Living Like The Sahabah – Bilal RA (Footsteps in Jannah).

There are so many reasons why Bilal (radi Allahu anhu) is a revered figure in our Islamic History. He was a slave prior to accepting the message of Islam and once his master Umayyah bin Khalaf heard about his conversion, Bilal was subjected to continuous torture in an effort to make him denounce his faith. Despite the brutal treatment he endured, Bilal remained firm in his belief until he was freed by Abu Bakr RA. Continue reading

Audio

Audible Reflections Episode 7: The Two R’s: Responsibility and Repentance

In this episode of Audible Reflections, Mahmoudat reflects upon a story about repentance from the life of Prophet Musa AS.

image“This is a story that perfectly captures the impact that our sins can have on the Ummah as well as the importance of repenting and turning back to Allah. It’s important that for us as Muslims never to lose hope in the mercy of Allah.”

This podcast will definitely help you to ponder on the importance of repentance and self accountability and the benefit of always taking responsibility for your actions. Applying the lessons from this story will help you to recognise that:

 The moment you take responsibility for everything in your life is the moment you can change anything in your life.

References

The Prophet Muhammad (SAW) said in an authentic Hadith:

Surah Zumar (39:53) ‘Say, ‘O My servants who have transgressed against themselves by sinning, do not despair of the mercy of Allah. Indeed, Allah forgives all sins. Indeed, it is He who is the Forgiving, the Merciful.’

Surah Rad (13:11) ‘Indeed, Allah will not change the condition of a people until they change what is in themselves.’

“The moment you take responsibility for everything in your life is the moment you can change anything in your life” – Hal Rod The Miracle Morning

Hadith in Sahih Bukhari, The Prophet  PBUH said, “The parable of the believers in their affection, mercy, and compassion for each other is that of a body. When any limb aches, the whole body reacts with sleeplessness and fever.”

Did you enjoy the podcast? Do you want to take your reflections further? If so,

Watch

Don’t forget to leave your comments below and email us your thoughts, goals and reflections at reflections@ummfariha.org.

Audio

Audible Reflections Episode 3: Connecting with Allah

In this episode of Audible Reflections, Mahmoudat reflects upon the 11th ayah of Surah Tahreem which records the dua of Asiya (RA).

image“I’ve chosen the story of Asiya (RA) and her dua because of the impact that her strength and courage has on me. Her dua is also important for us to derive lessons about what our ultimate objective should be in this world”.

This podcast will definitely help you to ponder on the importance of making dua and the benefits of sacrificing for Allah. Applying this ayaat will transform your outlook on life and help you to recognise that:

Whatever we give up for Allah will be rewarded with something far better whether it is in this world or the Hereafter.

References

The Prophet Muhammad (SAW) said in an authentic Hadith:

‘The best women from the people of Jannah are Khadijah bint Khuwaylid, Fatima daughter of Muhammad, Asiya bint Muzaahim – the Wife of Pharoah and Mary daughter of Imran, may Allah be pleased with them all”.

Surah Qasas (28:38) ‘O Chiefs! I know of no God for you but myself’

Surah Tahreem (66:11) ‘My Lord, build for me near you a house in Paradise and save me from Firawn and his deeds and save me from the wrongdoing people.’

“This world cannot break you—unless you give it permission. And it cannot own you unless you hand it the keys—unless you give it your heart. And so, if you have handed those keys to dunya for a while—take them back. This isn’t the End. You don’t have to die here. Reclaim your heart and place it with its rightful owner: God.” – Reclaim your heart, Yasmin Mogahed

Hadith in Sahih Bukhari, The Prophet  PBUH said, “There were many men who achieved perfection and none were perfect among women except Maryam the daughter of Imran and Asiya the wife of Firawn.”

Did you enjoy the podcast? Do you want to take your reflections further? If so,

Watch

Asiya RA (Wife of Pharaoh) by Islamic Guidance Channel and

The Pious Wife of a Tyrant (Asiya Bint Muzahim) – Women of Paradise by Omar Suleiman to get an in depth look into the life of Asiya and how Allah SWT answered her duas.

Read 

Asiya RA by Yasmin Mogahed for further insights and lessons into the life of Asiya.

Don’t forget to leave your comments below and email us your thoughts, goals and reflections at reflections@ummfariha.org.

 

You are capable!

As we approach the end of Ramadhan it is important that we reflect on the insights that we have gained. One insight that I have personally gained from fasting is that what we consider impossible can become a possibility when we have the consciousness of Allah.

During the month of Ramadhan we push our body and ourselves beyond the established limits. Whether it’s fasting for 18 hours in certain countries, or standing for long prayers in taraweeh or restricting ourselves from activities that we were attached to prior to Ramadhan, Ramadhan is the month of immense achievement. It teaches us and shows our capabilities when we strive, struggle and persist.

It shows us that we are capable of meeting Allah’s expectations of us. If only we exerted the will power and self determination in our acts of ibaadah like we do in Ramadhan every day! Day in, day out, we tell ourselves that we are not capable of doing X, Y, Z or achieving A, B, C when at the root of it is a question we have to ask ourselves:

Am I determined enough to achieve this goal?

Whether this is in our worldly affairs or regarding the hereafter, we need to believe in Allah’s declaration;

‘that we are the best of people ever raised up for mankind because we enjoin the good, forbid evil and believe in Allah.’ (Qur’an, Surah Al Imran Ayat 110)

Fasting teaches us a lot about ourselves, and it urges us to break mental barriers that we have created about our capabilities. It instills discipline and self-determination in us and reroutes our consciousness back to Allah.

We are reminded of our capabilities of obedience to Allah during Ramadhan and this should be used as fuel for the rest of the year. We have to build on the things we started during Ramadhan to help us stay on the straight path towards Allah.

Tips and Suggestions

1. Don’t do it alone
If you want to continue with a habit you have just formed during Ramadhan or you would simply like to develop new ones, it’s always easier doing it alongside other people such as family or friends. For example, having a Qur’an circle where you explore the Qur’an could be something that you do with your family every week. Not only does this help you personally in terms of reading the Qur’an frequently, you are also able to learn together as a family thus strengthening your bond in a way that is pleasing to Allah. Moreover, if there is an obligation or responsibility attached to a habit/activity, you are more likely to carry on with it than if you were doing it alone. And it’s also more fun!

2. Engage in voluntary worship
Voluntary acts of worship that are Sunnah such as fasting on every Monday and Thursday are things that we can do to help us on our path of being conscious of Allah. Also doing dhikr after Fajr and before Maghrib everyday has an amazing effect on our imaan.

3. Constantly learn new things and strengthen your faith

The more you learn about Islam the more you fall in love with the deen. Throughout the year make sure that you attend things such as circles and workshops. If there aren’t any circle groups around your area, get a group of friends together and start one! There are always free lectures and workshops that you can attend, be on the lookout for those. Or even better, enrol in a course to learn Arabic for example, or the Seerah of the Prophet Muhammad PBUH. Make sure that you are continually learning throughout the year and keep righteous company.

May Allah SWT make us people of Jannah. Ameen

Know Yourself

Ramadhan has always been a special month for me because I consider it the month of reflection and solitude. It is a month where fasting really helps me to get in a zone of understanding and self examination.

Seeking external knowledge and doing acts of ibaadah are important during Ramadhan. But a huge aspect of having a successful Ramadhan for me is about self-introspection. It’s essential to spend time during Ramadhan in reflection and ask questions about yourself and really get to know your internal self better.

The first time I came across the concept of knowing yourself as a stepping stone to worshiping Allah was when I was reading Imam Al Ghazzali’s Alchemy of Happiness, in the 1st Chapter which is dedicated to ‘Knowledge of the Self’.

Knowledge of self is the key to the knowledge of God, according to the saying:

“He who knows himself knows God,” [1]

and, as it is written in the Qur’an,

“We will show them Our signs in the world and in themselves, that the truth may be manifest to them.”- Opening Chapter, Alchemy of Happiness by Imam Al Ghazzali (Q41:53)

The more you know yourself, the more aware you are of things Shaitan can use to deceive or entrap you and take you away from the path of Allah. Shaitan entraps us in sophisticated ways, and when we don’t have in depth knowledge of ourselves, it becomes very easy for us to be misguided and we are more susceptible to his deception.

The Ramadhan Game

Acknowledge your strengths
• Be honest with yourself about what you are currently doing right. What is unique and amazing about you as a person and a believer? Are you someone that is able to concentrate in Salah? Maintain good relationships? Spend in the path of Allah? An amazing daughter or son to your parents? Whatever the action or the quality is, write it down and redirect your intention so that it is for the pleasure of Allah

Acknowledge Areas that Need Improvement in your Life
• Again, honesty is important. Write down things that you either don’t do or you would like to improve on in relation to this life and the hereafter. Once this is done, write a list of duas or one dua that includes what you want to improve on or start doing and consistently say the dua during Ramadhan and after.
• Also create a list of simple actions that could help you improve on your weak areas. Dua has to be accompanied by effort and action.

Searching within and asking questions of ourselves also helps us to know what is unique about us as believers and slaves of Allah SWT. My favourite Sahabas have very different qualities about them that Allah praises them for. For example Bilal RA is famously known for his steadfastness in the face of trials and his proclamation of the oneness of Allah. While Musab ibn Umayr’s story shows his courage and devotion to Allah in leaving the world of comfort and ease that disbelief in Allah afforded him. It is amazing that the more we work on ourselves and strive in the path of Allah the more Allah blesses us and elevates us. Being able to look within is a very useful skill. Also it affects the manner in which we apply the Qur’an to our lives.

We never know what act of worship or quality that we have that can elevate us in the sight of Allah.
Look within and never underestimate yourself.
I pray that we continue to have a blessed Ramadhan. Ameen.

The Key to Success- Insights from Surah Al- Mu’menoon

image

Everyone wants to be successful. Everyone wants to be great at what they do. We all want to achieve a certain level of success whether as defined by society or our religious views.

The reason why this topic is so important and why I wanted to examine it during Ramadan is because I started my first year of university this year, and it has been a great learning curve. I remember the mid-term of my first term and experiencing something close to a crisis because I was in a setting where everyone had different definitions of success and I felt bombarded by it.

You get wrapped up in a bubble where if you are not being careful the definition of success revolves around your ability to get an internship or how well you are doing in terms of getting 2.1’s and first’s. While these things are important and as Muslims we should strive to be successful in all avenues of our lives, it’s also crucial to remember that the way we measure success primarily is with the Hereafter and of course our share of success in world as well.

If in our struggle to attain success in this worldly life we neglect duties such as spending quality time with family, reading Qur’an, concentration in Salah, then there is a problem.

With me, it got to a point where I would be in such a rush going to Salah that as a result I could not concentrate and all I could think about was the amount of work I had to do. Although I am a student, this is something I feel that everyone goes through at different stages.

The first 11 ayats of Surah Mumenoon was the way that I was able to manoeuvre the situation that I was in and give myself a good grounding of what success meant and what I needed to do.

So every morning after Fajr, I would recite these ayats and have them in my mind throughout the day. Hence the way I measured whether my day was successful or not after Isha was primarily based on the checklist of Surah Al- Mu’menoon Quran 23.

A brief exploration of the 11 ayats:
1. Successful indeed are the believers
2. Those who offer their Salat with solemnity and full submissiveness
3. And those who turn away from ill speech
4. And those who are observant of zakah
5. And those who guard their private parts
6. Except from their wives or those their right hands possess, for indeed, they will not be blamed –
7. But whoever seeks beyond that, then those are the transgressors –
8. And those who are faithfully true to their trusts and covenants
9. And those who carefully maintain their prayers –
10. These are indeed the inheritors
11. Who will inherit al-Firdaus. They will abide therein forever.

The importance of Salah
The first criteria for successful believers is Salah. What I love about the Surah is that it begins with emphasis on Salah and ends with Salah. We should not go through Salah in a robotic manner, rather with full consciousness and humility. Taking short breaks to reflect on what you are reciting is extremely helpful. When we go to offer Salah we need to be fully aware of the magnitude of the one we are standing before. When our Salah is in order, everything else is in order. One of the struggles that we face either as students or working people is that it is often difficult to establish Salah on time. In the ninth Ayah, one of the criteria for successful believers is that they maintain their prayers on time. The way we maintain Salah is symbolic of the position that Allah has in our lives. When Allah is the utmost priority in our lives, we realise that regardless of what we are preoccupied with, He should take precedent over all things. On the day of judgement, the first thing we will be asked about is Salah. If that is in order everything else will be, in sha Allah.

Time Saver
The third ayah is what I call the time saver. Implementation of this Ayah can have a dramatic effect on our lives. You start to stay away from gatherings where talk is of no benefit, where mindless and endless chatter is a preoccupation. You become more conscious of the words you say with the awareness that everything gets recorded by the angels.

Zakah
The fourth ayah deals with stripping the love of money away and giving away in charity.

Lowering the Gaze and Etiquette in Interaction
Ayah 5 – 7: More than ever, university and the work place are the places where we need to ensure that we lower our gaze and maintain the proper etiquette when interacting with the opposite gender.

Time Management and Fulfilling Trusts
Ayah 8: This ayah places emphasis on maintaining trusts and fulfilling promises. In order to achieve this, I had to develop better time management skills and the ability to say no. Saying no has always been something I have shied away from, but what this leads to is creating obligations that we cannot fulfill because there’s only so many hours in a day, and one of you. The best advice I can give in regards to this ayah is to choose your trusts and promises carefully and make sure that you are able to fulfill them.

I cannot emphasise enough how these 11 ayahs helped me to get focus back in my life entwined with my objective of success in this world and the Hereafter.
This Ramadan try and develop the habit of being aware of the Qur’anic criterion for people that are successful in this life, and implement them.
May Allah make us successful in this world and the next.

In Search of Peace and Happiness

imageWe all feel nostalgic as Ramadan descends upon us.

It is our chance to reconnect with Allah and a lot of people experience the state of tranquillity and happiness during the Holy Month that is not experienced in any other month.

Why is it that we are able to achieve this state yet struggle so much in the other months of the year?

In our pursuit of temporary pleasures and happiness we forget about the eternal happiness and peace that we truly seek.

‘Verily in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find rest.’ (Qur’an, Surah Ar Rad Ayat 28)

This is a reminder for you and I, that happiness and peace can only be attained on the path of Allah. When we become attached to worldy happiness we fail to comprehend the peace that only the worship of Allah can bring.

Who best knows how to make us happy other than our Rabb.

One thing that I’ve always found fascinating is why sometimes as Muslims knowing the recipe for happiness that Allah has given us in th Qur’an we are often the most unhappy people. One of the primary causes of unhappiness is our ego.

Our ego is what prevents us from obeying the commandments of Allah even when we know it is the best thing for us, the ego is what causes us to believe that we have the best knowledge regarding how to live our lives. It is primarily the barrier between us and Allah. There is nothing better than the Qur’an to break down our egos and to remind us of Al – Malik the one who has true lordship over everything and everyone.

Ramadan is the month of the Holy Qur’an and we should strive to reflect and ponder over it’s verses and break down our ego. A good relationship with Qur’an and Salah is essential for us to redirect our focus towards the right kind of happiness and peace.

May Allah make us of those who love listening to, reciting and implementing the Qur’an in our lives. Ameen.

 

Ramadhan Preparation: Sacrificing for the Sake of Allah

Sacrifice

What is it that is holding you back from connecting with your creator?

Ramadhan is fast approaching and it is important that we plan for a successful month. The blessed month is all about sacrifice of halal things such as food, drink and sleep for the pleasure of Allah SWT. But what about the things that our hearts have become attached to that prevent us from worshipping Allah SWT to the best of our ability?

It is possible to spend 18 hours fasting and still feel spiritually empty because the soul is not being nourished as our heart is attached to other than Allah.

There are things in our lives we have simply convinced ourselves we cannot do without which hinders us in our worship and prevents us from forming a better relationship with Allah. For some it will be enslavement to music, entertainment, temptations, quick temper, a sharp tongue, laziness, time wasting, ego, ill speech, impatience, ingratitude, attachment to money and endless obsession over fashion. The list is endless.

Make sure to have an introspective moment with yourself before Ramadan to find out what is holding you back and make the intention that you want to sacrifice it for Allah. We need to have it in our minds that when we give things up for the sake of Allah, we do so with the conviction that he will replace it with something better.

The Messenger of Allah PBUH said,

“whosoever leaves something for the sake of Allah then Allah, the Mighty and Magnificent, will replace it with something better than it.”
-Reported by Ahmad [5/363]; saheeh

Tips and Suggestions

1. Write it down: Writing your goals down always makes it more concrete than just having it in your mind. Write down 2 or 3 things that you would like to cleanse your heart of during the month of Ramadan.

2. Think about obstacles you might face and plan ahead: This is a crucial aspect because what you want to sacrifice might be a habit that is ingrained within you, therefore it is important to think ahead in terms of obstacles you might face and have solutions ready.

3. Start making dua from now that Allah makes it easy

‘Rely on Allah more than you rely on yourself.’

This has been my motto for the past year or so, and the reason why I feel it is important is that sometimes, we overestimate our ability to achieve our goals without Allah’s help. There are instances in our lives when we seek to attain things or sacrifice things and Allah makes it easy to such an extent that we barely notice as it occurs. This only happens when we have sincere intentions and make consistent dua to Allah to assist us. So this Ramadan, make dua to Allah to help you with whatever you would like to give up for his sake.

The story of Ibrahim AS
The story of Ibrahim AS has always been inspiring for me because of the level of devotion he had towards Allah. There was nothing our dear Prophet could not sacrifice for Allah. From leaving his wife Hajar in a desert with his son Ismail, to the request of Allah to sacrifice him, it is apparent that Ibrahim’s heart was completely pure of all attachments to other than Allah. His ultimate goal was to please Allah regardless of what was requested from him. Hence he is the perfect embodiment of the subject of sacrificing for the sake of Allah.

Lesson: A lot of the time our lives are in disarray because we refuse to give things up that Allah has stipulated in the Qur’an or that the Prophet PBUH has related is bad for us. We lose sight of our goal of worshipping Allah and being slaves of Ar- Rahman.

The gates of mercy are open this Ramadhan, we just have to ask ourselves whether we want to walk through it?

May we all witness the blessed month of Ramadhan and may it be a month of acceptance of our duas and purification of our heart. Ameen.