without saying a word to his daughter. The daughter, moaned and impatiently waited, wondering what he was doing.

After twenty minutes he turned off the burners. He took the potatoes out of the pot and placed them in a bowl. He pulled the eggs out and placed them in a bowl. He then ladled the coffee out and placed it in a cup.

Turning to her, he asked. “Daughter, what do you see?” “Potatoes, eggs and coffee,” she hastily replied.

“Look closer”, he said, “and touch the potatoes.” She did and noted that they were soft.

He then asked her to take an egg and break it. After pulling off the shell, she observed the hard-boiled egg.

Finally, he asked her to sip the coffee. Its rich aroma brought a smile to her face.

“Father, what does this mean?” she asked.

He then explained that the potatoes, the eggs and coffee beans had each faced the same adversity-the boiling water. However, each one reacted differently. The potato went in strong, hard and unrelenting, but in boiling water, it became soft and weak.

The egg was fragile, with the thin outer shell protecting its liquid interior until it was put in the boiling water. Then the inside of the egg became hard.

However, the ground coffee beans were unique. After they were exposed to the boiling water, they changed the water and created something new.

“Which one are you?” he asked his daughter. “When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond? Are you a potato, an egg, or a coffee bean?”

In life, things happen around us, things happen to us, but the only thing that truly matters is what happens within us.

Which one are you? When problems come (and they will) how will we react? Will they make us weak, hard hearted or will they cause us to change into something worthwhile?

“And We shall certainly test you, until We know those of you who strive their utmost (for God) and who are the steadfast; and We shall test your reported mettle.” (Quran 47:31)

May Allah have mercy on us, ameen.

Juma’at Mubarak!

Trying Pancakes

Six year old boy decided one morning to make pancake for his parents. He found a big bowl and spoon; He pulled a chair to the counter, opened the cupboard and pulled out the heavy flour canister, spilling it on the floor.

He scooped some of the flour into the bowl with his hands, mixed in a cup of milk and added some sugar, leaving a floury trail on the floor which by now had a few tracks left by his kitten. He was covered with flour and getting frustrated.

He wanted this to be something very good for his parents, but it was getting very bad. He didn’t know what to do next, whether to put it all into the oven or on the stove, (and he didn’t know how the stove works!).

Suddenly he saw his kitten licking from the bowl of mix and reached to push her away, knocking the egg carton to the floor. Frantically he tried to clean up all mess but slipped on the eggs, getting his pajamas white and sticky.

And just then he saw Dad standing at the door. Big tears came in the boys’ eyes. All he did wanted to do was something good, but he did make a terrible mess. He was sure a scolding was coming, maybe even a spanking. But his father just watched him. Then, walking through the mess, he picked up his crying son, hugged him and loved him.

Moral of Story: This is similar to how Allah (SWT) deals with us.

We sometimes try to do something good in life, but it turns into a mess. Our marriage gets all sticky or we have trouble with school, or we can’t stand our job or our health goes sour.

Sometimes we just stand there in tears because we can’t think of anything else to do. That’s when Allah (SWT) picks us up and loves us and forgives us.

But just because we might mess up, we can’t stop trying to “make pancakes”. Sooner or later we will get it right, and then there will be gladness to see that we at least tried…

“Man will not get anything unless he works hard” (Surah al-Najm, 53:39).

“Success is not permanent and failure is not final. So, never stop working after success and never stop trying after failure.”

Juma’at Mubarak