Thursday, October 24, 2013

A journey of self-awareness

A journey of self-awareness:
A man once visited Junaid Baghdadi (ra) after performing Hajj. Junaid Baghdadi (ra) said to him:

“From the time you left your home did you also leave behind all wrong actions?” “No,” replied the man. “Then you never really left at all."

At every stop you made on the way, did you also advance another stage in the path to Allah?” “No,” came the reply. “Then you did not really make the journey."

"When you put on your Ihram at the Miqaat, did you discard the attributes of selfhood as you took off your ordinary clothes?” “No.” “Then you did not really take on Ihram."

"When you did Tawaf of the Kab’ah, did you witness the beauty of Allah in the abode of purification?” “No, I did not,” said the man. “Then you did not really do Tawaf."

"When you did Sa’ee between Safa and Marwa, did you reach the rank of Safa (purity) and Muruwwah (virtue)?” “No.” “Then you did not really do Sa’ee."

"When you went out to Mina did your Muna (desires) cease?” “No, they did not.” “Then you never really went to Mina."

"When you stood on ‘Arafat did you experience even a single moment of Ma’rifah (direct knowledge) of Allah?” “No.” “Then you did not really stand on ‘Arafat."

"When you stayed the night at Muzdalifah did you renounce your love of this world?” “No, I did not.” “Then you did not really stay at Muzdalifah."

When you stoned the Jamaraat, did you cast away from yourself everything that stands between you and your Lord?” “No.” “Then you did not really do the stoning.

When you made your sacrifice, did you offer up your lower self to Allah?” “No.” “Then you did not really make a sacrifice and the truth is that you have not properly performed Hajj at all."

"Return and do the Hajj again in the manner I have described so that you may finally truly attain to the Maqam of Ibrahim.”

May Allah accept your Hajj, bless you with his forgiveness and may He grant you the strength to live the lessons of Hajj in your daily lives. 

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The Guests of Allah have returned

The Guests of Allah have returned

Abu Hurairah Radhiyallahu Anhu states that Nabi Sallallahu Alayhi Wa Sallam has said: “The Haji and one who performs Umrah are the Ambassadors of Allah. If they beseech Him, He would respond to them, and if they seek His forgiveness, He would forgive them.” (Ibn Majah)

Ibn Umar Radhiyallahu Anhu states that Nabi Sallallahu Alayhi Wa Sallam has said: “When you meet the Haji, greet him, shake his hands and instruct him to seek forgiveness for you before he enters his home, for undoubtedly he is forgiven.” (Ahmed)

Hajj affords the best training grounds for the revival of one's faith and purity of character. It is the most sublime manifestation of the universal brotherhood of the Muslim Ummah. It is a journey of intensified devotion and discipline.

A Haji is therefore expected to display:

î  A dynamic revival of faith and trust in Allah.

î  A character infused with humility and purity.

î  A compelling concern for the general well-being of the greater Ummah.

î  A commitment to fulfill all obligatory observances.

î  A pledge to avoid all prohibited deeds.

î  An understanding of the purpose of life.

î  A conscious endeavour to prepare for the Hereafter.

When Hasan Basri (R.A.) was asked, “What constitutes a Hajj-e-Mabroor?” He replied, “That you return from Hajj turning your back to this world and facing towards the hereafter.” (Al-Tabsirah)

May the Almighty accept your Hajj, make it a source of your salvation in this world and the hereafter and grant you the ability to say “Labbaik” to the call of Allah at all times, Ameen.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Ten ways to increase happiness in marriage

Ten ways to increase happiness in marriage


The young and excited bride-and-groom-to-be; ecstatic about the upcoming wedding and marriage and the joy that it will bring. Three to six months later, reality has set in and both spouses realize that marriage is no easy task, but one that takes a great deal of effort and patience. The following are tips for both wives and husbands, to help make the task a little less daunting, and to increase the many rewards that are possible in such a marvelous and complex relationship.

Enter the Marriage with the Right Intention and Renew this Often

Both spouses should enter the marriage with the pure intention of pleasing Allah, subhanahu wa ta'ala, in order to receive His grace and blessings. The marriage itself then becomes an act of worship and one for which both spouses will be rewarded. Allah will be pleased with them and this will be the most critical element in ensuring peace, stability and happiness throughout the marital life. It is also important to realize that when an act of worship is continued over a long period of time, it becomes necessary to renew one's intention often to remain on the correct path and to obtain the most benefit.

Remember that Your Spouse is also Your Brother or Sister in Islam

Too often Muslims treat other people outside the home with kindness and sincerity, but then behave in a very different manner when it comes to their own spouses. Muslims should always remember that one's spouse is also another brother or sister in Islam and that the rights and duties that apply to the general brotherhood (sisterhood) of Islam, should also form the basis of the marital relationship. Obviously, a spouse has rights beyond these, but there should be a clear understanding of the rights of brotherhood (sisterhood) and adherence to these principles.

Do Not Hold Unrealistic Expectations

Before marriage, people often have unrealistic ideas about their spouse-to-be, expecting perfection in all aspects. This rarely, if ever, plays out in reality and can lead to unnecessary problems and concerns. We should recall that Allah, subhanahu wa ta'ala, created humans as imperfect beings, which means that many mistakes will be made throughout a lifetime. By turning the table and expecting imperfection, we will be pleasantly surprised and pleased when our spouse is much more than we ever hoped for. This, in turn, will lead to contentment within the marriage.

Emphasize the Best in Your Spouse

Since no one is endowed with all of the best qualities, emphasis should be placed on the positive qualities that a spouse possesses. Encouragement, praise, and gratitude should be expressed on a regular basis, which will strengthen these qualities and be beneficial in developing others. An attempt should be made to overlook or ignore negative characteristics, as the Prophet, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, said, "A believing man should not have any malice against a believing woman. He may dislike one characteristic in her, but may find another in her which is pleasing." (Muslim)

Be Your Mate's Best Friend

Try to think of what a best friend means and be one to your spouse. This may mean sharing interests, experiences, dreams, failures and upsets. It may involve understanding a spouse's likes and dislikes and attempting to please him or her in any way possible. A best friend is also usually someone that can be confided to trusted, and relied upon. A spouse should be the kind of friend that one would want to keep throughout life.

Spend Quality Time Together

It is not enough to share meals, chores and small talk together. Spouses should also find time to focus on strengthening the relationship. Often couples get busy with their own separate tasks and forget about working on one of the most important elements in life. Quality time may be anything from having a quiet, profound conversation to going for a nice long nature walk, to sharing a special hobby or project. Both spouses should enjoy the particular option chosen and distractions should be kept to a minimum.

Express Feelings Often

This is probably a very "Western" concept and one that some people may have difficulty fulfilling, but it is important to be open and honest about one's feelings, both positive and negative. The lines of communication should always be open and any concerns should be brought to the attention of the other spouse as soon as they arise. The rationale of this is that what begins as a simple concern may grow into a major problem if it is not addressed quickly and properly. The "silent treatment" has never been the remedy for anything.

Admit to Mistakes and ask for Forgiveness

Just as we ask Allah to forgive us when we make mistakes, we should also do the same with our spouses. The stronger person is the one who can admit when he or she is wrong, request pardon from the other, and work hard to improve his/her aspects that are in need of change. When a person is unwilling to do this, there will be little growth and development in the marriage.

Never Bring up Mistakes of the Past

It can be very hurting for another person to be reminded of past mistakes. In Islam, it is generally not recommended to dwell on the past. One may remember errors that were made so that they are not repeated, but this should not be done excessively. Certainly, as humans, we are not in the position to judge another person. Advice may be given, but not in a harmful manner.

Surprise Each Other at Times

This may entail bringing home a small gift or flowers, preparing a special meal, dressing up and beautifying oneself (this is not only for women), or sending a secret note in a lunchbox. A little imagination will go a long way here. The idea is to spice up the marriage and avoid getting into a dull routine that may negatively affect the marriage.

Have a Sense of Humour

This particular aspect can go a long way in preventing arguments and brightening the atmosphere of the home. Life is a constant stream of challenges and tests, and to approach it in a light-hearted manner will help to make the journey smoother and more enjoyable. You may also find that your spouse enjoys this characteristic and looks forward to spending time with you because of it.

Quick Tips for Discussions and Disagreements:

Begin with the intention to resolve the issue. If both spouses have this intention and plan to consult together, it is more likely that there will be a successful resolution.

Remember that it takes two to quarrel. If only one person chooses not to argue, there will be no argument. Generally, the one who is wrong does most of the talking.

Both spouses should not be angry at the same time. If one of the spouses becomes upset, it is best if the other tries to remain calm and collected.

Never yell at each other unless the house is on fire. Of course, house fires do not occur very frequently; yelling should occur at about the same rate.

Never go to sleep with an argument unsettled. This is one of the worst things that can happen in a marriage and should be avoided as much as possible. This allows hurt feelings and thoughts to linger and generally exacerbates the problem.

If one spouse needs to win, let it be your mate. Do not focus on winning yourself; this is the main reason that discussions tend to become heated.

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Destination the Hereafter - Have you packed your suitcases?

Destination the Hereafter - Have you packed your suitcases?

..."Dad was now becoming more worried about me. I've never cried like that before"...

Her cheeks were worn and sunken and her skin hugged her bones. That didn't stop her though; you could never catch her not reciting Quran. Always vigil in her personal prayer room Dad had set up for her. Bowing, prostrating, raising her hands in prayer. That was the way she was from dawn to sunset and back again, boredom was for others.

As for me I craved nothing more than fashion magazines and novels. I treated myself all the time to videos until those trips to the rental place became my trademark. As they say, when something becomes habit people tend to distinguish you by it. I was negligent in my responsibilities and laziness characterized my Salah.


One night, I turned the video off after a marathon three hours of watching. The azaan softly rose in that quiet night. I slipped peacefully into my blanket.


Her voice carried from her prayer room. "Yes? Would you like anything Norah?"

With a sharp needle she popped my plans. 'Don't sleep before you pray Fajar!'

"Agh ... there's still an hour before Fajar, that was only the first azaan!"


With those loving pinches of hers, she called me closer. She was always like that, even before the fierce sickness shook her spirit and shut her in bed. 'Hanan can you come sit beside me.'


I could never refuse any of her requests, you could touch the purity and sincerity. "Yes, Norah?"

'Please sit here.'

"OK, I'm sitting. What's on your mind?"


With the sweetest mono voice she began reciting:

[Every soul shall taste death and you will merely be repaid your earnings on Resurrection Day{3:185}]


She stopped thoughtfully. Then she asked, 'Do you believe in death?'

"Of course I do."

'Do you believe that you shall be responsible for whatever you do, regardless of how small or large?'

"I do, but . Allah is Forgiving and Merciful and I've got a long life waiting for me."


'Stop it Hanan ... aren't you afraid of death and it's abruptness? Look at Hind. She was younger than you but she died in a car accident. So did so and so, and so and so. Death is age-blind and your age could never be a measure of when you shall die.'


The darkness of the room filled my skin with fear. "I'm scared of the dark and now you made me scared of death, how am I supposed to go to sleep now. Norah, I thought you promised you'd go with us on vacation during the summer break."


Impact. Her voice broke and her heart quivered. 'I might be going on a long trip this year Hanan, but somewhere else. Just maybe. All of our lives are in Allah's hands and we all belong to Him.'


My eyes welled and the tears slipped down both cheeks.


I pondered my sisters grizzly sickness, how the doctors had informed my father privately that there was not much hope that Norah was going to outlive the disease. She wasn't told though. Who hinted to her? Or was it that she could sense the truth.


'What are you thinking about Hanan?' Her voice was sharp. 'Do you think I am just saying this because I am sick? Uh - uh. In fact, I may live longer than people who are not sick. And you Hanan, how long are you going to live? Twenty years, maybe? Forty? Then what?' Through the dark she reached for my hand and squeezed gently. 'There's no difference between us; we're all going to leave this world to live in Paradise or agonize in Hell.

I left my sister's room dazed, her words ringing in my ears: "May Allah guide you Hanan - don't forget your prayer."

Eight O'clock in the morning. Pounding on my door. I don't usually wake up at this time. Crying. Confusion. O Allah, what happened?


Norah's condition became critical after Fajar, they took her immediately to the hospital ... Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji'un....this is what Norah always said to say if she died.


There wasn't going to be any trips this summer. It was written that I would spend the summer at home., i could feel it.


At hospital....

It was one O'clock in the afternoon. Mother phoned the hospital. 'Yes. You can come and see her now.' Dad's voice had changed, mother could sense something had gone deathly wrong. We left immediately.


Where was that avenue I used to travel and thought was so short? Why was it so long now, so very long. Where was the cherished crowd and traffic that would give me a chance to gaze left and right. Everyone, just move out of our way. Mother was shaking her head in her hands - crying - as she made du'a for her Norah.


We arrived at the hospitals main entrance.


One man was moaning, another was involved in an accident and a third's eyes were iced, you couldn't tell if he was alive or dead.


We skipped stairs to Norah's floor. She was in intensive care.


The nurse approached us. 'Let me take you to her.' As we walked down the aisles the nurse went on expressing how sweet a girl Norah was. She reassured Mother somewhat that Norah's condition had gotten better than what it was in the morning.


'Sorry. No more than one visitor at a time.' This was the intensive care unit. Through the small window in the door and past the flurry of white robes I caught my sisters eyes. Mother was standing beside her. After two minutes, mother came out unable to control her crying.


'You may enter and say Salaam to her on condition that you do not speak too long,' they told me. 'Two minutes should be enough.'


"How are you Norah? You were fine last night sister, what happened?"

We held hands, she squeezed harmlessly. 'Even now, Alhamdulillah, I'm doing fine.'

"Alhamdulillah ... but ... your hands are so cold."


I sat on her bedside and rested my fingers on her knee. She jerked it away.

"Sorry ... did I hurt you?" "No, it is just that I remembered Allah's words [One leg will be wrapped to the other leg (in the death shroud)]

... Hanan pray for me. I may be meeting the first day of the hereafter very soon. It is a long journey and I haven't prepared enough good deeds in my suitcase.'


A tear escaped my eye and ran down my cheek at her words. I cried and she joined me. The room blurred away and left us - two sisters - to cry together. Rivulets of tears splashed down on my sister's palm, which I held with both hands. Dad was now becoming more worried about me. I've never cried like that before.


At home and upstairs in my room, I watched the sun pass away with a sorrowful day. Silence mingled in our corridors. A cousin came in my room, another. The visitors were many and all the voices from downstairs stirred together.

Only one thing was clear at that point ... Norah had died!


I stopped distinguishing who came and who went. I couldn't remember what they said. O Allah, where was I? What was going on? I couldn't even cry anymore.


Later that week they told me what had happened. Dad had taken my hand to say goodbye to my sister for the last time, I had kissed Norah's head.


I remember only one thing though, seeing her spread on that bed, the bed that she was going to die on. I remembered the verse she recited: [One leg will be wrapped to the other leg (in the death shroud){75:29}] and I knew too well the truth of the next verse: [The drive on that day we be to your Lord (Allah)!{75:30}]


I tiptoed into her prayer room that night. Staring at the quiet dressers and silenced mirrors, I treasured who it was that had shared my mother's stomach with me. Norah was my twin sister.

I remembered who I had swapped sorrows with. Who had comforted my rainy days. I remembered who had prayed for my guidance and who had spent so many tears for so many long nights telling me about death and accountability. May Allah save us all.


Tonight is Norah's first night that she shall spend in her tomb. O Allah, have mercy on her and illumine her grave. This was her Quran, her prayer mat and .and this was the spring rose-colored dress that she told me she would hide until she got married, the dress she wanted to keep just for her husband.


I remembered my sister and cried over all the days that I had lost. I prayed to Allah to have mercy on me, accept me and forgive me. I prayed to Allah to keep her firm in her grave, as she always liked to mention in her supplications.


At that moment, I stopped. I asked myself: what if it was I who had died? Where would I be moving on to? Fear pressed me and the tears began all over again.


The first azaan rose softly from the Masjid, how beautiful it sounded this time. I felt calm and relaxed as I repeated the Muadhins call. I wrapped the shawl around my shoulders and stood to pray Fajar. I prayed as if it was my last prayer, a farewell prayer, just like Norah had done yesterday. It had been her last Fajar.


Now and insha' Allah for the rest of my life, if I awake in the mornings I do not count on being alive by evening, and in the evening I do not count on being alive by morning.


We are all going on Norah's journey - what have we prepared for it?


My sister has already left on this eternal journey? Have YOU & I packed our suitcases?




Hazrat Abdullah bin Umar R.A says that someone asked the Prophet (sallallahu alaiyhi wassallam) which man is the wisest.The Prophet (sallallahu alaiyhi wassallam) said that; the one who remembers death much and is ever engaged in making preparation for it.These are the men who have become masters of this world and the next. (TIBRANI)   

Hazrat Abdullah bin Umar R.A. says that the Prophet (sallallahu alaiyhi wassallam) putting his hand on his shoulder, said that they should spend life like a traveller.He forbode to wait for the morning in the evening and for evening in the morning.He advised to accumulate the prayers when he is healthy; keeping the period of illness in mind and should do something good for the death when he is ill. (BUKHARI) 


Hazrat Shaddad bin Aus(R.A.) says that the Prophet (sallallahu alaiyhi wassallam) has said that the alert man is one; who takes account of his life and does alot of good actions; which may be useful to him after death. (TIRMIZI)

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Marriage, a Wonderful Institution...

Hamza and Ruwayda married. After the Nikaah (wedding), Ruwayda’s mother gave her a newly opened bank savings book with a R2000 deposit amount.

Ruwayda’s mother said: “Take this savings book. Keep it as a record of your marriage life. When there’s something happy and memorable happened in your new life, put some money in. Write down what it’s about next to the line…

The more memorable the event is, the more money you can put in. I’ve done the first one for you today. Do the others with your husband. When you look back after years, you will know how much of happiness you’ve had.’

Ruwayda shared this with Hamza when she arrived home. They both thought it was a great idea and were anxious to know when the second deposit could be made.

This was what they did after a certain time:
- 2 Jan: R200 Hamza became Hafizul Qur’aan.
- 7 Feb: R300, Ruwayda’s Dad took us with for HAJ.
- 1 Dec: R300, Hamza graduated
- 20 Mar: R200, Hamza got an excellent job
- 15 Apr: R2000, Ruwayda got pregnant and later gave birth to a baby
- 1 Jun: R1000, Hamza got promoted
… and so on…

However, after years, they started fighting and arguing over trivial things. They didn’t talk much. They regretted that they had married the nastiest people in the world… no more love… Kind of typical nowadays, huh?

One day Ruwayda spoke to her Mother:

‘Mom, we can’t stand it anymore. We have agreed to divorce. I can’t imagine how I have decided to marry this guy!!!’

Mother: ‘Sure, Ruwayda, that’s no big deal. Just do whatever you want if you really cannot stand it. But before that, do one thing first… Remember the savings book I gave you on your wedding day? Take out all money and spend it first. You shouldn’t keep any record of such a poor marriage.’

Ruwayda thought it was true. So she went to the Bank, waiting at the queue and planning withdraw the amounts and to cancel the account. She intended to give Hamza his due share.

While she was waiting, she took a look at the book record. She looked, and looked, and looked. Then the memory of all the previous joy and happiness just came up her mind. Her eyes were then filled with tears. She left and went home. When she was home, she handed the book to her husband, and asked him to spend the money before getting divorced.

The next day, Hamza gave the book back to Ruwayda. She found a new deposit of R5000…and a line next to the record: ‘this is the day I notice how much I’ve loved you throughout all these years. How much happiness you’ve brought me.’ They hugged and cried, putting the savings book back to the safe.

Do you know how much money they had saved when they retired? I did not ask. I believe the money did not matter anymore after they had gone through all the good years in their life.
“When you fall, in any way, Do not see the place where you fell, Instead see the place from where you slipped. Life is about correcting mistakes.”

In every moment of our lives, we are given a choice. How shall we regard this world in which we live? Is it good, or not? Is there hope for the future, or not? Is this world full of beauty, life, blessing and love; or is it cold, heartless and ruthless? In every moment, it is one or the other…and how we regard and react to it is up to us.

“If you are grateful, I will surely give increase My favours unto you” (Quran-Surah Ibrahim 14: 7).
“Behind every Dark Cloud there is a Silver Lining”