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How to Reap the Rewards of Lailatul Qadr

Ali Shehata

Published

How to Reap the Rewards of Lailatul Qadr

The Reward for Lailatul Qadr

وَمَا أَدْرَاكَ مَا لَيْلَةُ الْقَدْرِ . لَيْلَةُ الْقَدْرِ خَيْرٌ مِنْ أَلْفِ شَهْرٍ
And what will make you know what the Night of Al-Qadr (Decree) is? The Night of the Decree is better than a thousand months (i.e. worshipping Allah in that night is better than worshipping Him a thousand months). [97: 2-3]

This blessed night was given to our ummah as a special gift upon the concern of the Prophet for the short lives of his people in comparison with those who lived before. Thus whatever is done on this blessed night will be recorded for the sincere Muslim as if he had done the same deeds without sinning for one thousand months, which is the equivalent of 83 years and four months! This was among the reasons why the Prophet (saas) said that whoever was deprived of the good of this night was truly deprived:
Abu Hurairah (ra) who said: The Messenger of Allah (saas) said: “There has come to you Ramadan, a blessed month which Allah has enjoined you to fast … In it there is a night which is better than a thousand months, and whoever is deprived of its goodness is indeed deprived.” (Sahih – Nasaa’i, Ahmad)

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فعن أبي هريرة رضي الله عنه عن النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم أنه قال
من قام ليلة القدر إيماناً واحتساباً غفر له ما تقدم من ذنبه
It was narrated from Abu Hurairah (ra) that the Prophet (saas) said: “Whoever spends the night of Lailatul Qadr in prayer out of faith and in the hope of reward, will be forgiven his previous sins.”

In this authentic hadith, special care must be paid to his statement (saas) “out of faith and in hope of the reward”. This shows us the importance of purifying both the intention and our sincerity, praying to Allah with full belief in Him and seeking His great reward.

What to Do on this Blessed Night

Remember to also work hard in the daylight hours of these nights. This helps to prepare the heart and the soul for the efforts of the night, and this was the manner of Imam ash-Shaafi’ee.

Be cautious of over-eating in these days. Allah says in the Quran:

وكُلُواْ وَاشْرَبُواْ وَلاَ تُسْرِفُواْ إِنَّهُ لاَ يُحِبُّ الْمُسْرِفِينَ

And eat and drink: But waste not by excess, for Allah does not love those who waste. [7:31]

ما ملأ آدمي وعاء شرا من بطنه

And the Prophet (saas) said on the authority of Miqdaam, “A person will not fill a pot worse for himself than his stomach.” (Sahih – Jami’ as-Sagheer)

And in one of the stories narrated from Bani Isra’eel, the Prophet Yayha (as) once asked Iblees if he had ever succeeded in deceiving him. Iblees stated that on only one occasion had he been able to deceive this noble Prophet and that had been when he had encouraged him to eat a lot of one of his favorite dishes to the extent that when he slept that night he didn’t awaken for the night prayer.

Putting on your best clothes for this night. Have you not considered Allah’s statement in the Quran:

يَا بَنِي آدَمَ خُذُواْ زِينَتَكُمْ عِندَ كُلِّ مَسْجِدٍ

O Children of Adam! Wear your beautiful apparel to every Masjid. [7:31]

قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ الْبَسُوا مِنْ ثِيَابِكُمْ الْبَيَاضَ فَإِنَّهَا مِنْ خَيْرِ ثِيَابِكُم

Ibn ‘Abbaas (ra) reports from the Messenger of Allah (saas) that he said, “Wear your white garments for they are among the best of your clothes.” (Sahih – Abu Dawood)

And it has been narrated authentically that Anas ibn Maalik (ra) used to have a garment that he would wear only once in the year and that was the night that he expected lailatul Qadr.
And it has been reported from a number of the predecessors that they used to take showers and perfume themselves especially for the last ten nights.

What is the wisdom behind this? In order to best purify our souls and hearts, it helps to start from the outside by wearing that which is clean, pure and beautifies us, and Allah knows best.

Let us not forget though the words of Allah:

يَا بَنِي آدَمَ قَدْ أَنزَلْنَا عَلَيْكُمْ لِبَاسًا يُوَارِي سَوْءَاتِكُمْ وَرِيشًا وَلِبَاسُ التَّقْوَىَ ذَلِكَ خَيْرٌ

O’ Children of Adam! We have bestowed libaas and reesh upon you to cover your privates, as well as to be an adornment to you. But the adornment of taqwa – that is the best. [7:26]

Regarding this noble ayah, `Abdur-Rahman ibnu Zayd ibnu Aslam commented, “When one fears Allah, Allah covers his errors”.

To make i’tikaaf – even if it be for a limited number of hours. The benefit of it is that one is recorded as being in prayer the whole time so long as he makes this intention (of remaining until the next obligatory prayer), and it was the confirmed Sunnah of our Prophet (saas) and even that of his wives after his death (saas).

To be sincere for the sake of Allah and to be on the lookout for the destroyers of sincerity to Allah – and they are showing off (al-riyaa’) and arrogance (kibr), amongst others. Allah has said in regards to sincerity:

وَأَقِيمُواْ وُجُوهَكُمْ عِندَ كُلِّ مَسْجِدٍ وَادْعُوهُ مُخْلِصِينَ لَهُ الدِّينَ

… And that you should face Him only, in every Masjid, and invoke Him only making your religion sincere to Him …. [7: 29]

And in the Hadith Qudsi:

أَنَا أَغْنَى الشُّرَكَاءِ عَنْ الشِّرْكِ مَنْ عَمِلَ عَمَلًا أَشْرَكَ فِيهِ مَعِي غَيْرِي تَرَكْتُهُ وَشِرْكَهُ

Abu Hurairah narrates that the Prophet (saas) said: “Allah, may He be blessed and exalted, says: ‘I am so self-sufficient that I am in no need of having an associate. Thus he who does an action for someone else’s sake as well as Mine will have that action renounced by Me to him whom he associated with Me.’” (Muslim)

Thus, we have to make sure that our efforts on this night, especially if there are others around us, that they are solely for the pleasure of Allah. This can be greatly alleviated if you have a certain plan in mind before you go to the Masjid regarding what you will do. We also take lessons from the lives of the early generations who used to be very cautious in this regards particularly in regards to weeping from the fear of Allah. They controlled it so well that a man could stand next to another and wet his beard with tears without his companion being aware that he was crying. This was all so that they would not draw attention to themselves.

And the great scholar Sufyaan ath-Thawri once said, “It has reached me that a servant does a good deed secretly causing Shaytaan to come at him until he overcomes him, upon which the servant makes his good deeds public (but still maintaining a measure of sincerity). Shaytaan then continues with him further until the servant wishes that his good deeds be praised by others, upon which his name is removed from those who deeds in public and he is listed among those who show-off (commit the grievous sin of riyaa’).”

That is why the Prophet said we must spend this night in hope for His reward – in other words, not in hopes of others praising us and so forth.

Furthermore, some people commit another sin in arrogance by looking down upon the deeds of others. Maybe Allah gave you the strength to pray ten voluntary rak’aahs but another only had the strength to do four. Although you may have bested the other in terms of quantity, only Allah knows the quality and so his onerakah might be better and more virtuous than all of what you have done. So let us be wary of falling into this pit of destruction – may Allah protect us!

To push yourself in calling upon Allah and not be lazy in this matter. Allah states in the Quran:

وَقَالَ رَبُّكُمُ ادْعُونِي أَسْتَجِبْ لَكُمْإِنَّ الَّذِينَ يَسْتَكْبِرُونَ عَنْ عِبَادَتِي سَيَدْخُلُونَ جَهَنَّمَ دَاخِرِينَ

And your Lord has said: “Call upon Me, I will answer you. Verily, those who scorn My worship they will surely enter Hell in humiliation.” [40:60]

قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ إِنَّ الدُّعَاءَ هُوَ الْعِبَادَةُ ثُمَّ قَرَأَ

And an-Nu’maan ibn Bashir (ra) relates from the Messenger of Allah (saas) that he said, “Indeed the supplication is the worship; and then he recited the ayah ….” (Sahih – IM)

And it is recorded that Sufyaan ath-Thawri said, “Indeed to call upon Allah in this night (al-Qadr) is more beloved to me than praying in it.” And our example always is RasulAllah and let us remember that when he recited the Quran in the night prayer that he used to do so slowly – whenever a verse called for seeking forgiveness he did so, whenever it called for seeking Allah’s protection from His punishment he did so, whenever it called for asking Allah for His bounty and for Jannah, he did so …. Thus the Prophet (saas) gathered four acts of worship in one: prayer, recitation of Quran, supplication and pondering over the words of Allah!

And ‘A’ishah said: “I said, ‘O Messenger of Allah, if I know which night is Laylat al-Qadr, what should I say on that night?’ He said, ‘Say: Allahumma innaka ‘afuwwun tuhibb al-‘afwa fa’affu ‘anni (O Allah, You are forgiving and You love forgiveness, so forgive me).”

So what then is the difference between calling upon Allah by his name of al-‘Afuww instead of al-Ghafur? They both indicate forgiveness, but maghfirah means to be protected from the consequences of the sin whereas al-‘afw means that it is wiped away completely.

And how can we pour more sincerity into our supplication and asking Allah for His forgiveness? As you stand there in these blessed nights then remember the condition of our Ummah today and that if you were better, if your sins were not so much then we would not be in this condition: our mothers like Dr. ‘Afiyyah would not have their modesty abused, our young brothers and sisters in places like Palestine would not be gunned down or abused in the manner that they are – this is the result of our sins collectively. And it was narrated regarding one of the great scholars of the early generations that he used to say whenever any strong storm would come, “O’ people, when I die then you will be removed of these trials.”

Make this a night that you repent of your sins, a night that you change your life forever. Remember that the sign that our fasting has been accepted is that we are better afterwards. Ibnul Qayyim states in his excellent book,Madaarij as-Salikeen: “among the signs of a repentance that has not been accepted are a lack of tears and no new good deeds in your life that were not being practiced before.

And indeed Allah has commanded us to repent in many places, for example:

O you who believe! Turn to Allah with sincere repentance! It may be that your Lord will remit from you your sins, and admit you into Gardens under which rivers flow. [66: 8]

إن الله يحب التوابين ويحب المتطهرين

Truly, Allah loves those who turn unto Him in repentance and loves those who purify themselves. [2: 222]

May Allah help us to reach the night of Qadr and bless us to reap its rewards in full, forgiving us our sins and releasing us from the Hellfire – ameen.

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Dr. Ali Shehata is the author of Demystifying Islam: Your Guide to the Most Misunderstood Religion of the 21st Century. Dr. Ali is an Emergency and Family Medicine physician currently living in an area of central Florida. He was born in Maryland to parents who had immigrated to the US from Egypt. He has studied Islam mainly through traditional methods among various scholars, du'at and students of knowledge here in the US.

16 Comments

16 Comments

  1. Ali Shehata

    Ali Shehata

    September 26, 2008 at 7:09 PM

    One day i will figure out the formatting for this site insha’Allah. My apologies to anyone who had been following the tafseer series as I got busy with what we should all be doing atthe end of this noble month and haven’t had the time to get online. Insha’Allah I plan to finish the series after Ramadan bi ithnillah. Please remember me and my family in your du’as, was-salaam alaikum

  2. Avatar

    Abû Mûsâ Al-Ḥabashî

    September 26, 2008 at 7:46 PM

    According to Tawfique Chowdhury, tonight is definitely Laylatul-Qadr.

  3. Amad

    Amad

    September 26, 2008 at 8:01 PM

    Sh. Tawfique confirmed this
    ————————
    Assalamualaikum everyone,

    Good dreams are from Allah and they are a part of Prophethood that isstill left for us as in the authentic hadeeth. It doesn’t change theShariah, but confirms it and is a glad tiding for believers. If someonesees a good dream, then we should tell others that we love and areclose to us so that they may benefit from its message.

    Just thought I would let all my beloved friends know that no less than6 dreams from 6 different righteous people who have confided in me thatthey saw the night of Power this year to be in the 27th night,including my Sheikh’s wife as well. In one of them, one of the myfriends and a student from medina university said that on twoconsecutive nights, he was told in his dream – the 27th, the 27th.

    So please do your best to NOT miss this night this Ramadan. Don’t sleep- pray, make dua and read the Quran. Remember every second of the nightequals days – so keep your tongue moist with Allah’s remembrance andremember me and all Muslims in your dua.

    If you need, you can post this message on other boards for theirbenefit and send it out to those who may benefit from it and those whomyou love. May Allah forgive you and I in this blessed night. Ameen.

    Jazakallahulkhair.

    Tawfique Chowdhury
    Friday 26th Ramadan, 26th September 2008

  4. Avatar

    ilmsummitee

    September 26, 2008 at 11:25 PM

    Asalamu Alaykum-

    Yes, walhamdulilah, no doubt that dreams of the righteous are one of the signs of the ‘nubuwa’ and a gift from Allah(swt) for us after the prophethood and revelation has ceased.

    One thing though, we cannot say 100% that tonight will be Layatul Qadr. I am not discrediting the ru’yaas, but waAllahu truly A’laam when the night will be. Of course, we should pray and strive our hardest to take advantage of the 27th night and we should continue to do this until the end of Ramadan.

    May Allah accept from us all our ibadaat and allow us to complete them with ihsaan and taqwa; and honor us as witnesses of the Night of Power. Ameen thuma ameen.

  5. Avatar

    IbnAbbas

    September 27, 2008 at 1:58 AM

    subhaanallah, I was desperate to look at the sun early morning but its so foggy today here in London.

  6. Avatar

    ilmsummitee

    September 27, 2008 at 6:40 AM

    The sun has yet to come out. We still have around an hour to go here in the Midwest. InshaAllah we will see and report then.

    I was looking at the night sky; even then the visibility was not as high as the previous nights. However, I did finally catch a glimpse of the crescent which was a smoky red but crisp clear……a beautiful sight, SubhanAllah.

  7. Avatar

    ilmsummitee

    September 27, 2008 at 7:22 AM

    Still waiting for the sun to rise………half an hour, inshallah we will be able to see it here in the US, or more spec. Midwest

  8. Avatar

    sister

    September 27, 2008 at 7:23 AM

    subhanAllah it’s foggy here (east coast USA) too! was raining all night mashaAllah.

  9. Avatar

    Hassan

    September 27, 2008 at 7:51 AM

    Salaam. It is very clear in Houston, and sun is about to rise, the horizon is just very beautiful and light red through out. What are we looking for to make sure it was laylat-ul-qadar?

  10. Avatar

    Hassan

    September 27, 2008 at 8:17 AM

    Ok, I found out what we are looking for. Sun rises without any visible rays. The weather is very cool and clear. I can see complete horizon with light but no rays, very soothing to eyes. Wallahu a’alam,

  11. Avatar

    ilmsummitee

    September 27, 2008 at 8:35 AM

    JazakAllahu khairan brother Hasan.

    I also saw the sun rising, however due to some clouds and trees blocking my view it was a bit after ……. but I did see the beautiful red colors seeping through and the weather was indeed nice. The sun could be seen as a sphere by the time I saw it but the brigtness and intensity had increased.

    InshaAllah it was Layatul Qadr, and if it was may Allah accept all our ibadaat and worship. Ameen.

    Lets keep up the work for the remaining nights! And keep MM in your duaas, not to mention Al-Maghrib too :D And of course the Muslim Ummah, our fellow bros/sis everywhere.

  12. Avatar

    nikhat mansoori

    September 27, 2008 at 8:49 AM

    Assalam-o-Alaiku,

    we are missing th e tafseer seres a lot.Didn’t c it 4 a long tym so we thought u must be busy in ibadah
    No probs.May Allah HElp u.
    May He make all of us witness lailatul Qadr.AMEEN!!!!!!!

  13. Avatar

    Lisa

    November 12, 2008 at 3:31 AM

    Hello Dr. Shehata. I came across your name as a matter of coincidence. I am at a crossroads in my life. I am getting ready to graduate nursing school in a month. Then comes the task of having to make a decision on where to work and live. In addition to this I am living in an interesting situation as a Christian young woman. I am an open minded person. I have been judged severly, and wrongfully in my life and have experienced the pain it brings. I want to understand your faith as it pertains to my future. I met a young muslim man online that shares your last name. I am trying to go about this with wisdom and thought I would do some research on this young man’s name. That is how I came across your name and the work you are doing to promote that Islam is a peaceful way of life. The young man I am seeing is very sweet, and kind. Even with our differences in our views of Jesus we have found much in common. I fear it will upset my family, but we are becoming serious very quickly. I have lived my life trying my best to make others love me, to please the authority figures in my life; however, I was never quite good enough. I didn’t measure up. I guess I’m tired of living up to what other people’s standards are for my life. I just want to love God, and enjoy my life. Is this too much to ask? I can honestly say that I will never renouce my belief that Jesus is the Son of God. I have had too many miraculous and revelatory experiences to dismiss this truth. But, I will NEVER throw out hatred, accusation, and sptifullness like some so called “christians” do towards anyone whether they be Muslim, Jew, Christan, Straight, Gay ect. They seem to forget the part of the Bible that says to “speak the truth in love.” I have been taught and bombarded with so much negative aspects of Islam that I am afraid to follow my heart which tells me I’ve found the love of my life. Is a Muslim allowed to marry a Christain? Why do the muslim women cover their hair? I have so many questions, and some I have begun to ask the young man I am dating. He trys very hard to explain what he believes and I am learning. He seems a truly good man. However, my Aunt told me to watch this movie called “Not without my son” i think is what she called it. She said it is a movie based on a true story about a women who married a muslim man and then went back to Iran with him. The man in this movie changed and began to beat her and this women had to smuggle herself and her son out of Iran and back to America. Why would a muslim man marry an American women and then take her back to Iran, just to miss treat her? I know that this movie is a dramatization and therefore isn’t a perfect portayal of what happened. I am wanting advice from a third party. Would you be willing to respond to my questions even though they don’t have anything to do with the blogs you’ve posted. I looked and looked for a way to contact you and this is what I found. Is it right for me to go against my family and live for love? Or should I remain true to what my family wants of me? Not that they don’t want me to have love, it’s just they want me to have love within their own ideals and ideas of who I should and should not date (i.e. only someone who is a chrisitian). Well, I hope I’m not being silly by asking a complete stranger to give advice on my love life…lol. Thank you for your time, Lisa T.

  14. Ali Shehata

    Ali Shehata

    November 12, 2008 at 11:02 PM

    Hello Lisa T.

    Alhamdulillah. Thank you for your post and for trusting in me to answer these questions that you have in this difficult cross roads in your life. I believe that you are making the right decision in a number of the issues you have presented and I will be happy to try my best to help you better understand what Islam is all about and what it can mean for you and for your future. As a medical doctor and an Islamic speaker, I have often been in the position to give advice on similar matters and so this won’t be the first time :-) You may contact me at my email [dr.ali.do@gmail.com] and I will be able to send you detailed answers to your questions God-willing. For now, I will only say that a number of Americans have been scared to death by over dramatized stories like Not Without My Daughter and so forth. On this website currently for example, there is a story about 8 KKK members who killed a woman and threw her behind some bushes in Louisiana because she didn’t want to join their club. Recently, two neo-Nazi’s were arrested for wanting to kill blacks and other non-white people and top it all off by killing Obama. I am sure that you are your family would never say that these people represent America or American values. It is dangerous to judge a whole religion of nearly one and a half billion people because of one movie or one person’s actions, and if your friend fears God then you can be reasonably certain that he will not mistreat you or abuse you because he will know that God will punish him for it. That would be my biggest priority – to determine if he really is devout – because then you can have some of these fears resolved to a degree. I will be happy to elaborate when you write and I ask God to make these difficult decisions easy for you and to guide you to His path. Dr. Shehata

  15. Pingback: Information on the Last 10 Nights « The Blog of The Nomadic Empress…

  16. Avatar

    Zia-e-Taiba

    October 18, 2016 at 7:18 AM

    Nice to see an articleSigns of Lailatul Qadr Night

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#Islam

An Ashura Message: Proclaim Good And Refrain From Evil, Always And At All Costs!

Shakeel Syed

Published

Light coming through the stone lattice window


“If you do not march forth, Allah will chastise you grievously and will replace you by another people, while you will in no way be able to harm Him. Allah has power over everything”. (The Holy Quran – 9:39)

No people can live successfully, fruitfully and triumphantly without a strong memory of their past. Ashura, the 10th of Muharram, is one such milestone.

Muslims attempt to recall the tragic event that took place around the 60th year after Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) migrated from Makkah to Madinah. This time it was his family led by his noble grandson Imam Hussayn ibn Ali raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him).

Reciting Divine words, reflecting Prophetic advises and studying history enables us to crystallize our insights. However, when we attempt to draw the imagery of Karbala, no heart could be so hard as not to be pierced with sadness while replaying the Day of Ashura. Words cannot do justice to the sacrifices made that day.

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The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support MuslimMatters with a monthly donation of $2 per month. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

They kept their heads high, faces flowing with blood and tears, looking one upon another. Others stood in dolorous pain, looking up to the highest heavens, fixing their eyes upon it, crying out, asking help from the Only Helper; while others made lamentations in the manner of dirge.

Today we try to recall their pain, suffering and sacrifices, as they happened, to inspire ourselves and to understand the concept of sacrifice for a noble cause.

Regrettably, sacrifice as it is generally understood today, is to give up something that should not have been touched in the first place. Selfless and unasked giving is a rarity and unheard of. Giving one’s entire self and offspring for His pleasure is unimaginable. Muslims must spiritually survive from the unparallel yesterdays of the Prophet’s progeny.

We have been largely overwhelmed by a culture that has emptied our memories, made us apologetic for who we are, and stripped us along the way of the sheerest hope of self-definition. We alone are presumed past less and are left to repair our self-esteem. Imperative it is for us today, to define ourselves by our ongoing tribulations and those who mete them out to us. Otherwise, we cannot be collectively successful if we have no idea or, worse that we have the wrong idea of who we were and who we are.

The intent of this writing is to stimulate, not to sate — to pose the question and to invite reflection — to cause ourselves to act for an almost forgotten legacy of the sacrifices made by our beloved Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him)and his progeny.

O Allah! Bestow upon us the courage to enjoin, proclaim and enforce the good and the patience and perseverance to forbid and stop the evil for and by all.

Support Our Dawah for Just $2 a Month

MuslimMatters has been a free service to the community since 2007. All it takes is a small gift from a reader like you to keep us going, for just $2 / month.

The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support MuslimMatters with a monthly donation of $2 per month. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

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#Life

Mental Health & COVID-19: Light, Guidance, & Much Love | Part 1

Sharada Nizami, Guest Contributor

Published

Insha’Allah, you and your loved ones are safe & healthy. May Allah swt protect us all from COVID-19, Ya Hafidh, and open the way for our spiritual growth, Ya Fattah Ya Rabb. No doubt, we are living in very challenges times, and many in our community are suffering. As such, my intention for this two-part series is to provide some beneficial perspectives and practical strategies that will make your emotional journey safer & easier, insha’Allah.

And a journey it surely is. We are on a very long hike up a very steep mountain. And we have only two choices about HOW we approach this challenge: unskillfully or skillfully. If we wear flip-flops, and fail to pack water and snacks, we will have a very difficult time reaching the summit. And if we do, we will be in very bad shape. If we wear good socks, sturdy hiking boots, and our backpack is well-stocked, not only are we likely to reach the summit, but reach it in great shape. This is what I want for our beloved community, insha’Allah.

As Muslims, it is crucial to remember that the ultimate summit is the hereafter. Truly, Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) is our goal and pleasing Him is our aim. Truly, everything we do or fail to do here has an impact there. For many people, this haqq is much more difficult to remember and actualize when their day-to-day challenges are daunting. This is why historically and traditionally, in times of crisis, Muslims have always sought the nasiha of wise elders. Imam Muhasibi, the father of Islamic Psychology, developed this crucial, beautiful science in response to the human needs of his students. Sadly, the loss of these teachings as a widespread living tradition has contributed in large part to the widespread mental-health problems that have been plaguing our community for a very long time, which have now been exacerbated by COVID-19.

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Here’s a good metaphor. The science of nutrition teaches us about our body, the properties of different foods, what to avoid to prevent disease, and the vital nutrients we MUST ingest to attain optimum physical health. Likewise, the science of mental health teaches us about our heart and mind, the impact of specific activities, what to avoid to prevent disease, and the vital psychological nutrients we MUST ingest to attain optimum mental health. Lack of knowledge about Islamic Psychology and the absence of the vital psychological nutrients have taken a huge toll on our community. The stories I hear would probably shock you. They would certainly break your heart. Especially the stories of our young people, who are my top priority. Insha’Allah, the wake-up call of COVID-19 propels us to reclaim en masse this lost part of our spiritual heritage, so we can reclaim our vitality and nobility as the Ummah of Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him).

To continue with the metaphor. Working one-on-one with an experienced nutritionist is very different than reading a book about nutrition. With the former, your nutritional program is specifically tailored to your particular problems, challenges, habits, and temperament. The same is true when it comes to mental health. So I must manage your expectations honestly and honorably by saying that it is not possible for me to do in two articles for the general public what I do one-on-one in my private practice as a psychotherapist, life-coach, and spiritual mentor. Truly, there is a palpable, powerful, fitrah-based alchemy that can only happen when two human hearts link-up in real time. That said, in the same way that reading and learning about nutrition is very beneficial, so too reading and learning about mental health, especially now.

Working Skillfully with Difficult Emotions

No doubt, COVID-19 has unleashed a wide range of very difficult emotions. People are struggling with tremendous anxiety, uncertainty, fear, sadness, loneliness, depression, helplessness, hopelessness, anger, frustration, confusion, grief, despair, and in some cases, a full-blown crisis of faith. So let me explain a little bit about emotions and how to work with them skillfully  

One of the foundational principles of cognitive-behavioral psychology is called ‘reframing.’

It is the process of deliberately thinking differently about our situation. Reframing it. The fact is, the lens through which we view our circumstances makes all the difference in the world insofar as how we feel. Thoughts are like the front wheels of the car and feelings are like the back wheels. We must be in the driver seat, steering intentionally. Whichever way the front wheels turn, the back wheels follow. So paying attention to our thoughts moment by moment, and making sure they are aligned with the Qur’an and Sunnah, is crucial. The mind is a like a muscle that MUST be trained through specific exercises, and our tradition is rich in the techniques for doing so. Truly, we must hit the spiritual gym regularly. The heavy lifting of muhasiba (self-reckoning) and muraqaba (mindfulness/meditation) are not optional. If these are not already a consistent part of your spiritual practice, NOW is the time to take them up. You will be so happy you did!

Here’s a good metaphor. If you are a longtime couch potato, even a flight of stairs leaves you huffing and puffing. If you are in good shape, you’re able to jog around the block easily. If you’re in great shape, you’re able to leap over the hurdles like a gazelle. For many, COVID-19 has been like asking a couch potato to run a marathon. So we need to get in the best spiritual shape possible as quickly as possible. To that end:

The Centering Exercise 

Every time you notice that you are feeling sad, anxious, fearful, angry, hopeless, helpless, impatient, frustrated, confused, or depressed, here’s what to do.  

  • Turn off your devices and put them in another room.
  • Close your door and put a “Please do not disturb.” sign on the doorknob. Lay down.
  • Close your eyes. Turn your attention to your heart. Remember the Hadith Qudsi, “Heaven and earth cannot contain me but the heart of my faithful believer is where I reside.” Truly, Allah is closer than our jugular vein. (50:16)
  • Take some slow-deep breaths. On the out-breath, silently recite “La illaha.” On the in-breath, silently recite “il Allah.” After a few minutes, notice the shift in your state. Notice the deep connection between ‘self’ and ‘breath’, not just experientially, but also etymologically. They both derive from the same Arabic root, transliterated nfs.   
  • When you are centered, mentally review what you had been thinking about that gave rise to the difficult emotions.  Then do a ‘search and replace,’ deliberately and intentionally replacing your dark thoughts with the Light of The Qur’an or Hadith. Here is one example: Search: “I’ll never get through this.” Replace: “Allah never burdens a person with more than he is well able to bear.” (2:286)

As individuals, we each have our own particular dark thoughts. NOW is the BEST time to fix them. I lovingly encourage you to get a blank journal, so that each time you do The Centering Exercise, you can make note of what you observed, what you learned about yourself. Write down each dark thought and then write down each Rx of Light from The Qur’an or Sunnah. Having a personal journal gives you a concrete means of reinforcing your new thought patterns. 

We know from our neuroscience that the human brain possesses ‘neuroplasticity’, which is the capacity to be shaped, molded, changed. As such, the more often you do The Centering Exercise, the more your thinking patterns will change. This is how Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) created us, mash’Allah! It’s really quite amazing to realize that the Qur’an we’ve been given provides Light upon Light from The Lord of The Worlds. And the Sunnah is that Light fully actualized to perfection, mash’Allah. The fact is, no matter how dark a room may be, if we light just one candle, it illuminates the space. Mash’Allah!

Parents, once you get the hang of The Centering Exercise, please please teach it to your children! Insha’Allah, make it the new normal in your household, transforming discord and upset into harmony and peace.

Say “Ameen!”

Divine Reminders

Insofar as reframing COVID-19 in the broader sense, I offer you this lens, this Divine Reminder, with much love. May it shift your state from embittered to empowered. My beloved sisters and brothers, Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) is our Rabb, our Teacher, and COVID-19 is the Test we’ve all been given. Every single human being on the planet. We all woke up one day, walked into the classroom of Life, and got handed a pop quiz. The purpose of which is to show us the places where we weren’t prepared. This is great! Because the trumpet is absolutely going to sound, and we surely want to be ready. As long as we’re breathing, we have time to prepare. This is great!

Say “Ameen!” 

Beloved ones, we have the incredible privilege of being students of The One Who Knows Everything, including The Future and The Unseen.  It is very bad adab to question the teaching methods of our Teacher or to complain that we don’t like the Test.

This was the fatal mistake of Bani Israel that we are reminded 17x/day not to emulate. On the contrary, what we want to be asking ourselves is: “What must I do to pass this Test with flying colors, to ace this Exam?” Our beautiful Qur’an teaches us: “Not without purpose did We create heaven and earth and all between.” (38:27)  This pandemic is not some random event. It has a divine purpose. There is deep meaning in it. 

There is also enormous rahmah in it. Our beautiful Qur’an teaches us: “…My mercy embraces everything.” (7:156) The Divine Physician has dispensed this bitter medicine to heal us. To heal the whole world from its longstanding imbalances and injustices. Surely, it is no accident, the timing of COVID-19 vis-à-vis the murder of George Floyd and the global response it has galvanized.  Surely, every human being wants to and deserves to breathe.

COVID-19 is a wake-up call for the whole world. Ours to do as students is to be fully present in each moment, to practice mindfulness (muraqaba), so we can be deeply receptive to the Lessons we are meant to learn (muhasiba). Indeed, Allah will not change the condition of a people until they change what is in themselves.” (13:11) Beloved ones, NOW is the time for global tawbah (repentance). As the Ummah of Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him), this is our Divine Assignment, individually, collectively, institutionally. 

My vision and personal commitment is that we wind up stronger and better-than-ever on the other side of this, insha’Allah. I can say this with great confidence because first and foremost, I know that COVID-19 or no COVID-19, Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) is not out of business! The presence of The Presence, the power of the Names & Attributes, are as robust as ever. 

We are being summoned to recognize our hubris and turn our hearts in humility toward The One Who Is In Charge, The One Who Calls The Shots, to The One Whose Decree we surrender. Humbly. Readily. Insha’Allah, NOW is the time to actualize the last part of Hadith Jibreel about qadr. The fact is, what’s happening around us is what’s happening, and this is always in the hands of Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He). HOW we respond to what’s happening is entirely up to us.

What I want for our community is the best possible response, the most skillful and beautiful response, the response that will be of maximum benefit here & hereafter, insha’Allah.

I can also say this with great confidence because time and again, working with Muslim refugees who have been through horrific trauma, I have seen with my own eyes how absolutely amazing human beings are. How resilient. How courageous. How creative. How capable of transforming sorrow into joy, lemons into lemonade, compost into roses. This is what I want for you, my beloved sisters and brothers.

No doubt, on any long and arduous journey, in addition to having the right equipment and supplies, having an experienced trail-guide makes all the difference. There is dangerous terrain you want to avoid, and beautiful vistas you don’t want to miss. In my experience over decades, I have observed that human beings thrive when we are given the right tools and the loving encouragement to master them.  So let me give you now some very practical guidelines to help you navigate skillfully, so you can extract from these precious days of your life what is meaningful & transformational. 

Practical Strategies

When it comes to protecting our physical health from the pandemic, there are certain steps we MUST take. Likewise with our mental health. As such, here are some practical strategies, culled from thousands of pages of research and decades of experience. My focus is on parents, whose job has never been more difficult. And with the new school year right around the corner, this guidance is extremely timely. 

Boundaries: Set clear boundaries regarding where and when devices can be used. This applies to everyone in the household, kids and parents alike. Parents, as your elder who loves you, I am reminding you that YOU are the CEO of your home. YOU are the policy maker. YOU are in charge. NOT your kids or their devices. So take charge!

  • No devices for kids 0-3. These guidelines are from the American Pediatric Association. 
  • No devices at the dinner table* or in the bedrooms.
  • No devices until after Fajr. Better yet, after breakfast.
  • All devices put away 1-2 hours before bedtime. Plugged in in the kitchen to recharge.
  • Limit on-line entertainment and socializing to 1 hour/day MAX.
  • Schedule tech fasts ½ day weekly, and 1-2 full days monthly, on a weekend.
  • An occasional family-time movie is fine on the weekend. Choose something meaningful, uplifting, thought-provoking, heart-opening. Pop some popcorn. Make tea. Engage in a special time afterward to really talk together about your experience. *Getting in the habit of real-time-face-to-face conversations is crucial. If you start when your kids are young, it will lay a strong foundation for their teenage years, when they desperately need wise, trustworthy, caring adults who really know how to listen from the heart.

Nature: Spending time in nature is the very best thing you can do for yourself and with your family. There are reams of data about the stress-reducing effects of being outdoors, especially in the woods. There are also reams of data about the benefits of exercise, not only for physical health, but for mental health. Given all the extra sitting everyone is doing during COVID-19, regular exercise is not optional. 

Furthermore, if your kids are schooling from home and you are working from home, everyone will surely need some breathing room, some physical and emotional space from one another, some time every day in solitude, unplugged from their devices. Spending alone-time in nature is the perfect solution. 

For family-time activities, unplug from your devices and enjoy these delightful experiences. They will engender tremendous awe (khushu’) and deepen your heart-connection with your Rabb, The One Who Created you and all the beauty around you. Subhan’Allah.

  • Take a 15-30 minute family-walk every night after dinner before homework.
  • Go hiking, biking, rollerblading, kayaking, kite-flying, or camping on the weekend.   
  • Set up bird feeders in your yard. Learn their names and identify their songs.
  • Go out nightly to look at the stars. Learn the names of the constellations.
  • Watch as many sunrises & sunsets, moonrises & moonsets as you can. 

As Muslims, our worship is guided by the natural cycles Allah put in place. The sun is our clock. It tells us when to pray. The moon is our calendar. It tells us when the new month begins. Sighting the moon is an act of worship, mash’Allah.

Divine Reminders

Our beautiful Qur’an teaches:“We will show them Our Signs (ayat) in the universe and in their own selves, until it becomes clear to them that this (the Qur’an) is the truth.” (Fussilat 41:53)

In this ayah, we are taught the two beautiful gateways into the sacred: the macrocosm of the universe, and the microcosm of the self. Both of these gateways open into the direct experience of Allah’s presence. 

As Muslims, we have been invited to spend time in this dunya in the company of The One Who is Love (al-Wadud). The One Who is Strength (al-Aziz). The One Who is Peace (as-Salaam). And on & on. What could be more beneficial during this time of crisis? Alas, calling upon our Rabb by His most Beautiful Names, with urgency & sincerity, is one of the Lessons we must learn from COVID-19.  My prayer for our community is that people do not squander the opportunity to connect in a deep, meaningful, intimate way heart-to-heart with Allah because they can’t put their phone down or turn their computer off. Insha’Allah, I will address the subject of digital addiction in the second article, as it plays a huge role when it comes to mental health issues.

Closing Du’a

Ya Habibi Ya Allah. Please grant us oceans of fortitude and mountains of strength Ya Sabur Ya Aziz. May we be dutiful beautiful students who strive with all our might in jihad al akbar to pass this test with flying colors, to ace this exam. May we, the Ummah of Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him), love one another like he loves us, and strengthen one another every step of the way. May we wind up stronger and better-than-ever on the other side of COVID-19, reclaiming the standard of Insan Kamil as the Index by which we measure our lives. Ya Dhal Jalali wal Ikram.

Say “Ameen!” 

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#Islam

Help! I Can’t Make Dua For More Than 30 Seconds On The Day Of ‘Arafah

Imam Azfar Uddin, Guest Contributor

Published

Much emphasis has been given on the importance of fasting on the day of ‘Arafah, but don’t forget, this was a day the Prophet Muhammad (upon him be peace) “made du’a from the time of Dhur til the time of Maghrib on the day of ‘Arafah while STANDING.” (Sahih Muslim)

He ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) also said, “The best du’a is that which is made on the day of ‘Arafah.” (Sahih Muslim)

If we can develop the capacity to binge watch on Netflix 5-6 for hours a day, we can develop the capacity to make du’a longer than 30 SECONDS on the day of ‘Arafah.

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I used to be a person who couldn’t make du’a longer than 2 minutes.

3 things changed

1. I started writing my personalized du’as on a mini-notebook

2. I started reading du’as using Hisnul Muslim (The Fortress of the Muslim)

3. I started following the etiquettes of making du’a.

As an Imam, I have numerous meetings with members of my community. Sometimes, at the end of my meetings, I asked the community member to end our meeting with a du’a. It is surprising that many of them do not know the etiquettes of making du’a. By following the above etiquettes of making du’a, you can make du’a longer than 2 minutes inshAllah!

Here are 16 etiquettes of making du’a from the Qur’an and Sunnah

1) Have 100% conviction that Allah will answer you

2) Find a way to praise Allah before making your request

3) Use the proper names of Allah

4) Send salutations upon Muhammad (upon him be peace)

5) Raise your hand like a beggar

6) Face the qibla

7) Be in a state of wudu

8) Cry

9) Be a lone wolf (Be alone)

10) Ensuring that your food is pure

11) Acknowledge your sins (Privately)

12) Repeat the du’a 3 times

13) Start the du’a by praying for yourself

14) Expand your heart, pray for everyone (in particular those Muslims in China who wish they could fast on the day of ‘Arafah, but they are prohibited from doing so.)

15) Say Amin after making du’a.

16) Make du’a during the “prime-times” (From Dhur till Maghrib on the day of Arafah is primetime!)

Bonus tip: If you’re like me, you may get stuck when making du’a. An excellent tip given by our master Muhammad (upon him be peace) is to use the “filler du’a”. This “filler du’a” was actually what Muhammad (upon him be peace) and all of the Prophets made on the day of Arafat!

He said, “The best invocation is that of the Day of Arafat, and the best that anyone can say is what I and the Prophets before me have said:

Lā ‘ilāha ‘illallāhu

wahdahu lā shareeka lahu,

lahul-mulku wa lahul-hamdu

wa Huwa ‘alā kulli shay’in qadeer.

Translation:

None has the right to be worshipped but Allah

Alone, Who has no partner.

His is the dominion and His is the praise,

and He is Able to do all things. (Al-Tirmidhi)

To recap, here are 5 action items you and your family can perform on the day of Arafah.

1. Go over the following hadith with your family members.

“Allah frees far more people from Hellfire on the Day of Arafah than on any other day, and Allah comes closer this day and proudly says to the angels, ‘What do these people want and seek?’” (Sunan an-Nasa’i)

2. Say to your family members or whoever you have influence over,

“The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) made du’a on the day of Arafah from Dhur till Maghreb. How long do you think we can make du’a for on this day?”

3. Go over the 16 etiquettes mentioned in this post.

4. Challenge your family members to make a 10 minute du’a.

     Materials needed

  • Whiteboard
  • Markers
  • A Creative mind
  • Brainstorm with your family members what du’a you want to make and then write them on a whiteboard.

5. Whenever you get stuck and you can’t don’t know what du’a you want to make, make the “filler du’a” the Prophet (upon him be peace) made on the day of ‘Arafah.

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