Thursday, October 31, 2013

Dua for when on Computer

The computer can be so beneficial in so many different ways, be it worldly or religiously. It can also, unfortunately, be a complete waste of time. The possibilities when being online are endless.

That's why I wrote and taped up a reminder and dua right in my workspace. Here's what I came up with:




Hope this inspires some of you to also write up a dua for next to your computer, where a lot of us spend a lot of our time. May Allah (SWT) give us the tawfiq to use our time for His pleasure, Ameen.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Choosing Friends Wisely

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*Note: This particular post is geared towards teenagers

Ah, I remember my teenage years...Okay it wasn't too long ago, but still. There were practically no responsibilities apart from aiming to get good grades. There was always me-time if I felt like doing something fun like taking up a hobby. And the friends! I've had some amazingly awesome times with friends when I was a teen, Alhumdulillah. Laughing away like crazy at small things. Passing notes in class trying to make my friends giggle while everyone else was silent (it obviously worked). I never played pranks on others but others did on me...and I miss those times too!


When I went home from school I'd still be thinking about my friends. Then there would be the talks on the phone, emailing, texting and chatting.


Teenagers can never really get enough of their friends, can they? And it's getting worse and worse now that the phone has internet (in my day that was unheard of!), because now kids are chatting with friends from around the world while on the dinner table, and late into the night in bed. Friends play a crucial role in teenagers' lives and it is highly important to choose them wisely!

The Messenger of Allah (SAW) said in a hadith, “A man will follow the religion of his close friend, so let each of you look to who he takes a close friend." (Al Tirmidhi)
 

So let's take some points into consideration:

1) Religion. Now, I know this is a difficult concept to grasp in this day and age where globalization is so common. Classrooms are filled with kids from all parts of the world with different religions. I personally really enjoy hanging out with people of different backgrounds and learning about their cultures. We are not to ignore people of different religions. Rather, speak to them politely, have some discussions with them etc. But when it comes to choosing close friends, stick to the God-conscious.

Let me give you an example of what I went through in school and college. When I went to school, I had some non-Muslim friends. As teenagers, all they would discuss was boys. This is common amongst kids these days, and it's getting common at even younger ages, unfortunately. I always felt awkward because these are not topics that pertain to a Muslim. When I hung out with my Muslim friends, we had a lot more things to talk about which were childhood friendly and I had a lot more fun. In university the case was similar. I would go and chill out with my friends at malls (like once a month or even less than that, so don't overdo it!) and eat pizza. Have some Molten Lava Cake from time to time at Chilli's. Stuff like that. I had a non-Muslim friend who I wasn't too close to, but she was a part of our circle. There was one thing she kept on saying to me over and over for many months, "Seher, I'm going to take you clubbing one day! You haven't seen life. It's SO much fun. You are far too innocent. Live it up!" I told her I don't drink. She told me, "Oh that's ok. You can have Red Bull at the club!". This is how it all starts. Try this, try that. Until you're all out deep into sin. A friend with taqwa would not have had this conversation with me. I'm not saying non-Muslims are bad people. Their cultures are different and don't match with Islam's, and so if they become a close friend then it's difficult to continue staying in your own belief system. Especially as a teen.
  

As a side note, I wanted to add one more thing. Falling in "love" while being a teenager. Please don't waste your time in these petty things. With the media these days after everyone trying to define what love is, and some wrong "friends" encouraging you to develop relationships with opposite genders, it's hard to get away from it, I know. A guy smiles at you and maybe even opens the door for you and you think you're in love. A girl has long, silky hair which flows gently in the breeze and you think you're in love. Someone compliments you and you think they love you. This is not love, my friends! It is infatuation. Romeo and Juliet were not truly in love and they did not die for true love. They only knew each other for a few days! They were truly infatuated! It was less than a week between the time they met and the time they died. Remember that when you think you found your Romeo or Juliet in school. You know what true love is? It's marrying a person and living with them day and night for years, and finding out their flaws (because we all have them), and waking up to see their messy morning face, and dealing with a pet peeve you have that they do all the time, yet STILL you can't imagine living without them. So please don't think you've found "the one" until after you're married. After all, wouldn't you want "the one" to be the "only one" after you're married and spend the rest of your life with him/her? Right now is the time to enjoy your innocent youth and also focus on studies. Which brings me to the next point.
  

2) Studies. Find friends who are ambitious about their future and are studious when it comes to schoolwork. This alone will take you far in life, inshaAllah. Teenagers are very easily malleable by who they hang out with. Think about it, if you hang out with a group of people who get A's in class and also do extra-curricular activities, wouldn't you want to raise your own goals in school? Getting hardworking friends will only push you to do better and help you achieve to the best of your ability. On the other hand, there are kids who think school isn't important. They'd rather "chill" their life away by watching TV all the time, being online, or going out with friends. If you hang out with them, eventually, without you realizing, you too will feel that school is not important in the bigger picture, and will become more relaxed about your studies.
  

So think about the past few years. Think about the many friends you had, and how you were affected by them individually. To an extent, friends apparently become more important and more reliable sources of information than parents (which is not true, but that's how teens think!), so basically, choose them wisely because you are a reflection of your friends!

Note: If you can't find any friends who you think will make you into a better person then make sincere dua to Allah (SWT) for a righteous friend. InshaAllah He will guide you to one.

May Allah (SWT) give us the tawfiq to be with friends the pious and the ambitious, and may they become a means of us entering Jannah, Ameen. 

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Message for the Youngsters.

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Tonight was the first time I went for taraweeh prayers this Ramadan. It's the 23rd night of Ramadan. I couldn't believe how quickly time flew by this time round. We always say this every Ramadan, but trust me, when you have to take care of an infant day in and day out, you really can't tell how fast this blessed month is passing by.

That's why I thought I'd give some advice to the young ones reading this post. Use your time wisely, little ones. You may think that your life is really hectic in high school or college, or even newly wedded life, but let me tell you this: you ain't seen nothing yet! :)

Right now is the time to get as much ibadah (worship) done as you possibly can. When you go for prayers, really try to feel what you are reading or hearing. When you recite the Quran, imagine that Allah (SWT) is talking to you, enjoy the rhymes and rhythms of the verses of the Quran, and delve into the tafsir to really understand what your Lord is saying to you.

Just sit down for a minute and try to imagine what it's like to do these things with a baby with you. As you try to listen to the recitation of the Imam, you are distracted by either your baby's wails or a toddler trying to throw things on your baby's face as he lays next to you. As you try to recite the Quran with the baby in your lap (as he usually is), he kicks around like a fish out of water and flaps his arms as if he's learning how to fly that moment, thus making it impossible to read.

This is, of course, a normal phase in life that I am going through. I am extremely blessed to have a tiny little bundle of joy in my life, Alhumdulillah. But all I am trying to convey in this post is that at this point in your life, don't take the free time you have for granted. Time is very limited. Use it in the dhikr and ibadah of Allah (SWT) as much as you can, along with other fun things in life, of course.

Just never forget your purpose in life, inshaAllah. May Allah (SWT) give us the tawfique to use our time wisely, Ameen.



Friday, March 1, 2013

Bringing Barakah into our Homes

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Cuteness comes with consequences. That's what I feel about my 5 month old boy. He's the most precious little baby and I love him to bits, but he takes up my entire time. Even as I am writing this right now, he's chilling on my lap. He's just lucky he's cute, or else.....:) lol

It's been a very long time since I last wrote an article, and I do apologize. I've been thinking about it for the longest time. I felt extremely unproductive as my life revolved around the baby. Feed, change diapers, do laundry, repeat. Pretty much sums up my life, along with other chores. I felt like I really needed to do something more fulfilling. Like, I don't know, change the world maybe? We all want to go out and change the world, don't we?

Then I realized the bitter reality. Can I really make a difference out there? As ideal as it sounds, it's not really possible. Something rare, at best. What could I do? I have no control over others' mindset. The only real control we have is over our own homes. In reality, we go out to affect the world and instead come back affected by the world ourselves. On the Day of Judgement, each "shepherd will be asked about his flock" (Bukhari).

The Quran tells us to make our homes a place of worship and establish prayers (10:87). There are 4 simple steps in increasing Allah's blessings in your homes:

(i) Prayers

Attaining a house is easy, but making it into a home is an ongoing process. It's a place where you should find peace, and one can only attain tranquility in the heart from Allah, so we should turn to Him. The home should be a place that is spiritually uplifting. Some people spend hours polishing their homes and making it sparkle, which is all good, but what about polishing our homes spiritually? This is done by the remembrance of Allah (SWT). The Sunni scholar Jalaluddin Al-Suyuti states that Rasul Allah (SAW) said that just as we look into the sky and see stars, the angels look down on to earth and see stars in the homes of people who remember Allah (SWT). In another hadith Rasul Allah (SAW) states, "Say a part of your prayers at home, so your house doesn't become like graves" (Bukhari). It is prohibited to pray in graveyards, so we should bring our homes to life and make them shine. Men should pray all obligatory prayers at the masjid and it is better for them to pray their sunnah and nawafil at home, whereas women attain greater reward if all prayers are done at home, but they can go to the masjid if they wish. In an ideal situation, a separate praying room would help in creating a desirable atmosphere.

(ii) Duas

We should always make dua when we enter and leave our homes. When we enter we should say Bismillah. By doing so, shaitaan says to himself, "you have no place here anymore and should leave". Bismillah eradicates the seat of shaitaan from our homes. It's as simple as that! When leaving, we should recite the following supplication:

بِسْمِ اللَّهِ تَوَكَّلْتُ عَلَى اللَّهِ وَلَا حَوْلَ وَلَا قُوَّةَ إِلَّا بِاللَّهِ
"I depart with Allah's name, relying on Him. It is Allah who saves us from sins with His guidance" (Tirmidhi)

If shaitaan is not in our house then you can bet (oh wait, that's haraam) that he's waiting by the door on your way out. This dua is for protection against him and guidance from Allah. If we recite it then he walks away saying what can I do now, this person has Allah's protection and is guided. We should always strive to make this dua, inshaAllah. 


(iii) Recitation of the Quran  
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Reciting the Quran draws in the barakah of Allah (SWT). Allah's Mercy is attracted, which in turn increases love between the people in that house, decreases the animosity and creates a special type of peace. Particularly, Surah Al Baqarah should be recited. Shaitaan flees from the home where this is read, and he also cannot enter it, so it is a double protection. It's difficult to recite the whole surah and Islam makes it easy for us. If the last 2 ayahs are recited for 3 consecutive nights then shaitaan also can't enter such a house.

(iv) Gaining knowledge

We don't necessarily have to go out in order to gain knowledge. We should strive to have study circles within the family and encourage our children to participate. We should create an Islamic library and try to set a time to learn new things and practice on it together. We should also reach out into the community and offer our homes for serving the deen. There is immense barakah in doing so. People should be allowed to do dawah, lessons should be taught and learned, remembrance of Allah should take place. A piece of the masjid should be taken into our homes. People generally think that resources are needed first and then the work of deen can begin but it's actually the other way round. We should start with the deen and Allah will expand the resources for us iA. If we make space for others in our homes for deeni purposes then inshaAllah Allah (SWT) will make homes for us in Jannah!

In this day and age when there's so much fitna in the outside world, preservation of the house really is preservation of the deen. May Allah SWT give us the tawfiq to implement all of these steps in our homes, thereby increasing His blessings within them, Ameen.

*notes were taken from various lectures of Sheikh Husain Abdul Sattar for this article.
 

Friday, February 10, 2012

Holier-Than-Thou Attitude

They are ashamed by the state this Ummah is currently in. They desperately try to guide people, using quotes from everywhere and from whatever little they have learnt. They squint their eyes, looking for problem areas in all individuals, and rush up to them, informing them harshly of their wrong-doings. They go into details about punishments of Hell-fire, and about the torture the wrong-doer will go through after death. In fact, they go to the extent of calling people kuffar for some acts they've done. 

They are the Haram Police. 

We've all encountered them some time or another. People who tell us we are wearing our hijab wrongly, or praying wrongly, and pretty much every time they meet us we are doing something wrong. Who would want to hang out with such a person?

Those of us who are fortunate enough to have gained some Islamic knowledge need to realize one thing. Knowledge is not everything. There is something else that goes hand in hand with it, and that is hikmah, or wisdom. If we looked at the life of our beloved Messenger (SAW), we would see that he preached by setting an example. Implement the teachings of Quran and Sunnah in your life and people will automatically be attracted to you. So what are these teachings? The Prophet (SAW) always had a pleasant smile on his face, and was well-groomed and clean. This makes a person much more approachable. We see the "Haraam Police" these days with frowns on their faces, "tsk tsk-ing" the day away and looking down at the state of other people. He was soft-spoken, not aggressively shouting at people to tell them that they are wrong. Today we see the hardened faces and hear harsh voices instead. He was kindhearted and always offered to help out those in need. He gave away everything he had to the poor. But in the Haram Police we mainly see people looking for mistakes others are making so that they can "correct" them. Trust me, the mistake will not be corrected in this manner. It will continue, but the "culprit" will just avoid being near the accuser next time. 

Islam is not a strict religion that tries to makes people's lives miserable. It is a religion of love, peace and and tranquility within us. Instill love of Allah in the hearts of others by encouraging them to reflect on this life, not fear of Hell-fire. Preach by changing your own character to what the Quran and Sunnah actually teach us, and see how people come towards you, wanting to be like you. They will want to learn more about Islamic teachings themselves. I do understand the perspective of the finger-pointers, though. They are deeply worried, wanting everyone to change and live their lives according to the Book for their own benefit. They tell people that there is little time in this world and they have to change right now. But what wisdom teaches us is that things don't work this way. You have to be gentle, patient and see what the situation calls for. Each situation is unique in its own way, and that is where hikmah of those with knowledge comes in!

Another thing we need to realize is that we can never judge a person based on their outer acts. Maybe in the future they will become much more closer to Allah than we currently are, and be His beloved. We simply do not know where we stand in the eyes of Allah, and should constantly work on ourselves rather than pin-pointing others. Instead of telling others they are doing something haraam, we need to make dua for them and try to set an example for them. 

May Allah (SWT) give us the tawfiq to use wisdom with our knowledge, and may we truly be able to be like our role model (SAW). Ameen.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Anger Management- Take it Easy!


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Imagine this scenario of a family with teens: Everyone is having a normal discussion. Disagreements occur. Voices are raised. Shouting, yelling. Someone (i.e. teenager) gets up and storms out of the room. The grand finale: the rest cringe as they hear the loud slamming of a door. 

How many times have there been that we regretted saying something to our loved ones out of mere anger. No, it wasn't such a big issue or concern. Yes, the matter could have been explained in a gentle manner with dignity. No, it wasn't due to some legitimate reason. 

"But I was just angry at the time. I was having a bad day. Just lost control for a bit".

Losing your temper is not a petty issue. It is stated in a hadith that, "Anger ruins faith just as the aloe plant ruins honey". While faith is sweet, anger is bitter. When a person is angry the inner peace in their mind is lost, and ibadah cannot be done with devotion. People need to realize that this is a trait which needs to be controlled so that they can be a source of mercy to others in this world, and so that Allah's Mercy can encompass them in the Afterlife, inshaAllah. In another hadith it is mentioned, "Strength is not throwing someone to the ground, but it is controlling the nafs when angry". 

We need to realize the gravity of the situation when we speak. We need to remember that we are accountable for everything that we say and do. A man may throw a fit some day and utter three words to his wife out of rage, thereby divorcing her. They could be otherwise a very loving couple but the husband could have been "having a rough day" and couldn't control himself. 

Why is it that in Islam we can get married just by saying some words, and getting divorced is just as simple? It is so that we understand that the words uttered from our mouth carry a great weight. We don't get time off from being accountable when we're angry. Not only will our anger affect our deeds but also our relationship with those around us. Relationships fall apart and respect for a person is lost. 

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There are some remedies that we have been taught in Islam about how to control our anger:

Active remedies: 
(i) Keeping quiet. Instead of venting out your feelings while you're angry and thereby possibly saying something that hurts others, try to diffuse the situation and fix it when your anger has subsided. 
(ii) Change your position/location. If you are standing, then sit down, and if you are sitting, then lie down. When a person becomes closer to the earth it increases humility. Another option is to excuse yourself and go to another room so that you can think things through. 
(iii) Make wudhu. Anger is fiery as it is from shaitaan, and water extinguishes fire. It will allow one to cool down. 
(iv) Pray and make dua. This also portrays humility. 
(v) Channel your negative energy into something positive. A lot of energy in a person's body can give him or her the ability to use it positively for doing things such as cleaning the room or other such chores. Imagine how pretty the world would be if everyone cleaned up when angry! :) Other options include exercising, going out for some fresh air, or simply listening to the Quran to cool your mind. 

Verbal remedies: 
(i) Say "ta'awudh" to seek refuge from shaitaan. "Aa'udhu billahi mina alshaitaani rajeem" - [I seek refuge in Allah from the accursed shaitaan]
(ii) Say "La hawla wa la quwwata illa billah" -[ There is no power and strength except with Allah (SWT)]
(iii) Recite the durood shareef. This will allow Allah (SWT)'s mercy to be bestowed upon a person. 

Mental remedies: 
(i) Ponder on the mercy and anger of Allah (SWT). If you show mercy to others in this world, Allah will bestow His mercy upon you on the Day of Judgment. Before getting so upset at someone, think of what it would be like if Allah got upset at you. 
(ii) Think, is it really worth it? Life is so short and we waste time on so many petty issues. Focus on your main goal in life, which is the pleasure of Allah (SWT). Thinking of death often also humbles a person. With these things in mind, almost any issue over which a fuss is being created will seem pointless. 

Having said this, anger is not always a negative trait. A person can be angry at the right time and place with the right reason and intention. For training purposes, anger can be shown to children if they lie, for example. Anger can also be used constructively if it is controlled and used for human rights purposes, or to fight for one's dignity. 

If anger isn't used constructively, it will end up being used destructively. May Allah (SWT) give us the tawfiq to control this trait carefully, Ameen. 

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Reliance in Allah

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Malaysian weather is highly unpredictable. One minute it's bright and sunny and the next minute there's pouring rain, enough to drench you. It was just one of those days when we had gone to a picnic with a few families at the park. I sat in the car with my in-laws, waiting for the rain to stop as I watched droplets trickle down the window. We tried to pass time, as is the norm in tropical countries where it suddenly stops raining just like it started.

It was during this time that my father-in-law paraphrased a Quranic verse which made a life-changing impact on me. He was referring to the ayah in Surah Al Imraan, "They plan and Allah also plans. And Allah is the best of planners.” Although in the Quran this specific verse is spoken of in a different context, the overall concept is the same - Allah has control over all situations and we are not in control of everything. Things will not always go our way. This incident occurred over 4 years ago, and as life went on I came to realize that everything really does happen for a reason. It is just that we do not have the wisdom to realize this at the time of occurrence. More often than not we end up wondering, "Why did  this have to happen?" We also have a tendency to feel that the grass is greener on the other side. Whatever we have is not enough, and what others have is what we would like to have. We don't realize that we don't really know what issues are going on in other people's homes. Rather than desiring other people's blessings, we should strive to focus on our own and be content. 

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If life didn't have its ups and downs then it wouldn't be life. It is only when we come to understand that we don't have complete control over our lives will we have inner peace, and we do this through believing that Allah (SWT) is "faa'il haqeeqi", as He has absolute control over all things. We need to rely on Him in all aspects of life. Fate has already decided our health, wealth etc, but that doesn't mean that we don't need to make efforts for the betterment of our lives. For example, it is not practical to be a "couch potato" and sit around at home doing nothing and expecting there to be wealth coming to your house without a real job. A lot of hard work goes into searching for jobs and hard work needs to be done in order to get anywhere in life. Similarly, if someone's health is deteriorating they should make an effort to improve it by looking for cures and taking medicine. Allah helps those who make efforts to help themselves. However, we need to be content in our lives if we make the effort and it still doesn't work out. Because Allah is the best of planners.

An example of this is one that happened back in my high school days. Quite an embarrassing one, I must admit, but it will help get the point across, iA. We had moved countries right when I had to start 12th grade, and the school system was completely different from my old one. To top it off, I was forced to study for 11th and 12th grade Chemistry in less than a year. Let's just say Science is not my type of subject. Yet I would study day and night about electrochemistry, reaction kinetics, stoichiometry and other stuff I do not remember anymore at all :) Those were some tough days and I couldn't wait to go to university so that I could choose subjects that interest me; English Literature, Journalism, and other Humanities courses. So I studied and studied and made loads of dua that I pass Chemistry with great results and move on with life. But things didn't turn out the way I wanted at the end of the year. I got my results at the end of summer, and I passed Chemistry, but I had only just passed. The results weren't good. I was devastated, thinking about all of the hard work I put into one year of my life and yet I didn't get what I wanted. I didn't think about it too much though since I had scored well in English and Literature and wanted to focus on those things for my university which I would soon start. 
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As I went to university to declare my major, I told them I want to go into Humanities, while showing them my English results of the past 3 years. That's when something strange happened. They told me to get out my Science results, as they were more concerned with those. I showed it to them while they told me that if I had good Science results then I might have to join that major as this was a new policy for the semester. I'm not sure why it was like that, but I just remember being so thankful to Allah that day about getting mediocre grades so I could major in what I was passionate about! Allah truly knows everything, we just need to realize this and believe in His Will. I'm sure you all have stories like this as well about things not going as you had planned and then working out for the better!

If something doesn't go our way, it is natural to feel sad. The problem arises when this feeling of sadness lingers on for an extended period of time. Instead of pondering on the incident for too long, we should have immediate faith in Allah and ask Him to help us through with the situation. We could even make dua for thawaab stored for us on the Day of Judgement for being patient. The bottom line is that we need to always be grateful for whatever we have. If we are ungrateful, it is a sign that we think that Allah is unjust in His division of things to people. Thinking about the gravity of the situation will inshaAllah help us to avoid being ungrateful and envious of others. 

One step to increase our tawakkul or reliance in Allah includes giving charity. When we give charity we are giving up something for the sake of Allah. There are no immediate results of doing it, and this in turn leads to reliance in Allah. We also need to learn to increase our dua-making. In Islam we are taught to make dua even if something small happens, such as our shoelace breaks. Yet in this day and age people only turn to Allah when all other options fail and they don't have anywhere else to turn to. Turn to Allah even when you succeed. Make Allah your first option, not your last. 

May Allah (SWT) help us in increasing our tawakkul in Him and living a life of contentment, Ameen.