Connect with us

Inspiration and Spirituality

Chill Out Like The Prophet: Tips For The Stressed Muslim Da’ee – Part I

Avatar

Published

on

Which deeds are most beloved to Allah?

Alhamdulillah, by the blessings of Allah (swt) and readers like yourself, MuslimMatters has been an independent platform for our best thought leaders to educate us in our faith and catalyze change through powerful, necessary conversations. Since our humble beginnings as a basic wordpress blog in 2007, our content has remained free.

The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support us with a monthly donation of $10 per month, or even as little as $1. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

Bismillah

Frazzled, short of time, in a hurry, with no time to talk – does that describe you? Whether you are a religious teacher, an administrator, khateeb, curriculum planner, halaqah leader, children’s program coordinator at the mosque, or a volunteer for any other da’wah-based good work that comes your way in the path of Allah; you might not realize that you are taking your work a tad bit too arduously, resulting in an impending but impairing burnout. When a person feels chronically tired, irritable and stressed, it is a sign that they need to slow down, be it corporate work, housework (for homemaking mothers/women in particular) or even sincere da’wah work.

Irritability, fatigue and lack of recreation is a wake-up call for a da’ee to realize that he or she is swerving away from the sunnah of Prophet Muhammad [صلی اللہ علیہ وسلم]. He had more roles to play on a communal and familial level than any of us, yet he knew how to strike the perfect balance in his life that enabled him to stay positive, cheerful, easygoing, focused (on both work and worship) and most of all, sporting a smiling countenance and a relaxed demeanor whenever anyone met him.

How did he do it? What did he do that kept him stress-free and relaxed?

gate

Hang out with friends outdoors; play games:

Narrated Abu Musa Al-Ashari: “I performed ablution in my house and then went out and said, “Today I shall stick to Allah’s Apostle and stay with him all this day of mine (in his service).”

I went to the Mosque and asked about the Prophet. They said, “He had gone in this direction.” So I followed his way, asking about him till he entered a place called Bir Aris. I sat at its gate that was made of date-palm leaves until the Prophet finished answering the call of nature and performed ablution. Then I went up to him to see him sitting at the well of Aris at the middle of its edge with his legs uncovered, hanging in the well. I greeted him, and went back and sat at the gate.

I said, “Today I will be the gatekeeper of the Prophet.”

Abu Bakr came and pushed the gate. I asked, “Who is it?” He said, “Abu Bakr.” I told him to wait, went in and said, “O Allah’s Apostle! Abu Bakr asks for permission to enter.” He said, “Admit him and give him the glad tidings that he will be in Paradise.” So I went out and said to Abu Bakr, “Come in, and Allah’s Apostle gives you the glad tidings that you will be in Paradise” Abu Bakr entered and sat on the right side of Allah’s Apostle on the built edge of the well and hung his legs n the well as the Prophet did and uncovered his legs.

I then returned and sat (at the gate). I had left my brother performing ablution and he intended to follow me. So I said (to myself). “If Allah wants good for so-and-so (i.e. my brother) He will bring him here.” Suddenly somebody moved the door. I asked, “Who is it?” He said, “‘Umar bin Al-Khattab.” I asked him to wait, went to Allah’s Apostle, greeted him and said, ‘Umar bin Al-Khattab asks the permission to enter.” He said, “Admit him, and give him the glad tidings that he will be in Paradise.” I went to “Umar and said “Come in, and Allah’s Apostle, gives you the glad tidings that you will be in Paradise.” So he entered and sat beside Allah’s Apostle on the built edge of the well on the left side and hung his legs in the well.

I returned and sat (at the gate) and said, (to myself), “If Allah wants good for so-and-so, He will bring him here.” Somebody came and moved the door. I asked “Who is it?” He replied, “Uthman bin Affan.” I asked him to wait, and went to the Prophet and informed him. He said, “Admit him, and give him the glad tidings of entering Paradise after a calamity that will befall him.” So I went up to him and said to him, “Come in; Allah’s Apostle gives you the glad tidings of entering Paradise after a calamity that will befall you.””

Uthman then came in and found that the built edge of the well was occupied, so he sat opposite to the Prophet on the other side.

Said bin Al-Musaiyab said, “I interpret this (narration) in terms of their graves.”

[Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 5, Book 57, Number 23]

The above narration is significant in many aspects, but the point for narrating it here, is to show how the Prophet [صلی اللہ علیہ وسلم] and his companions ‘hung out’ together in a casual way. None of them appears to be stressing about any urgent matter, or rushed for reaching somewhere. Notice the way they all stay in the state of ablution as a habit, and of the eagerness with which each companion sought the company of our beloved Prophet – and surprisingly – got it.

Why would the Prophet decide to sit on the wall of a well with this legs dangling inside? Didn’t he have important matters to attend to? Why would Abu Musa decide to dedicate a whole of his day to play the role of gatekeeper of the Prophet? Doesn’t this hadith make clear how all of them were adorably normal people, ones we can relate to now, centuries down the road?

As da’ee’s who should be eager to incorporate the sunnah into our lives, we must try to strike a balance so that we always have time in the week or the month to hang out like this with people whom we love for the sake of Allah.

Unfortunately, though, I sometimes come across colleagues at dinner parties or weddings, who use even these social gatherings as ‘strictly business’ or networking opportunities. Taking out their journals, planners or blackberries, they attempt to engage people they have met after a long time in future work opportunities. They do not realize that one of the signs of being a workaholic is not to be able to divorce yourself from your work even in places or situations that are intended to make you enjoy yourself and simply let go and have fun. Holding mini-work meetings at social get-togethers, and discussing nothing but work, work and work is not part of our Prophet’s sunnah.

Sport with little children (not just your own):

lunapic-father-n-son

The Prophet would not rebuke or scold children. He’d joke and play with them, and allow them their little quirks. He would allow the children to come close to him, touch him, sit in his lap, and he’d talk to them in a manner they’d be endeared to.

Anas Bin Malik narrated that, “The Prophet was the best amongst people in conduct and manners. I had a brother called Abu Umair and he was weaned at that time. When the Prophet would see him, he used to say, ‘Abu Umair! What has done the Nughair (an Arabian bird)?” [Sahih Muslim]

Notice the mention of the nughair in a way that rhymes with the child’s name!

Narrated Umm Khalid (the daughter of Khalid bin Said) “I went to Allah’s Apostle with my father and I was wearing a yellow shirt. Allah’s Apostle said, “Sanah, Sanah!” (‘Abdullah, the narrator, said that ‘Sanah’ meant ‘good’ in the Ethiopian language). I then started playing with the seal of Prophethood (in between the Prophet’s shoulders) and my father rebuked me harshly for that. Allah’s Apostle said. “Leave her,” and then Allah’s Apostle (invoked Allah to grant me a long life) by saying (thrice), “Wear this dress till it is worn out and then wear it till it is worn out, and then wear it till it is worn out.” (The narrator adds, “It is said that she lived for a long period, wearing that (yellow) dress till its color became dark because of long wear.”) [Sahih Bukhari, Volume 4, Book 52, Number 305]

As for those of us who dash out of the room the instant an infant or toddler does something in its diaper, the narration below should act as a reminder to increase our the level of tolerance for little children’s needs:

Narrated Lubabah daughter of al-Harith, “Hussain ibn Ali was (sitting) in the lap of the Apostle of Allah. He passed water [urinated] on him. I said, “Put on (other) clothes, and give me your wrapper to wash”. He said, “The urine of a female child should be washed (thoroughly) and the urine of a male child should be sprinkled over*.”” [Abu Dawud, Book 1, Number 0375]

*[Note: this ruling applies only if the child is still being breastfed]

Continue reading Part II of this post.

Sadaf Farooqi is a postgraduate in Computer Science who has done the Taleem Al-Quran Course from Al-Huda International, Institute of Islamic Education for Women, in Karachi, Pakistan.11 years on, she is now a homeschooling parent of three children, a blogger, published author and freelance writer. She has written articles regularly for Hiba Magazine, SISTERS Magazine and Saudi Gazette.Sadaf shares her life experiences and insights on her award-winning blog, Sadaf's Space, and intermittently teaches subjects such as Fiqh of Zakah, Aqeedah, Arabic Grammar, and Science of Hadith part-time at a local branch of Al-Huda. She has recently become a published author of a book titled 'Traversing the Highs and Lows of Muslim Marriage'.For most part, her Jihad bil Qalam involves juggling work around persistent power breakdowns and preventing six chubby little hands from her computer! Even though it may not seem so, most of her time is spent not in doing all this, but in what she loves most - reading.

14 Comments

14 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Amatullah

    August 17, 2009 at 11:08 PM

    Jazaaki Allahu khayran Sadaf! MashaAllah, your posts are always my favorite :) May Allah increase you in all that is good, Ameen.

    InshaAllah the next two days will be reserved for articles on da’ee burnout.

  2. Avatar

    kishwar

    August 18, 2009 at 3:47 AM

    assalam o alaikum sadaf,
    had been waiting for this article ever since u mentioned u were working on it…and it has been worth the wait…
    mashaAllah, a good topic and a good article on it…..it was much needed for all, tho i am not a daee like you but i understand the importance of this.

    keep it up sister…..ive got to comment on another post of urs too, i read that last night while my baby kept me awake……

    May Allah grant u enormous reward for the dawah ur doing……thru ur pen

    Thanks

  3. Avatar

    ummimaryam

    August 18, 2009 at 6:47 AM

    Mashaallah.Excellent post.Jazakumallahu khairaa sister.Looking forward to read the rest of it..

  4. Avatar

    hayat

    August 18, 2009 at 10:43 AM

    Machallha what a good reminder and best lesson my allha give you jenetul ferdos ya reb.
    keep up the best work and you will get your reward in akira

  5. Avatar

    Sista

    August 18, 2009 at 11:12 AM

    MashAllah, what a lovely reminder. =)

    I wanted to share this hadith:
    Rasul Allah (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) said: “Give due respect and regard to your children and decorate them with the best of manners.” [Abu Daud]

    Rasul Allah (sal Allahu alaihi wasallam) would be the first to give salaam to children as he would pass them, thereby teaching them Islamic manners with his own example. He (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) would have sweets and dates for them. Once the Prophet (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) was giving one of his grandsons a ride when somebody remarked, “What an excellent ride you have!” to his grandson. Rasul Allah (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) immediately drew attention to the child instead by saying, “Don’t you see what an excellent rider I have!” This was the nature of Rasul Allah (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam), that he would give love and importance to children.

  6. Avatar

    Ameera

    August 18, 2009 at 11:20 AM

    Jazakillah… how true it is that we all need to give ourselves periods of rest and not feel guilty about it. It’s strange how we pass through different periods of learning and awareness – not long ago, I was confused about the right way of spending my time. I observed a certain classmate, whose excellent conduct and love for Islam convinced me that everything she was doing was right. I tried to elulate her in how she spent her time – always busy studying, grabbing every moment she got in medical college – the five minutes between classes or while having her lunch – to open her textbook and memorize a paragraph.

    However, after trying to implement the same plan for myself, feeling its Islamically the only way to not waste time, I realized it just wasn’t right. I couldn’t keep up with it and I realized that all I was doing was study, study, study… people around me couldn’t engage me in a conversation ebcause I had my nose in my books. It took some time but I realized finally that a balance is required in everything we do and thinking that studying constantly is a way to minimize wastage of time, is actually not reasonable at all.

    I started noticing incident in the Sunnah like you’ve mentioned in this blog post, about relaxing and just “hanging out” together, getting a chance to catch up on each others’ lives, share anecdotes. This makes sense, Alhamdolillah… so goodbye boring studious Ameera and a hello to a more relaxed and easy-going student InshAllah. :)

  7. Avatar

    Sadaf

    August 18, 2009 at 11:55 AM

    Bismillah

    Jazaakunn Allahu Khairan sisters! May Allah grant us all the wisdom to become like the Prophet [صلی اللہ علیہ وسلم] in word and deed.
    I have noticed many, many da’ees swerving away from the “middle/moderate path” and towards workaholicism because of a lack of knowledge. May Allah grant us more and more knowledge of Deen.
    Ameen.

  8. Avatar

    Faiez

    August 18, 2009 at 11:52 PM

    JazakAllahu khayr for this article, some du’aat feel the need to be machines and only hurt themselves AND their da’wah by not chilling out. People don’t like being around someone who’s easily irritable and gives standard answers devoid of human personality and emotion.

  9. Avatar

    Mustafa

    August 19, 2009 at 4:57 AM

    Jazaakillahu khayran for this. Some things that struck me about this prophetic “chilling out”:

    * Simplicity – No fancy equipment required, no TV, no computer, just some water

    * Seclusion – There was a “gate” preventing the outside world from barging in. Turn your phones off!

    * Physically soothing environment – What’s more relaxing than being in the water?

    * Worthy companions – Not everyone is good to chill out with. Some just add to the stress!

    * Decompression – No intense mind games (crosswords, anyone?). No chatter. Only you and your thoughts. Sometimes it can be be Salah, but sometimes it can just be sitting there.

    Salallahu alaa Muhammad wa sallam

  10. Avatar

    Um e Abdullah

    June 27, 2010 at 10:16 AM

    Jazak Allah khair sadaf, i loved this and needed to read it as i think i’ve been doing just this…….heading for a burnout……i wish we could be as realxed as the Prophet (saw) and as positive and still get so much done in our lifetime. ameen

    • Avatar

      Aziza

      June 1, 2011 at 12:13 PM

      Ameen :)

  11. Avatar

    Massoud V.

    June 1, 2011 at 11:15 PM

    It was narrated from ‘Ali, that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said concerning the urine of a nursing infant: “Water should be sprinkled over the urine of a boy, and the urine of a girl should be washed.”

    [Sunan Ibn Majah (#525), Sunan Abu Dawud (#378) (Sahih-Ali Za’i) . . . and others. It is classed as ‘Hasan (Sahih)’ by At-Tirmidhi (#610) (Sahih-Ali Za’i), and Sahih by Ibn Khuzaimah (#283 and #284), Ibn Hibban (#247), Al-Hakim (1/165 and 166) and Adh-Dhahabi concurred]

    According to Zubair Ali Za’i, the Hadith is Hasan due to the virtue of its many witnesses. As for Al-Albani, he graded it as Sahih.

    It should be noted, however, that the Hadith itself is possessive of a weak chain due to Qatadah’s Ana’nah (see Zubair Ali Za’i’s comments), however the Hadith’s many Shawahid (witnesses) raise its status . . .

    And Allah knows best.

  12. Avatar

    laraib

    November 29, 2012 at 2:41 AM

    Asalam o Alikum sadaf your posts are really informative iam also a beginner blogger and i want your permission to copy this post for my blog as my blog is about “mental health”?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

#Islam

He Catches Me When I Fall: A Journey To Tawakkul

Merium Khan, Guest Contributor

Published

on

Tawakkul- a leaf falling
Which deeds are most beloved to Allah?

Alhamdulillah, by the blessings of Allah (swt) and readers like yourself, MuslimMatters has been an independent platform for our best thought leaders to educate us in our faith and catalyze change through powerful, necessary conversations. Since our humble beginnings as a basic wordpress blog in 2007, our content has remained free.

The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support us with a monthly donation of $10 per month, or even as little as $1. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

While discussing an emotionally-heavy issue, my therapist brought up the point that in life we can reach a point of acceptance in regards to our difficult issues: “It sounds cliche, but there’s no other way to say it: it is what it is.”

Okay, I thought, as I listened. Acceptance. Yes, I can do this eventually. She went on to add: “It is what it is, and I know that everything will be okay.””

Tears had already been flowing, but by this point, full-blown sobs started. “I…can’t….seem…to ever…believe that.” There. I had said it. I had faked being confident and accepting, even to myself. I had faked the whole, “I have these health problems, but I am so together” type of vibe that I had been putting out for years.

Maybe it was the hormones of a third pregnancy, confronting the realities of life with multiple chronic diseases, family problems, or perhaps a midlife crisis: but at that moment, I did not feel deep in my heart with true conviction that everything would be okay.

That conversation led me to reflect on the concept of tawakkul in the following weeks and months. What did it mean to have true trust in Allah? And why was it that for years I smiled and said, “Alhamdulillah, I’m coping just fine!” when in reality, the harsh truth was that I felt like I had not an ounce of tawakkul?

I had led myself to believe that denying my grief and slapping a smile on was tawakkul. I was being outwardly cheerful — I even made jokes about my life with Multiple Sclerosis — and I liked to think I was functioning all right. Until I wasn’t.

You see, the body doesn’t lie. You can tell all the lies you want to with your tongue, but after some time, the body will let you know that it’s holding oceans of grief, unshed tears, and unhealed traumas. And that period of my life is a tale for another time.

The short story is that things came to a head and I suddenly felt utterly overwhelmed and terrified daily about my future with a potentially disabling disease, while being diagnosed with a second major chronic illness, all while caring for a newborn along with my other children. Panic attacks and severe anxiety ensued. When I realized that I didn’t have true tawakkul, I had to reflect and find my way again.

I thought about Yaqub (Jacob). I thought long and hard about his grief: “Yaa asafaa ‘alaa Yusuf!” “Oh, how great is my grief for Joseph!”

He wept until he was blind. And yet, he constantly asserted, “Wallahul-Musta’aan”: “Allah is the one whose help is sought.” And he believed.

Oh, how did he believe. His sons laughed and called him an old fool for grieving over a son lost for decades. He then lost another dear son, Binyamin. And yet he said, “Perhaps it will be that my Lord will bring them to me altogether.”

There is no sin in grief Click To Tweet

So my first realization was that there was no sin in the grief. I could indeed trust Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) while feeling a sorrow so profound that it ripped me apart at times. “The heart grieves and the eyes weep, but the tongue does not say that except which pleases its Lord. Oh, Ibrahim, we are gravely saddened by your passing.” These are the words of our Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) for a lost infant son, said with tears pouring down his blessed face, ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him).

I thought of the Year of Grief, Aamul-Huzn, when he, Allah’s peace be upon him, lost the woman who was the love of his life and the mother of his children; as well as an uncle who was like a father. The year was named after his grief! And here I was denying myself this human emotion because it somehow felt like a betrayal of true sabr?

Tawakkul, tawakkul, where are you? I searched for how I could feel it, truly feel it.Click To Tweet

Through years of introspection and then therapy, I realized that I had a personality that centered around control. I expressed this in various ways from trying to manage my siblings (curse of the firstborn), to trying to manage my childbirth and health. If I only did the “right” things, then I could have the perfect, “natural” birth and the perfect picture of health.

When I was diagnosed with a chronic disease, these illusions started to crack. And yet even then, I thought that if I did the right things, took the right supplements and alternative remedies and medications, that I wouldn’t have trouble with my MS.

See, when you think you control things and you attempt to micromanage everything, you’ve already lost tawakkul. You’ve taken the role of controlling the outcome upon yourself when in reality, your Lord is in control. It took a difficult time when I felt I was spiraling out of control for me to truly realize that I was not the master of my outcomes. Certainly, I would “tie my camel” and take my precautions, but then it was a matter of letting go.

At some point, I envisioned my experience of tawakkul as a free-fall. You know those trust exercises that you do at summer camps or company retreats? You fall back into the arms of someone and relinquish any control over your muscles. You are supposed to be limp and fully trust your partner to catch you.

I did this once with a youth group. After they fell–some gracefully and trusting, some not — I told them: “This is the example of tawakkul. Some of you didn’t trust and you tried to break your fall but some of you completely let go and let your partner catch you. Life will throw you down, it will hit you over and over, and you will fall–but He, subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He), will be there to break your fall.”

I am falling. There is a degree of terror and sadness in the fall. But that point when through the pain and tears I can say, “It is what it is, and no matter what, everything will be okay”, that right there is the tranquility that comes from tawakkul.

Continue Reading

#Islam

The Day I Die | Imam Omar Suleiman

Imam Omar Suleiman

Published

on

Janazah, funeral, legacy, Omar Suleiman, Edhi
Which deeds are most beloved to Allah?

Alhamdulillah, by the blessings of Allah (swt) and readers like yourself, MuslimMatters has been an independent platform for our best thought leaders to educate us in our faith and catalyze change through powerful, necessary conversations. Since our humble beginnings as a basic wordpress blog in 2007, our content has remained free.

The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support us with a monthly donation of $10 per month, or even as little as $1. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

Imam Ahmad Ibn Hanbal (may Allah be pleased with him) in the midst of the torture he endured at the hands of his oppressors used to say: baynana wa baynahum aljanaa’iz, which means, “the difference between us and them will show in our funerals.” The man who instigated the ideological deviation that led to his torture was an appointed judge named Ahmad Ibn Abi Du’ad. At the moment of Imam Ahmad Ibn Hanbal making those remarks, it appeared Imam Ahmad would die disgraced in a dungeon but Ahmad Ibn Abi Du’ad would have a state funeral with thousands of mourners. Instead, Imam Ahmad persevered through his struggle, was embraced by the people, and honored by Allah with the biggest Janazah ever known to the Arabs with millions of people pouring in from all over. Ahmad Ibn Abu Du’ad was cast aside and buried without anyone attending his janazah out of revulsion.

Now sometimes righteous people do die in isolation, and wicked people are given grand exits. There are people like Uthman Ibn Affan (may Allah be pleased with him) who was murdered by the people of fitnah, then buried at night far away from the people out of fear of the large numbers that would’ve poured out to his janazah and potentially mobilized against his oppressors. But it may be that Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) inspired Imam Ahmad with the vision to see his victory in this life before the next. To elaborate a bit on his statement though, allow me to reflect:

A wise man once said to me,

“Always put your funeral in front of you, and work backwards in constructing your life accordingly.” 

With the deaths of righteous people, that advice always advances to the front of my thoughts. When a person passes away, typically only good things will be said of them. But it’s important to pay attention to 2 aspects about those good things being said:

1. Is there congruence in the particular good quality being attested to about the deceased.

2. Are those good qualities being attested to actually truly of the deceased. 

The first one deals with consistency of character, the second one with sincerity of intention which is only known by the Creator and His servant. In regards to the first one, take our sister Hodan Nalayeh (may Allah have mercy on her) who was murdered tragically last week in a terrorist attack in Somalia. Everyone that spoke of her said practically the same thing about how she interacted with them and/or benefitted them. There is complete harmony with all of the testimonies about her. And in that case we all become the witnesses of our sister on the day of judgment, testifying to her good character.

For many that pass away, neither the deceased nor the community fully appreciates the way they benefitted others until that day. It was narrated that when Zainul Abideen Ali Ibn Al Husayn (may Allah be pleased with them), the great grandson of the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) passed away, he had marks on his shoulders from the bags he used to carry to the doorsteps of the poor at night when no one else was watching. The narrations state that the people of Madinah used to live off his charity not knowing the source of it until his death.

How many people will miss you when you die because of the joy you brought to their lives? How many of those that you comforted when they were abandoned by others? That you spent on when they were deprived by others? That you advocated for when they were oppressed by others? 

Will your family miss you because of an empty bed in the home or a deep void in their hearts? Will it be the loss of your spending only that grieves them, or the loss of your smile? Will it be the loss of the stability you provided them only, or the loss of your service and sacrifices for them?

But Zainul Abideen didn’t care for the recipients of his charity to know that he was the source of it, because He was fully in tune with it’s true Divine source. He didn’t want to be thanked in this world, but in the next. He didn’t want the eulogy, he wanted Eternity. 

He understood that if you become distracted by the allure of this world, you may merely become of it. Focus on bettering the future which you cannot escape, rather than the present that you cannot dictate. Focus on the interview with the One who needs no resume, rather than the judgments of those who are just as disposable as you. 

اللَّهُمَّ اجْعَلْ خَيْرَ زَمَانِيْ آخِرَهُ، وَخَيْرَ عَمَلِيْ خَوَاتِمَهُ، وَخَيْرَ أَيَّامِيْ يِوْمَ أَلقَاكَ

“O Allah, let the best of my lifetime be its ending, and my best deed be that which I seal [my life with], and the best of my days the day I meet You.”

Which brings us to the second aspect of your funeral, the sincerity of the good you’re being praised for. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “increase your remembrance of the destroyer of pleasures.” Death only destroys the temporary pleasures of this world, not the pleasure of the Most Merciful in the next. Keeping that in perspective will help you work towards that without being distracted. If it is the praise of the people you seek, that is as temporary as the world that occupies both your worldly vehicle ie. your body, and your companions in this world who shall perish soon after you.

The Prophet (peace be upon him) mentioned the one who passes away with the people lavishing praise on him that he is unworthy of. In a narration in Al Tirmidhi, the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “No one dies and they stand over him crying and saying: ‘Oh what a great man he was! Oh how honored he was!’ except that two angels are appointed for him to poke him and say: Is that really you?”

But if it is Allah’s praise that you sought all along, the deeds that you put forth shall await you in your grave in the form of heavenly ornaments. Those that were known to the community, those that were known to only a select few, and those that were known by no one but Allah and you.

May Allah give us all a good ending, and an even better eternity.

Continue Reading

#Islam

The Spirituality Of Gratitude

Shaykh Tarik Ata

Published

on

Gratitude
Which deeds are most beloved to Allah?

Alhamdulillah, by the blessings of Allah (swt) and readers like yourself, MuslimMatters has been an independent platform for our best thought leaders to educate us in our faith and catalyze change through powerful, necessary conversations. Since our humble beginnings as a basic wordpress blog in 2007, our content has remained free.

The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support us with a monthly donation of $10 per month, or even as little as $1. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

The Quran tells the reader of the importance of gratitude in two ways. First, worship, which is the essence of the relationship between man and the Creator, is conditional to gratitude “and be grateful to Allah if it is [indeed] Him that you worship” (2:172). The verse suggests that in order for an individual to truly worship Allah then they must express gratitude to Allah and that an ungrateful individual cannot be a worshiper of Allah. The second verse states the following “And be grateful to Me and do not deny Me” (2:152). The Arabic word used, translated here as ‘deny,’ is kufr which linguistically means to cover up. The word was adopted by the Quran to refer to someone who rejects Allah after learning of Him. Both the linguistic and Quranic definitions are possibly meant in this verse and both arrive at the same conclusion. That is, the absence of gratitude is an indicator of one’s rejection of Allah; the question is how and why?

What Does Shukr Mean?

Understanding a Quranic concept begins with understanding the word chosen by the Quran. The word shukr is used throughout the Quran and is commonly translated as gratitude. From a purely linguistic definition, shukr is “the effect food has on the body of an animal” (Ibn Qayyim v. 2 p. 200). What is meant here is that when an animal eats food it becomes heavier which has a clear and visible effect on the animal. Therefore, shukr is the manifestation of a blessing or blessings on the entirety of a person. From here, spiritualists understood the goal of shukr and added an extra element to the definition and that is the acknowledgment that those blessings are from Allah. Thus, the definition of shukr as an Islamic spiritual concept is “the manifestation of Allah’s blessings verbally through praise and acknowledgment; emotionally on the heart through witnessing the blessings and loving Allah; and physically through submission and servitude” (Ibid).

Based on this definition, the goal of shukr can be broken into five categories. First, gratitude that brings about the submission of the individual to his benefactor. In order for an act to be worthy of gratitude, the beneficiary must conclude that the benefactor’s action was done for the sake of the beneficiary – thus making the benefactor benevolent. In other words, the benefactor is not benefiting in the least (Emmons et al 2004 p. 62). When the individual recognizes his benefactor, Allah, as being completely independent of the individual and perfect in of himself, one concludes that the actions of the benefactor are purely in the best interest of the beneficiary resulting in the building of trust in Allah. The Quran utilizes this point multiple times explicitly stating that Allah has nothing to gain from the creations servitude nor does he lose anything from because of their disobedience (Q 2:255, 4:133, 35:15, 47:38). Through shukr, a person’s spirituality increases by recognizing Allah’s perfection and their own imperfection thus building the feeling of need for Allah and trust in him (Emmons et al 2002 p. 463).

Gratitude in Knowing That Allah Loves Us

The second category is love for the benefactor. Similar to the previous category, by identifying the motive of the benefactor one can better appreciate their favors. “Gratitude is fundamentally a moral affect with empathy at its foundation: In order to acknowledge the cost of the gift, the recipient must identity with the psychological state of the one who has provided it” (Emmons 2002 p. 461).[1] That is, by recognizing Allah’s perfection one concludes that his blessings are entirely in the best interest of the beneficiary despite not bringing any return to Him. Thus, the Quran utilizes this concept repeatedly and to list a few, the Quran reminds the human reader that he created the human species directly with his two hands (38:75), he created them in the best physical and mental form (95:4), gave him nobility (17:70), commanded the angels to prostrate to him out of reverence (38:72-3), made him unique by giving him knowledge and language (2:31), exiled Satan who refused to revere him (7:13), allowed him into Paradise (7:19), forgave his mistake (2:37), designated angels to protect each individual (13:11) and supplicate Allah to forgive the believers (40:7-9), created an entire world that caters to his needs (2:29), among plenty of other blessings which express Allah’s love, care, and compassion of the human.

The remaining three categories revolve around the individual acting upon their gratitude by acknowledging them, praising Allah for them and using them in a manner acceptable to Allah. In order for gratitude to play a role in spirituality the blessings one enjoys must be utilized in a manner that connects them with Allah. Initially, one must acknowledge that all blessings are from him thus establishing a connection between the self and Allah. This is then elevated to where the individual views these blessings as more than inanimate objects but entities that serve a purpose. By doing this one begins to see and appreciate the wisdoms behind these created entities enlightening the individual to the Creators abilities and qualities. Finally, after recognizing the general and specific wisdoms behind each creation, one feels a greater sense of purpose, responsibility, and loyalty. That is, engaging the previous five categories establishes love for the benefactor (Ibn Qayyim v. 2 p. 203). Observing the care and compassion of the benefactor for his creation establishes the feeling of loyalty towards the one who has cared for us as well as responsibility since He created everything with purpose.

Blessings Even in Hardship

One may interject by referring to the many individuals and societies that are plagued with hardships and do not have blessings to appreciate. No doubt this is a reality and the Quran address this indirectly. Upon analysis, one finds that the blessings which the Quran references and encourages the reader to appreciate are not wealth or health; rather, it is the sun, the moon, trees, and the natural world in general. Perhaps the reason for this is what shukr seeks to drive us towards. There are two things all these objects have in common (1) they are gifts given by Allah to all humans and all individuals enjoy them and (2) humans are dependent upon them. Everyone has access to the sun, no one can take it away, and we are critically dependent upon it. When the Quran draws our attention to these blessings, the reader should begin to appreciate the natural world at a different level and Surah an Nahl does precisely that. This chapter was likely revealed during the time of hijrah (immigration); a time when the companions lost everything – their homes, wealth, and tribes. The chapter works to counsel them by teaching them that the true blessings a person enjoys is all around them and no matter how much was taken from them, no one can take away the greater blessings of Allah.

In sum, these verses bring light to the crucial role shukr plays in faith. It serves as a means to better know Allah which can be achieved through a series of phases. First, the individual must search for the blessings which then leads to a shift in perspective from focusing on the wants to focusing on what is available. This leads to greater appreciation and recognition of the positives in one’s life allowing the person more optimism. Second, the person must link those blessings to the benefactor – Allah – which reveals many elements of who He is and His concern for His creation. Once this is internalized in the person’s hearts, its benefits begin to manifest itself on the person’s heart, mind, and body; it manifests itself in the form of love for Allah and submission to him. Shukr ultimately reveals the extent of Allah’s love and concern for the individual which therein strengthens the trust and love of the individual for Allah and ultimately their submission to Him.

Allah knows best.

Emmons, Robert A., and Charles M. Shelton. “Gratitude and the science of positive psychology.” Handbook of positive psychology 18 (2002): 459-471.

Emmons, Robert A., and Michael E. McCullough, eds. The psychology of gratitude. Oxford University Press, 2004.

Jawziyyah, Ibn Qayyim. madārij al-sālikīn bayn manāzil iyyāka naʿbud wa iyyāka nastaʿīn مدارج السالكين بين منازل إياك نعبد وإياك نستعين [The Levels of Spirituality between the Dynamics of “It is You Alone we Worship and it is You Alone we Seek Help From]. Cario: Hadith Publications, 2005.

[1] Islamically speaking, it is not befitting to claim that Allah has a psyche or that he can be analyzed psychologically.

Download a longer version of this article here: The Sprituality of Gratitude

Continue Reading

Trending