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.