“Whoever works righteousness, whether male or female, while he (or she) is a true believer, verily to him we will give a good life, and we shall pay them certainly a reward in proportion to the best of what they used to do.” Quran 16:97
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Innah Lillahi wa Innah Illahi Raji3oon
It is with heavy hearts that we hear about the Fresno shootings by a man who claimed to be doing the killings in the name of Allah. The Islamic Service Center wholeheartedly offers condolences and prayers to the families of the victims. This was a senseless crime, one we condemn strongly. This is not true Islam and we are shocked and saddened that this horrific incident occurred in the name of Allah.
Please join us in making duaa for the families of the victims. May Allah ease their hearts in this terrible tragedy.
To God we belong and to Him we shall return.
It is with great sadness that we hear news of the Coptic church bombings in Egypt on April 9th, 2017. We offer the families of the victims of these bombings sincere condolences and prayers. May God grant them ease in these tragic times.
On behalf of the Islamic Service Center of America, we condemn these bombings and pray that religious tolerance to all minorities are respected. Coexistence on this earth is a fundamental part of being human. We hope that the perpetrators of such heinous crimes are caught as soon as possible.
Please join us in remembering the victims and their families in our prayers and make duaa for a more civilized and humanistic society, that holds the value of life to the highest of standards.
Courtesy of whyislam.org
When endeavouring to explain to someone how I uncovered my spirituality, I usually say it happened quite suddenly, in a moment of clarity.
Throughout my childhood and young adult years, God remained in the background of my consciousness. I believed in Him, and performed some rituals of worship to express this belief. Yet He rarely crossed my mind during day-to-day life, and I felt it was more important to focus my attention on intellectual advancement through academic and professional avenues.
I held myself to an elevated standard in work and study, always getting high grades on exams and maintaining a diligent work ethic that opened many opportunities for advancement. I sought happiness through ties of family and friendship, and on a couple of occasions, came close to forging a sincere commitment in marriage. (Read more: Marriage in Islam)
Barriers to understanding God’s message
However, as it turned out, life was full of all kinds of mishaps and disappointments. My professional success was overshadowed by office politics or ill-intentioned colleagues who managed to drain my enthusiasm. Love relationships that seemed to be headed for marriage would unravel due to dishonesty and lack of integrity. And family ties would be put to the test by financial and health difficulties. The belief in God lurking in the background of my life wasn’t sufficient to help me deal with what was flooding in its foreground.
With my lack of attentiveness to the practice of faith, I was unable to understand why God constantly placed hurdles in my path and left me to wallow in despair. It was as I was passing through one of these hurdles – frustrated, anxious and impatient to discover an answer – that I came to that moment of crisp, unhindered, spiritual and intellectual clarity.
In the Quran, which I hadn’t read up to that point, there is a description of a veil over the eyes of those who aren’t receptive to God’s message, a barrier that makes it inconceivable for them to understand faith in the true sense. Only by seeking answers with an open mind can one overcome this barrier. God refers to a divine light that, when it shines on the heart, lifts the veil and illuminates a holistic understanding of belief in God and the purpose of life.
In my moment of clarity, it was as though I was moved from the former state to the latter state, from the “depths of darkness into light.”
“He will provide for you a Light to help you walk; He will forgive you your past: for God is Most Forgiving, Most Merciful.” (Quran 57:28)
Blessings in disguise
It happened one morning before dawn more than two years ago. Unable to sleep I sat in my living room trying to decipher how to cope with the latest predicament; trying to understand why I deserved it. In a moment of inspiration, I knew the answer. What I perceived as a disappointment was actually a blessing, for it prompted me to question my state of existence, preparing me to be more receptive to God’s message and mercy.
I felt suddenly flooded with love, as though a burden was lifted from my heart. I realised I had to stop searching outside of myself for fulfilment, because the transience of relationships to things, people and places can never offer enduring satisfaction. That would be a difficult habit to break and yet I knew in that moment that all of the love, energy, loyalty and sincerity in my heart, that was often mishandled and mistreated by others, I needed to direct to God.
After that moment, I began to stop questioning why things didn’t work out and started allowing myself to give circumstances a chance to fall into place as they are meant to, with patience and a tranquil spirit. All I had learned in life through university, media, books and in my extensive professional career became comparatively trivial to the knowledge that the moment of clarity afforded me. I knew that the insight of that moment surpassed everything else that I had encountered, and felt with certainty that the knowledge I would seek and attain next would alter the course of my life. (Click here to learn more about understanding God’s will.)
In the two and a half years since, I have uncovered more and more layers of my faith in God, and found the path to peace of mind, the straight path of Islam – a state of mind where a believer lives in submission to God – laid out before me. I do, at times, encounter people who strive to label those of us who are on a spiritual journey as intellectually inferior, but these distractions are unimportant as we advance in the pursuit of knowledge.
Having experienced a truly dramatic shift in my faith and state of mind, I say with confidence that the path of uncovering and understanding God is, as 11th century Islamic theologian Al-Ghazali has pointed out, the route to the greatest knowledge a human being can attain.
“When God becomes the ruler of the heart, He floods it with mercy and sheds His light upon it, and the breast is opened and there is revealed to it the secret of the world of spirits,” writes Al-Ghazali in his book, The Marvels of the Heart. “By a gift of mercy there is cleared away from the surface of the heart the veil of whiteness that blinds its eye, and there shines in it the real nature of divine things.”
Courtesy of whyislam.org
Monotheism, belief in one God, is the most important and foundational concept in Islam. Muslims believe in one God who created the universe and has power over everything within it. He is unique and exalted above everything He creates, and His greatness cannot be compared to His creation. Furthermore, He is the only one deserving of any worship and the ultimate purpose of all creation is to submit to Him. The Islamic understanding of God is distinct from all other religions and beliefs in various respects since it is based on a pure and clear understanding of monotheism. This essentially captures the concept of God in Islam, which will be further elaborated in this pamphlet.
Muslims often refer to God as Allah. This is a universal name for God and does not refer to an exclusively ‘Islamic’ God. Interestingly, this name is related to the Aramaic and Hebrew names for God, Allaha and Elohim. Therefore, Allah is simply the Arabic name for God which affirms that He is One singular God with no partners or equals. The name Allah cannot be pluralized or limited to a specific gender, which establishes that God is One and that He is unique from everything He creates. Muslims continue to use this original Arabic name for God (Allah) since it perfectly expresses His unique qualities.
God is the Creator and the Sustainer of the universe who created everything for a reason. Muslims believe that He created humankind with a simple purpose – to worship Him. He sent messengers to guide people in fulfilling this purpose. Some of these messengers include Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and Muhammad, peace be upon all of them. They all taught a consistent message about God by affirming His greatness as the Creator and guiding people to worship Him alone. This basic concept has always resonated with people’s natural understanding of God. (Click here to learn more about prophets in Islam.)
When the final prophet, Muhammad, peace be upon him (pbuh), was asked about God, the answer came directly from God in the holy book of Muslims, the Quran (also spelled ‘Koran’): “Say, ‘He is God the One, God the eternal. He begot no one nor was He begotten. No one is comparable to Him.’” [112:1-4] This is a clear statement by God describing Himself to humanity without any room for confusion. God is One and is exalted above everything He creates and He is capable over all things.
Fully accepting the oneness of God is to accept that He is distinct from everything else. It would not suit God’s majesty and glory to associate the limited attributes of His creation to Him because He is not restricted in any way, while His creation is. He is the First with no beginning and the Last with no end. Everything in the universe was created by His will. He is not confined by space or time and He is the only One who is in control and provides for His creation.
“He is God: there is no god other than Him. It is He who knows what is hidden as well as what is in the open, He is the Lord of Mercy, the Giver of Mercy. He is God: there is no god other than Him, the Controller, the Holy One, Source of Peace, Granter of Security, Guardian over all, the Almighty, the Compeller, the Truly Great; God is far above anything they consider to be His partner. He is God: the Creator, the Originator, the Shaper. The best names belong to Him. Everything in the heavens and earth glorifies Him: He is the Almighty, the Wise.” [Quran, 59:22-24]
“God: there is no god but Him, the Ever Living, the Ever Watchful. Neither slumber nor sleep overtakes Him. All that is in the heavens and in the earth belongs to Him. Who is there that can intercede with Him except by His leave? He knows what is before them and what is behind them, but they do not comprehend any of His knowledge except what He wills. His throne extends over the heavens and the earth; it does not weary Him to preserve them both. He is the Most High, the Tremendous.” [Quran, 2:255]
The primary pillar of Islamic belief clearly states that there is nothing worthy of worship except God. Associating partners with God or attributing qualities of lesser beings to Him is considered to be the greatest sin in Islam.
In the past, this often took the form of idol worship or praying to multiple lesser gods. Although this is less common now, the current era has replaced many of the physical ‘idols’ of the past with other contemporary ‘gods.’ Many people today allow passions like entertainment, drugs, relationships or material objects to become the center of their lives. They become so consumed with these things that they submit to whatever will allow them to fulfill their desires. For example, if a drug addict allows their addiction to control their actions, beliefs, feelings, and behaviors, causing them to risk their personal safety and the safety of others, that drug has essentially become their god. Likewise, if another person puts a loved one before God by obeying that person even if that causes them to transgress against God’s commands, their loved one has taken precedence over God.
Islam teaches that people should completely submit only to God as He is the only One worthy of their worship. He is the Creator and Sustainer of the universe and everything in it belongs to Him. The Quran points out the faulty thinking of those who worship other than God:
“‘How can you worship things you carve with your own hands, when it is God who has created you and all your handiwork?’” [37:95-96]
The Believer’s Surrender
In order to be a true believer, one must believe in the absolute oneness of God, as the only Creator, Preserver and Nourisher of everything. However, this belief in the true characteristics of God is not the sole condition of true faith; one must also acknowledge that God is the only one who deserves to be worshipped. His commands and guidelines for how to live one’s life should always take precedence over the commands of anything He created. Indeed, He guides humanity to what is best for them in this life and the hereafter and He is All-Knowing and All-Wise.
Having embraced this understanding of God, one should constantly have faith in Him, and should remain steadfast on the truth. When true faith enters a person’s heart, it positively impacts their outlook and behavior. The Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said, “Faith is that which resides firmly in the heart and which is proved by actions.”
One of the striking effects of faith is a feeling of gratitude towards God. Believers love God and are grateful to Him for the blessings He gives them. They are aware of the fact that their good deeds will never be equal to His divine favors upon them so they are always striving to please Him. Furthermore, sincere believers in God accept that any hardships they face are part of the greater ‘test of life.’ They are patient through times of difficulty and turn to God for assistance. A beautiful characteristic of the believers is that they accept everything God wills and continuously remember Him in all aspects of life. (Read more: Attitude of Gratitude)
Anyone who denies the basic truth of the existence of God is considered ungrateful and a disbeliever. On many occasions in the Quran, God reminds humanity of the disbelievers’ clear misguidance and His complete power over everything:
“Behold! Verily to Allah belong all creatures, in the heavens and on earth. What do they follow who worship as His “partners” other than Allah? They follow nothing but fancy, and they do nothing but lie.” [10:66]
“It is God who has given you the night in which to rest and the day in which to see. God is truly bountiful to people, but most people do not give thanks. Such is God your Lord, the Creator of all things: there is no god but Him. How can you be so deluded? [40:61-62]
In the end, we must understand that our belief or disbelief in God does not affect Him in any way. Believing in Him, worshipping Him, and following His commands will only benefit us because we are in need of His blessings, favors and mercy. On the other hand, He does not need us because He is the Self-Sufficient Creator. However, it is never too late for a person to turn back to God, seeking His guidance and forgiveness by submitting to Him.
“Say: “O my Servants who have transgressed against their souls! Despair not of the Mercy of Allah: for Allah forgives all sins: for He is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful. Turn ye to our Lord (in repentance) and bow to His (Will), before the Penalty comes on you: after that ye shall not be helped. And follow the best of (the courses) revealed to you from your Lord, before the Penalty comes on you – of a sudden while ye perceive not!” [Quran, 39:53-55]
If you agree with the basic concepts in this pamphlet, you may still ask why Islam stands out from other religions. The reason is simply that Islam is the final and complete way of life that God revealed to guide humanity. Previous divine messages (such as the ones taught by Abraham, Moses and Jesus) have been lost or altered throughout time. God chose to send Muhammad (pbuh) to deliver His final message, which maintains the core teachings of all the previous revelations. The book sent to Muhammad (pbuh) was the Quran, which was revealed as guidance for all of humanity. Just like the Torah sent to Moses and the Gospel sent to Jesus, the Quran is a guidebook teaching us how to worship God in the purest manner and thereby achieve our purpose in life. The Quran is unique because it has remained preserved in its exact and original form for more than 1,400 years. (Learn more: Preservation of the Quran)
Islam is not a new way of life; rather, it is the final message, which upholds the same essential beliefs that God sent to humanity through all of His messengers. Through this message, God calls on each individual to lead a conscientious life by drawing close to Him and to remain cognizant of their final accountability in front of the one and only God.
“Has the time not come for those who have believed that their hearts should become humbly submissive at the remembrance of Allah and what has come down of the truth?” [Quran, 57:16]
As the year continues, more and more terror attacks plague the world in a series of tragic deaths. The latest victims in Nice, France had their lives cut short by people without an affiliation towards any religion or true word of God. Here, we are heartbroken for the families of those who died and are making prayers that the world’s conscience rights itself and we may all live in peace again.
“To God we belong and to Him we shall return.”
Courtesy of Abu Rumaysah Refi Shafi
If you truly want to benefit from the Qur’an, your heart must be attentive and alert when reciting it or listening to it. Listen to it carefully with presence of mind, paying attention to it as if Allah Himself was speaking to you directly. Understand that this Qur’an is an address directed to you from Allah, Most High, upon the tongue of His Messenger (SAW).
Allah, Most High, says, “Truly there is a reminder in this for anyone who has a heart, or who listens attentively with presence of mind.” 
A deep and lasting impression is dependant upon something that will stimulate a person, a location that can be influenced, his being in the right condition, and removing any barrier that would impede this from happening. This verse mentions of all of these in the most succinct and lucid of ways; clearly articulating the intended meaning.
“Truly there is a reminder in this” refers to the previous verses of this chapter. This, the Qur’an, is the stimulus.
“for anyone who has a heart” refers to the location that can be influenced. The heart referred to here is the living heart: the heart that is aware of Allah. He, Most High, says, “it is simply a reminder and a clear Qur’an so that you may warn those who are truly alive,”  i.e. those whose hearts are alive.
“or who listens attentively,” i.e. directs his faculty of hearing towards it and pays it the utmost attention. This is the condition that must exist for a person to be roused by the words.
“with presence of mind,” i.e. with an alert and present heart, not one that is unmindful and absent. Ibn Qutaybah said, “i.e. a person who listens attentively to Allah’s Book with presence of heart and mind, not someone who is unmindful with an absent air.”  This then alludes to the barrier: an unmindful and inattentive heart which does not understand what is being said and, as such, is unable to reflect upon it or direct any conscious thought towards it.
Therefore, if all these things come together, the end-result is obtained: benefiting from the Qur’an and taking heed.
If someone were to ask: if the end-result, the lasting impression, is only attained by the combination of these matters, why then did Allah say “or” in the verse, “or who listens attentively” which implies a choice between one or another option? Surely “and” should have been mentioned in its place?
It is said in reply: this is a good question; “or” has been mentioned by taking into consideration the state of the addressee.
Some people have hearts which are alive, hearts that will readily accept the truth and whose innate nature (fitrah) is intact; if such a person was to reflect in his very heart and turn his mind to it, he would conclude that the Qur’an is authentic and true. His heart would witness what the Qur’an informs it of and the subsequent impression upon it would be light layered on top of the light of its innate nature. This is the description of those about whom it is said, “those who have been given knowledge see that what has been sent down to you from your Lord is the truth.” 
Concerning them, Allah says, “Allah is the Light of the heavens and the earth. The metaphor of His light is that of a niche in which there is a lamp, the lamp inside a glass, the glass like a brilliant start, lit from a blessed tree, an olive, neither of the east nor the west, its oil all but giving off light even if no fire touches it. Light upon light! Allah guides to His Light whoever He wills, Allah propounds metaphors for mankind and Allah has knowledge of all things.” 
This verse refers to the light of the innate nature covered by the light of revelation; this is the condition of the person who has a living, receiving heart. We have explained this verse, its subtleties and lessons in detail in our book, Ijtima` al-Juyush al-Islamiyyah `ala Ghazw al-Mu`attila wa’l-Jahmiyyah. 
Therefore, the person who has this type of attentive heart receives the meanings of the Qur’an and readily accepts them so much so that it seems as if the words have been inscribed in his heart and he is able to recite them fluidly from memory.
Other people have hearts which fall below the level of those mentioned above; their hearts are not as ready to receive the truth, they are not completely alive, and their innate nature is not as refined. Therefore, they stand in need of a witness who would differentiate the truth from falsehood for them. In order to be guided, such a person must pay the utmost attention to the Qur’an’s words, he must devote his heart to it, ponder it and comprehend its meanings, and only after this will he come to realise that it is true.
The first type of person sees the truth of what he is invited to and informed of with his own eyes. The second type of person has learned that it is the truth, has certainty in it and is satisfied. The first has attained the ranking of beneficence, ihsan and the second has attained the ranking of faith, iman. The first has attained `ilm al-yaqin from which his heart has ascended to the degree of `ayn al-yaqin. The second has acquired that level of unwavering belief which takes him out of the fold of disbelief and into the fold of Islam. 
`Ayn al-Yaqin is of two categories: what is acquired in this world and what is acquired in the Hereafter. In this world it is to the heart what the beheld is to the eye. All the matters of the unseen that the Messengers informed us of will be seen by the eye in the Hereafter and the inner sight in this world; in both cases, this is `ayn al-yaqin
Courtesy of www.iqrasense.com
More than a billion people today say “La Ilaha Illallah”, yet many of us would agree that the Muslim ummah as a whole will be quite possibly missing out on additional mercy and blessings of Allah unless we start living by those words in our lives. Many among us either don’t know how to live up to those words or simply don’t find it necessary to do so. To them, recognizing a deity called “Allah” is all that is needed to be categorized as a “believer”. As we shall see later, Quran tells us that it may be nothing short of a sign of hypocrisy.
The fact is that those who call themselves “Muslims” need to infuse their hearts with “Taqwa” if they want to be viewed by Allah as true believers. In the English language, “Taqwa” has been translated and interpreted in various ways so that it may mean piety, righteousness, fearful of Allah, being God conscious, and so on. But we know that, similar to other words in the Quran, it is difficult to get a corresponding one word translation. Instead, some Quranic words pack more detailed concepts that must be elaborated on when translated into other languages.
After the first Surah (Al-Fatihah), which is mostly considered as a Dua, the Quran continues with Surah Al-Baqara (verse # 2) as follows:
“This is the Book (the Quran), whereof there is no doubt, a guidance to those who are Al-Muttaqin (People of Taqwa).” (Sura Al-Baqarah:2)
This verse thus makes Taqwa a prerequisite for seeking guidance from Quran (a guidance to those who are Al-Muttaqun, i.e., who have Taqwa). Tafsir ibn Kathir states: “Hidayah – correct guidance – is only granted to those who have Taqwa.” He went on to point out that “the guidance in it (Quran) is only granted to the righteous (people with Taqwa in their hearts), just as Allah said,
(O mankind! There has come to you a good advice from your Lord, and a healing for that which is in your breasts (disease of ignorance, doubt, hypocrisy and differences), a guidance and a mercy for the believers (Surah Younus:57).
What is Taqwa?
Rather than coining our own definitions, let’s look at how various scholars have defined Taqwa (Reference
2). Abu Darda (R) said: “From the completion of Taqwa is that the servant fears from His Lord even with regard to things, the weight of an atom.”
Sheikh Muhammed Tantawi says: “The word ‘Muttaqoon’ is the plural of ‘Muttaqi’. ‘Muttaqi’ is the gerund from the verb ‘Ittaqa’ (acquired protection). ‘Ittaqa’ is from the root verb ‘Waqa’ which means he protected himself from that which harms him.”
One of the more complete definitions and explanations was provided by Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah. He states that Taqwa “includes doing everything that Allah has enjoined whether it is waajib (obligatory) or mustahabb (recommended), and avoiding all that He has forbidden, whether it is haraam (forbidden) or makrooh (disliked).” [Reference
A heart infused with Taqwa is, therefore, an attitude that one adopts about following Allahs teachings. It provides us the filter to get a renewed perspective regarding how we live various aspects of our lives because we become aware of Allah’s pleasure and displeasure in all our affairs.
It is Taqwa that gives meaning to our simple worship rituals that otherwise would be nothing without it. Haven’t we pondered what would the physical actions of salat (prayers) such as bowing and prostrating mean without a heart infused with Taqwa? What makes the hunger and thirst (when fasting) of a believer different from the same actions of a non-believer? How would the physical acts of going between the two mountains of Safa and Marwa (in Hajj and Umrah) become valuable in the eyes of Allah? It’s the Taqwa in our hearts that provide these simple physical rituals a special meaning in the eyes of Allah. For example, when mentioning the ritual of sacrificing animals (in Allah’s name) in the Quran, Allah says, “It is neither their meat nor their blood that reaches Allah, but it is Taqwa (piety, etc.) from you that reaches Him. Thus have We made them subject to you so that you may glorify Allah for His guidance to you…” (Surah Al-Hajj: 37).
Let’s ensure, therefore, that our worship is not limited to empty acts but is rather adorned with Taqwa. Again, as the verse states, “…but it is the Taqwa (piety) from you that reaches Him.”
WHERE DO WE FALL RELATED TO OUR TAQWA AND THE GUIDANCE FROM ALLAH?
If we read the first few verses of Surah Al-Baqara (almost the beginning of the Quran), we would note that Allah describes three types of people related to guidance.
The first group: In the first few verses (verses 2 – 5), He clearly explains that the Quran is a guidance for those who have Taqwa in their hearts and this guidance causes them to be successful. The people described in these verses are those who:
(1) Believe in the unseen (e.g. Allah, angels, the holy books that Allah revealed but got changed, prophets, day of resurrection, and Al-Qadr)
(2) Perform salat
(3) Spend for Allah’s causes from what Allah has provided to them
(4) Believe in what Allah revealed to Prophet Muhammad
(5) Believe in what Allah revealed to the prophets before Muhammad, and
(6) Believe in hereafter.
The second group: The second group (described in verses 6 and 7) falls on the other end of the spectrum, and are the disbelievers. In describing them Allah says that it is the seal on their hearts and ears as well as a covering in their eyes that has caused them to disbelieve.
The third group: Finally, the Quran uses more verses (verses 8 through 18) in describing those regarding whom Allah says, “And of mankind, there are some who say: “We believe in Allah and the Last Day” while in fact they believe not” (verse 6). Some of the attributes that Allah points out in those people (in those verses) are the following:
(1) They think they are deceiving Allah and the believers but in fact they are deceiving themselves.
(2) In their hearts there is a disease (of doubt and hypocrisy).
(3) When Allah tells them to believe by modeling themselves according to the prophet and the true believers, they say, “Shall we believe as the fools have believed?” Allah then responds by saying that “Verily, they are the fools but they know not.”
(4) They mock the believers in turn and then Allah says: “Allah mocks at them and gives them increase in their wrongdoings to wander blindly.”
(5) Allah remarks about these people: “These are they who have purchased error for guidance, so their commerce was profitless. And they were not guided.”
The above (based on verses 2 – 18 of Al-Baqara) should be sufficient to move our hearts to the core and should create the urgency to associate ourselves with the first group (the ones with Taqwa). While a majority of us believers will associate ourselves with the first group, our behaviors and attitudes may instead make us appear to belong to the third. Let’s, therefore, ensure that our actions (not just words) disclose that we are people who have Taqwa (as mentioned in verse 2).
On the road to inculcate Taqwa
Once we say “La Ilaha Illallah”, we should take a few steps to lodge Taqwa (piety, righteousness, humbleness, fear, God consciousness, etc.) in our hearts. Some of the steps we can take include the following:
Know as a believer that it’s Allah’s (our creator and sustainer’s) right to be obeyed: Let us never forget that it is Allah’s right to be obeyed. Ibn Qayyim said: “A benefit of understanding Allah’s right over the servant is that it opens the door of humbleness in front of Allah and closes the doors of conceit. It allows one to realize that salvation is only through Allah’s grace and mercy. It is Allah’s right that He should be obeyed and not disobeyed: that He should be remembered and not forgotten and that He should be appreciated and not unappreciated . . . Many people think about their rights over Allah and do not about His rights over them. This is how they are detached from Allah and deprived of the desire to meet Him. This is the epitome of ignorance of their Lord and of themselves” (Ighathatul lahfaan 1/99-101; secondary reference).
Audit yourself: From time to time we should pause and assess the condition of our hearts. If we do that with full introspection, it wouldn’t be difficult to determine whether our hearts are filled with piety and fear of Allah (Taqwa), or have remnants of hardness and a carefree attitude about Allah and His teachings. Allah says in the Quran: “O you who believe! Fear Allah and keep your duty to Him. And let every person look to what he has sent forth for the morrow (tomorrow), and fear Allah. Verily, Allah is All-Aware of what you do” (Surah Al-Hashr:18). Ibn kathir says that the phrase ‘let each soul see’ or “let every person look” in the above verse means to take an account of one’s own actions before being audited (by Allah) (Tafseer of Ibn Kathir: 4/346). Omar bin Khattab wrote to one of his employees: “Audit yourself in prosperity before the auditing of adversity. Whoever does this will be pleased and envied. Whoever is distracted from this by his life and fantasies, will face remorse and loss.”
Reflect your Taqwa in your deeds: Once you build the Taqwa in your heart (become cognizant of, and fear Allah in all your affairs), you should start practicing it in your actions. The sahaba and salaf used to exert themselves in ensuring that their actions reflected the Taqwa in their hearts. It’s said that Ibn Omar used to stay awake the whole night if he missed a prayer in congregation (because he knew (through the Taqwa in his heart) Allah’s pleasure associated with one praying in congregation). Imam Ghazali mentioned that we let ourselves (our nafs) off the hook when it (our nafs) is our biggest enemy and is more likely to rebel against our own selves (Ihya’ul ulum al-din, 4/381). About ensuring that we bring Taqwa in our actions, Abu Dhar reported that the Messenger of Allah, said: “Fear Allah wherever you may be; follow up an evil deed with a good one which will wipe (the former) out, and behave good-naturedly towards people” [Al-Tirmidhi].
Condition yourself to inculcate Taqwa: We have to condition ourselves to fear Him by observing and reflecting more about our existence, our vulnerability as humans in this ocean in which we are journeying, and about the end that each one of us will meet soon. We should also become avid learners about what pleases Allah and what displeases Him and take that seriously. This observation and learning will enable us to learn new truths that can help us condition our states and hearts to inculcate the required Taqwa in our hearts.
Let’s ponder over Quran’s last verse that was revealed to the prophet (agreed to by many scholars, including ibn Kathir). It says: “And be afraid of the Day when you shall be brought back to Allah. Then every person shall be paid what he earned, and they shall not be dealt with unjustly (Surah Al-Baqara: 281).”
Remember, we are what we are – with the rewards and punishments from Allah and His mercy on us – based on the level of our faith in Allah and the Taqwa in our hearts. Sometimes we forget the connection between how our lives turn out to be and the One who makes it all happen. Once you remind yourself of that, remember the power bestowed by Allah on you as regards “free will” and how you can use it to influence the quality of your own lives. As long as you respect the limits that He has set for us (through the Taqwa in your heart), you can earn the blessings that He has promised for you, both in this life and in the hereafter.
We should, therefore, not delay to take a strong decision to increase our Taqwa. As Allah says in the Quran: “Verily, the most honorable of you with Allah is that (believer) who has At-Taqwa” [al-Hujrat 49:13].
By Shaikh Salmaan Fahd
By no means is love a sickness in and of itself. Indeed, it is the only known cure for many of the problems and ailments that we as human beings suffer from. However, love can turn into an illness if it becomes obsessive, if it goes beyond its proper bounds, or if the object of love is not worthy. When such a situation develops, love indeed becomes a sickness requiring a remedy.
It is Allah (Subhaanahu wa Ta’aalaa)’s order in the world that he sends down to it no affliction without sending down with it its cure. Love is no exception.
The treatment of this illness is as follows:
1. As with all diseases, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
This is why we must lower our gazes and resist taking a second glance at a member of the opposite sex who attracts us. Allah (Subhaanahu wa Ta’aalaa) says: “Say to the believing men that they should lower their gaze and guard their chastity. That will make for greater purity for them, and Allah is acquainted with all that they do. And say to the believing women that they should lower their gaze and guard their chastity…” (Surah al-Noor: 30-31)
We can see how Allah (Subhaanahu wa Ta’aalaa) first issues the command to believing men, then repeats the command for believing women, thus emphasizing the importance of lowering our gazes. The fact that Allah (Subhaanahu wa Ta’aalaa) addresses members of each sex individually shows just how important and relevant this matter is to people of both sexes. Indeed, these Verses are one of the few occasions where Allah (Subhaanahu wa Ta’aalaa) addresses men and women separately in the Quraan.
The look is the beginning that can lead to progressively greater ills. This is why Allah (Subhaanahu wa Ta’aalaa) mentions it first, and then follows it up with the command for us to guard our chastity.
A poet long ago observed:
A glance, a smile, a friendly hello,
Some chatting, a date, then off they go!
If some of us find it difficult to carry out this command, they should write these verses down on a sheet of paper and hang them on their wall or place them on the dashboard – whatever it takes to remind them.
2. Thinking about the consequences is often a sobering dose of medicine.
The ability to think about the far-reaching consequences of our actions is one of the distinctive qualities that set humanity apart from other animals. This is why a person just does not go ahead and do everything that tickles his fancy. He first has to think about what is behind it and what will come of it.
How many people like that do we hear about, some of whom come out and admit that the disease befell them as a punishment from Allah (Subhaanahu wa Ta’aalaa), and hoping that it might at least expiate for their sin?
The same can be said for all the other sexually transmitted diseases. The worst thing of all is to think that an indiscreet man can infect his pious, faithful, and chaste wife with one of these vile diseases.
Another consequence to think about is pregnancy. A man who had repented for his sins once admitted to me that he had intentionally chosen to involve himself with a woman who was sterile. Regardless, Allah (Subhaanahu wa Ta’aalaa) wanted her to fall pregnant and she did.
We should not be heedless of the consequences of our actions. Does anyone want to be responsible for someone coming into this world with no idea who his father is; someone who starts out life already disadvantaged?
Maybe one of us will pay the price for his misdeed in this world. Maybe he will get away with it here, going through life unrepentant and unscathed, only to be humiliated for it before the eyes of all on the Day of Judgment.
Some of the evil consequences of this behavior are psychological in nature. A man, once enamored of women, gets to the point that he can never be satisfied. He eternally craves variety and no degree of beauty is enough. Because of this, he may find himself eternally forbidden the lawful pleasure to be found within marriage. His senses and his sentiments have all been dulled.
Some young men travel abroad and spend their time in the company of prostitutes and other women of ill repute, but if one of them were ever to hear that his wife back home so much as looked at another man indiscreetly, he would divorce her on the spot.
One man lamented: “I would forsake all the women of the world for the sake of one woman whom I knew would get worried if I came home at night a little bit late.” This is the sentiment of any man who possesses wisdom.
3. The communion of lawful love is the best cure of all.
All of the stories of love that we find in our literature – whether it be that of Jamîl and Buthaynah, Kuthayyir and ‘Azzah, Qays and Laylâ, or for that matter their English equivalent Romeo and Juliet – deal with the anguish of unrequited love.
Allah (Subhaanahu wa Ta’aalaa) has placed in what is lawful all that we need so we can dispense with what He has made unlawful. It provides the most fulfilling, satisfying, and deepest expression of love.
The Prophet (SallAllaho alaihe wa sallam) said: “We see for those who are in love nothing better than marriage.” (Sunan Ibne Maajah, 1847 and Mustadrak Haakim, 2724 with a good chain of transmission)
Lawful matrimony is what brings healing to the heart and removes its disquiet. If it is not written for a certain man and women to come together in matrimony, each of them should have faith that there are many others out there with whom Allah (Subhaanahu wa Ta’aalaa) can enrich them with a meaningful and loving relationship.
4. Resignation and a willingness to forsake what is wrong.
No matter how painful it may be to part, it is sometimes necessary. The Prophet (SallAllaho alaihe wa sallam) said: “Whoever maintains his chastity, does so with the grace of Allah (Subhaanahu wa Ta’aalaa). Whoever finds self-sufficiency does so with what Allah (Subhaanahu wa Ta’aalaa) has enriched him. Whoever is patient draws his fortitude from Allah (Subhaanahu wa Ta’aalaa). And no one has been given a gift better or more bountiful than patience.” (Bukhari 1469 and Muslim 1053)
Whoever gives something up for Allah (Subhaanahu wa Ta’aalaa)’s sake should know that Allah (Subhaanahu wa Ta’aalaa) will give him in its substitute something far better.
5. Channeling one’s energies and abilities into what is nobler, more precious, and sublime – the love of Allah (Subhaanahu wa Ta’aalaa)
We express this love by bringing benefit to His creatures, by our obedience to Him, by our Salaah (prayers), our Saum (fasts), our Zikr (remembrance of Him), our Du’aas (supplications), and our Tawaadhu’ (humility). We do so by keeping the company of righteous people and by aspiring to the noblest and most beneficial of goals.
We should channel our energies into what benefits us in our worldly lives and in our faith. Allah (Subhaanahu wa Ta’aalaa) says: “Seek Allah’s help with patience and perseverance. It is indeed difficult except upon those who are humble.” (Surah al-Baqarah: 45)
He says: “Whoever puts his trust in Allah, sufficient is Allah for him.” (Surah al-Talaaq: 3)
A heart that is full of concern for others will be a heart that is full of love – but not a slave to love. It is an empty heart that falls stricken for any visitor who graces its doorstep.
We should take full advantage of our lives and be as productive as possible. We need to develop our talents, our minds, and put our creativity into practice. Yes! Be enamored – but be enamored of truth and knowledge. Be fully in love – but be in love with righteousness.
Marriage in the dictionary is explained as the name given to when a man and a woman “formally unite for the purpose of living together”. In Islam, it is an act which is given great importance both from a religious view point and a social viewpoint.
The subject of marriage is vast and contains many topics; these topics include:
01. If one chooses not to marry or is unable to get married.
02. When to get married.
03. Love marriages, arranged marriages and force marriages.
04. How to choose a suitable spouse.
05. How to get married.
06. Leading a happy, married life.
07. Rights & responsibilities of the husband.
08. Rights & responsibilities of the wife.
09. Etiquettes involved in a married life.
10. Upbringing of children.
11. Responsibilities towards one’s children.
12. Marrying more than one wife (*new*)
Marriage is an act which completes and encompasses the many teachings of Islam. It has been thus narrated in a Hadeeth that when a person marries, he has complete half of his religion and so he should fear Allah regarding the remaining half.
Shame, modesty, moral and social values and control of self desire are just a few of the many teachings of Islam. Furthermore, these are just a few of the many worships that a person can complete by performing the ritual of marriage. Through marriage a person can be saved from many shameless and immoral sins and through marriage he has is more able to control his desire. Therefore, the Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) has said:
“O young men! Whoever is able to marry should marry,
for that will help him to lower his gaze and guard his modesty.”
The creation of mankind has been made such that man requires a spouse to complete all that a man requires. Whilst Adam (Alayhis Salaam) was in Jannah he felt a particular loneliness and in response to this loneliness Allah Ta’ala created Hawa (Alayhas Salaam) as a companion for him. This clearly shows that Allah chose women to act as a companion for man and so that they can remove that loneliness and live in harmony. Allah has created our spouses from a part of us. It is a bond that is created by Allah Himself so that we can find peace and tranquillity within our spouses.
Allah has stated in Surah al-Rum:
“And among His signs is that He has created for you mates from among yourselves,
that you may dwell in tranquillity with them;
and He has put love and mercy between you.
Verily in that are signs for those who reflect.”
[Surah al-Rum - 30:21]
In conclusion, it is simple to deduce that marriage is a form of worship as well as a social necessity. We have been asked to increase the Ummah (followers) and the only permissible way in Islam is through Marriage.
Marriage is a strong oath that takes place between the man and women in this world, but its blessings and contract continues even in Jannah.
Marriage is the way of our beloved Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi Wa Sallam), and whosoever goes against this practice has been reprimanded.
Hadhrat Anas ibn Malik narrates:
A group of three men came to the houses of the wives of the Prophet asking how the Prophet worshipped (Allah), and when they were informed about that, they considered their worship insufficient and said:
“Where are we from the Prophet as his past and future sins have been forgiven.”
Then one of them said: “I will offer the prayer throughout the night forever.”
The other said: “I will fast throughout the year and will not break my fast.”
The third said: “I will keep away from the women and will not marry forever.”
Allah’s Apostle came to them and said,
“Are you the same people who said so-and-so?
By Allah, I am more submissive to Allah and more afraid of Him than you;
yet I fast and break my fast, I do sleep and I also marry women.
So he who does not follow my tradition in religion, is not from me (from my followers).”
Therefore, Islamically, we are all encouraged to get married and not turn away from the ways of our beloved Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi Wa Salaam).
It should be remembered that this duty of marriage is for both men and women. Just as men complete half their religion through this act, it is also the same for women.
With the ongoing murders of black men by American police and the most recent hit back of the police killings in Dallas, it is important to recognize that as Muslims, violence against any and all people is against our beliefs. We are deeply impacted by the unjust targets of black males who are often unfairly treated and even killed while in police custody. There is no justification for this and the system in place routinely supports a racist agenda against African American men. At the same time, violence against the police is something that should never be the appropriate response to injustice. It is with sadness that we send out prayers to all the families of the overwhelming number of black men killed by the police as well as the officers who died as a result.
Innah Lillahi wa Innah Illahi Raji3oon. To God we belong and to him we shall return.