Connect with us

Development

Emotional Detox During Ramadan

Avatar

Published

on

As you are in the midst of the last days of Ramadan you need to make sure that you are completely cleansed in every aspect.  Many of you have prayed long rakats sincerely asking  for forgiveness,  read Quran while shedding many tears and engaged in many acts of charity feeling renewed.  The one area that you may have overlooked is your emotional baggage. Many times you are so consumed with worship and acts of charity that it is easy to overlook your emotional issues.  So what is so important in dealing with them?  As long as you just fast, pray, read Quran & give sadaqah (charity) it’s enough right?  WRONG.
As a psychologist I recognize that your  emotional and psychological states have a huge impact on your spiritual well-being.  If you are depressed, anxious, holding a grudge or feeling jealous then you will be in an emotional turmoil – your focus and attention will shift toward your problem and you will not be wholeheartedly attentive to your acts of worship, only your issues.  In order to free yourself from the toxins of the emotional  hazards you need to  do an EMOTIONAL DETOX to rid yourself of all harmful and potentially deadly baggage.  Think of it as spring cleaning of your mind and heart before completing Ramadan.

brain

TOXIN # 1    HOLDING A GRUDGE

Is there someone in your life that has hurt you, lied to you, cheated on you or abused  you  and you are holding a grudge?  Are you angry and feeling depressed because of it?  Whenever you are in some way oppressed you have the choice to either play the victim role and feel sorry for yourself or you can accept it and move on.  Grudges are like heavy suitcases you carry with you everywhere you go, weighing you down.  Learn to let go and liberate yourself.

No matter how negligent you have been, how selfish or decadent you have lived your life there is always hope in making a change. First forgive yourself of past mistakes- there is no limit to Allah’s forgiveness- the door of repentance is always open.

Hadith Qudsi : “O son of Adam, were your sins to reach the clouds of the sky and were you then to ask forgiveness of Me, I would forgive you” (Al-Tirmidhi)

Forgive your parents, your spouse, your siblings and anyone else who has ever oppressed you.  Instead of being angry at people, realize that there is divine wisdom in everything that happens. It is the difficult tests in your life that shape you and make you a stronger person.  Embrace your past and your present so that you can truly liberate yourself.

Whoever suffers an injury and forgives , God will raise his status to a higher degree and removes one of his sins” (Al-Tirmidhi).

It is like a wrestling match with your nafs (ego) – fighting the evil within to purify  your hearts.  Overcome your innate desire to hold a grudge.  The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) inspired us with this practice when he said to his followers:

“God had ordered me to maintain ties with those who sever ties with me to give to those who deprive me and to forgive those who oppress me.”

The Prophet and his companions went beyond altruism.  They had immeasurable generosity towards people who had tortured them and they were forgiving and merciful to the worst oppressors.  The essence of true forgiveness is to forget.  Not bringing up the past mistakes of others is one of the most dignified and mature things you can do.

hand

Think about the man who was promised paradise because he forgave everyone before he slept – how easy is that?  It doesn’t cost anything and it doesn’t take any effort.  You only need to make a decision to forgive.

TOXIN # 2  ANGER

Anger is a natural human emotion which can motivate you to take action.  If anger is not channeled properly  it can be the leading cause of health & psychological problems, violence and even divorce.  Learn how to control your anger  or else it will control you.

The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said, “The strong is not the one who overcomes the people by his strength, but the one who controls himself while in anger.” (Bukhari).

Several things are attributed to overcoming anger.  When you accept  your destiny and truly realize that everything that is happening to you right now is the best for you, then you will gain more control over your anger.  Another very important ingredient to overcoming anger is having emotional leadership and acting like an adult at all times.  It is critical to take ownership of your feelings and stop blaming others.  You are the only person who has the power to decide whether you will be angry or not.  If you have a long list of buttons that people can easily press – DEACTIVATE YOUR BUTTONS. Don’t show sensitivity so that people will stop pressing your buttons.

 

When the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) was asked for  advice he said Don’t get angry – he was asked a second and third time and he repeated don’t get angry.  The reason he put so much emphasis on not getting angry is because anger leads to many problems and sins.  When a person gets angry they can hurt other peoples’ feelings, gossip, physically hurt others or take part in other destructive behavior.  The best way to prevent anger is to take time out, do deep breathing, make positive affirmations while doing istaghfar (asking for forgiveness).

TOXIN # 3 ANXIETY

The danger of having anxiety is that it consumes you and makes you feel overwhelmed.  When a person is feeling overwhelmed they no longer can focus, feel at peace or have trust in their heart.  This can really effect peoples’ faith and their productivity.  Many times people feel immobilized when they are overcome with anxiety.
Most people live in the remorse of the past or the fear of future which creates an excessive amount of anxiety.  The only way to prevent the anxiety is to live in the here and now.  If you are focused on the present without worrying about the past or future then and only then can you start living a fulfilling and meaningful life.  In order to achieve this you really have to believe that Allah is al-Hakeem (the most wise).  Everything He does is for a reason and if you trust Allah and accept your destiny then you will have no anxiety.  Take control of what you are saying to yourself because your self-talk can either help you to attain peace or lead you to massive anxiety.  Instead of saying, “ Oh no, I don’t know what is going to happen to me”  say:  “I know that everything will work out for the best and I will be able to cope with whatever happens inshaAllah.”

I have had clients with extreme anxiety disorder and individuals who have had nervous breakdowns who have learned how to cope with their anxiety in order to live a peaceful  lives. As the saying goes:  it’s all in your head -so if you think you are going to lose it you will and if you think you will be in control and remain calm you will be equipped to deal with the worst catastrophes.  The best way to ease your heart is to seek Allah’s help in prayer to help you be patient.

pray

And seek help through patience and prayer, and indeed, it is difficult except for the humbly submissive [to Allah] Surat al Baqara 2:45

TOXIN # 4 DEPRESSION

Usually people are depressed because things did not work out the way they had planned.  They feel somehow hopeless or helpless for not having control over their lives.  When a person experiences depression they are overwhelmed with grief, hopelessness and apathy. They are incapable of doing anything for themselves and they no longer can contribute to society.  The depression takes complete control over the persons’ life and they can’t be productive in any way.

Majority of my clients suffer from depression and the way I help them overcome it is by focusing on the many blessings they have and increasing their daily gratitude.  As they become more grateful I teach them to accept their circumstances.  No matter how difficult the situation, I tell them that it is a test that they have to accept in order to pass.

Some of the best ways to combat depression is to push yourself to take part in activities even if you don’t feel like it.  Get together with friends, exercise daily and attend classes.  This way you can ensure that you will avoid the downward spiral of depression.  The quickest way to overcome depression is to help those in need.  The more you are involved in tending to the needs of the less fortunate the more you will feel gratitude for your life.

TOXIN # 5  PESSIMISM

If you choose to look at life with pessimism it will prevent you from appreciating all the blessings that you have and make you a chronic complainer which will in essence make you and everyone around you miserable.  When you are pessimistic you will search for what is wrong in everything and everyone, you will lose all hope and lack enthusiasm for the future.  A believer can only be optimistic because they believe in the power of their creator and they are certain that everything that happens is for the best.  They don’t question the past or the present because they know that the Most Wise would not have them suffer in vain.  Always search for what is good about your situation and reframe to look for the wisdom in each event.

shutterstock_87326206

The Messenger of Allah ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him): “How wonderful is the affair of the believer, for his affairs are all good, and this applies to no one but the believer. If something good happens to him, he is thankful for it and that is good for him. If something bad happens to him, he bears it with patience and that is good for him.” (Narrated by Muslim, 2999).

TOXIN # 6 JEALOUSY

When you feel jealous it is like fire inside your heart that prevents you from being peaceful or content.  The problem of jealousy arises when you start comparing yourself to others.  This comparison can leave you feeling inadequate, unattractive, poor, unfortunate and miserable.   Anyone who feels jealousy does not understand the concept of predestination (qadr).   Allah is the one who distributes wealth, health, status & everything else; therefore, if you feel jealous wishing you had what another person has or wanting to look like someone else, then you are implying that you know more than Allah (authobillah).  No one would have the audacity to question Allah, but if you constantly complain & think it’s not fair then you are doing just that.

Jealousy is a disease of the heart that needs to be overcome.  Focus on the many blessings that you already have and stop comparing yourself to others.  The only people you should be comparing yourself to are the ones who are worse off so you can fill your heart with constant gratitude.

And [remember] when your Lord proclaimed, ‘If you are grateful, I will surely increase you [in favor]; but if you deny, indeed, My punishment is severe.’ ” Ibrahim 14:7

gratitude

Realize that every blessing is a test.  If there is something you don’t have then it is a form of mercy.  Start showing gratitude for all the things you don’t have because if you had them you could have gone astray.

TOXIN # 7 LOW SELF-ESTEEM

Low self-esteem can effect your life tremendously.  If you don’t feel good about yourself you will feel depressed and you will not be able to achieve your goals.  Sometimes you can be your own worst critic.  Try to minimize destructive thinking.   People talk to themselves 600 words a minute which 85% is negative.   Give your thoughts a makeover.  Start thinking positively and surround yourself with positive people.  Provide yourself with opportunities to have small accomplishments and celebrate your successes.

TOXIN # 8 BEING JUDGMENTAL

Being judgmental of others is the quickest way to push them away and create distance.  Each time you look at a person with judgmental eyes evaluating their level of commitment, their clothes, the way they choose to wear the hijab or the activities they take part in you create a barrier.  The person being judged will feel extremely rejected and they will have very negative emotions towards you and Islam.  The only way you can be an effective representative of Islam is by being accepting and non-judgmental.  Don’t look for spiritual clones of yourself & label others as losers.  Try your best to be accepting and tolerant of all people.

Unfortunately, the more religious people become the more critical and  judgmental they become.  It is really a shame if you start feeling arrogant because you are more religious than someone else.  This is only from the mercy of Allah that you are on the right path and He could take you off that path in an instant if you continue to look down on others and turn them away from Islam with your harsh, judgmental style.

hands

TOXIN # 9 TOXIC RELATIONS

There are certain people you may be in contact with which are toxic for your life.  These individuals may be pessimistic, heedless or completely oblivious to their purpose in life.  As you spend time with individuals like this you will be effected by their poison and slowly but surely you will be completely infected.  Try to avoid them if you can or limit your time with them.  Counterbalance the negative effect by spending time with highly positive and committed people.  If the toxic people in your life are your family members try to understand the wisdom in having them in your life and limit your time with them as much as you can without offending them.

TOXIN # 10 HATRED

If you have hatred in your heart it is best to cleanse yourself from it this Ramadan. Harboring feelings of hatred releases poisons, kills your spirit & makes you cynical.  Understand the reasons behind your hatred and try your best to overcome it by accepting your destiny and trusting in Allah’s plan.  Remember that when the hating ends the healing begins.  Fill your heart with love and make supplications for the people you dislike in order to soften your heart and earn rewards.

heart

Make it your goal this Ramadan to rid yourself of all the toxins by doing the emotional detox so that your heart will be fully cleansed and ready for the rest of the year.  If you put forth the effort in ridding yourself of one toxin at a time you will improve your overall spiritual and emotional state while enhancing your relationships with others insha’Allah.

 

 

Haleh Banani has a Master degree in Clinical Psychology with 20 years of experience working with couples and individuals. She was a featured expert on Al-Jazeera international, Huda TV, Islamic Open University, Mercy Mission and Bayinnah TV. Haleh is an instructor for Ilmflix and Qalam Institute. She is an international speaker and writer.

16 Comments

16 Comments

  1. Avatar

    A

    August 4, 2013 at 4:04 PM

    Subhanallah. I have all of these…. Jazakallahu khair for writing….

    • Avatar

      A

      August 4, 2013 at 4:19 PM

      I don’t know how to let go of grudges…I keep walls up because I feel if I let them down or let go of the grudges, those people will hurt me again (pessimism)…can you advise please?

      • Avatar

        Re:A and B

        August 5, 2013 at 1:49 PM

        walls are good, but in time they evolve and continue to grow bigger and bigger. what you should do is forget about their past mistakes, and do what is right. Try not to get in situations in which previously they deceived you. And if they do hurt you again, punch ’em, and punch ’em really hard.

  2. Avatar

    Berserk Hijabi

    August 4, 2013 at 10:20 PM

    I have to agree with A. Alhamdlillah I am young and the only problem I have is a grudge which I am slowly learning to let go of,but like this commenter said I have this fear that if I do I am giving this persons he chance to take advantage of me,cut me down and bully me again.

    • Avatar

      Re:A and B

      August 5, 2013 at 1:44 PM

      you should punch that person in the face, and if he/she is still bullying you punch him/her again. Btw, it is better to forgive but if you can not you can take revenge if you want. Allah doesn’t like people who doesn’t stand or speak against oppression.

      • Avatar

        m

        June 18, 2015 at 10:51 AM

        I’m not sure if your trying to be funny or give advice. What ever it is, its really ignorant. if someone continuosly hurts you, why are they still in your life? Or better yet, some self reflection… are you too sensitive? are you setting yourself up for expectations of other people that they themselves have not given you reason to expect?

        have an open and honest conversation… don’t set yourself up for dissapointment. The choice is yours.

  3. Avatar

    iMuslim

    August 4, 2013 at 11:39 PM

    It’s very sad that I am afflicted with many of the diseases listed. But alhamdulillah one of them that has been made easier for me is jealousy.

    In one of Sh Yasir Qadhi’s recent Ramadan videos he mentioned a Sunnah dua to say whenever you feel the sting of jealousy: “masha’Allah, barakAllahu lak, la hawla wa la quwwata illa billah”.

    It means that you acknowledge that Allah is the One who granted the person their gift; you pray that He blesses them with more; finally, you remind yourself that all matters and power to change them are under Allah’s control alone.

    Not only is this incredibly therapeutic, but because it is a dua you are making for your brother or sister, the angel will say “ameen and for you also”, so you are in effect also making dua for yourself!

    It has really helped me as before, not only was I burdened with jealousy, but then I was burdened with the guilt of being such a horribly jealous person! Instead I now turn to Allah immediately and shut the door to both crippling emotions insha’Allah.

    Now I just have to work on the rest of my demons… :/

  4. Avatar

    Nadia Shah

    August 6, 2013 at 2:08 AM

    Very well written. I agree with everything and wish more people would try to deal w/these issues before they consume their life. Although there should be a disclaimer with depression: there are some that may need medication in conjunction w/therapy to deal with major depression.

  5. Avatar

    M. Aslam

    August 6, 2013 at 5:00 AM

    Subhan Allah. I have all of these…. Jazakallahu khair for writing…. You post is very informative and very useful….

  6. Avatar

    Fatima Ariadne

    August 6, 2013 at 8:28 AM

    Thank you for this article. But now in this time the definition of extremism itself has shifted. In the time of Prophet, extremism is exaggeration in practicing religions, but now those who are against the Western imperialism in Muslim lands are deemed “extremists” by mainstream Western media.

    Agree too that now Muslims are greatly divided because of extreme polarity of love/hatred. It’s sad really when a muslim treat his brothers and sisters with vile namecallings, “may you burn in hell” or such just because they don’t share the same view.

  7. Avatar

    Fatima Ariadne

    August 6, 2013 at 8:37 AM

    Subhanallah :O my bad. I apologize for comment above in the wrong place :O. I open multiple windows tabs and there goes the mistake….

    thank you for this article. The list are sooo spot on, but may I add a little that a lot of heart diseases came from too much attachment to dunya or past pain. Letting go of grudges or forgiving is about giving yourself permission to release the past, release yourself from the victim mentality, and to accept that Allah arranges yourself to cross path with certain things, places, and people so they could exchange some lessons with you.

  8. Avatar

    Tahir Farooqui

    August 12, 2013 at 12:28 AM

    A wondreading article I have every read.. Subhanallah.

    A document every one should read it, reflect it on every point, pray to Allah Swt, offer 2 rakaat taubah & Saltul Hajaat and then practice the same inshaAllah.. You shall starting loving your life, your parents and family inshaAllah.

    May Allah Swt guide us on a right path, forgive our sins and make us a valubale asset for the Ummah ameen.

    Jazakallah khair and thank you very much to the writer and the muslimmatters.

    Wassalamu Alaikum,
    tahir farooqui

  9. Avatar

    Laila Ali

    August 12, 2013 at 5:31 AM

    I agree with Mrs. Banani’s views and studies except for toxic relations. She did not support this with any Hadith. Our religion teaches to get closer to a person who is moving away from us. We are expected to maintain relations and not break the ties. We are not supposed to not talk to a person for more than three days. Islam teaches on bringing people together not getting away from them. Imagine if you have a toxic person as a spouse, then what is the option. If any of the options that Mrs. Banani suggested are implemented then it is against Islam and will lead to divorce.

    • Avatar

      m

      June 18, 2015 at 10:55 AM

      I believe her view of “toxic people” is very well informed. Something does not become toxic overnight, it is not toxic in one altercation.. toxic people are usually recognised over a long period of time and not just by one person. If you are bringing yourself closer and they continue to take advantage and move away or contiuously be negative then i believe they are of the people allash has chose not to guide. those people can only be helped by Allah. I dont think it takes hadith to support this situation specifically but by recognising the negative traits of that person that are not within the realm of our religion. the onus needs to be put on that person after so much work and effort is put in them. if you approach them within 3 days and they are still toxic.. the onus to be better is their’s, not your’s.

  10. Pingback: EMOTIONAL DETOX DURING RAMADAN | Houghton Muslim Jamaat (West Street)

  11. Avatar

    Bekim

    January 1, 2015 at 5:25 AM

    Looking forward to the biweekly news letter…

Leave a Reply

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

#Life

Raising A Child Between Ages 2-7 | Dr Hatem Al Haj

Dr. Hatem El Haj M.D Ph.D

Published

on

children drawing crayons

This is called a pre-operational period by Jean Piaget who was focused on cognitive development.

Children this age have difficulty reconciling between different dimensions or seemingly contradictory concepts. One dimension will dominate and the other will be ignored. This applies in the physical and abstract realms. For example, the water in the longer cup must be more than that in the shorter one, no matter how wide each cup is. Length dominates over width in his/her mind.

Throughout most of this stage, a child’s thinking is self-centered (egocentric). This is why preschool children have a problem with sharing.

In this stage, language develops very quickly, and by two years of age, kids should be combining words, and by three years, they should be speaking in sentences.

Erik Erikson, who looked at development from a social perspective, felt that the child finishes the period of autonomy vs. shame by 3 years of age and moves on to the period of initiative vs. guilt which will dominate the psycho-social development until age 6. In this period, children assert themselves as leaders and initiative takers. They plan and initiate activities with others. If encouraged, they will become leaders and initiative takers.

Based on the above, here are some recommendations:

In this stage, faith would be more caught than taught and felt than understood. The serene, compassionate home environment and the warm and welcoming masjid environment are vital.

Recognition through association: The best way of raising your kid’s love of Allah and His Messenger ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) is by association. If you buy him ice cream, take the opportunity to tell them it is Allah who provided for you; the same applies to seeing a beautiful rose that s/he likes, tell them it is Allah who made it. Tell them stories about Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him). Statements like: “Prophet Muhammad was kinder to kids than all of us”; “Prophet Muhammad was kind to animals”; ” Prophet Muhammad loved sweets”; ” Prophet Muhammad helped the weak and old,” etc. will increase your child’s love for our most beloved ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him).

Faith through affiliation: The child will think, “This is what WE do, and how WE pray, and where WE go for worship.” In other words, it is a time of connecting with a religious fraternity, which is why the more positive the child’s interactions with that fraternity are, the more attached to it and its faith he/she will become.

Teach these 2-7 kids in simple terms. You may be able to firmly insert in them non-controversial concepts of right and wrong (categorical imperatives) in simple one-dimensional language. Smoking is ḥarâm. No opinions. NO NUANCES. No “even though.” They ate not ready yet for “in them is great sin and [yet, some] benefit for people.”

Promote their language development by speaking to them a lot and reading them books, particularly such books that provoke curiosity and open discussions to enhance their expressive language. Encourage them to be bilingual as learning two languages at once does not harm a child’s cognitive abilities, rather it enhances them.

This is despite an initial stage of confusion and mixing that will resolve by 24 to 30 months of age. By 36 months of age, they will be fluent bilingual speakers. Introduce Islamic vocabulary, such as Allah, Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him), masjid, Muslim, brothers, salaat, in-sha’a-Allah, al-Hamdulillah, subhana-Allah, etc. (Don’t underestimate the effect of language; it does a lot more than simply denoting and identifying things.)

In this pre-operational period, their ability of understanding problem solving and analysis is limited. They can memorize though. However, the focus on memorization should still be moderate. The better age for finishing the memorization of the Quran is 10-15.

Use illustrated books and field trips.

Encourage creativity and initiative-taking but set reasonable limits for their safety. They should also realize that their freedom is not without limits.

Between 3-6 years, kids have a focus on their private parts, according to Freud. Don’t get frustrated; tell them gently it is not appropriate to touch them in public.

Don’t get frustrated with their selfishness; help them gently to overcome this tendency, which is part of this stage.

Parenting: Raising a Child from Age 0 to 2 | Dr. Hatem Al Haj

Continue Reading

#Life

Advice To Students Starting A New School Year

Ammar Al Shukry

Published

on

students

I remember driving to college orientation over the summer with my father, may Allah have mercy on him. I was going to be going to school out of state, and at the age of eighteen, this was the first time that I would be living away from home. 

We talked about a lot of things, and nothing in particular but one of the stories he shared stayed with me. There was an Imam who had a close circle of students and one of them became absent for an extended period. Upon that student’s return, the Imam asked him where he had been, to which the student replied, 

“Egypt!” The imam said to him, “well how was Egypt!” 

The student replied, “Egypt is where knowledge resides.” 

The Imam responded, “You’ve spoken the truth.” 

Sometime later, the imam had another student who also was absent and upon his return, the Imam asked him where he had gone to which the student replied, “Egypt!” The imam said to him, “Well, how was Egypt?”

The student said, “Egypt is nothing but amusement and play!” 

The Imam responded, ‘You’ve spoken the truth!” 

There were students who had witnessed both conversations and asked the Imam later why he had borne witness to the truth of two antithetical statements to which the imam replied,

“They both found what they were looking for.” 

I got the message. University could be a place of incredible learning, engagement with ideas, and can push you and challenge you in the best of ways. It can also be a non-stop party. A blur of heedlessness and hedonism that will bring about remorse and regret for that individual in the Dunya and Akhira. 

I think back to that car ride fondly, and I appreciate the predicament of parting advice. A person who will be bidding farewell to someone so dear to them and wanting to give them something powerful that they can hold onto or wisdom that will guide them. Many students in the past weeks have been receiving similar parting advice from their families, and so in this article I wanted to share one of the advice of the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) that he gave to a companion that he loved so much. 

عَنْ أَبِي ذَرٍّ جُنْدَبِ بْنِ جُنَادَةَ، وَأَبِي عَبْدِ الرَّحْمَنِ مُعَاذِ بْنِ جَبَلٍ رَضِيَ اللَّهُ عَنْهُمَا، عَنْ رَسُولِ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه و سلم قَالَ: “اتَّقِ اللَّهَ حَيْثُمَا كُنْت، وَأَتْبِعْ السَّيِّئَةَ الْحَسَنَةَ تَمْحُهَا، وَخَالِقْ النَّاسَ بِخُلُقٍ حَسَنٍ”

رَوَاهُ التِّرْمِذِيُّ [رقم:1987] وَقَالَ: حَدِيثٌ حَسَنٌ، وَفِي بَعْضِ النُّسَخِ: حَسَنٌ صَحِيحٌ. 

On the authority of Abu Dharr Jundub ibn Junadah, and Abu Abdur-Rahman Muadh bin Jabal (may Allah be pleased with him), that the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said

“Have Taqwa of Allah wherever you are, and follow a bad deed with a good deed it will erase it, and treat people with good character.” (Tirmidhi)

The advice is comprised of three components

  1. Fear Allah wherever you are 
  2. Follow a bad deed with a good deed it will erase it 
  3. Treat people with good character 

Have Taqwa of Allah wherever you are 

Taqwa is the crown of the believer. And it is the best thing that a person can carry with them on the journey of this life, and the journey to meet their Lord. Allah says, 

“And take provision, and the best provision is Taqwa.” 

عَنْ أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ، قَالَ سُئِلَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم عَنْ أَكْثَرِ مَا يُدْخِلُ النَّاسَ الْجَنَّةَ فَقَالَ ‏”‏ تَقْوَى اللَّهِ وَحُسْنُ الْخُلُقِ ‏”‏ ‏

The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) was asked as to what admits people into Paradise the most and he said, “Taqwa and good character.” (Tirmidhi) 

And so what is Taqwa?

Talq ibn Habeeb gave a beautiful definition and description of Taqwa when he said, 

“Taqwa is to act in obedience to Allah, upon a light from Allah, seeking the reward of Allah. And it is to avoid the disobedience of Allah, upon a light from Allah, fearing the punishment of Allah.” 

And so he describes taqwa as having three components; the action, the source for that action, and the motivation for that action.”

To act in the obedience of Allah..

To do the things that Allah commands you to do and to stay away from what Allah prohibits you from doing 

Upon a light from Allah..

The source for the action or inaction must come from revelation, a light from Allah. And this should stir us to seek knowledge so that our actions are onem guided by a light from Allah. You’ve made it to University, you are bright, gifted, intelligent and committed to education.  Do not let be the one thing that you remain uneducated about be your religion. 

Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) says, 

يَعْلَمُونَ ظَاهِراً مِّنَ ٱلْحَيَاةِ ٱلدُّنْيَا وَهُمْ عَنِ ٱلآخِرَةِ هُمْ غَافِلُونَ

They know what is apparent of the worldly life, but they, of the Hereafter, are unaware. (Al-Room v. 7)  

The prophet (S) said, “Allah hates every expert in the Dunya who is ignorant of the hereafter.” (Saheeh Al-Jaami’)

Make sure that you carve out time to attend halaqas on campus, seek out teachers and mentors who will guide you in learning about your religion even as you are pursuing your secular studies..

Seeking the reward of Allah..

The third component of Taqwa is the motivation:  that these actions that are being performed and that are sourced authentically in revelation must be performed for the sake of Allah, seeking His reward, and not for any other audience. That they not be done for shares, or likes or retweets. That a person does what they do of worship, that they abstain from what they abstain from of sin, seeking the reward of Allah and fearing His punishment. 

Fear Allah wherever you are..

Meaning in public and in private, online or offline, and when in the company of the righteous as well as when in the company of the wicked, in all circumstances a person must be mindful of the presence of Allah..

 عَنْ ثَوْبَانَ عَنِ النَّبِيِّ صلى الله عليه وسلم أَنَّهُ قَالَ : ( لأَعْلَمَنَّ أَقْوَامًا مِنْ أُمَّتِي يَأْتُونَ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ بِحَسَنَاتٍ أَمْثَالِ جِبَالِ تِهَامَةَ بِيضًا فَيَجْعَلُهَا اللَّهُ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ هَبَاءً مَنْثُورًا ) قَالَ ثَوْبَانُ : يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صِفْهُمْ لَنَا ، جَلِّهِمْ لَنَا أَنْ لاَ نَكُونَ مِنْهُمْ وَنَحْنُ لاَ نَعْلَمُ ، قَالَ : ( أَمَا إِنَّهُمْ إِخْوَانُكُمْ وَمِنْ جِلْدَتِكُمْ وَيَأْخُذُونَ مِنَ اللَّيْلِ كَمَا تَأْخُذُونَ وَلَكِنَّهُمْ أَقْوَامٌ إِذَا خَلَوْا بِمَحَارِمِ اللَّهِ انْتَهَكُوهَا

It was narrated from Thawban that the Prophet ﷺ said:

“I certainly know people of my nation who will come on the Day of Resurrection with good deeds like the mountains of Tihaamah, but Allah will make them like scattered dust.” Thawban said: “O Messenger of Allah, describe them to us and tell us more, so that we will not become of them unknowingly.” He said: “They are your brothers and from your race, worshipping at night as you do, but they are people who, when they are alone with what Allah has prohibited, they violate it.” 

This hadeeth is a warning for the person who is quick, eager and ready to violate the limits of Allah as soon as the door is locked, or the curtains or drawn, or as soon as they have arrived in a new place where no one knows them. We will sin, but let our sins be sins of weakness or lapses of taqwa and not sins of predetermination and design. There is a big difference between someone who sins in a moment’s temptation and the one who is planning to sin for hours, days or weeks! 

And follow a good deed with a bad deed it will erase it..

When we fall, as we must inevitably due to our being human, the prophet (S) instructed us to follow a sin with a good deed to erase it. 

Commit a sin, give charity. 

Commit a sin, perform wudhu as beautifully as you can and pray two rak’ahs. 

Commit a sin, seek Allah’s forgiveness and repent…

Our sins should not suffocate us from doing good deeds, they should fuel us to doing good deeds. 

Allah says,

وَأَقِمِ ٱلصَّلاَةَ طَرَفَيِ ٱلنَّهَارِ وَزُلَفاً مِّنَ ٱلَّيْلِ إِنَّ ٱلْحَسَنَاتِ يُذْهِبْنَ ٱلسَّـيِّئَاتِ ذٰلِكَ ذِكْرَىٰ لِلذَّاكِرِينَ

And establish prayer at the two ends of the day and at the approach of the night. Indeed, good deeds do away with misdeeds. That is a reminder for those who remember. (Surat Hood v. 114) 

A man from the Ansar was alone with a woman and he did everything with her short of fornication. In remorse, he went to the prophet (S) and confessed to him. Umar said to the man, “Allah had concealed your sins, why didn’t you conceal it yourself!” The prophet (S) however was silent.

The man eventually left and the prophet (S) had a messenger go to him to recite the aforementioned verse.  A man said, “Oh Messenger of Allah is it for him alone?”

The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said, “No for all people.” 

And so for all people, sin plus good deed equals the sin is erased. That is a formula to be inscribed in our hearts for the rest of our lives.

Al-Hassan Al-Basri, the master preacher of the Tabi’een was asked,

“Should one of us not be ashamed of our Lord, we seek forgiveness from our Lord and then return to sin, and then seek forgiveness and then return!” 

He said,

“Shaytan would love to conquer you with that (notion), do not grow tired of seeking forgiveness”

But know that these sins that are erased by good deeds are the minor sins, as for the major sins they require repentance for the many verses in which Allah threatens punishment for those who commit major sins if they do not repent, and so repentance is a condition for the erasing of the effect of major sins. 

And treat people with good character 

And if Taqwa is the crown of the believer, then good character is the crown of Taqwa, for many people think that taqwa is to fulfill the rights of Allah without fulfilling the rights of His creation! The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) in many hadith highlights the lofty stations that a believer attains with good character, for example: 

عَنْ عَائِشَةَ، رَحِمَهَا اللَّهُ قَالَتْ سَمِعْتُ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم يَقُولُ ‏ “‏ إِنَّ الْمُؤْمِنَ لَيُدْرِكُ بِحُسْنِ خُلُقِهِ دَرَجَةَ الصَّائِمِ الْقَائِمِ

The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said: By his good character a believer will attain the degree of one who prays during the night and fasts during the day. (Tirmidhi)

عَنْ أَبِي الدَّرْدَاءِ، قَالَ سَمِعْتُ النَّبِيَّ صلى الله عليه وسلم يَقُولُ ‏ “‏ مَا مِنْ شَيْءٍ يُوضَعُ فِي الْمِيزَانِ أَثْقَلُ مِنْ حُسْنِ الْخُلُقِ وَإِنَّ صَاحِبَ حُسْنِ الْخُلُقِ لَيَبْلُغُ بِهِ دَرَجَةَ صَاحِبِ الصَّوْمِ وَالصَّلاَةِ 

Abu Ad-Darda narrated that the Messenger of Allah  ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him)said:

“Nothing is placed on the Scale that is heavier than good character. Indeed the person with good character will have attained the rank of the person of fasting and prayer.” (Tirmidhi)

Let no one beat you to the taqwa of Allah and let no one beat you to beautiful character. 

You’ve come of age at a time in which the majority of our interactions are online, and in that world harshness and cruelty are low hanging fruit seemingly devoid of consequences. 

The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said, “Whoever lives in the deserts becomes harsh.” (Abu Dawood) 

And social media is a desert, it is an experience where we are all alone, together. 

So choose gentleness over harshness, choose forgiveness over vindictiveness, choose truth over falsehood and protect people from your harm. 

For the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said, “I am a guarantor of a house in the highest part of Jannah for whoever makes their character good.” 

May Allah make us from them. 

Continue Reading

#Society

On Divine Gifts And Tribulations: Reflections on Ustadh Nabeel al-Azami

Reflections on Ustadh Nabeel al-Azami

Dr H. A. Hellyer, Guest Contributor

Published

on

Nabeel Al Azami

In the early hours of the 14th of August 2019, corresponding to the first day following the ‘Eid al-Adha’ of the Muslim community, my friend Nabeel, son of Mamoon al-Azami, passed away peacefully in London. He was 39 years old. He honoured me by considering me a teacher to ask counsel of – but in truth, he himself was an educator par excellence by his words, his actions and his state of being.

I have nothing but good memories of this man. He was generous and kind, and personified good manners. A year ago, we were together when he was giving a presentation on his work, and we had lunch together beforehand. He was speaking to me about the subject of the presentation, and as we were speaking privately, I told him about my unease around a bit of the approach on a few points.

Nabeel was not only warm in private in response, but when we were sat in the public arena for his presentation thereafter, he, unprompted, insisted on giving me the floor, though I had no speaking role that day. He did so after addressing me and introducing me in a deeply respectful manner, so that I could offer my thoughts, even though he knew of my stance.

I no longer even remember what I said – I only remember the generosity of spirit he had. In this day and age, that kind of magnanimity is rare, usually absent, and evidence of something beautiful.

(You can see more of Nabeel’s work here — his final book, which he wrote on the Prophet and Leadership, with leadership professor John Adair writing the forward).

A few months ago, I asked if I might visit him, while he was in the hospital. He was in the midst of various obligations but knew my travel schedule would make it difficult to find an opportunity to allow me the privilege of his company, and he had some things he wanted to discreetly discuss. We had spoken a few times on the phone after he had learned of his illness, but we had not met since. We found a common time of 15 minutes to speak privately. It turned into an hour.

When I saw him, what are called the ‘signs of sainthood’ (wilaya) were deeply upon him. His riḍā (contentment) was evident to anyone who saw him, and his concern was not for himself. Rather, it was first and foremost for his family. Whenever people ask me about him, I immediately think of that word: riḍā.

Riḍā.
Riḍā.

I left his company with a sense I cannot easily put into words – he was a paragon of strength and fortitude, while simultaneously being a person of charity and concern for his wider community. The presence of contentment, harmony, self-composure, and quiet trust in the working of the Divine. In this are signs for the ones who are aware, for they represent the rising of station (maqam) according to the sages.

There will be others who will no doubt write about Nabeel’s professional accomplishments, of which there are many, not least the book he wrote and completed while he battled his illness. These are inspiring, and a testament to Nabeel’s deep commitment to the work he devoted himself to (his last work on Prophetic leadership can be purchased here from the publisher) – a work that all about serving the community which he so loved and cared for.

I knew about Nabeel’s work, but most of our interactions showed another side to him – a facet of his personality that will forever be instructive to me. It was the aspect of him that I mentioned to my students as we read through tracts of spirituality. It was the aspect of him that asked for prayers that God might allow him to see and meet the Prophet in his dreams. It was the aspect of him that sought out to understand and comprehend the meaning of what was happening in a deeply metaphysical manner, which was admirable in such an advanced way.

“But it is as though, Allah has given me this tribulation, as an unworthy servant, as a gift. And then He has given me some challenges, that I didn’t think I would cope with. And then He somehow gave me the resources as a gift…

And I feel as though I am being taken among individuals who must have taken this journey, who are much more worthy; I am left very confused as to why I am being given this privilege. Maybe you can help explain this confusion to me.

But that aside: I hope if it is benefiting brothers, to be able to talk about our conversations, then hopefully if there is any ajr (reward) for me there, that may be something I can hold onto in the next life, as a source of salvation.”

(Nabeel al-Azami)

In the hours that followed his passing, as his family and friends prepared to bid him farewell at the funeral service, I went through my recent correspondences with Nabeel, following and preceding conversations we had. There were perhaps three recurring themes I can mention. The first was the most pre-eminent, which I’ve alluded to above, in terms of his spiritual journey and path. His instructive comments reflected a serenity of soul, a strength of spirit, and a constancy of commitment.

The second theme was the concern he had particularly for his family. His father, his wife, his children, but really the entire family – his concern for them was touching, moving, and genuinely thought-provoking to any of us who get wrapped up in the mundane nature of this world. The very last message he sent to me was an ‘ameen’ to a du’a I sent him in response to his request I pray for his wife, children and family.

Finally, the third theme was care he had for his community, and that watchfulness was something he spoke to me about in his one of his very final messages to me – the rifts within the Muslim community more generally, especially among the ‘ulama, and how their differences needed to be bridged.

In all of these, Nabeel al-Azami’s considerations were deeply important. One of the final things he said to me was his hope that if his tribulation could serve as a lesson to others, may he partake in the reward for that, and maybe it would be something he could hold onto in the next life for his salvation.

It never occurred to me to share Nabeel’s thoughts while he was still with us. When we met and discussed, we did so privately. But after he passed to the mercy of his Lord, I remembered what he said about our conversations benefiting others – and thus took pen to paper, transcribing some of the notes he sent.

There was a message that related to knowing God, and spirituality more generally, which indicated one of the priorities he thought this community needed – this is where our relationship actually began, in a way. It is fitting that be the first tract. About half-way in, Nabeel responded to a message I sent him, where I had let him know I’d used his character as an example of how to respond to tribulations in a class I teach. That class was and is based on the works of one of my teachers, the Malaysian polymath, Professor Sayyid Naquib al-Attas. In response to Nabeel’s message, I told him the title of the work, at which point he expressed great joy, saying he had used the work as a reference in his last book.

That message was followed by a concern for the community writ large, particularly vis-à-vis the partisanship and conflicts the community had been riven by in recent years. We had discussed this in person, and he re-emphasised his point in this message – it’s a rare message indeed at this time, and important to share. He knew about my apprehension I had about partisanship driving our community apart, but he excelled me in focusing on the need to bring hearts together, rather than simply analysing the problem.

I close the below with two tracts that in particular related to trials and tribulations, to which I appended a short excerpt from the writings of Shaykh Abdal Qadir al-Jilani, the Persian saint of early Muslim history, and this represented the last of the transcriptions I chose. I believe I mentioned this tract to Nabeel himself, and it formed the basis of some of our discussions.

I pray the reader benefits from Nabeel’s thoughts and prays for him. For those who knew him, they should know that Sayyid Nabeel passed away in one of the four sacred months mentioned in the Qur’an – Dhu al-Hijjah. This is the month of the Hajj; it is the month the Great ‘Id, ‘Id al-Adha; it is the month of the passing of Sayyidina ‘Umar, Sayyidina ‘Uthman, and Imam Muhammad al-Baqir.

May we all benefit through Ustadh Nabeel al-Azami for a very long time to come.

I know I will.

On Spirituality

“Thank you for your message and thank you for the du’a (supplication) that you shared. SubhanAllah, the dua’ that you shared about Allah opening up the gates so that I may know Him better; it has been a part of my tahhajud (night vigil prayers) since you mentioned it.

And you know; these many small du’as that you hear and those that you end up memorising: this is one that I wish [had been] in my system. Because I knew the du’a – but it is so simple and beautiful – but insha’Allah, Allah will give you the ajr (reward) that you reminded me of the du’a which I memorised and now it has been normalised.

And it’s wonderful: because the ability to know your Creator and discover Him is that life-long journey. We try to learn about the 99 attributes to be able to understand the incredible nature of our Creator, whom we are blessed to be created from. And the quality of my prayers have been impacted as a result of this process of ibtila’ (tribulation).

Which is, in a sense, the only way you can really achieve and access the unveiling needed to know a little bit more about your creator. So, I feel I need to be in this ibtila’ longer! There is so much I can learn now that I have unlocked a few things, you know, through the wasila (means) around me, including yourself.”

“And it is wonderful to hear that you are teaching a text on taṣawwuf; I’d love to know which one it is. The need for teaching, tarbiyat al-iman, tazkiyat al-nafs, and the sciences of taṣawwuf; it is so, so urgent and so neglected. So, if it is a public class that I can promote, let me know: I’d love to send it in the network, because there are just too far and few between.

So, thank you for sharing: but the only thing I would say here is that I certainly wouldn’t be the precise example. But good brothers around me and my shayukh and my learned friends like your good self: with your help I am trying to be an acceptable example, insha’Allah.

But it is as though, Allah has given me this tribulation, as an unworthy servant, as a gift. And then He has given me some challenges, that I didn’t think I would cope with. And then He somehow gave me the resources as a gift; and then I feel the raising of maqam (spiritual station). Not because of anything from myself, but that Allah is just gifting.

Because I thought I just had to take one step towards Allah, and he would take ten steps for me. I think I managed to just think about one step. I don’t know what little iota of indication I gave to Allah that I am interested in guidance; and that was enough. That was enough, and Allah is just raising me.

And I feel as though I am being taken among individuals who must have taken this journey, who are much more worthy; I am left very confused as to why I am being given this privilege. Maybe you can help explain this confusion to me.

But that aside: I hope if it is benefiting brothers, to be able to talk about our conversations, then hopefully if there is any ajr for me there, that may be something I can hold onto in the next life, as a source of salvation.”

On Bringing Hearts Together, in a world where lines have been drawn

“In our community, the scholars are the inheritors of the Prophets: that we know. And amongst them, we need to build bridges, and we do know that for various reasons amongst the difficulties of the world, a broken world that we’re facing, there are lines being drawn even amongst the ulama (scholastic) community. And differences of strategy and direction, and differences in trying to say this is how we can serve the ummah (Muslim community) better can and will arise.

But all I can hope for is people like yourself, in a small way myself, if I can, and others, try to at least make hearts stay together…

There should never be an instance where people amongst the ulama, who are the inheritors of the prophets, who are at the heights of those who represent the prophets in their absence today —- at least the hearts and their brotherhood should remain there.

And I think that is the case anyway amongst the most senior ulama that we know. And without naming names, I think their hearts are clear in their interaction, but they may be operating in different platforms and structures.

But I think we need bridge builders, so we keep the ukhuwwa (brotherhood) and the conversation going, as we try to navigate ourselves across common challenges in the world and navigate our community towards a direction. Which is ultimately the same direction anyway, seeking the pleasure of Allah, and following in the footsteps of al-Habib al-Mustafa salAllahu ‘alayhi wa salam.

And that’s about it, in order to be worshippers who are keen only to seek Allah’s pleasure and have that kind of connection and rida (contentment).”

On Tribulations and Trials

“Al-salam ‘alaykum, shaykh Hisham: and thank you for your ongoing affection, care, concern and spiritual advice which I really, really value, and it does help me. At some point, it would be good to talk or see you just to share the seriousness of my condition.

But, alhamdulillah (praise be to God), this ibtila’ (tribulation) is a blessing, it has given me so much khayr, by God, so much khayr – and I am full of shukr (gratefulness). I have sabr (patience) when the pain is happening, but I have shukr for what Allah is doing for me spiritually. And as one of my teachers once said: when you are suffering from a physical illness, be grateful you are not suffering from a spiritual illness. And I am really feeling the benefits of that right now.

Alhamdulillah: jazakAllah khayr for sending me all the Prophetic supplications and invocations, and alhamdulillah most of them I have been doing already, but I haven’t actually been doing [certain elements of spiritual practice I recommended], so I will immediately add this into my practice on your advice; so, thank you for that.

And although I am in a wonderful spiritual place, you are absolutely right that the hardest thing is often for the family and for the wife and the children. They are struggling a little bit and I do try to give them strength, so please make du’a for my wife and my three young children: that Allah gives them strength in the midst of this ibtila’ that we are all facing. And insha’Allah I am confident that Allah will take care of us, and take care of our affairs insha’Allah.”

“Al-salam ‘alaykum, Shaykh Hisham – I hope you are well. Thank you for your ongoing enquiry and concerns about my health and your du’a. In terms of how I am, alhamdulillah, spiritually and mentally, I am in a really good place – I have this wonderful connection and relationship built with our Lord, subhanhu wa ta’ala. My tahajjuds (night vigil prayers) are beautiful, and I am just loving the experience of this ibtila’, taking as much benefit of it as possible.

In terms of the jasad, the body: unfortunately, that is choosing to go in a different direction…Suffice it to say my physical condition is extremely serious, and I need lots of your du’a.

But my spiritual condition, by Allah’s will, is in the best place I have ever experienced, and long may Allah keep that. So, I ask for your continued dua’ and insha’Allah I will update you more next week.”

****************

Shaykh Abdal Qadir al-Jilani (may Allah be well pleased with him, and may He grant him contentment) said:

“As for one who suffers tribulation, he will sometimes be tried as a punishment and retribution for an offense he has perpetrated or a sin he has committed, at another time as an expiation and purification, and finally, for the sake of elevation in spiritual degrees and advancement to high stages, to join those versed in knowledge, people with experience of all states and stations. This they have received through the providence of the Lord of creation and of mankind.

Their Lord has sent them to ride the fields of misfortune on the mounts of friendliness and kindness and refreshed them with the breeze of loving looks and glances while in movement or at rest, because their trial was not intended to destroy them and hurl them into the abyss. Rather did He put them to these tests for the sake of choice and selection, so drawing from them the reality of faith, which He purified and separated from polytheistic association [shirk], pretensions and hypocrisy [nifaq], and presenting them with all kinds of knowledge, secrets and enlightenment. Then He made special favourites of them, entrusted them with His secrets, and granted them the pleasure of His company.

… For those trials have the effect of making their hearts pure and free from sinful association, and from attachment to creatures, worldly means, wishes, and self-willed desires. They are instrumental in melting them and smelting out the pretensions and passions, and the expectation of returns for obedient behaviour, in the form of high degrees and stations in the hereafter, in paradise and its gardens…

The sign that the trials are for the sake of spiritual progress is the presence of contentment, harmony, self-composure, quiet trust in the working of the God of the earth and the heavens, and annihilation within them until their eventual removal with the passage of time.”

****************

Anyone who saw Nabeel knows what signs were most prominent upon him. I consider it my honour that I knew Nabeel al-Azami, and my loss that I did not know him longer and better.

May God have mercy on the soul of Sayyid Nabeel al-Azami; grant him the highest stations of Paradise; and give his family strength.

إنا لله و إنا إليه راجعون

“And that’s about it, in order to be worshippers who are keen only to seek Allah’s pleasure and have that kind of connection and rida (contentment).” (Nabeel al-Azami).

Continue Reading

Trending