Tuesday, 26 April 2011

What makes man special

بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمَنِ الرَّ حِيْمِ

Human beings are special and different from all the other creatures.

Unlike the other creatures, such as the plants and animals, man was created from clay and not from water. Allah says:

We created man from sounding clay; from mud moulded into shape. (15:26)

Allah put in the personality of man two dimensions; a physical and a non-physical. As such he is charged with the responsibility of looking after and taking care of both. Just as the parent looks after himself and his infant; so too each and every one of us has to look after the nafs (physical dimension) and the ruh (non-physical dimension).

We are commanded to keep the physical dimension pure and clean. This is achieved through tahaarah (wudu, ghusl etc). With regards to the non-physical we have to use the physical dimension to keep it pure and clean through our thoughts, morals, conduct, etc. The other creatures don’t have a soul so man is different in this regard.

The other reason that makes us different from all other created things is that Allah has given humans the power of choice. We can either engage in good or choose to commit evil. The other creatures are not free to choose, they submit to Allah irregardless of conditions and feelings. This is their natural way.

Depending on the choices we makes there is reward or punishment. Allah makes mention of this in His Holy Words;

‘and shown Him the two highways’ (90:10)

One highway is rough and steep. Traversing along this one is a bit challenging and difficult, but it will lead you to a most beautiful and relaxing place. The other highway is smooth and straight; easy and extremely comfortable to traverse on, however this particular highway will lead you to a precipice. Which one will you prefer?

Do you want to endure a little inconvenience while traversing along life in order to qualify yourself to enter the blissful garden? Or do you prefer ease and comfort in this temporary world for an eternity in the hell fire?

We are charged with this great responsibility. The decision is in our hands. On one hand, we have to take care and give due importance to both the physical (nafs) and non-physical (ruh) dimensions of our personality. On the other hand we must make the right decisions that will enable us to be accepted in the Paradise that Allah has prepared for the righteous. It sounds simple and in retrospect it is. However when we are faced with the trials and difficulties of life it becomes a bit difficult.

We need to have complete faith in our Merciful Loving Lord, because He will never let us down. Surely, He will test us at different times and in different ways, but He will never abandon us. Turn solely to Him and know that He will always take care of your affairs because He knows what is best for us.

May Allah, through His Divine Grace and Mercy, guide us to conduct ourselves in a manner that will nurture both aspects of our personalities and may He enable us to make decisions that will earn His Love and Satisfaction; and, insha Allah through this struggle and work we will be among the blessed ones to have beautiful meeting with Him on the Day of Accountability.

Saturday, 23 April 2011


بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمَنِ الرَّ حِيْمِ

(taken from Al deen Al Qaiyyimu)

In our last program, we saw where Jesus was preaching moral principles, and while he was popular with the multitude of the Israelites, the Chief priest and the Scribes were not favouring him very much. They considered him to be a problem as he was criticising their behaviour and teachings.

They were violating the laws of Moses, and he was trying to restore them; so they wanted to get rid of him.

Jesus had real problem to get dedicated workers for the cause of Allah, as he preached and taught the people. They listened to him but were not prepared to sacrifice their lives for the cause of Allah. Even his disciples were not very dedicated to his mission.

We saw this in his saying to them that all of them were going to forsake him in that crucial night. This included even Peter. So he said to them, after they had a meal together. All of you shall be offended because of me tonight.

Why did Jesus tell Peter that he (Peter) will forsake Jesus?

Jesus was aware that there was plan to take hold of him and to try to get rid of him. He was also aware of the fact that while his disciples were with him all the time they were not fully dedicated to his mission and did not really learn much from him.

For example, he once told Peter:

Get thee behind me, Satan; thou art an offense unto me; for thou
savorest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men. (Mt.17:23).

But was Peter the only one about whom Jesus was disappointed?

Jesus was not happy with the dedication to his mission from his disciples. Look at what he told them all:

If any man will come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross, and follow me. (Mt.17:24)

Again he said to them:

O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I suffer you? (Mt.17:17)

We see the lack of dedication among the disciples when they were given some major responsibilities to undertake. Take for example while Jesus was praying in the garden.

While Jesus was in the garden worshipping Allah, what were the disciples who were with him doing?

Jesus went to worship the Lord in the garden of Gethsemane. He took with him three of the disciples and with a heavy heart, he ordered them to sit and keep watch while he went a little further and prayed as Muslims pray.

When Jesus made his supplications to the Lord, he came back and found the three of them asleep. He was not happy with them and said to them:

What, could ye not watch with me one hour? Watch and pray that ye enter not into temptation. (Mt.26:40-41)

Then he went back again to worship, hoping that his disciples would listen to him and stay alert; but when he was finished and came back; he again found them asleep. He gave up on them and went back and continued to worship Allah. He said to them:

Sleep on now, and take your rest; behold, the hour is at hand, and the Son of man is betrayed into the hands of the sinners. (Mt.26:45)

Was Jesus really betrayed by one of his disciples?

The Qur'an has not mentioned anything about what happened to him, from the time of his preaching, his encounter with the chief priests and scribes, his arrest and trial. All it has mentioned is about the crucifixion.

What we know about the incidents which led to his end or disappearance can be understood from what is contained in the Gospels.

For example, he was identified by Judas, who betrayed him for a fee. Upon his betrayal, he was arrested; one of his disciples resisted his arrest; but Jesus ordered him to put away his sword.

Jesus was disappointed with the way the multitude was behaving against him so he said to them:

Are ye come out as against a thief with swords and staves for to take me? I sat daily with you teaching in the temple, and ye laid no hold on me. (Mt.26:55)

What made the chief priests and scribes angry with Jesus?

Jesus was teaching humility; something the chief priests and scribes did not have. Look at what he taught them:

Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven. (Mt.18:3-4)

Another example of how he dealt with them: They came to him and ask him something. Jesus replied as follows:

Ye have made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition. Ye hypocrites, well did Isaiah prophesy of you, saying: This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoreth me with their lips but their heart is far from me but in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men…..
Then came the disciples, and said unto him, Knowest thou that the Pharisees were offended, after they heard this saying?

So Jesus was all the time highlighting their evil and telling the multitude how their leaders were evil, and they did not like that at all.

What happened when he was arrested?

First of all, the disciples forsook him and fled.

Then all the disciples forsook him and fled. (Mt.26:56)

He was taken to the high priest, who was with the scribes and the elders.

And they that had laid hold on Jesus led him away to Caiaphas the high priest, where the scribes and the elders were assembled. (Mt.26:57)
Peter followed and sat among the people; and the authorities were trying to find false witnesses to accuse him of treason, so that they can kill him. They found two false witnesses and as a result they began to torture him.

What did Peter do when he saw the people humiliating Jesus?

Peter found himself in trouble, as some of the women identified him as being one from among Jesus disciples. But Peter denied ever knowing Jesus and began to curse, as if he was cursing Jesus.

He said: I do not know the man. …Then began he to curse and swear, saying, I know not the man. Mt.26:74)

When he realised that Jesus had predicted that he will forsake his master, he went out and wept for what he did.

Was Jesus tried for whatever he was accused?

The Bible tells us about his trial as follows:

When the morning was come, all the chief priests and elders of the people took counsel against Jesus to put him to death; and when they bound him, they led him away, and delivered him to Pontius Pilate, the governor. (Mt.27:1-2)

He was taken before the governor; but he did not answer any of the questions that were posed to him. Instead of condemning him the governor was surprised that Jesus was able to hold his peace in spite of all the accusations that were levelled against him by the high priest and his men.

The governor realised that Jesus was a just person and that he was envied. To add to his own conviction, his wife sent a message to him telling him that he should have nothing to do with the condemnation of Jesus.

When the governor questioned the multitude as to who was the one to be released from prison the chief priest and his men urged the multitude to say Barabas, and not Jesus. The multitude did not want to hear anything about justice, etc. they simply said let him be crucified. Pilate washed his hands off the matter

But he was not tried for anything?

No, the high priest and his men just wanted to get rid of Jesus and the way they selected was to crucify him. So they began torturing him and began making preparation for his crucifixion.

They then proceeded to take him to the place where he was to be crucified. But he was unable to carry the cross, so they forced Simon to take the cross and carry it for Jesus. There is no record in the Bible that Jesus took back the cross.

Also, there is no record that he was kept close to Simon. As a matter of fact, he turned around and began speaking to the ladies who were following him. This is recorded in Luke 23:28, as follows:

Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for me, but weep for yourselves, and for your children….

It because of all the turmoil and confusion, no one knows exactly who was put on the cross.

But there were guards and soldiers, and the high priests, etc. how could they have made a mistake and crucify another person?

There are many Christian sects that believe that Jesus was not crucified. Some of these are:

• The Basilidians, in the very beginning of Christianity denied that Christ himself suffered, but asserted that it was Simon who was crucified.
• The Corinthians also are of the same view.
• The Carpocrations also are of this view.

All those who believe that it was not Jesus who was crucified believe that it was one of his disciples, or some other person.

What does the Qur'an say about his crucifixion?

Allah tells us in the Holy Qur'an, the following:

They (Jews) boastfully say: We killed the Messiah, Jesus the son of Mary, the messenger of Allah. But they killed him not, nor crucified him. But so it appeared to them, and those who differ therein are full of doubts, with not certain knowledge; but only conjecture to follow; for a surety they did not kill him. (4:157)

Why were there some doubts as to who was actually put on the cross?

There were some unusual developments at the time of the crucifixion. These are recorded in the Bible as follows:

Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour. (Mt.27:45)

Behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent; and the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose. (Mt.27:51ff.)

But they would have known who was actually crucified, when they would have taken down the body?

The body of the one that was crucified was secretly taken away and buried in a private tomb. We find reference of this in Mathew. It says:

When the even had come, there came a rich man of Arimathea, named Joseph, who also himself was Jesus disciple. He went to Pilate, and begged the body of Jesus. Then Pilate commanded the body to be delivered. And when Joseph had taken the body, he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn out in the rock; and he rolled a great stone to the door of the sepulchre, and departed. (Mt. 27:57-61)

Is it true then that no physical body was put in the tomb which was guarded by the high priests?

No body was put in the tomb in which the crucified person was supposed to be put. What Joseph did was to put a stone in front of it as though some one was put inside it.

Although the chief priest and the guards were there when they opened the tomb there was no one in it. So the guards were bribed to stay quiet about the whole matter. Mathew tells us about this in the following verses:

They gave large money unto the soldiers, saying, Say ye, His disciples came by night, and stole him away while we slept. And if this come to the governor's ears, we will persuade him, and secure you. So they took the money, and did as they were taught; and this saying is commonly reported among the Jews until this day. (Mt.28:12-15)

No one could have attested to the fact that it was Jesus who was crucified, as there was no evidence that he was put in the tomb, and when they finally went to open it, they found it opened with no one inside of it.

The Qur'an makes it absolutely clear that they did not harm Jesus although they believe they did; and the truth of this matter will one day come to light. Allah says:

They said: We killed the Messiah, Jesus the son of Mary, the messenger of Allah; but they did not kill him; nor did they crucify him; but so it was made to appear to them. And those who differ therein are full of doubts, with no certain knowledge; but only conjecture to follow. For a surety they did not kill him. Nay, Allah raised him up unto Himself; and Allah is Exalted in Power, Wise. And there is none of the People of the Book but must believe in him before his death. (4:157-159)

For us the important thing to keep in mind is what Jesus taught and what he stood for. This, unfortunately is not taken into consideration by those who claim to believe in him and love him.

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Getting closer to Allah (swt)

بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمَنِ الرَّ حِيْمِ

Within the first revelation that Allah revealed are important lessons for mankind. Usually the first five verses are the ones that are normally referenced; however the latter verses contain a synopsis of the nature of human beings; they types of attitudes you will find amongst mankind; and the recipe for getting close to the Lord. Allah says;

‘Read in the name of Thy Lord and Cherisher, Who created - created man, out of a (mere) clot of congealed blood: Read and Thy Lord is Most Bountiful,- He who taught (the use of) the pen,-taught man that which he knew not.

In this part of the Chapter, Allah informs us that we need to increase our knowledge about ourselves and the universe; if we are to be successful. This is because He tells us in other places that He has made available to us whatever is in the skies and the earth.

Allah then tells us about the misguided ones who never take time to reflect upon how they came into existence, but because of their material success they believe that they are great and important. He says;

Nay, but man doth transgress all bounds, in that he looketh upon himself as self-sufficient. Verily, to Thy Lord is the return (of all).

There are those who do not believe that they need to submit to Allah , and they despise those who may want to do so. Allah says:

Seest thou one who forbids a votary when he (turns) to pray? Seest thou if he is on (the road of) Guidance? - Or enjoins righteousness?

Some people do not give importance to the life that is to come. As a result they just think about this life and forget that one day they will no longer be here; and they should consider the fact that there may be consequences for actions done in this life. Allah tells us about all this in this Chapter. He says:

Seest thou if he denies (Truth) and turns away? Knoweth he not that Allah doth see? Let him beware! If he desist not, We will drag him by the forelock,- a lying, sinful forelock! Then, let him call (for help) to his council (of comrades): We will call on the angels of punishment (to Deal with him)!

Nay, heed Him not: but bow down in adoration, and bring thyself the closer (to Allah!)’

Allah shows us from the very beginning that we are in constant need of Him. We didn’t come into this world by chance. Allah created us from impure fluid and look at how He has allowed us to grow . He then informs us that this tiny insignificant speck has the capacity to become enlightened through esearch.

Although the first five Verses are very important, and contain the embodiment of man's activities in life, and his belief, the remaining verses, when expounded, create a feeling of responsibility in us. Allah references those, who through their status and wealth are of the belief that they are self sufficient.

Allah then makes mention of the different categories of people. There are the misguided ones who pay no heed to the commandments of Allah. Then there are some who try to misguide those who attempt to abstain from evil. Allah warns us that He is all seeing and conscious of what His slaves are engaging in. One day they’ll regret it. All your assets will be left behind. Think, if perchance the angel should come at this instant to take you back to your Lord, how will you feel. Will you think “I wasted my life” or will you be pleased to return to Allah .

On that Day a person will want to trade all his assets for a camel to make the journey to the point of assembly. What then is the real value of the material acquisitions that we run after? Allah references all these points for us in the very first revelation.

And after all these warnings and points of contemplation He gives us two simple words that will lead us getting closer to Him; wasjud waqtarib’ – prostrate, and bring thyself the closer (to Allah!). What else do we have to live for if not to get closer to our Lord? Prophet (saw) is reported to have said ‘the closest a believer is to His Lord is during prostration’.

Judge for yourself; are you close to your Lord in your intentions and actions? Or are you closer to the misguided ones. Get closer to Allah by leaving off everything and submitting whole heartedly to Him. May Allah make it easy for us and keep us far from those who try to prevent those from attaining closeness to Him.

Monday, 4 April 2011

Counting the blessings of Allah (swt)

بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمَنِ الرَّ حِيْمِ

Allah says in Surah An Nahl;

‘If ye would count up the favours of Allah, never would ye be able to number them: for Allah is Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful.’ (16:18)

Allah is telling us that it is near impossible to count the number of favours He has bestowed upon us. From a religious point of view we know that the favours from Allah can be of a material nature, spiritual nature and moral nature. The material blessings Allah bestows are given to all of His creatures, out of His Compassion. He connects Himself to His creation on the basis of His Divine Compassion. So, whether people realise the blessings they are receiving or not; whether or not they are thankful to Allah for His blessings, He still bestows out of His Grace and Mercy. Take for example the relatively simple action of breathing which is done tens of thousands of times a day. And this important action is done with relative comfort and at no cost.

Prophet Muhammad (saw) use to pray as follows; ‘O Allah! All praise is due to You, without being able to sufficiently thank You, nor ever wish to be cut off from You, nor ever feeling rich from relying on You our Lord!’

Prophet (saw) acknowledged that he could not have sufficiently thanked Allah for His many favours that He bestows. It is also reported that Prophet Dawud (as) used to say in his supplication; ‘O Lord! How can I ever duly thank You, when my thanking You is also a favour from You to me’. Allah answered him, ‘Now, you have thanked Me sufficiently, O Dawud’.

This teaches us that even the ability to thank Allah is also a favour and blessing that He has afforded us. Allah is the embodiment of wealth and we are all destitute. Allah is the Possessor of everything and we are in dire need of Him; and He is so Generous that whether or not we show gratitude to Him or not He still bestows upon us. And yet still there are the short-sighted people who believe that their blessings are as a result of their ‘hard work’.

As we have mentioned material blessings are bestowed on all, the Muslims as well as the non-Muslims. How then are we, the believers, different? And why then should we be thankful if everyone is being blessed in a similar manner by Allah . Some people use their material acquisitions for good and others for evil. Those who are guided and possess the understanding of using their wealth for good will gain benefit in both words, and they are the ones that are truly blessed. In connection with this Allah says

‘What is with you must vanish: what is with Allah will and we will certainly bestow, on those who patiently persevere, their reward to the best of their actions.’ (16:96)

So whatever little material blessings you have will vanish one day. The wise person will send a bit for “Allah to keep it”. Do not waste what He has blessed you with in this world. If you have this knowledge and act in accordance to it be extremely thankful to your Lord because not only has He blessed you with some material gain but He has also enlightened you in the appropriate manner of how to utilize it to it maximum.

Morally speaking Allah has blessed the Muslims in a special way in that we possess the strength that enables us to follow His Habeeb, Prophet Muhammad (saw). Prophet (saw) came to perfect moral character. The Arabs lived in a very barbaric manner before the advent of Islam. And these uncultured tribesmen began following him because of his moral character. And if you can uphold your morals be thankful to Allah because He has assured us of the just reward for the morally conscious ones.

Spiritually, Muslims are blessed in such a manner that no other nation possessed this unique blessing. When Hazrat Musa (as) and Isa (as) wanted to meet Allah they had to meet certain requirements and then ascend a mountain. We, ordinary slaves of Allah have the unique opportunity of meeting our Lord and Master a minimum of 5 times a day in the discipline of Salaat. As taught by our beloved leader, Allah comes between a Muslim and the Kaba when he/she stands for salaat. And in it we have the blessed opportunity of glorifying and praising Allah . And we can also beg of Him for forgiveness, comfort etc. So we see it is indeed a difficult task to quantify the blessings being bestowed upon us by the Merciful One. And He has also informed us about the blessings we can obtain in the next world if we adhere to His guidance. In Surah An Nisaa'He has mentioned 4 blessings;

‘All who obey Allah and the Apostle are in the company of those on whom is the Grace of Allah,- of the Prophets (Who teach), the sincere (lovers of Truth), the witnesses (Who testify), and the righteous (Who do good): Ah! what a beautiful fellowship! (4:69)

And to this if further strengthened by Prophet (saw) in the hadith; “amongst my followers some will have the status of the Messengers of the Bani Israel.” Can you imagine walking amongst the Messengers of Allah ?

A lot of emphasis is placed on material blessings; and to the true believer this is neither here nor there. What is important is for us to understand the importance of showing gratitude to Allah . Even though we can never count His favours upon us and even though we can never thank Him as He ought to be thanked still demonstrate submission and understanding.

Keep in mind you only have one life to live and we are not sure of what is in store for us tomorrow. So make use of the time as it comes and don’t wait until you’re older to “start following the religion”. Remember we will never have this time again so use it wisely. Make the effort, and leave the rest to Him and you will have no regrets on that Day. Whether or not you see or experience the favours being bestowed always remember that Allah will never let you down.

We beg of Him to forgive us bless us and bestow on us His Divine Grace and Mercy and may He enable us to rise with the righteous.