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Are You Hurt? #iForgive

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As-salaamu alaykum my beloved brothers and respected sisters,

Every letter in this article is written from the bottom of my heart and I ask Allah to have it reach your heart. I also ask Allah to accept the time spent writing this article and the time you would spend reading it.

When someone hurts you and oppresses you there are several permissible ways where you can react to that oppression:

– You can go to Allah with your weakness and raise your hands to Him and make a dua, a supplication, against the one who has oppressed you; and the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) confirmed in numerous authentic ahadith that the dua of the one who is oppressed would surely be accepted without any doubt.

– You can also just wait until the day of judgment and seek to get the good deeds, equivalent to the amount of oppression and pain that person did to you, as means of revenge and taking your right back. And in case the one who oppressed has no good deeds to give you then you would give THEM your bad deeds as the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) also stated in an authentic hadith.

But there is another option, which is the point of this whole article, that is better than all what has been mentioned but only a few people pursue it. I ask Allah to make me and you amongst the few. What is that option? It is for you to forgive the one who hurt you and oppressed you. So you don’t make a dua’a against them and you don’t take from their good deeds on the day of Judgment. But what’s the point then? You will get more than seeing that person being harmed just like how you were harmed and more than the good deeds you could’ve taken…

Rather you will be getting a reward, from who and how much? From Allah… He didn’t put a limit to it. Allah said in Chapter 42 Verse 40:

  1. And the retribution, the payback, of an evil act is an evil one like it,
  2. But whoever forgives, overlooks and reconcile [OK, what will happen then?]
  3. Then their reward is on Allah.

It is so amazing how Allah puts these words together. When a king in this world tells you: “I have a gift, a reward, for you”, then you would imagine that that gift and reward is equivalent to the wealth, power, majesty and capability of that king. If this is the case with a king in this world then what about the king of all kings, Allah…?

If you would allow me, my beloved brother and sister, to stress on the point of forgiving those who wrong you, and please don’t rush and say: “speak as long as you want brother Majed, I will not forgive that person who wronged me and oppressed me”. Rather, please give Allah and the Prophet of Allah ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) a chance through the verses and ahadith you would hear. By Allah, that is for your own sake. I want to stress on the concept of forgiving those who wronged you by doing 2 things:

Number 1: by destroying and exposing the real value of this low and cheap dunya that we are living in

Number 2: by showing you how amazing, honorable and beautiful is the reward of Allah in this dunya and in the akhirah for those who forgive.

Number 1: 

Are you perhaps ready for  a life changing experience?

Bismillah, let’s look at the reality of this dunya: In an authentic hadith, in Saheeh Muslim, the Prophet of Allah ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) once grabbed a dead one-eared goat from the ear that remained. [Try to picture it ] And he asked his friends while holding the dead goat: “Who would buy this for 1 dirham” [such a low price for something the people would pay tens of dirhams for but the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) offered it for 1]. The companions said: “We don’t like to have it even if it was for nothing. What is the benefit of it?” The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) then asked: “Would you like to have it for free?” They replied: “By Allah, if it was alive we wouldn’t take it for the way it looks with the chopped ear and so on then what about if it was dead.” The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) then said: “فَوَاللَّهِ، لَلدُّنْيَا أَهْوَنُ عَلَى اللهِ مَنْ هَذَا عَلَيْكُمْ‏.‏” [I swear by Allah, this dunya is of a lesser value in the sight of Allah than this, dead disgusting one-eared goat, is to you.]

Allahu akbar! What is it in this lowly and cheap dunya that is worth cutting our ties of brotherhood and sisterhood.

Number 2:

On the other hand, know that of the fastest and easiest ways to gain the forgiveness of Allah, don’t we say so desperately: “اللَّهُمَّ إِنَّكَ عَفُوٌّ تُحِبُّ الْعَفْوَ فَاعْفُ عَنِّي” [O Allah you are forgiving and you love to forgive so please forgive me], do you want to maximize your chances of having Allah to forgive you!? Then your best and easiest of chances is to forgive the one who has wronged you. The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said in an authentic hadith, in Saheeh Al-Adab Al-Mufrad: “اغْفِرُوا يَغْفِرِ اللَّهُ لَكُمْ” [forgive and Allah will forgive you]. Allahu akbar!

I feel comfortable ending the article right here and it may be convincing enough to forgive someone after having such a guarantee from the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) that your forgiveness to the one who wronged you will actually be means for YOU to be forgiven by Allah. But let’s get even more motivated with statements from Allah and His prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) motivate us more! Bismillah!

Listen to this, after Abu Bakr As-Siddeeq raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) stopped giving his relative, MesTah bin A-thaathah, a monthly allowance because MesTah contributed to the accusation of Aisha, the daughter of Abu Bakr, raḍyAllāhu 'anha (may Allāh be pleased with her) that she committed a major sin with another man, in which Allah has already shown her innocence in surat An-Noor, Allah revealed a verse addressing Abu Bakr and he said in Chapter 24 Verse 22:

24:22

Let not those whom Allah blessed them with wealth to withhold it from their relatives, the needy and those who immigrated for the sake of Allah.

Then Allah said: “وَلۡيَعۡفُواْ وَلۡيَصۡفَحُوٓاْ‌” [rather, forgive and reconcile]

ALLAHU AKBAR! WHAT!? Forgive and reconcile the one who accused my honor and the chastity of my own daughter!!! Then Allah continues and says, here he is addressing ALL of us!

 أَلَا تُحِبُّونَ أَن يَغْفِرَ اللَّـهُ لَكُمْ ۗوَاللَّـهُ غَفُورٌ رَّحِيمٌ ” [don’t you love for Allah to forgive you… And [note] Allah is The Most Forgiving The Most Merciful].

Upon hearing this, RIGHT AWAY, Abu Bakr raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) said: “بلى واللهِ إني لأحبُّ أن يغفرَ اللهُ لي” [Yes, wAllahi! I love for Allah to forgive me. And he also said: I will never stop giving the monthly allowance back to him.]

Allahu akbar, what a man! May Allah be pleased with him. I ask Allah to grant you my beloved brothers and sisters who is reading such a strong eman and such eagerness to care about Allah’s forgiveness to you. Ameen.

Another reward and honor from Allah to those who forgive, Allah basically tells them: “I love you”…. And if Allah loves you then what else in the world matters… Allah says: “وَٱلۡعَافِينَ عَنِ ٱلنَّاسِ‌ۗ وَٱللَّهُ يُحِبُّ ٱلۡمُحۡسِنِينَ” [And those who forgive the people. And Allah loves the muhseneen].

Allahu akbar! He considered you among the elite, the muhsineen, and he said that He loves them. I ask Allah to make you, my beloved reader, among those whom Allah loves.

In an authentic hadith in Saheeh Al-Bukhari, the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) once had poisoned brought to him by a Jewish lady. When the Prophet knew the meat was poisoned the lady was brought forth and the companions raḍyAllāhu 'anhum (may Allāh be pleased with them) asked the prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him): “Shall we not kill her?” [What do you think the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said? What would his reaction be towards a person who was about to poison him, basically, an assassination attempt!] The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) replied with one word and said: “No.”

Allahu akbar! She tried to kill him but he chose to overlook what she did.

In Conclusion:

To sum my message in one sentence:

There is nothing, in this cheap and lowly dunya that is worth forsaking the forgiveness, reward and love of Allah, nothing.

I begin with myself, as of tonight, Allah and you are my witness that I have forgiven anyone who has ever wronged me in any way, shape or form since the day I was born, whether it was the person who used to bully me when I was in school and caused me to hate being in school, or the one who cursed me and called me names on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter or even those who have backbit me and gossiped about me behind my back and I am not aware of. All of you are forgiven.

Bismillah, it is your turn. My beloved and respected brother & sister:

o   Forgive and Allah will forgive you

o   Forgive and your reward is on Allah

o   Forgive and Allah will love you

Be sure to share this article, for you might be means of helping others forgive those who wronged them, and such act of worship is better than praying taraweeh, sunnah prayers and giving charity as the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) stated in an authentic hadith in Saheeh Abi Dawud. Please share this.  May Allah bless you.

Wassalaamu alaykum

Majed completed a Bachelor’s in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Windsor, a Bachelor’s in Islamic Studies in Islamic Jurisprudence and Legal Theory from Al-Madinah International University, and a Master’s in Business Administration from Wayne State University. As he travels worldwide lecturing about different aspects of Islam, Majed works full-time as a mechanical engineer and teaches with Al-Maghrib Institute. He currently lives in Michigan with his wife and children.

17 Comments

17 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Umm Sumayyah

    July 25, 2014 at 1:01 AM

    Assalamo alaikum wa rahmatullah. A beautiful and inspiring article masha Allah. May Allah reward you abundantly and may He make us a people who forgive.

    The Arabic text in the ayah from Surah Noor is from the end of the ayah. Perhaps you were intending to paste from the beginning of the ayah?

    • Avatar

      Majed Mahmoud

      July 25, 2014 at 1:27 AM

      Wa alaykumus-salaam wa rahmatul-laahi wa barakaatoh Sister Umm Sumayyah,
      Ameen. I appreciate your kind words. Also, a big thank you on pointing out the matter with the ayah. It is verse 22 from surat An-noor. Thank you for reading the article.

  2. Avatar

    Fazeela

    July 25, 2014 at 4:47 AM

    Aslamoalaikum Brother Majid,

    May Allah REWARD you to the GREATEST and HIGHEST and WIDEST extent. Aameen. I have seen this video of yours earlier and many other videos too, and ma sha Allah you have a very nice way of speaking. What all you have mentioned and quoted about forgiveness, I agree and accept it wholly. I have some further questions and points if you could please help me with understanding the concept of forgiveness AND help me to forgive. I want to be a good person in front of Allah and I want to do things which will make me beloved to Him.

    Please tell me what is forgiveness? Does it mean that we have to resume ties with that person again? But what if that person is a Shaytaan and has been trusted earlier and given another chance but still he broke the trust. The person I am talking to is not a man if anyone is thinking. It’s a cunning cousin of mine and members of her family. Her mom is my aunt. She ruined my life and my sister’s, and because of that our family (parents and us siblings) has had a very tough time. We were simple and clean people and didn’t know that people cheated like this. My good and clean hearted parents bought us up in a protected nest but this cousin of mine did such things that it brought an earthquake in our life. Imagine a roller coaster….. up down zig zag… imagine a centrifuge…. Going round and round ….. no rest. It was horrible…

    Do we really have to forgive always. Why?.. No I will not forgive. Does a person have to forgive the killer of his son? Yes I also know that Our beloved Prophet Muhammed SAW (don’t forget to say SAW , many of us like it when you say this) forgave all in Makkah including the woman who chewed his (SAW) uncle’s liver. But how do WE do it? What happened after that? Did the Prophet resume normal ties with such people?
    Does the person who did us wrong have to ask us for forgiveness first and then only we should forgive him or should we say simply suddenly that khalaas I forgive him? Ok we forgive him… what next then? What after that? We move on with lives separately or are we required to mingle again? How can we mingle again with a smiley face when we are still suffering the bitter and painful consequences of those evil people? When that person is a clear devil. AllahoAkbar. I don’t even want to recall or think of that person of what he did and how we went through that torture. When I complained to my father he dint do anything just because it was his sister. He dint realize how much im suffering. I don’t know why he dint ask his sister.
    Whatever disasters we went through Allah has been doing miracles continuously and our life is so Blessed. We have more than what they have. Allah has given us Himself to us, His Love, the Quran, He has filled our hearts with an urge to be more and more close to Him. And we are taking steps to be closer and closer. We have everything. Allah has given us everything. Alhamdolillah. Alhamdolillah. I want the reader to understand that when I say this it doesn’t mean we have mansions and a big bank account but Alhamdolillah Alhamdolillah a very decent living. Allah has Blessed our heart with an immense satisfaction of whatever we have and it is too much for us when at the same time people around us are in troubles. When we family members are sitting like at dinner or buying anything we always say Alhamdolillah loudly and talk that Allah has Blessed us. BUT that problem is still existing. I havnt spoken to that cousin at all after I moved away. And if by chance she comes in front of me I don’t want to even see her and this time I wont meet or talk to her. Let the people think whatever they want to. I’ve had a very hard time coming out of the mess alone with Allah’s Help only.

    Another thing is that ok we don’t even bother with thinking about her in our daily lives but when the consequence of the problem comes up its very painful. Because of that shaytaaan my jobless sister is under a huge debt. We had to face loads and loads of problems because of it. Miraculously things are settled at home but the amount of money is so huge that only Allah can help us to repay that loan to the bank in her or my lifetime. So in this scenario 1) how can we FORGIVE her? 2) What do we have to do to forgive? Yani what are the steps.
    I could go on and on to what she did to me and the trauma I faced because of her. Alhamdolillah its over now coz im not with them anymore and I think to myself and ask Allah that surely all that happened was for a reason. What could it be? It could be that I came closer to Allah? I don’t have any burden in my heart for not forgiving her. She is non-existing for me. Sometimes I do say that I forgive her, leave it, what is this world esp when in taraweeh or salah when Im close to Allah or see wars in the world, but then when certain disturbing situations arise at home I again say that no, all this is happening because of her why should I forgive her and I make Dua to Allah to punish them all severely.
    Eagerly waiting for your reply.Also if we want to contact you personally , how do we do so?
    Jazak Allahoo Khayru Katheer.

    • Avatar

      Abdulla

      October 13, 2015 at 1:04 PM

      Did you get an answer? I too want to know.

      • Avatar

        fazeela

        November 11, 2015 at 1:48 PM

        No I havnt yet!! Not sure if anyone from MM is reading our comments and forwarding to Br. Majid?? MM Admin, Moderators, Anyone??

    • Avatar

      Hj

      June 30, 2016 at 4:08 PM

      Reading this I think iam in same situation I think it’s to late to ask but did you get ur answers if yes can you share jazakAllah

    • Avatar

      Aisha

      December 20, 2016 at 8:51 AM

      I am disappointed that this beautiful question of yours has not been deemed worth of an answer, even up till this moment!
      This is a real life situation we muslims are faced with; not the picture-perfect painted of everyone holding hands and singing kumbayah.

  3. Avatar

    yusuf

    August 2, 2014 at 4:29 PM

    Thank you brother for the quranic verses. I have been looking for a way to forgive my own blood brother

  4. Avatar

    s

    November 1, 2015 at 7:00 PM

    salam majid
    its easy to forgive when the oppressor is out of sight or doesnt repeat. r u aware that a believer cant be bitten twice from the same hole. u cant keep forgiving criminals who commit crime agin ad again against others.it will be an uncivilised world. when a muslim is dead and gone or sure that he wont harm u again then Alhamdulillah its easy to forgive. but someone whose life is still in trouble coz of that oppressor then where does the question of forgiveness come
    it is easy to forgive bullies in school once u age coz that bully doesnt exist doesnt bully anymore.

    • Avatar

      fazeela

      November 11, 2015 at 1:59 PM

      well said S. No body comes to this part of the trauma to address it. i agree with what you have said. Perhaps we need to seek help from someone more wise. No doubt that Br. Majid has said correct things but it just dosnt end there. there are so many things to be sorted out after forgiving. Not forgiving dosnt mean the heart is restless. even Allah has ordered punishment for heinious severe crimes . He dint say to forgive!!!!

  5. Avatar

    Hilma

    August 15, 2016 at 1:27 AM

    Assalamu alaikkum

    How can I forgive my husband who was lying me over 6 years and having another family..

  6. Avatar

    Afreen

    September 23, 2016 at 8:48 AM

    Yes….we should forgive each other for the sake of Allah. It is not necessary that we should ties the bond with them as early as we had but neither we should keep any kind of malice for them in our heart… One should always keep in mind “if entire people of universe would try to harm you but they could not except by Allah permission and if the entire people of universe would try to benefit you they could not except by Allah permission “so nothing happen unless decreed by Allah. And there is also a verse in sura furqan “And we have made some of you as a trial for others :will you have patience?” So some of our relatives are a test and trials from Allah Azwajal. We should not forget this life is a test and we should try to pass this test for the sake of Allah by forbearing patience , establishing prayer and forgiving each other . And remember Allah test those whom he loves………

  7. Avatar

    Fauzan Mokhtar

    February 25, 2017 at 6:53 AM

    Assalamualaikum brother,

    I was subjected to verbal bullying back in high school mainly due to my quiet nature – possibly making me an ideal target for verbal abuses (perhaps). They even made fun of my skin since I had a terrible acne back then. I didn’t pay too much attention back then, and studied hard while avoiding them altogether after high school.

    Years later, all the experiences started coming back to me. I’m reminded of it almost frequently lately.

    I keep telling myself that I have forgiven them, sincerely, after knowing all the benefits I could obtain from Allah SWT. However, days later, I could still feel the suffering from those experiences and sometimes, I still feel hurt and at disbelieve of all the things they’ve said about me.

    My question is brother, how can I truly know that I’ve forgiven someone? I’ve said it to myself many times and very sincere about it, but those feelings still keep surfacing in my thoughts from time to time. Does this mean I was not sincere in forgiving them?

    Let me know what you think, brother. Also, if you could provide further verses from Quran or Sunnah related to the subject, it’d definitely help me further.

    Thank you in advance, brother.

    – Fauzan

  8. Avatar

    A

    May 5, 2017 at 10:24 PM

    Assalamualaikum wbt,

    Nicely written.

    Brother, I have a question.

    Recently, racial aggression and conflicts has been arrising in my country, whereby non muslims has been depicted as enemies, ignorants and insensitive towards Muslims.

    Not denying the fact that maybe some of these non muslims really did intentionally abuse muslims majority as reported ib medias as well in real life. But I’d like to believe that not all of them were likeminded.

    1) responding to a local recent viral racial fight between nonmuslim with a jemaah during a Jumaah prayer,

    It was believed that the non muslim was honking his car outside the mosque as the jemaah’s cars parked outside the mosque was blocking the traffic, but the muslimin retaliated aggressively by beating him and his car as he was disturbing the prayer.

    In the social media comment section, a sister condemned the muslimins aggressiveness and quoted that even Rasulullah saw would be patient with a non muslim who throw turd at his house.

    But a brother responded, “do not put them in the same place as Rasulullah saw, as their Iman is imperfect unlike Rasulullah saw” in order to justify what they did.

    Can a brother said something like that? He was not Rasulullah who are patient hence he does what he did?

    2) As muslims, what is the best way to deal with this kind of situation? If the abuse be intentionally or unintentionally?

    I hope you can help to clarify this for me.

    Thank you.

  9. Avatar

    Marzan

    June 9, 2017 at 7:29 PM

    I can forgive anything bad done to me…perhaps..but to a loved one…this dunya may be cheap and insignificant…but it is this very dunya where Allah has given me cherished relationships, my mother, my grandmother, my grandfather, friends, family, experiences, emotions everything…which is why when I am wronged I can forget and forgive but when people wrong my mother, say bad things about my loved ones I cannot forget and forgive even if I was offered paradise for it…I just cannot…I dnt lust heaven enough to bow my head before evil.

    • Avatar

      mf

      September 22, 2018 at 1:22 AM

      Marzan,
      If you recall Prophet Yusuf’s(pbuh) brothers intended to kill him and then later sold him to slave traders.This verse depicts how hard iblis is willing to fight to create seperation amongst our loved ones.Not forgiving is essentially obeying Iblis.We need to learn from the verse that sometimes even a painful action like forgiving is the better way-and you essentially defeating evil not bowing down before evil if you are forgiving

      Peace,
      Amin(Amen)

  10. Avatar

    Sonya

    July 16, 2017 at 5:42 AM

    Thank you my Allah swt bless your work, im in tears right now.

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#Life

How To Be Positive In Hard Times

Amina Malik, Guest Contributor

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How to be Positive

We all know that we should be grateful. And we definitely know that we should be certain that whatever happens is good for us as believers. However, when we are tested -as we inevitably are-, many of us crumble. Why is that? Why are we not able to ‘pass’ these tests, so to speak? Many of us after a tragedy become hapless, sad, depressed, angry, or bitter.

The essence lies in knowledge that is beneficial, and the best form of knowledge is that which an individual can apply to their day-to-day life on their own. Here are a few tips to increase your patience in hard times. Like building muscle at the gym, it takes time to exercise this habit, but becomes easier over time:

Manage Stress:

Unfortunately, stressful events are abundant in our lives. People under stress can find themselves falling into thinking errors. These thinking errors include -but are not limited to-: black and white thinking, mind-reading, self-criticism, negative filtering and catastrophizing. Together this can affect how we perceive reality. Next time you are tempted to make a catastrophe out of a situation, stop and ask your self two questions:

  • Is this really a big deal in the larger scheme of things?
  • Are there any positives in this situation?

Have a Realistic Perspective of Qadr:

Although it is part of our creed to believe in divine destiny, personal responsibility is still of importance and we cannot simply resign ourselves to fate; especially if we have some sort of influence over a situation.

Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) says in the Quran:

لَهُ مُعَقِّبَاتٌ مِّن بَيْنِ يَدَيْهِ وَمِنْ خَلْفِهِ يَحْفَظُونَهُ مِنْ أَمْرِ اللَّهِ ۗ إِنَّ اللَّهَ لَا يُغَيِّرُ مَا بِقَوْمٍ حَتَّىٰ يُغَيِّرُوا مَا بِأَنفُسِهِمْ ۗ وَإِذَا أَرَادَ اللَّهُ بِقَوْمٍ سُوءًا فَلَا مَرَدَّ لَهُ ۚ وَمَا لَهُم مِّن دُونِهِ مِن وَالٍ 

For each one are successive [angels] before and behind him who protect him by the decree of Allah. Indeed, Allah will not change the condition of a people until they change what is in themselves. And when Allah intends for a people ill, there is no repelling it. And there is not for them besides Him any patron. [Surah Ar-Ra’d;11]

This puts the responsibility on us to change ourselves. Notice the word, themselves. We are not responsible for events beyond our control. These events include the behavior of our spouses, the affinity of our children to the religion, the love in the hearts of people, the weather, the gender of our child (or how many we have), or even the amount of money we will earn in a lifetime -to name a few. Often we become stuck and focus on our conditions, rather than focusing on our own behavior.

Nourish Positive Thinking:

How to Be PositiveIn order to be able to have a wise and calculated response to life’s events, we must learn to interpret these events in a way that assign positive meaning to all. Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) is after all, how we perceive Him to be. Shaytan interferes with this process through waswaas (interjecting thoughts that are based on negativity and falsehood). His goal is for the Muslim to despair in Allah’s subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) mercy. The goal is not to be happy all the time; this is unrealistic. The goal is to think well of Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) as consistently as possible.

  • Create a list of what you are grateful to Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) for daily.
  • Remind yourself everyday of the positive aspects of situations when your mind falls to default negative thinking. Self-criticism will will only encourage you to take full responsibility for negative life events and become depressed, or at the opposite end take no responsibility whatsoever; either mind-set does not help us improve our self.

Remind yourself as well as others of the benefits of Positivity:

  •  On an individual level, once we begin to think positive about ourselves and our life, we become optimistic. This positivity will then also effect our perception of others. We become more forgiving, over-looking, and patient with others when we can see the positives in any situation.
  • Increased rizk and feelings of well-being
  • Reduced likelihood of reacting in a negative way to life’s events; increased patience.
  • Increased likelihood of finding good opportunities in work, relationships and lifestyle.
  • Higher energy levels and motivation to take on acts of khayr and benefit.

10 Steps to Happiness!

Practice self-care as a daily routine:

Our bodies have rights on us. Our souls have rights on us. Our family has rights on us. Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) has rights on us. Often, when there is an imbalance in one area, our whole being can sense it. This creates anger and resentment towards those around us and life in general.

  • Take care of your body, feed it well and in moderation and exercise in a way that makes you feel relaxed.
  • Pray your prayers, read the Quran, maintain the rights Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) and your own soul have on you.
  • Take care of your tongue by avoiding back-biting and complaining.
  • Take regular showers, comb your hair, brush your teeth, and wear clean clothes; even if you are at home.
  • Take care of your mind by doing dhikr as much as possible and letting go consciously of ruminating on situations.

A Powerful Dua for Happiness

Do not over-rely on your emotions:

Our emotions are a product of our thoughts. Our thoughts can be affected by slight changes in the environment such as the weather, or even whether or not we have eaten or slept well.

 

كُتِبَ عَلَيْكُمُ الْقِتَالُ وَهُوَ كُرْهٌ لَّكُمْ ۖ وَعَسَىٰ أَن تَكْرَهُوا شَيْئًا وَهُوَ خَيْرٌ لَّكُمْ ۖ وَعَسَىٰ أَن تُحِبُّوا شَيْئًا وَهُوَ شَرٌّ لَّكُمْ ۗ وَاللَّهُ يَعْلَمُ وَأَنتُمْ لَا تَعْلَمُونَ 

“And it may be that you dislike a thing which is good for you and that you like a thing which is bad for you. Allah knows but you do not know.” [Surah Al-Baqarah;216]

How To be PositiveUltimately, our perception can be manipulated by our thoughts, shaytan, and other factors. Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) is not limited in His perceptions due to stress, emotions, or circumstances and moods. Therefore, we should be humble to defer our judgements to Allah’s subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) ever-lasting judgement. Far from naval gazing, the more we are aware of our internal perceptions, emotions, and motives, the more able we are to practice Islam in its full essence. Our forefathers understood this deeply, and would regularly engage in self-assessment which gives you a sense of understanding and control of your own thoughts, emotions and actions.

The Art of Overcoming Negativity

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#Culture

Go Visit Bosnia

Amad Abu Reem

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Visit Bosnia

I have been to 35 countries, from Japan and China in the Far East, to Mexico and Columbia in South America, to Egypt and Morocco in North Africa, and there has not been another trip that was as profound in so many ways as my last trip to Bosnia. Go Visit Bosnia.

Besides Bosnia’s natural beauty, affordability and hospitality, the enrichment that comes from learning about a different culture, its cuisines, its complicated politics, and a genocide not yet 25 years old, is one that turns tourism into an experience not easily forgotten.

To the last point, why do human beings travel? What is it about a new destination that is appealing to us? Fun can be achieved in your neck of the world, so why wander? There are those who live in picture-perfect Switzerland but love to travel to remote deserts of Africa or the beaches of Indonesia. That is because traveling through new lands is a human instinct—a yearning to experience different cultures, foods, and environments.

Moreover, there is nothing more precious in life than experiences. Those who have had a sudden onset of terminal disease at an early age have an important perspective from which we can all learn. Why? Because the knowledge that you are dying quickly ends any sense of immortality, and what truly matters is crystallized. When asked what is it that they cherished most in their lives, pretty much all of them mentioned how the satisfaction from experiences such as travel beats the enjoyment of material riches any day.

What is an experience? Is it a fun week at Disney? Is it an adventure-filled trek through mountains? Is it going to a place to learn a new language? Actually, all of them are experiences, and it is not just going to a new place, but it is what you make out of that travel. If it is just fun, games, and shopping, have you really enriched your own life? Or have you missed out?

So when we planned our trip to Bosnia, many in our circle were a bit surprised as Bosnia is not on most travelers’ bucket lists. Muslims generally have Turkey and Malaysia in their must-visits “halal trips”, but after my trip to Bosnia, I feel that all Muslim travelers should add Bosnia to their short-list. Bosnia is a Muslim majority country, but barely so with about 50% Muslims, 30% Serbian Orthodox Christian and 15% Croat Catholics. I know this concerns many people, so let me add that food is generally halal unless you are in a non-Muslim village. Your guide will ensure that.

However, let me add that Bosnia is not just good for Muslims (just as Turkey and Malaysia appeal to everyone); people of all faiths can enjoy from the enriching trip to Bosnia.

Our trip began with selecting a reliable tour operator. While people tend to skip operators, preferring to book directly, I firmly believe that a professional should organize your first trip to a relatively unknown destination. I can honestly say I would have missed 50% of the enrichment without the presence of Adi, a highly educated tour guide, who was such a pleasant and friendly person that we almost felt him part of the family. The tour company itself belongs to a friend who worked for a major international company, before moving to his motherland to become part of Bosnia’s success. At the end of this article, I am providing contacts with this tour company, which MuslimMatters is proud to have as its partner for any Balkan travel.

Travel Bosnia, Visit Bosnia

Coming to the trip, I am not going to describe it in the sequence of the itinerary, but just some of the wonderful places we visited and the memorable experiences. We had 10 days for the trip and I would say a minimum of one week is needed to barely enjoy what Bosnia has to offer. However, two weeks if available would make it less hectic and give more time to absorb most of what Bosnia has to offer.

Our trip started in Sarajevo, a beautiful city. Even though it’s Bosnia’s largest city, the population is around half a million. Remember Bosnia itself has a relatively small population of 3.5 million. An additional 2 million people in the Bosnian diaspora are spread throughout the world, mostly due to the Balkan wars of the 1990s. We walked through the old town and heard amazing stories from our guide. Although I have never been to Jerusalem, I have seen its pictures and can see why many people refer to Sarajevo as the “little Jerusalem”. We heard the interesting story about the assassination of the Archduke of Austria in 1914 (the Austria-Hungarian empire controlled Bosnia at the time) and the beginning of World War 1. We visited the Ottoman bazaar, the City Hall, the Emperor’s Mosque, and many other interesting areas.

Sarajevo

Sarajevo, capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina, is a compact city on the Miljacka River, surrounded by the Dinaric Alps. Its center has museums commemorating local history, including Sarajevo 1878–1918, which covers the 1914 assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, an event that sparked World War I. Landmarks of the old quarter, Baš?aršija, include the Ottoman-era Gazi Husrev-bey Mosque.

Like most cities in Bosnia, a river flows right through the center of Sarajevo.

The magnificent building that houses Sarajevo City Hall is located in the city of Sarajevo. It was initially the largest and most representative building of the Austro-Hungarian period in Sarajevo and served as the city hall. During the siege of Sarajevo that lasted over 3 years, Serbs targeted this building, focusing on destroying a rich collection of books and manuscripts inside it, and it was essentially burned down. After years of reconstruction, the building was reopened on May 9, 2014.

As we were walking on the streets, I took a picture of a man sitting carefree on the bench near the garden. I found this man’s peaceful enjoyment of the weather fascinating. He was in his own world— eyes closed and smiling.

Visit Bosnia

As you go into the Old Town, you will find many shops like this one in the picture of metal-crafts. Bosnians have been historically folks with mastery in metal and wood crafts. One historic shop that still functions and has some fabulous wood pieces is shown in the pictures.

 

 

As you go through the city, you will find many graveyards as well, reminding everyone of the longest modern age siege of Sarajevo. One particular grim reminder is a memorial near the city center dedicated to the children who were killed during the war.

Visit Bosnia, SarajevoOur trip coincided with the annual somber anniversary of the beginning of the siege, April 5, 1992. Bouquets of flowers adorned the remembrance area.

Visit Bosnia

Another major graveyard (massive area) has graves of Bosnian Muslims, Bosnian Serbs (Orthodox Christians) and few Bosnian Croats (Catholics). They fought against each other with the oppressor by all accounts being the Serbs. Now they all lie together next to each other. The white tombstones are Muslims, the black ones Serbs. One pic shows a particular Serb person who lived 101 years, only to die in the first year of the war. Most of the tombstones indicated the year of death during 1992-95, the war years. Some of the white tombstones have “Sehid” written which means martyr. Interestingly, Serbs use Greek letters and other Bosnians Latin, so most signs are in both languages.

You can go up to a café in Hecco Deluxe Hotel, which is Sarajevo’s oldest “skyscraper” and just absorb a 360 view of the city.  I was able to take one picture that captured the signs of all three major religious groups in Bosnia, as labeled in the photo. However, this is also a reflection of a country divided with 3 presidents, one from each religious group. Remember that the massacres were conducted by mostly Bosnian Serbs (not Serbian Serbs) and at some point, the Bosnian Croats also backstabbed the Bosnian Muslims (for example by destroying the vital ottoman old bridge in Mostar). Croatia and Serbia were planning to divide Bosnia between themselves but the Bosnian Muslims held their own until finally, NATO stepped in. It remains shocking how genocide could happen in the 90s in the heart of Europe. And it says a lot about the hypocrisy of the “West” in general. Many Bosnian Muslims remain bitter about it and I find it amazing that despite living among their potential killers, no revenge attacks have taken place. The political situation remains stable but tenuous— extremely safe but one political crisis away from going downhill. However, everyone is war fatigued and in case of a crisis, most people intend to just leave the country than to fight again.

Visit Bosnia

A view from Hecco Deluxe Hotel, Bosnia

Visit Bosnia

In the old city, you will also find the famous Gazi Husrev-beg Mosque that was built in the 16th century; it is the largest historical mosque in Bosnia and Herzegovina and one of the most representative Ottoman structures in the Balkans. A very interesting facet of the mosque is the clock tower. This is probably the only clock in the world that starts at dawn and ends at dusk. Every day, a caretaker adjusts the time to reflect the actual hours. So whenever you look at it, you will know how many hours to Maghrib prayers!

Watering hole structure for stray cats and dogs

Another interesting feature and a reflection of the concern for animals is the watering hole structure set up for stray cats and dogs. It kind of looks like a toilet seat, with the purpose that an animal like a cat may climb the seat and drink from the small water reservoir that is constantly filled by the caretakers.

If you want to shop for normal stuff, there is the Sarajevo City Center (SCC). It has all the popular international brands, but what I found interesting is that the prices were in many cases even lower than American prices, which if you have been around, is quite rare. So if you are coming from the Middle East or Europe, definitely check this mall out.

Vrelo Bosne:

 

Just outside Sarajevo in the outskirts of the city, you a public park, featuring the spring of the River Bosna, at the foothills of the Mount Igman on the outskirts of Sarajevo. This beautiful park and the spring is a remarkable sight. It is a must see when you visit Bosnia. Crystal clear water allows you to see the entire waterbed. A beautiful white swan swam, followed by a couple of gorgeous ducks.

Visit Bosnia

Museum Tunnel of War:

This small museum showcases the tunnel that was built underneath the airport tarmac by Bosnian Muslims in order to carry food, supplies and even arms. It was called “Tunnel of Hope” and constructed between March and June 1993 during the Siege of Sarajevo. While the Bosnian Serbs besieging the country were armed to the teeth with weapons from the ex-Yugoslavian army, an embargo of weapons was applied, essentially making Bosnian Muslims sitting ducks. Such was the treachery of the international community. This tunnel helped the Bosnian Muslims protect Sarajevo from total surrender. You can see the names of those killed here.

A truck driver on the “exit” side of the tunnel would then transport these supplies up and down some treacherous mountains. The driver’s wife is still alive and has a small shop that sells souvenirs—be sure to visit and buy some.

Blagaj

This is a village-town in the southeastern region of the Mostar basin. Here we relaxed and ate fresh fish at the source of the Buna River, right next to where the water sprung out from the mountains underneath a cave. This is one of those dining experiences where the scenery makes your food even more enjoyable than it would have otherwise been.

Travnik

Visit Bosnia

This is a town and municipality and the administrative center of Central Bosnia Canton. It is situated about 50 miles west of Sarajevo. Historically, it was the capital city of the governors of Bosnia from 1699 to 1850, and has a cultural heritage dating from that period. Here you see a pre-Ottoman Fort (1300s) is still in great shape. It stands on top of the hill with mountains behind it so no one could enter the city without being spotted. The scenery from the top is also fantastic as seen in the picture. The oldest mosque of the city was built here. There were 20 mosques were built in the city, of which 17 survived to date.

Jajce

It is situated in the mountains; there is a beautiful countryside near the city, rivers such as the Vrbas and Pliva, lakes like Pliva Lake, which is also a popular destination for the local people and some tourists. This lake is called Brana in the local parlance. In 1527, Jajce became the last Bosnian town to fall to Ottoman rule, and you will see the gate to the city that fell to the Ottomans.  The 17-meter high Pliva waterfall was named one of the 12 most beautiful waterfalls in the world.

Mostar

Visit Bosnia

It is situated on the Neretva River and is the fifth-largest city in the country. Mostar was named after the bridge keepers (mostari) who in the medieval times guarded the Stari Most (Old Bridge) over the Neretva. The Old Bridge, built by the Ottomans in the 16th century, is one of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s most visited landmarks and is considered an exemplary piece of Islamic architecture in the Balkans. The Old Bridge stood for 427 years until the Croatian army destroyed it in an act of treachery in November 1993. It was rebuilt and reopened in July 2004 with support from various nations.

 

Mostar is a beautiful city. You can also shop here and like all of Bosnia, you will not be haggled or conned (something that has become a feature of doing business in Turkey, unfortunately). There is one large shop that sells bed-sheets, table covers, etc. owned by a guy from Kosovo. You will not miss it if you are going through the bazaar. That is worth buying if you like such stuff.

Not far from the Old Bridge, you can climb up a narrow staircase to a top of a mosque minaret and have another breath-taking view of the city and of the Old Bridge itself. The climb is not terribly difficult but may be a stretch for the elder.

Visit Bosnia

Mostar Old Bridge (1567) (UNESCO World Heritage List)

Olympic Mountains Bjelasnica

Bjelašnica is a mountain in central Bosnia and Herzegovina. It is found directly to the southwest of Sarajevo, bordering Mt. Igman.  Bjelašnica’s tallest peak, by which the whole mountain group got its name, rises to an elevation of 2067 meters (6782 feet). This is one of the resorts that hosted the 1984 winter Olympics. The main hotel here serves delicious food. If you are a skier, then the many mountains of Bosnia make for perfect (and very cheap) skiing options.

Bosnia

Srebrenica

Visit Bosnia

Srebenica, Bosnia

Epicenter of the Bosnian genocide, where 8372 civilians were murdered as the world watched callously. This is a must when you visit Bosnia. The genocide museum houses stories and eyewitness accounts. It is in one part of a massive warehouse that used to be a factory for car batteries before it became the command post for the UN designated Dutch army, sent to protect the Bosnian Muslim civilians, but later turning into cowards who gave up thousands for slaughter.

We met a survivor whose to this date chokes as he recalls his escape, walking 60 miles sleepless, hungry to reach Bosnian territory. Shakes you to the core.

Till today, not all bodies have been found or identified. Some of the bodies were moved to secondary graves by the Serbs to hide evidence. The green posts are the discoveries between one July 11 anniversary to the next— to be converted to white tombstones.

 

This day trip by far was the most moving. A genocide that shook us 25 years ago, but that we only heard of, is brought to life here. The museum offers stories and footage of the genocide. The graveyard makes your heart sink.

Unfortunately, this genocide is mostly forgotten and is something that we must never forget. Just as visits to Auschwitz are important to remember the Holocaust, we must make Srebrenica a place to visit, such that it becomes a history that we must never forget.

Other places of interest (not all-inclusive by any means):

Woodcrafts in Konjic, Bosnia

On the way back from Mostar to Sarajevo, be sure to stop by Konjic where you can stop by a very old woodcarving shop that to this date provides fabulous woodcrafts.

Visit Bosnia

You can also stop by Sunny Land, a small park where you can ride an alpine roller coaster that kids (and adults) will definitely enjoy. A bit further from this location, you can see the remains of the bobsled structure, built for the 1984 Winter Olympics.

Visit Bosnia, Sunnyland

Our guide was The Bosnian Guide.

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#Life

Mindful or Mind-full? Going From AutoPilot to Aware

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Mindful

Modeling Mindfulness

Mindfull

“Remember that God knows what is in your souls, so be mindful of Him.”

[Sūrat al-Baqarah 2:235]

Mindful or Mind-full?

Ever felt frustrated when you were trying to talk to your spouse, your children, your students, or your youth group and they would just not pay attention? This is a prime example of being on autopilot and getting carried away without actually being aware of what is most important in the present moment.

A recent Harvard study shows that our minds are not present in the moment and wander about 47% of the time1. In a world of technology and continuous sensory overload, the lines between work and home, friends and family, necessity vs. purpose, world-centric vs. Allah-centric have become blurred. We are either living in the past or ruminating about the future, and in the process, we are forgetting to live, enjoy, cherish, and make the most of our present moments.

For parents, teachers, youth leaders, and anyone in the beautiful role of guiding, teaching, coaching, or mentoring others, we can make a huge difference by modeling Mindfulness ourselves. But where do we start? The answer is to go from autopilot to becoming aware.

Autopilot to Aware

Being on autopilot is when you are distracted in the present moment, where your mind is wandering into the past or the future, and you are less aware of yourself, surroundings, or others. Autopilot can actually be pretty helpful for your regular habits. Waking up, brushing your teeth, getting ready for your day, going to school or work – many of the things we do habitually every day can be done more seamlessly without having to think, and that is a good thing. But there are times when you have to learn to turn off your autopilot to become aware. But how?

Here is a Mindfulness tool that can be done in just a minute or two for you to become more aware.

Step 1: Breath as a Tool. Say Bismillah. Focus on your breath. See where you experience the breath – the breathing in and breathing out of your body. Is your breath stemming from your nostrils, your chest, or your stomach? Just bring your attention to your breath and relax and stay with it there for a few moments.

Step 2: Body as a Tool. Relax your body. We carry so many emotions in our bodies2. Our stress from the past or anticipation for the future sometimes finds its way into our necks, other times in our chest muscles or our backs. Pay attention to what emotions and sensations do you feel, and try to relax all parts of your body.

Step 3: Intention as a Tool. As you have centered your thoughts to the present moment through your breath and your body, ask yourself: “What is most important now? In this present moment?”

Just simply being aware makes us more mindful parents, teachers, youth and professionals – being aware makes us more Mindful of Allah SWT. Mindfulness is the ability to be aware of your mind and body and bring your attention to the present moment.

Mindful

Real Life in the Present Moment

You are an on-the-go parent: It has been a long day and you have to pick up the kids from school, but work is still pending. You’re picking up the kids from school, feeding them, and then shuffling everyone to their afterschool activities, be it Qur’an, softball, soccer, swimming, or the million other things that kids seem to have these days. You squeeze pending work in between drop-offs and pick-ups, and you function by living from one task to the next.

The Autopilot Impact: You’re getting a lot done, but are so engrossed in quickly moving your children along from one thing to another that you are unable to really cherish your time together.

The Mindfulness Suggestion: You can try to go from autopilot to awareness by focusing on your breath, paying attention to your emotions, and relaxing your body. As you do so, ask yourself: “What is most important now?” Make the intention to slow down, listen to the children more mindfully, and cherish and enjoy your time together.

You are a busy teacher: Last night you had to take all the grading home and spent two hours poring over students’ work. This morning, you woke up early to pick up some classroom supplies after dropping off your own kids to school. You’ve already had two cups of coffee and are trying to think through everything you have to do today. You like the idea of Mindfulness, living life in the present moment, and enjoying every day to its fullest, but your mind is not free to even enjoy the beautiful morning sunrise as you drive to school.

The Autopilot Impact: You want to listen and pay attention to every child’s needs, and enjoy the rewards of their growth, but you can’t. What’s more, you judge yourself for just trying to get through your activities for the day. You wish you could connect with your students better.

The Mindfulness Suggestion: Whenever you are stressed with an unpleasant parent or student interaction, think about breathing, relaxing your body, and asking what you need to focus on now. Try to do one thing at a time, and relax into what you’re doing.

You are an overstretched youth director: You are a role model. You have this major weekend event you are planning with the youth. Your budget is still pending from the board, you have to call all these people, have to get the graphics and remind everyone about the event, you have to visit all these masjids and MSAs to announce and remind people about the weekend.

This weekend’s theme is Living a Life of Purpose and you are super passionate about it. However, the whole week you have had a hard time remembering to even pray one Salah with focus. Instead, your mind has been preoccupied with all the endless planning for this weekend. You love what you do but you wonder how to also be mindful in your everyday worship while you are always prepping and planning engaging activities for the youth.

The Autopilot Impact: You enjoy shaping the youth but you are losing steam. You are always planning the next program and unable to focus on your own personal and spiritual development. It is difficult for you to pray even one salah without thinking about all the events and activities planned for that week.

The Mindfulness Suggestion: Get serious about taking some time for yourself. Know that becoming more mindful about your own prayers and self-development will also make you a better role model. Take a minute or two before every Salah to practice the simple, 3-Step Mindfulness Tool. You say Bismillah and breathe, focus your mind, and then relax your body. Empty your mind from everything else – what has past and what’s to come – and ask “What’s most important now?” to develop better focus in your Salah.

In Conclusion: Practice Simple but Solid Steps towards becoming more Mindful Muslims

Mindfulness is to open a window to let the Divine light in.

[Imam Al Ghazali]

Mindfulness gives us the ability to be aware. We can use Mindfulness tools to remember Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He), refocus, renew our intentions, and engage with the present moment in a more effective and enjoyable way. Mindfulness also invites awareness of our potential negligence in being our best selves with both Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) and His creation. To put it simply, being more aware of our selves can help us be better versions of our selves.

Mindfulness is both an art and a science, with brain and behavioral science research validating the importance of Mindfulness in improving our health, managing our stress, navigating our emotions, and positively impacting our lives3. In today’s modern and distracted world, let us treasure every tool that helps us center our attention on what matters the most.

  1. Bradt, Steve (2010). Wandering mind not a happy mind. Harvard Gazette. https://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2010/11/wandering-mind-not-a-happy-mind/
  2. Lauri Nummenmaa, Enrico Glerean, Riitta Hari, Jari K. Hietanen (2013). Bodily maps of emotions. National Academy of Sciences. https://www.pnas.org/content/early/2013/12/26/1321664111
  3. “What are the benefits of mindfulness,” American Psychological Association: http://www.apa.org/monitor/2012/07-08/ce-corner.aspx

To learn more about how to become mindful take the Define Course on Mindfulness and Emotional Intelligence.

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