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The Man Who Died in Jannah | Yahya Ibrahim

jannah raudah
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Al-Bayhaqi reported in “Shu’ab Al-Eman” that Abu Sa’eed Al-Khudri raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) narrated: “The Prophet ﷺ passed by a funeral procession near a grave and he asked: ”Whose grave is this?” They (the companions) replied: “It is the grave of so and so from Abyssinia (Ethiopia).”

Thereupon, the Prophet ﷺ said, “Laa Ilaaha Illa Allah [None has the right to be worshipped but Allah] he was driven from Allah’s earth and heaven to his soil from which he was created.” [Al-Albani classified this Hadeeth as Hasan in As-Silsilah As-Sahihah.]

The great Imam of Sunnah ‘Abdur-Razzaaq may Allah have mercy upon him reported in his “Al-Musnnaf” that Ibn ‘Abbas, may Allah be pleased him, said: “Every person will be buried in the soil from which he was created.”

The elements of the Earth from which you were fashioned, are the same elements of the Earth from which you are returned.

Let me tell you about an Algerian man named Bukhari who died in a Garden of Paradise.

To arrive at the Sacred Raudah – Garden of Paradise, that which spreads between the ancient, although still partially erect home of the Prophet Muhammed ﷺ and the location of his minbar (pulpit), requires tenacity, patience and opportunity. Thousands of people line up to get a chance to pray in the hallowed Raudah. All with good reason.

Abu Hurayrah reports that the Prophet ﷺ said: “The area between my house and my minbar is one of the gardens (riyaad, sing. raudah) of Jannah (Paradise), and my minbar is on my cistern (hawd)” Narrated by al-Bukhari, 1196; Muslim, 1391.

Most who attend to the Raudah want to pray two units of Prayer, and some intend to do it, according to historical evidence in particular locations and near particular pillars.

Yazeed ibn Abi ‘Ubayd said: “I used to come with Salamah ibn al-Akwa’ (RadiyaAllahu anhu) and he would pray by the pillar which was by the mus-haf, i.e. in the Raudah. I said, ‘O Abu Muslim, I see that you are keen to pray by this pillar!’ He said, ‘I saw that the Prophet ﷺ was keen to pray here.’” Narrated by al-Bukhari, 502; Muslim, 509.

The task of arriving there on any given Friday is even scarcer, as the best of days, attracts the locals in droves and masses from surrounding cities, not to mention the continuous flow of international visitors answering the invitation extended by the Prophet ﷺ.

He ﷺ said, “Do not travel to visit any mosques except three: al-Masjid al-Haraam [in Makkah], this Mosque of mine [in Madina] and al-Masjid al-Aqsa [in Jerusalem].” Narrated by al-Bukhari, 1189; Muslim, 1397.

Everyone flocks to al-Habib! Everyone, local or foreigner, seeks out the relief of prostration near where al-Mustapha ﷺ lived his glorious messengership.

He ﷺ said: “One prayer in this Mosque of mine is better than one thousand prayers offered anywhere else, except al-Masjid al-Haraam.” Narrated by al-Bukhari, 1190; Muslim, 1394.

1000 prayers. 1000 Jumah Prayers. 1000!

2 am of every day I am blessed to be in Madina, I arrive to Bab Jibreel (the Gate of the Angel Gabriel) and offer two rakat as soon as I see an opening that does not disturb anyone. Although some forget, the sanctity of Madina is primal.

Abu Hurayrah reported that the Prophet ﷺ said: “Madina is a Haram (sanctuary), so whoever commits evil therein or gives protection to an evildoer, the curse of Allah, the angels and all of mankind may be upon him. Allah will not accept any obligatory or naafil deed from him on the Day of Resurrection.” Narrated by al-Bukhari, 1867; Muslim, 1370

I then make my way towards the Raudah from the back moving forward as best as I can without hopping over the shoulder or cutting in front of anyone praying. Although it is almost four hours before fajr, the Masjid is still quite busy. At this time of night, however, the Raudah is not sectioned off as it is for the majority of the day. So arriving to it, with minimal disturbance of others and securing a spot is relatively assured, if you come this early.

I love to pray at the Ustuwaanah of Aisha RadiyAllahu anha.

The Prophet ﷺ used to say his prayers here and Aisha reported that the Prophet ﷺ said: “In this masjid is one such spot that if people knew the true blessed nature thereof, they would flock towards it in such in a manner to pray there they would have to cast such lots (i.e. Qu’rah).

People asked her to point out the exact spot, which she refused to do. Later on, at the persistence of Abdullah bin Zubair radiyAllahu anhu she pointed to this spot.

It takes an hour that seems like much longer for me to finally arrive in the Raudah and at my favourite spot.

I pray and let others pray and move along, but I retain my treasured spot. After Fajr the Raudah is sealed upon those already in it for an hour, until the sunrises.

After Fajr, many in the Raudah discover that you cannot offer prayers until the sun fully rises again (Shooruk). Some elect to leave. The Raudah grows sweeter.

About 10 minutes after the Fajr concluded, a middle aged man, dressed in traditional white Algerian/Moroccan attire collapses in the heavy volume of people seeking to greet the Prophet ﷺ at the golden gate. The decision is made that the best place for him to recover is in the now calm Raudah.

As he is carried in, we all assume it will be a few minutes before the paramedics attend to him. His younger brother has a nervous look on his face. I go and sit near him and smile saying, insha Allah it will all be ok. He informs me his brother’s name is Bukhari.

He is a man who outwardly you would, mistakenly, assume him inconsequential, by the absence of any worldly markings and regalia.

I approach him and ask permission from the officers to provide some care. I massage his chest to see if there is any reaction, as I notice no heartbeat or breathing. I use my phone flashlight function to see if the pupils are dilating. A Morrocan physician also in the Raudah, and staying at my hotel comes over to help. We provide primary care and seek to revive Bukhari. We work on him for 10 minutes.

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Truly, it was like water pouring out of a vessel. His soul was light, easy and fluid.

It’s quiet. Inexplicably, quiet. The sound of the thousands is hushed prayers. We all recognise the virtue, insha Allah, of Bukhari. Those outside the Raudah look on at him in hope of a similar end, as all of us inside exclaim in prayer for one another. Truly, it was like water pouring out of a vessel. His soul was light, easy and fluid.

The hours others stand to arrive in al-Raudah were circumvented.

The squeezing in to find a foothold were by-passed.

The man who travelled from Algeria who could not find room in ar-Raudah and prayed outside on the marble, as his brother told me, was carried in by official guard.

The man that most of us would assume a simple pilgrim, was an honoured guest of Allah, insha Allah.

The man who lived a lifetime away and was visiting Madina for the first time, was laid down to breathe his last breath no more than 10 meters from the resting place of an Nabi Muhammed ﷺ.

A little before 7 am, on the blessed day of Jumah Bukhari drew his last breath of life, as he lay reclined in the Raudah of Rasul ul-Allah ﷺ.

I closed his eyes and prayed for him, although in my heart I wished that this blessed soul could have prayed for me before his departure.

Bukhari, rahimahullah, later that day, after being prayed on after Jumah prayers, was entombed in al-Baqi – the Graveyard near the Prophet’s Masjid.

Bukhari was made from Madina and to Madina he was returned.

Ya Allah allow me to meet Bukhari, the Algerian, in Jannatul Firdaous, Allahumma Ameen.

 

 

 

 

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Ustadh Yahya Ibrahim is Canadian by birth & education, Egyptian through a rich ancestry, Turkish via the blessing of marriage to Songul and Australian by Choice of residence and migration.Since his early teens, in the 90's, Ustadh Yahya has been talking about Islam to Muslims and non-Muslims. He was blessed with numerous opportunities to meet, translate, study and teach alongside some of the Islamic worlds top scholars.Ustadh Yahya is blessed now to be living in Perth, Western Australia with his wife and three wonderful children – Shireen, Omar and Adam. He is a regular lecturer to Muslim and non-Muslim audiences their and around the world. Recently, Ustadh Yahya was awarded by the West Australian State Government the "Individual Excellence in Community Service Award."Ustadh Yahya is a passionate educator with a decades experience in school leadership as an Asst. Principal & registered Teacher.He, also, serves the Muslim community at Curtin University and the University of Western Australia as the Islamic Chaplain and teaches Islamic Ethics & Theology,internationally, with al-Kauthar Institute www.alkauthar.org .

15 Comments

15 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Sheima Sumer

    January 9, 2015 at 3:31 PM

    What a beautiful article, MashAllah. It is full of love of the Prophet (s) and the deen! I learned a lot from it, JazakAllah khair.

  2. Avatar

    naima

    January 10, 2015 at 12:42 AM

    Ya Allah…..wat asweet artcle heart touching you envy such soul i cant imagine hw one wishes to like such lucky soul….how lucky to be guest of Allah you achieved ur altimate goal..ya Akhi your lucky bro yahya plzz rem me ad my family to visit that beurifull place inshaa Allah rem me in your prayers my name naima plzzzzz brother may Allah make us too be his guest that stament was touching…to be guest of Allah …ya Allah…SubhanaAllah

  3. Avatar

    Sunny Salman Jamil

    January 10, 2015 at 1:14 AM

    Subhaan Allaah. What a blessed man you were able to come across!

    I must admit that the article was a difficult read due to punctuation and sentence structure.

  4. Avatar

    malaysianwifetomasrihubby

    January 10, 2015 at 4:27 AM

    I comment here by the urge to die like him and out of love to syeikh and wife….a bit regret this sweetly named uncle of ours cannot be prayed before solat jemaah …..I love his name and his soil of soul…..sollu alannabi….

  5. WAJiD

    WAJiD

    January 10, 2015 at 4:12 PM

    Asalaam Alaikum,

    MashaAllah – what an amazing and touching story. Had this scene taken place anywhere else in the world, it would have been a scene of distress, wailing and trauma.

    Instead, as you so nicely pointed out, it seems almost serene.

  6. Avatar

    Amatullah

    January 12, 2015 at 2:18 AM

    Ustadh Yahya Ibrahim,
    Could you pls get me more details of this blessed man. From his bro or something.. If you get to meet him or someone who knows about him. The way he lived his life, his traits and what people say about him. I am desperate to know more of this man. May Allah help us all become better spiritually, Aameen

    • Avatar

      Umm Sulaimon

      January 12, 2015 at 10:00 PM

      I agree! Please inform us of the lifestyle, character, and habits of this fortunate man if you are able to find out. Looking forward to hearing about the life of the man who died in jannah.

  7. Pingback: El hombre que murió en al-Raudah

  8. Avatar

    dr ikram

    April 1, 2015 at 3:42 AM

    Ohhh. How i wish i could die like that.how much i wish that i meet the angel of death in the best of his forms.i would not be able to bear his worst form.i wish i die in ramadaan,on a jumaa,in masjid e nabvi, while in sujood. Allah protect me n the entire ummah from the torments of grave.the most touching line of the entire article was that he was allahs guest.

  9. Avatar

    Bint Mihdhar Khalifa

    July 19, 2015 at 12:07 PM

    Allahumma rzuqni qablal mauti taubah wa indal mauti shahaada wa ba3dal mauti Jannatel Firdaus….. SubhanaAllah what a great place to die….. yarabi irham mautanal muslimin wal muslimaat.

  10. Avatar

    kulthum

    July 19, 2015 at 6:52 PM

    May Allah grant us good death like his and may He make us all meet in jannat ul firdous and meet bukhari

  11. Avatar

    Sadik

    July 20, 2015 at 9:50 AM

    Mashaa Allah, what a beautiful true story! Jazakallahu khairan ya Shaikh for sharing it with us. May Allah swt grant us this kind of blessed death.. Ameen

  12. Avatar

    Muhammad Iqbal

    July 21, 2015 at 11:55 PM

    Beautiful article, beautiful person and a beautiful end. SubhanAllah

  13. Avatar

    Shsista

    July 23, 2015 at 8:38 PM

    Need to learn islam

  14. Avatar

    Badr

    August 8, 2016 at 4:01 AM

    I was fortunate enough to be in a Seminar with Sheikh Yahya and listened to him relate to us this very same story first hand….SubhanAllah, I was moved so much by the story and so were everyone else in the lecture theatre of this blessed brother of ours and his honoured end in this dunya. I pray to the Almighty that the soil I was created from is somewhere inside any of the three blessed Harams. Allahuma Ameen.

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#Life

Convert Story: To Ask Or Not to Ask, That is the Question

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“How did you convert to Islam” is a question that is commonly asked to those who convert to Islam. While the short answer to this question is, “I said shahada”, the long (and more detailed) answer is one that is commonly expected.

It is important to acknowledge that the majority of “born Muslims” who ask this question do such out of good intentions. For this reason, I wrote this piece out of a place of love and not out of a place of judgment or hatred. While it is important for “born Muslims” to be mindful of how they ask this question, it is equally important for converts to not hold ill will towards born Muslims who ask this question. Due to the fact that Islamophobia is rampant in both the media and political discourse, many “born Muslims” are naturally shocked and emotional when they meet people who accept Islam. Some “born Muslims” have also had limited interactions with converts and therefore, to them, it is not only shocking for them to meet converts, but they are genuinely unaware of certain etiquettes when it comes to asking a convert for his or her story.

In this piece, I am going to write about a pet peeve that is shared among many Muslim converts. While I cannot speak for every single convert, I can say that based on innumerable conversations I have had with fellow converts, there is one thing most of us agree on and it is this; it is rude to ask a convert about his or her conversion story when you haven’t built a relationship with the convert. This piece will explain why many converts consider such a question to be intrusive. The purpose of this article is to better educate the “born Muslim” community on how they can do a better job in support of converts to Islam. In this piece, I will break down the reasons why this question can come off as intrusive if it isn’t asked in a proper manner. I will also include personal anecdotes to support my position.

I would like to conclude by saying that I do not discourage “born Muslims” from asking this question entirely, rather I am merely arguing that this question should be asked with the best of adab.

Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) said:  “Part of a person’s being a good Muslim is leaving alone that which does not concern him.” (Tirmidhi) For this reason, such a question should be asked for purpose and it should be done with the best of manners. This is supported by the fact that Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) said, “I have been sent to perfect good character.” (Al Muwatta)

Note: For the sake of avoiding confusion, the term “born Muslim” is defined as anyone who was brought up in a Muslim household.

To ask a convert “Why did you convert?” is to ask about the person’s personal relationship with God

Within the context of a friendship, it is generally understood that friends will share personal details with each other. However, it is also generally understood that it is rude to ask people you just met personal questions. To ask a new acquaintance a personal question in most cases comes off as intrusive. This is especially the case in which you ask a person about his or her relationship with God.

For example, there are women who do not wear hijab. Even if we do (for a moment) ignore the Islamic ruling concerning hijab, we should all agree that a woman’s reason for wearing (or not wearing) hijab is a personal matter that is between said woman and God. If one was to ask a woman who doesn’t wear hijab why she doesn’t wear it, that would be intrusive because such a question would involve interrogating said woman about her relationship with God.

Another example concerns a married couple. If one was to meet a married person for the first time, it can be considered rude to ask said person about his or her relationship with his or her spouse.

When one asks a convert about his or her choice to convert, one is literally asking said convert about his or her relationship with God.

I am not saying that it is wrong in all cases to ask such a question. However, one should be mindful of the fact that because this is a personal question, one should have at least have built some form of a friendship with said person before asking.

convert friendship hugs

To ask a convert “Why did you convert?” is another way of asking, “Why do you believe in Islam?”

Many people identify to a faith tradition because it was part of their upbringing. If you were to ask a person who was born Muslim, “why are you Muslim?” you might hear said Muslim respond with, “I am Muslim because I was raised Muslim” and you wouldn’t hear a detailed answer beyond this.

In most cases, a convert to Islam (or any other religion) did such after research and critical thinking. To convert to a new religion involves not only deep thinking but a willingness to step into the unknown.

I have on many occasions told my story to people. In most cases I will ask the person “why do you believe in Islam?” I am then disappointed when I find out that the only reason the person is Muslim is due to upbringing. While I am not saying that said person’s faith is invalid or less than mine, a person who only identifies with a religion due to upbringing is a person who didn’t engage in critical thinking.

Any relationship should be built upon equality and mutual benefit. If I as a convert am able to provide a well thought out answer as to why I believe in Islam, I expect a well thought out answer to the same question from the person who initially asked me.

Again, while I am not saying it is wrong in all cases to ask, a born Muslim should ask himself or herself “why do I believe in Islam?” In my opinion, there are many who are born into Muslim families who don’t truly believe until later in their lives. Those Muslims in my opinion (and mine alone) are similar to converts.

To ask a convert “Why did you convert?” is to ask the convert to perform labor.

In some cases, “born Muslims” expect converts to tell their stories. I can remember a few incidents in which I have been asked to tell my story and I politely declined. In response, the person became angry. This to me is a symptom of entitlement. Nobody is entitled to know anything about anyone else (aside from people with whom one has a natural relationship with).

In addition, one should be cognizant of the fact that converts typically get asked this question repeatedly. Thus after a significant amount of time, a convert is prone to get tired of repeating the same question over again repeatedly. Naturally, it can become exhausting eventually.

While I do not believe it is wrong to ask this question in all cases, one should not ask this question to a convert from a place of entitlement. I can think of cases where I have been asked this question by “born Muslims” and when I have refused to provide an answer, they have gotten angry at me. This is entitlement.

To ask a convert “Why did you convert?” is to ask the convert to explain his or her personal life.

Backbiting is one of the worst sins in Islam. Another major sin is to disrespect one’s parents. Thus we can conclude that backbiting about one’s parents is a huge sin.

This is evidenced by the fact that Allah has said (ﷻ) “We have enjoined on humankind kindness to parents.” (Quran 29:8)

A typical follow-up question to “Why did you convert?” is “How did your parents react?” This in many cases puts the convert in a position where one may feel pressured to mention some negative details about his or her parents. In Islam, parents are to be respected, even if they aren’t Muslim.

Before asking a convert this question, one should be mindful of not putting unnecessary pressure on the convert to commit this injustice.

convert friendship

Cases when it is appropriate to ask

However, I do maintain a firm belief that in any true friendship, things will be shared. I don’t think it is wrong in itself to ask a convert about his or her story provided that there already exists a relationship where personal information can be shared. It is highly suggested to hang out with the person first and then ask the convert for his or her story.

As a personal rule of mine, unless I have hung out with the person one on one at least once (or a few times in group gatherings) I don’t tell any born Muslims my conversion story. Naturally, I only share personal details with people I consider to be a friend. If I would hang out with the person, I consider that person to be a friend.

The reason I am also hesitant to share my story with just anyone who asks me is because I can think of countless cases of when I have shared my story to people I have never seen or heard from again. I choose to exert my agency to share personal details of my life to people who I consider to be part of my life. While many Muslims are happy when people convert, many Muslims also fail to provide any form of support for said convert after conversion. I have seen too many cases of when a person recites shahadah, people pull their phones out to record it, but very few will give the convert his or her number. I genuinely believe that many “born Muslims” fail to see the big picture in this regard.

Before asking a convert for his or her story, you should ask yourself if you are comfortable sharing personal details of your life to that person. If you are not comfortable sharing personal details of your life to that person, there is nothing wrong with that. However, you shouldn’t expect the convert to share personal details if you aren’t comfortable sharing personal details. Even if you have built a close friendship with someone, you still aren’t expected to share every detail of your life to someone. Even if you consider a convert to be a close friend, you should still respect a convert’s wishes to not share his or her story.

Conclusion

While I have addressed concerns about the tendency of “born Muslims” to ask converts about their journeys, I want to acknowledge that most people have good intentions. In Islam, the natural state of any person is one of righteousness.

I firmly believe that a friendship that isn’t built on trust and the sharing of personal information isn’t a genuine friendship. Therefore the key term in this context is “friend”. If you wish to ask a convert his or her story, please make sure the following conditions are met:

  1. You are already friends with the convert to a point where asking a convert about his or her relationship with God isn’t an intrusive question. Ask yourself, “Are we close enough where we can share other personal details of our lives with each other?”
  2. You have a well thought out reason as to why you believe in Islam.
  3. You don’t feel entitled to know about the convert’s journey and that you will allow the convert to choose not to share such information if the convert doesn’t wish to.
  4. You don’t probe into the convert’s relationships with other people.
  5. You aren’t just asking the question to somehow feel validated about your belief in Islam.

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Dawah and Interfaith

10 Lessons I Learned While Serving Those in Need

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I have spent about a decade serving the impoverished domestically and recently, abroad. I don’t work for a major charity organization, I work for my community, through grassroots efforts. It was something embedded in me while learning Islam. Before starting a charity organization, I started studying Islam with Dr. Hatem Alhaj (my mentor) and various other scholars. The more I studied, the more I wanted to implement what I was learning. What my community needed at the time was intensive charity work, as it was neglected entirely by our community. From that, I collected 10 lessons from servicing those in need. 

1. My bubble burst

One of the first things I experienced was the bursting of my bubble, a sense of realization. I, like many others, was unaware of the hardship in my own community. Yes, we know the hadith and see the events unfold on the news and social media, but when a father of three cried before me because a bag of groceries was made available for him to take home, that moment changed me. We tend to forget how little it takes, to make a huge difference in someone’s life. This experience, made me understand the following hadith of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him): “Every Muslim has to give in charity.” The people then asked: “(But what) if someone has nothing to give, what should he do?” The Prophet replied: “He should work with his hands and benefit himself and also give in charity (from what he earns).” The people further asked: “If he cannot find even that?” He replied: “He should help the needy, who appeal for help.” Then the people asked: “If he cannot do (even) that?” The Prophet said finally: “Then he should perform good deeds and keep away from evil deeds, and that will be regarded as charitable deeds.” – Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 2, Hadith 524. I

t is simply an obligation, due to the amount of good it generates after you do this one action. I then realized even more how beautiful Islam is for commanding this deed. 

2. Friendships were developed on good deeds

Serving the poor is a great reward in itself. The Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said: “Save yourself from hellfire by giving even half a date-fruit in charity.” – Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 2, Hadith 498. But it is better done with a team, I began building a team of people with similar objectives in serving the needy. These people later became some of my closest friends, who better to keep close to you than one that serves Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) by helping the neediest in the same community you reside in. Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said: “A person is likely to follow the faith of his friend, so look whom you befriend.” [reported by Abu Dawood & Tirmidhee] This is turn kept me on the right path of pleasing Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He). Working with a team removes a lot of the burden as well and the depression that might occur seeing the saddest stories on a daily basis. Allah says in the Qur’ān, “Indeed the believers are brothers.” (49:10). Sometimes there is a misconception that you have to have a huge office or a large masjid in order to get work done. But honestly, all you need is a dedicated group of people with the right intention and things take off from there. 

The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: 'If you love the poor and bring them near you. . .God will bring you near Him on the Day of Resurrection.' - Al-Tirmidhi,Click To Tweet

3. Made me thankful

This made me thankful for whatever I had, serving the less fortunate reminded me daily to turn to Allah and ask for forgiveness and so be thankful. This kind of service also puts things into perspective. What is truly important in life? I stepped further and further away from a materialistic lifestyle and allowed me to value things that can’t be valued by money. I learned this from the poorest of people in my community, who strived daily for their family regardless of their situation — parents who did what they can to shield their children from their harsh reality. The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: “If you love the poor and bring them near you. . .God will bring you near Him on the Day of Resurrection.” – Al-Tirmidhi, Hadith 1376. They had a quality about them, despite their poverty status. They were always some of the kindest people I have known. 

dardir

4. People want to do Good

I learned that people want to do good; they want to improve their community and society. I began to see the impact on a communal level, people were being more engaged. We were the only Muslim group helping indiscriminately in our county. Even the people we helped, gave back by volunteering at our food pantry. We have schools where small kids (under adult supervision) partake in preparing meals for the needy, local masajids, churches, and temples, high school kids from public schools, and college organizations (Muslim and nonMuslim) visit frequently from several cities in neighboring counties, cities, and states. The good spreads a lot easier and faster than evil. People want to do good, we just need more opportunities for them to join in. United we can rock this world.

“We need more light about each other. Light creates understanding, understanding creates love, love creates patience, and patience creates unity.” Malcolm X. Click To Tweet

5. Smiles

Smiles, I have seen the wealthiest smiles on the poorest people. Despite being on the brink of homelessness, when I saw them they had the best smile on their faces. This wasn’t all of them, but then I would smile back and that changed the environment we were in. The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: “Charity is prescribed for each descendant of Adam every day the sun rises.” He was then asked: “From what do we give charity every day?” The Prophet answered: “The doors of goodness are many…enjoining good, forbidding evil, removing harm from the road, listening to the deaf, leading the blind, guiding one to the object of his need, hurrying with the strength of one’s legs to one in sorrow who is asking for help, and supporting the feeble with the strength of one’s arms–all of these are charity prescribed for you.” He also said: “Your smile for your brother is charity.” – Fiqh-us-Sunnah, Volume 3, Number 98. Smiles are truly universal.

6. It’s ok to cry

It was narrated that Abu Hurayrah raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) said: The Messenger of Allah said: “A man who weeps for fear of Allah will not enter Hell until the milk goes back into the udder, and dust produced (when fighting) for the sake of Allah and the smoke of Hell will never coexist.” Narrated by al-Tirmidhi and al-Nasaa’i. There are situations you see that hit you hard; they fill your heart with emotions, but that never swayed my concrete belief in Allah’s wisdom. Crying before Allah, not just out of fear, but to be thankful for His Mercy upon you is a relief.

7. Learning to say no

It was one of the hardest things I had to do, a lot (if not all) of the requests I received for help were extremely reasonable. I do not think anyone asked for anything outrageous. Our organization started becoming the go-to organization in our area for help, but we are one organization, with limited resources, and a few times we were restricted on when or how we could help. This is where learning to say no became a learned skill. Wedid do our best to follow up with a plan or an alternative resource.

8. It is part of raising a family and finding yourself

How so? Being involved in your community doesn’t take away from raising your family, it is part of it. I can’t watch and do nothing and expect my children to be heroes. I have to lead by example. Helping others is good for my family’s health. Many people living in our country are consumed with their busy lives. Running out the door, getting to work, driving the kids to their after school activities, spending weekends taking care of their families, etc. So people have a fear of investing hours in doing this type of work. But in reality, this work puts more blessings in your time.

One may feel they are taking time away from their family, but in reality, when one comes back home, they find more peace in their home then they left it with. By helping others, I improve the health and culture of my community, this in turn positively impacts my family.

I enjoy being a softie with my family and friends. I am a tall bearded man, and that image suited me better. I am not sure what made me softer, having kids or serving the poor. Either way, it was rewarding and defined my role and purpose in my community.

I learned that you make your own situation. You can be a spectator, or you can get in there and do the best you can to help. It gave me an opportunity to be a role model for my own children, to show them the benefit of doing good and helping when you can.

It came with a lot of humility. Soon after starting I realized that all I am is a facilitator, Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) is giving an opportunity of a lifetime to do this work, a line of work very little people get to engage in regularly. My advice to my readers, if you can serve the poor do so immediately before you get occupied or busy with life.

Helping others is good for my family’s health.Click To Tweet

9. Dawah through action

As I mentioned before I did spend time studying, and at one point developed one of the top dawah initiatives in the country (according to IERA). But the reality is, helping the less fortunate is my type of dawah, people started to associate our food pantry and helping others with Islam. As an organization with one of the most diverse groups of volunteers, people from various religious backgrounds found the environment comfortable and hospitable. I began working with people I never would have worked before if I had stuck to traditional dawah, studying, or masjid involvement, all of which are critical. This became a symbol of Islam in our community, and while serving, we became those that embodied the Quran and Sunnah. For a lot of those we served, we were the first Muslims they encountered, and Alhamdulilah for the team we have. Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) also says in the Quran: “So by mercy from Allah, [O Muhammad], you were lenient with them. And if you had been rude [in speech] and harsh in heart, they would have disbanded from about you” (3:159). It is our actions that can turn people away or towards Islam.

10. Once you serve the needy, you do this for life

I wasn’t volunteering on occasion,— this was an unpaid job that was done regularly. I got requests and calls for emergencies daily at times. It took up hours upon hours every week. As a charity worker, I developed experience and insight in this field. I learned that this was one of the best ways I could serve Allah [swt. “They ask you (O Muhammad) what they should spend in charity. Say: ‘Whatever you spend with a good heart, give it to parents, relatives, orphans, the helpless, and travelers in need. Whatever good you do, God is aware of it.'” – The Holy Quran, 2:215

I believe the work I do with the countless people that do the same is the best work that can be done in our current political climate and globalization. My views and thoughts have evolved over the years seeing situations develop to what they are today. This gave me a comprehensive outlook on our needs as a society and allowed me to venture off and meet people top in their fields like in social activism, environmentalism, labor, etc.

I want to end with three sectors in society that Muslims prosper in and three that Muslims can improve on. We strive on individual education (noncommunal), distributing and organizing charity, and more recently being politically engaged. What we need to improve on is our environmental awareness, working with and understanding unions and labor rights, and organizing anti-war movements. 

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He Catches Me When I Fall: A Journey To Tawakkul

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

There is no sin in grief Click To Tweet

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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