Saturday, 31 July 2010

Allahu Akbar

بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمَنِ الرَّ حِيْمِ

الله أكبر

When we say Allahu Akbar what is it that we really mean? Can we fully understand this expression?

We know, as creatures’, we have limitations. We cannot engage in many activities at one at the same time. Allah has Divine Attributes. We know them as the Asma ul Husna – the 99 Beautiful Names of Allah . One example of His Greatness is that He functions through all these Divine Attributes at one at the same time. For example He can issue mercy and punishment at time same, and to all creatures, not only human beings. He says in Surah An'am;

‘and He knows whatever there is in (or on) the earth and in the sea; not a leaf falls, but He knows it. there is not a grain in the darkness of the earth nor anything fresh or dry, but is written in a clear Record’ (6:59)

This ayat just draws reference to one of Allah’s Divine Attribute; Al Aleem – The All Knowing. And He functions through all His Divine Attributes at one at the same time.

The other point that exemplifies Allah’s Greatness is that He responds to all His creatures also at one at the same time. For example He sustains some of His creatures and provides protection for others at the very same time. All creatures depend on Him and this is a connotation of As-Samad. Even those misguided creatures who claim to be a god, they too are dependent on Allah. Allah is in no need of sustenance. He is Al-Malik – The Absolute Possessor.

So when we say the simple expression Allahu Akbar we are incorporating everything about the Divine Personality of our Lord. We cannot fathom how truly Great Allah is. He says in Surah Luqman;

‘and if all the trees on earth were pens and the ocean (were ink), with seven oceans behind it to add to its (supply), yet would not the words of Allah be exhausted (in the writing): for Allah is Exalted In power, full of wisdom’ (31:27)

By saying this simple expression of Allahu Akbar we immediately recognised that we have limitations and Allah is limitless; we occupy a tiny space and time and Allah is confined to nothing. Even His thrown is difficult for us to conceptualize;

‘His Throne doth extend over the heavens and the earth,’ (2:255)

He cannot be compared and if you have your faith and trust in Him, He will take care of you and will never let you down. Yes we will experience hardships but if you look back at life you’ll see that you experienced many trials.

Our Lord is truly Great, so much that it is impossible for us to fully comprehend. Realise this and worship and serve Him as He ought to.

Friday, 30 July 2010

The Blessed Month of Ramadan

بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمَنِ الرَّ حِيْمِ

The blessed month of Ramadan is upon us, and Allah says that Ramadan is His month. One reason why Ramadan is special is because Prophet Muhammad (saw)is reported to have said that Shaitan is chained in this month;

In this month (for them) evil-minded Shaytaan is chained so as not to reach unto those evils to which they normally reach during other months besides Ramadan.

This is a very special blessing for those who keep the fast. Why can’t Satan ‘attack’ us? Firstly, in Ramadan we tend to be more God conscious. We don’t pay importance to a few things that engage our time and energy. We therefore have more time to think about Allah and because of this we get closer to Allah and Satan can’t get between.

Satan uses a few things to distract us. He engages our lust, desires for food/drink, and a person’s arrogance. All of these are the handiwork of Satan and we are commanded to stay away from them. We are advised to engage in more Ibadaat and to show more compassion to others. Fasting is meant to bring you closer to Allah and to keep you away from those things that are not beneficial for us, in this life and the next. There are no avenues for Satan to attack you.

Ramadan helps you become a ‘VIP’ in the hereafter. There is a gate in Paradise called Riyan and those who fast shall enter into Paradise through this gate. Look at the status and benefits you could achieve in this blessed month.

Remember if Allah loves you He will try you. If you are aspiring to get closer to Allah He will love you more, and He would also try you more. Even in Ramadan you may get some trials. However you should try to bear them with patience and keep on persevering. Even if someone abuses you in Ramadan we are taught to say “I am fasting”.

Try your best to make full usage of Ramadan. Engage in recitation of Qur’an, plenty of Astagfirullah and send lots of Darood on our Beloved (saw). Make dua to Allah for whatever you desire because He has shown us that He is capable of doing things outside our realm of understanding.

May Allah make this Ramadan peaceful and tranquil for all the believers’. May He make the trials easy and bearable for us and may He remove most of it in this most special month. Let us benefit from it, and whatever you do, do it solely for the sake of Allah.

Friday, 16 July 2010

The blessing of the Qur’an

بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمَنِ الرَّ حِيْمِ

We continuously emphasize that human beings are truly blessed and are created special. One reason that highlights this fact is that man has the ability of reciting the Glorious Words of Allah . Which other creature has this blessing? True some Jinns has the capability of reciting, but the Qur’an was revealed to man, and the Jinns, after hearing it being recited, were enticed by it.
‘Say: it has been revealed to me that a company of Jinns listened (to the Qur'an). They said, 'We have really heard a wonderful recital! 'It gives guidance to the right, and we have believed therein: we shall not join (in worship) any (gods) with Our Lord.’ (72 : 1-2)

Never feel that recitation of the Holy Qur’an is a burden. It’s a great blessing. We have the opportunity of repeating the words that Allah recites. We should try our best to recite the Qur’an as much as possible, and to recite it sweetly as it is reported that Allah and His angels listens to its recitation.

Imagine this ‘piece of mud’ has the capability of repeating these Glorious Words. This is why when Prophet Muhammad (saw) was delivering his last sermon he repeated 3 times that he was leaving behind ‘The Book’ and thereafter he mentioned his Sunnah.

Thank your Lord for this great blessing and make it a part of your daily routine to recite at least a few ayats. Yes we’re busy with work, family, et cetra but after all that has been said and done recite as often as you can. May Allah bless us and may He keep out hearts tied to His Glorious Book.

Saturday, 10 July 2010

The Mir’aj

بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمَنِ الرَّ حِيْمِ

‘and raised high the esteem (in which) Thou (art held)’

Mir’aj is a very special time and some people may think that it is a sort of ritual celebration, so whenever it comes around it is mandatory that we ‘celebrate’ it. Mir’aj is much more important than just a celebration. In addition of acquiring blessings for associating with Allah’s beloved and trying to understand something of his great mission we are all, insha Allah, gaining some form of enlightenment.

We must understand firstly that Mir’aj is the occasion when Allah placed the seal of prophet hood. After Prophet Muhammad (saw)there was no need for any other Messenger. Mir’aj is also that occasion when the true meaning of the term ‘Imam ul Ambia’ was realised. All the previous Messengers (pbot) predicted Prophet Muhammad (saw)coming. Why was this necessary? The mission was not yet completed.

Allah has placed at mans’ disposal whatever is in the skies and earth. He says in Surah Ibrahim;

‘It is Allah who hath created the heavens and the earth and sendeth down rain from the skies, and with it bringeth out fruits wherewith to feed you; it is He who hath made the ships subject to you, that they may sail through the sea by His command; and the rivers (also) hath He made subject to you’.
So our mission, physically, is to benefit from the things Allah has created in the universe. And the Mir’aj was the occasion when man learned how to access whatever Allah has created from him.

Allah is the embodiment of purity. He is ‘As Sahir’; The One that is Pure. Since Allah has created man as His vicegerent on earth, man is supposed to also be pure and clean. He says in Surah Baqarah;

‘for Allah loves those who turn to Him constantly and He loves those who keep themselves pure and clean’.

Whenever you ‘dirty’ yourself remove the impurity immediately but begging your Lord for forgiveness. It necessary to seek purity because our Lord is our destination and only the pure will be able to meet him. He says;

‘and to Him will ye be all brought back’.

Every so often we hear “Verily to Allah we belong and unto Him is our return”. Each one of us is returning to our Creator; however some may not reach Him. Understand that we are on a journey and that journey is to successfully return to and meet our Lord. The best and surety way of achieving this is to follow the path of Siratul Mustaqeem – the straight path that has no deviations.

Mir’aj is real and it is possible for followers of Prophet Muhammad (saw)to also experience some sort of ‘mir’aj’, if they keep their personality clean and pure. We are all aware of the hadith ‘salaat is the mir’aj of the believer’. And in order to pray our salaat as a prerequisite we must physically purify ourselves. Remember Allah loves purity. This is why the non-believers are banned from entering the holy city of Makkah Mukarramah. So we can see the importance of constantly seeking purity, physically, spirituality and morally. The foundation for making yourself eligible to meet your Lord is purity.

On the Day of Judgement mankind will be categorise into three groups. There will be one group of people who will be blessed with the ability to overtake everyone and reach the destination that is Allah . The second group will be those who will be a bit slower because of the ‘heavy baggage’ they will be carrying and Prophet (saw) will intercede to Allah on behalf of them. The third group will be those who will not be able to move at all regardless of the effort they will put in. They are the unsuccessful ones who will not have a chance to meet Allah and as a result they will be pushed into the abyss of hell. Which group would you like to be in?

Prophet was so pure and clean that it was no problem for him to physically leave this universe and go right up and meet his Lord. This journey consisted of two phases; the journey from Makkah to Jerusalem and from Jerusalem up to the heavens. Using the physics of today we see that it is impossible to travel faster than the speed of light.

Allah says about Prophet ;

‘The Messenger of God is an excellent model’

A lot of people tend to think that this only refers to religious issues. However, it refers to all aspects of life, so whatever scientists’ discover today or in the future, Prophet (saw) was already ahead and advanced in all matters. This is so different from the other religions. For the example the Christians propagated that the world was flat, the Hindus argue that the earth is actually resting upon a horn of a cow. Prophet Muhammad (saw) was able to travel from one city to another in a way in which man is yet to discover. And while travelling he stopped at two places where they were caravans. At the first stop the lead camel of the caravan became agitated and ran off. Prophet (saw) was able to accurately advise the tribesmen where to recover the camel. At the other caravan Prophet (saw) went into the tent where the people were resting, he drank some of their water and continued on his journey. The companions and others, who accused him of being ‘crazy’, because of the difficulty they had in believing him, were able to verify what he told them through these meetings. He was also able to accurately describe Masjid al Aqsa for the doubters. The means of travel was so sophisticated that man is yet to discover how.

After his visit to Al Aqsa where he led all the past Messengers in salaat, he was privileged to go up. We must note that the atmosphere consists of barriers called the electro magnetic barriers. Earth’s atmosphere has 7 electro magnetic barriers and in the Qur’an we find the term ‘samawat’ mentioned. This translates to the 7 layers (skies) in the earth’s atmosphere. Because of the presence of these barriers waves cannot penetrate it. However during the mir’aj Prophet (saw) was able to ‘break through’ these hurdles and go higher and higher even to the point where angel Jibreel couldn’t go. We can’t explain this wonder through scientific reason and logic. It was on this night that the avenues were opened up for man to gain access.

Why could Jibreel go on with Prophet while in the heavens? Possibly because when Allah announced that He was going to create man He gave the angels a little leeway and they questioned His decision. They demonstrated a limit in their capacity and therefore couldn’t go further as Prophet (saw) was able to. Why was he able to go higher and higher? Because it is said about him in the Qur’an;

‘nor does He say (aught) of (his own) desire.’

Every thing he said was on the basis of Divine inspiration and guidance. Because he was most pure and clean he was able to go higher and higher, to the point where he was in the Divine Presence of Allah .

Allah says He is close to us. He mentions in Surah Qaaf;

‘for We are nearer to him than (his) jugular vein’.

If Allah is ‘with us’ why was it then necessary for Him to physically take Prophet (saw) up into the heavens to meet and converse with him? In order to understand this reference must be made to the following;

Ashadu an la ilaha illa'llah - I testify that there is no God but Allah ’

Once there was a muezzin who was sounding the adhan and when he said ‘ashadu an la ilaha illa'llah.’ his Sheikh held him by the arm and accused him of lying. Puzzled the muezzin asked how he could make such a statement. The sheikh replied how is it possible to prove there is only One God. The muezzin, an intelligent fellow, replied, “I can’t but my leader and teacher said there is only One God, and he never told a lie so I know there is only One God.’

Even before Prophet hood, Muhammad (saw) was known for his trustworthiness and honesty.

How can you believe in something you have never seen? Because Prophet was sent as a witness to the entire universe and he testified to what he saw and preached. He says;

‘And I am commanded to be the first of those who bow to Allah in Islam’.

When he was in the Divine Presence according to some scholars Allah greeted him and he replied and in this beautiful situation he thought of his ummah and included us all in this beautiful moment. At that point when he was at the highest, greatest point he remembered others. This conversation is repeated daily by Muslims all over the word we they engage in salaat;

Attahiyyaatu Lillahi Was Salawato Wattayyibatu Assalamu Alaika Ayyuhannabi 'o 'Warahmatullahi Wabarka'tuhu Assalamu Alaina Wa'ala'Ibadillahis Sa'liheen, Ash'had'u'un La ilahaillallahu Wa Ash'hadu Anna MuhammadunAbd'uhu Wa Rasooluh'

Greetings, prayers and our good deeds are for Allah. Peace, mercy and blessings of Allah be on you O Prophet. May peace be upon us and on the devout slaves of Allah. I testify that there is no god but Allah and I testify that Muhammad is His slave and messenger.

How can we keep ourselves pure and clean? It starts with your intentions. Remember ‘actions are judged by intentions’. Allah showed His beloved the unseen verities. Some of the companions had a debate as to whether or not Prophet (saw) saw Allah . Hazrat Aisha (ra) was of the view that he didn’t and she further went on to say ‘anyone who says that he saw Allah is a liar’. Perhaps she was referring to physical sight, but think for a moment did Prophet (saw) tell of everything he saw and witnessed?

Lao Tzu, the founder of Taoism, wrote in his final writings ‘those who know don't speak, those who speak don't know’. Why didn’t Prophet disclose everything he experienced? For example when he was asked to describe the Lot tree he said that ‘the leaves were like the ears of elephants’. How can one describe this and generally speaking how can one explain religious experiences?

We all know of the 5 senses that humans poses. But what about the sixth sense, the one that is used to read the book of Moses (as). As scholars put it there are certain degrees of freedom that man has and some may be able to use their higher senses while other may not. So how for example people, using their 10th sense or higher degree of freedom, explain a matter or experience to someone who only operates on their 5th sense? Religious experiences are difficult to explain using scientific reason and logic. Prophet (saw) was privileged to witness the unseen, be it actual or concept. Allah wanted to show His beloved who He is.

‘There is no God but He: that is the witness of Allah, His angels, and those endued with knowledge, standing firm on justice, there is no God but He, the Exalted In power, the wise’.

It is possible for man to travel spirituality and for him to even go upwards into the heavens. This is being done on a regular basis. There are righteous people who have access to the heavens and to the Messengers. How can this be proved? The answer is found in the Qur’an?

‘and say not of those who are slain in the way of Allah. "they are dead". Nay, they are living, though ye perceive (it) not’.

How can you explain this? How can we explain that there are certain righteous believers who have left this world and yet still they are still alive and are functioning? Reason and logic is useless when it comes to understanding this. Unfortunately there are some who argue haram, bidah, shirk. Remember what Allah says in His Glorious Words;

‘They have hearts wherewith they understand not, eyes wherewith they see not, and ears wherewith they Hear not’.

After all of this explanations and descriptions the question sill remains why Mir’aj? Why was it necessary to physically take up Prophet (saw)? In order to answer this, firstly think of how is it possible to get the sun light into a dark room. Logically one could reflect the light using a mirror. There may be some hindrance such as the clouds, dust in the atmosphere, spots on the mirror etc. The Mir’aj is the occasion when Prophet (saw) went up into the heavens and removed all the barriers that existed and got the true and beautiful Light of Allah to reflect on mankind. He was destined to reflect the Light of Allah on earth. Proof of this can be found in the Qur`an in Surah Ma'ida and Surah Nur. In Surah Nur there contains a verse known as Ayat an-Nur. This ayat is renowned for its remarkable beauty;

‘Allah is the Light of the heavens and the earth. The Parable of His Light is as if there were a Niche and within it a Lamp: the Lamp enclosed in Glass: the glass as it were a brilliant star: Lit from a blessed Tree, an Olive, neither of the east nor of the west, whose oil is well-nigh luminous, though fire scarce touched it: Light upon Light! Allah doth guide whom He will to His Light: Allah doth set forth Parables for men: and Allah doth know all things’.

Prophet (saw) is that one who was delegated that mission of reflecting the Light of Allah on the universe. Allah says in Surah Zumar;

‘and the earth will shine with the glory of its Lord’.

No other creature has this capacity. His blessed personality is capable of absorbing the Light of Allah; and further reflect it throughout the universe.

Make this an occasion where we make the firm decision that we are going back to meet our Lord and the meeting will be cordial and beautiful. May Allah help us and bless us and make it possible for the believers to experience their ‘mir’aj’ here in this world. May Allah always bless the believers.

Friday, 9 July 2010

Climbing back to our Lord

بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمَنِ الرَّ حِيْمِ

Allah has created made man very special. He has given man tremendous capacity such that He did not give any other create, even the highest of angels. He says in Surah Tiin;

‘We have indeed created man in the best of moulds, then do We abase him (to be) the lowest of the low, except those who believe and do righteous deeds:’

Allah has created us as He says ‘in the best of moulds’. However He has placed us at the ‘bottom of the ladder’ here on earth, so our mission is to ‘climb’ back up to Him. In order to achieve this ‘climb’ He says that we must believe in His Oneness and engage in righteousness.

We have been given the capacity and capability of returning to our Lord and according to some scholars we will even have the opportunity of greeting Him and He will respond.

In this context we can see that the Mir’aj of our dear leader is the manifestation of the achievement of mans’ mission. We have this as an example and as a motivator. A physical creature was able to purify his personality to the extent where he had no problem to ascend back where he came from and even higher.

Prophet (saw) went right up and he bears witness to what Allah mentions in the Holy Qur’an. His status is higher than all and his visit to the heavens was a grand occasion.

So man has tremendous capacity. For example everyday 70’000 angels’ descend to earth and roam the land searching for those who send darood on our beloved. And when they return to the heaven they never return and the other day another 70’000 angles descend, and this cycle goes on and on. We have the opportunity of sending darood anytime we wish, so Allah has truly been favourable to us.

It is Satan who manipulates some to an extent that they behave worst than some animals. Believers are not like this. Our leader is different and unique and as such his followers must also be of a higher standard. He is reported to have said in hadith “people become like their leaders”. So we have been blessed with a most beautiful, universal model and we should work hard to live up to this expectation.

Allah wants us to become enlightened. And we can see this from the very first revelation He gave Prophet (saw); read. Prophet (saw) gave us a lot of ahadith of the importance of becoming enlightened. “The ink of the scholar is holier than the blood of the martyr”. “One learned man is harder on the devil than a thousand worshippers”.

The way of enlightenment is to have Mir’aj, and this is not haram, bidah, shirk as the masses unfortunately propagate. If you engage in spirituality properly it is possible for you to actually see Jannah in this life, and many of the Masheikhs have taught this. The next stage in spirituality is ascent. Allah through His grace and mercy makes matters of the unseen known. This is why it is written in the Qur’an that some ‘have hearts wherewith they understand not, eyes wherewith they see not, and ears wherewith they hear not’.

Struggle and strive to achieve the potential Allah has afforded you. The days behind are lost and we may hold some form of regret. However we need to make use of the days ahead. Use the bounties Allah has blessed you with to ‘climb’ back up to Him, and insha Allah the meeting will be a most pleasant one.

Friday, 2 July 2010

Keeping a sound heart

بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمَنِ الرَّ حِيْمِ

The goal of every pious believer is to stand in the presence of Allah, seeking His Divine Countenance. We see this in the Holy Qur’an and we should try to work towards this every single day. Take for example our Salaat, where we are actually meeting Allah face to face. Before we begin we say;

'Inni -y wajjahtu wajh -e li- 'alladhe fat.ara as- samaawaat wa- al- 'ard hanef (an) wa- maa 'anaa min al-mushriken '

"For me, I have set my face, firmly and truly, towards Him(Who is facing me) Who created the heavens and the earth, and never shall I give partners to Allah."

Islamic sprituality teaches a person to aspire to attain this feeling of being in the Divine Presence. In order to attain this one must purify himself. Allah says in His Holy Words;

‘The Day whereon neither wealth nor sons will avail, but only he (will prosper) that brings to Allah a sound heart’. (26 : 88-89)

Only those who ‘bring to Allah a sound heart’, free from ‘blemishes’ will be among the successful ones. Allah is pure and as such only those whose personality is clean and pure will be able to feel himself standing in the Divine Presence. One example of such a person is Prophet Abraham (as) as Allah mentions in the Qur’an;
‘Verily among those who followed His way was Abraham. Behold! He approached His Lord with a sound heart’. (37 : 83-84)

Abraham (as) was one who purified himself from the impurities of this world, thus Allah refers to him as one who followed the rightous path.

It is important to note that purification from impurities also implies purifying the environment and the company we keep. Allah advises us that we should interact or socialize with the true believers. There was this one time where some Jews came to see Prophet Muhammad (saw) while he was in the company of his Companions. The Jews requested private meeting with him, away from his Companions. As such Allah revealed the following ayat;

‘and keep thy soul content with those who call on Lord morning and evening, seeking His Face; and let not thine eyes pass them, seeking the pomp and glitter of this life; no obey any whose heart have permitted to neglect the remembrance of Us, one who follows his own whose case has gone beyond all bounds’. (18:28)

It is better for us to stay in the company of believers who engages in those activities that leads to seeking the Divine Countenance of Allah. Running after the world and idolizing the wealthy and powerful serves no benefit to you.

Works towards feeling yourself in the Divine Presence of our Lord and Master and through this process Allah will grant you success. Be mindful of what is inside the heart and the company you keep, as Allah is All Seeing and He knows what our true status are. May Allah bless us and take care of our affairs.