By Brandon Estes
I begin with the name of The Most Merciful, Most Loving, Allah, Creator of all that exists
I must, must, must address this topic that I have encountered all too often lately. I see it online and addressed to me personally. It is when our sweet intention-ed non-Muslim brothers and sisters in humanity come to us with speeches trying to teach us of the overused, infamous, notorious, four-letter word – ‘LOVE’.
This reflection is not talking about the phrases of I love you, or “you are so beloved to me,” but when people spread the notion that is Islam is based solely on fear, without love. When they talk about the other ways of life in which there is just so much love; they say that all religions are the same because they preach love – except Islam.
This is a double untruth – but we will get to that shortly.
I hear this premise a lot, especially from agnostic ‘spiritualists’ who worship their own desires and don’t really follow any religion: “GOD is LOVE.” God is God, and He is loving, but He is so much more, hence the phrase God is greater – Allahu Akbar. Therefore, I want to take a dive into this extremely abused, profoundly commercialized, and so little understood word.
What is Love?
“What is love? Baby don’t hurt me, don’t hurt me, no more” Just having a little fun – but seriously, what is love? Merriam-Webster defines love as a (1): strong affection for another arising out of kinship or personal ties
• maternal love for a child
(2) : attraction based on sexual desire: affection and tenderness felt by lovers
• After all these years, they are still very much in love.
(3) : affection based on admiration, benevolence, or common interests
• love for his old schoolmates
b: an assurance of affection
• give her my love
2: warm attachment, enthusiasm, or devotion
• love of the sea
3a: the object of attachment, devotion, or admiration
• baseball was his first love
b (1): a beloved person: DARLING —often used as a term of endearment
(2) British —used as an informal term of address
4a: unselfish loyal and benevolent (see BENEVOLENT 1a) concern for the good of another: such as
(1) : the fatherly concern of God for humankind
(2) : brotherly concern for others
b: a person’s adoration of God
What we notice from these few descriptions of love is a common thread of adoration, attachment, and so on. I also can clearly see a pattern of longing. So, that is where I am going to go with this. I am sure all of you have felt love in your life, even the stone-hearted of you that are so hard you could make a stone weep. Therefore, you all know the mental and bodily feelings that you feel when love is present. You are probably picturing your mother, or your wife, your children, the love you always wanted but could never have, and hopefully the most deserving of your love, God – The Creator. Each one of these brings different manifestations of love within oneself. They even produce different physical reactions within a person’s body. Unfortunately, even for people who claim to be all about ‘love,’ the last one in the list is the least one loved by the majority of mankind. Let’s not get this twisted – people can have relatively good feelings about an idea of who they think God is, and they can even devote their life to their ideas of who they ‘want’ God to be, but this does not mean that they love God. In fact, they may be very far away from love. Love is the dearest of human experiences as most would argue. It has brought so much good to the world, and it has also caused people to commit heinous crimes due to their overly inflated infatuation with a lover, but what is the truth of it? What is the essence of love and what can it do for us?
The Greatest Human Being to ever walk the face of the earth, The Final Messenger, Muhammad, ﷺ, gave a very clear picture of what love is between Allaah (God, Most Merciful) and His faithful slaves. There was a situation where a woman who was in camp with the soldiers and the Messenger, Allah’s blessings be upon him, had gone around screaming and acting as many mothers would looking for her young baby whom she had lost in the confusion of the situation. After some searching and lots of tears and heartache she finally found him, and upon seeing him, she burst into joy with a pure love that ONLY a mother knows for her children. As she was breastfeeding the young baby, the blessed Prophet Muhammad, ﷺ, said, “Do you think this woman could throw her child in the fire?” We said, “No, not if she is able to stop it.” The Prophet said, “Allah is more merciful to His servants than a mother is to her child.”
In Islam, the Religion given by God since the beginning of time, Love is defined by very clear guidelines, and a very good synonym would be mercy. Ar-Rahman, this is the name we call Allah by at least 34 times a day. In our tradition, it means the most abundantly merciful. It is a mercy to such an extent that it is grace and mercy wrapped up in a bundle of love. This is who our God is, this is who the Only God is, because there is no god except The One True Creator, who created everything. Who created everything only for our benefit. We didn’t deserve it. He doesn’t need us. Nevertheless, our creation was a gift, and an opportunity. It was a love that didn’t even need to be. It was unrequited, and HE did it so we could get to know Him, so we could get to LOVE him.
Which brings me to my next point. To love, we must have knowledge – even a little bit. People fear that which they do not know, and that which they do not understand. However, this is not the fear that we believers have for God. Our fear is out of knowledge, just as our love is out of knowledge. We have to have a balance of both for both to be strong. It is like our legs – we can’t run with only 1, but the two are stronger together, and not when there is a deficiency in one. So we fear the punishment of God, and even more, we fear a future of being separated from God’s presence. Conversely, we hope and love for His presence, and love to meet Him knowing that only He can forgive us. We hold both feelings at the same time, and this engenders a new type of feeling – unequivocal respect and admiration. Allaah is more deserving than anything we can ever give to Him, but He has taught us ways of being so that we at least do our part, and he comes to the rest of the way with His mercy. This also goes for that which he commands us to stay away from. I would like to show us something that our beloved Prophet, ﷺ, told us about that:
On the authority of Abu Hurayrah who said: The Messenger of Allahﷺ said, “Verily Allah (Glorified may he be) has said: ‘Whosoever shows enmity to a wali (friend) of Mine, then I have declared war against him. And My servant does not draw near to Me with anything more beloved to Me than the religious duties I have obligated upon him. And My servant continues to draw near to me with optional acts of worship until I Love him. When I Love him, I become his hearing with which he hears, and his sight with which he sees, and his hand with which he strikes, and his foot with which he walks. Were he to ask [something] of Me, I would surely give it to him; and were he to seek refuge with Me, I would surely grant him refuge.’ ”
First, this is my favorite hadith out of every hadith that exists. Allah Protects those and Guards against people who try to harm those who love Him. Thank you Allah for creating me, I love you.
Second, we see the scope and depth of love that Allah has for those who do as He asks. And it is simple. Kind of like turning on a light – if you want to see in a dark room, just flip the switch, but don’t complain that you can’t see if you refuse to lift your arm. Moreover, just like with people, the more you love a person, the more you are going to give them the things they love and avoid doing to them the things they don’t like. Obviously considering that we take into account that we do what God loves in case what people want go against what God loves. This love isn’t just for lovers but goes for parents and friends. We love them and so we remember them and do things that make them feel special. So if you keeps talking about a person badly, or heck – if they keep ignoring someone who keeps trying to communicate with them – or worse yet, they pretend they hear them, but they disregard that which they said and wanted from them and then they say afterward, “I love them so much.” – this isn’t love. Love takes action, and it takes doing that which might be uncomfortable so that you might gain the affection of the one you are seeking – this is more true with God.
However, we know we all, 100% of us fall short in doing what our Lord, The Most High, commands and wants from us. None of us can ever achieve perfection in following Him, but the key is to always turn our hearts back to Him after we deviate. Repentance is, in my humble opinion, the pinnacle of love, for it places our heart in its most comfortable and loving position – humility, and it places God in the highest position. Our Prophet, peace be upon him, who was forgiven for everything, still asked for forgiveness 70 times a sitting in a gathering, and in other narrations up to 100 times a day – and he was the most beloved to God.
Islam: A Religion of Love
Furthermore, I want to share some excerpts from a writer for the Huffington Post who sheds light on the nature of love, and love in Islam. The whole point being to give people a clear view of the path to finding out what the truth really is, because each person has to seek it out for his or herself – don’t expect a highly paid, pretty face on YouTube to give it to you straight.
The article is written by By William C. Chittick, Ph.D. Titled: Islam: A Religion of Love; in it he says:
“Part of Islam’s intellectual heritage is a vast literature exploring and elucidating the nature of love, that most precious of human experiences. Now that I have been offered this forum and told to write about anything I feel like, well, I feel like talking about love. My two previous posts and the responses to them have highlighted the fact that most people have already made up their minds as to the nature of “true Islam.” So let me turn to something that most people, Muslim or not, typically leave out of their understanding of Islam, not least because of their obsession with the world of politics and catastrophes.
Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya was a famous theologian from Baghdad who died in 1350. Part of his fame lies in the fact that he was the leading disciple of one of the most cantankerous theologians of Islamic history, Ibn Taymiyya, a favorite of Sunni ideologues. Surprisingly for those who think that people of this ilk were narrow-minded bigots, Ibn Qayyim dedicated a large part of his prolific output to love, compassion, forgiveness and other such mild-mannered themes.
In one of his many books, written late in life — Ighathat al-lahfan, “Aid for the Sorrowful” — Ibn Qayyim says that the root of Islam is “love for God, intimacy with Him, and yearning to encounter Him.” He also says, “The revealed books of God, from the first to the last, revolve around the commandment to love.”
Remember that Muslim scholars traditionally spoke of “124,000 prophets,” beginning with Adam and ending with Muhammad. What Ibn Qayyim is trying to say is that every true religion — that is, all the religions established by the 124,000 prophets — are founded on love. It makes no difference who these prophets were or where they lived. When Muslims settled down in China, for example, they soon recognized that Confucius had been a prophet.
Claiming that “love” is the heart of Islam or of religion generally is not unusual in the Islamic context. Another example is provided by the major Sunni scholar Rashid al-Din Maybudi, who completed the longest pre-modern Persian commentary on the Quran in 1126. In explaining why the Quran calls itself “a book from God” (verse 2:89), he says that the book deserves to be titled “the eternal love” and that its content is “the story of love and lovers.” …
No one is surprised to hear that Rumi saw the Quran as a book of love, but most seem to think that Rumi was out of kilter with the Islamic mainstream. Nothing could be further from the truth. It is no accident that his six-volume epic poem in celebration of love, the Mathnawi, has often been called “the Quran in the Persian language.” …
Muslim scholars who talk about love as the heart of Islam and of religion generally take the position that God’s Love and Compassion motivated Him to create human beings so that they could love Him in return. The goal of creation is to bring lovers into existence, and the goal of lovers — that is, you, me and everyone else — is to escape false loves and return to what we really love. This, for them, is the key message of the Quran, “the story of love and lovers.””
This leaves me with the last point of which I hope you all take home. The most loving and the most fulfilling act that a person could ever do in his or her live is to return their heart back to The One who created us. And that is to devote our love and our affection to Him, and as He has commanded us to Him alone, without partner or equal. This is La ilaaha illa Allaah.
True love is worshiping Him, not a man, not a stone, not our vanity, not the sun, or anything else that was created, but to only worship and have eternal love for the Uncreated, Most Merciful, Perfect, Majestic, God, whose name is Allah. The same One that Jesus loved and worshiped, the same One that Mary loved and worshiped, the same one that Moses loved and worshiped, the same one that Isaac loved and worshiped, the same one that Abraham loved and worshiped, the same one that Noah loved and worshiped, the same one that Adam, loved and worshiped, and the same one that Muhammad loved and worshiped, peace be upon them all. Be like the messengers and love God as they did, and surely you will find the road home in peace and in love.
And for those that I haven’t made this clear enough to – I have never felt so much love, been so loving, had my soul completely raptured out of love than now in Islam. I have never been more at peace with myself and with God. I have never found so much love even though the calamities I see facing the world than now. And when I speak out against what I believe to be evil, it is not out of hate, but out of love, so you too can find the love that Allaah has prepared for those who are faithful to Him.
Spread the love.
Brandon Estes is a Slave of Allaah, Father, Aggie, Texan, American, Truth Seeker, Student of Knowledge
Lesson 11 From Surah Al-Kahf
Tafsir Verses 72-81
Alhamdulillah last session we were able to explore the meanings and lessons of verses 60-70. InshAllah, we’ll try our best to cover the meanings of verse 71-82. As we learned in the last session, this passage of the Surah deals with a very unique and interesting episode from the life of Musa . It’s the story of his encounter and journey with a man of God known as Khidr or Khadir. We reached the point in the story where Musa finally finds Khidr and asks with the utmost humility and respect to allow him to be his student. This highlights Musa’s sincerity in seeking knowledge, his lack of pride and his willingness to humble himself in front of Khidr despite his own status as a Prophet.
But Khidr initially declined his request telling him, “Truly you will not be able to bear patiently with me. And how can you be patient with that which you have no knowledge?” Khidr recognized that he would do things that Musa would find to be illogical, irrational and even impermissible. Things that on the surface level seem to be horrible and despicable. Musa was sent as a Prophet of Divine Law, while Khidr had been entrusted with some unique knowledge and actions that seemed to be contradictory to that law. So he explained to Musa that he wouldn’t be able to be patient with him and his actions. But Musa was extremely eager to learn. He resolved to be patient and obedient while relying upon the will of Allah ﷻ.
He tells Khidr, “You will find me patient, if Allah wills, and I shall not disobey you in any matter.” Khidr finally gave in and both of them set off on their way. This is where we’ll pick up the story again. Allah ﷻ says,
Verse 71: So they both went on till, when they had embarked upon a ship, he made a hole in it. He said, “Have you made a hole in it to drown its people? Certainly, you have done a grave thing.”
They set out walking together along the shore looking for a ship to ride. As they were walking a ship of sailors passed by them and Khidr asked for a ride. The sailors knew Khidr so they let both him and Musa come on board without any charge. After traveling for a while Khidr got up and pulled out one of the planks from the bottom of the ship using an ax making a hole in it. This placed everyone on the ship in danger of drowning. Obviously, this seemingly absurd and cruel behavior surprised Musa . He was literally in shock. He couldn’t understand why Khidr would do such a thing to someone who helped him out. This went against his moral compass of what’s right and wrong. Musa forgot about the conditions of his teacher and objected. These people gave us a free ride and you’re pulling a plank to drown their ship. You’ve done something bad. “Have you made a hole in it to drown its people? Certainly, you have done a grave thing.” Khidr then reminded him gently with patience.
Verse 72: He said, “Did I not say that you can never bear with me patiently?”
Didn’t I tell you that you wouldn’t be able to be patient with me and my actions? The way he says this shows that he was willing to overlook and tolerate Musa’s (as) impatience. Musa (as) felt a sense of regret and apologized to Khidr telling him that he completely forgot about his deal.
Verse 73: He (Musa) said, “Do not hold me responsible for what I forgot, and do not make my course too difficult for me.”
Basically he apologized. He said please don’t hold me responsible for what I forgot and allow me to continue travelling in your company. While telling the story the Prophet ﷺ says, “the first (question) was out of forgetfulness. While this conversation was taking place a bird came and sat on the side of the boat and took a sip of water from the ocean. Khidr said to Musa, ‘my knowledge and yours combined in comparison to the knowledge of Allah is like the sip of water compared to the ocean.’” Khidr accepting his apology and they continued travelling on their way.
Verse 74: So, they moved ahead until when they met a boy, he killed him (the boy). He (Musa) said, “Did you kill an innocent soul while he did not kill anyone? You have committed a heinous act indeed.”
“So they continued…” They both got off the ship and started walking along the shore until they came across a young boy playing with his friends. Khidr went up to this young boy and killed him by either strangling him to death or striking him on his head. This was too much for Musa (as) to handle. He objected even more vehemently. How can he kill an innocent young boy for no reason whatsoever? To Musa (as) this seemed absolutely absurd, cruel and unjustified. It was too much for him to tolerate patiently despite his promise not to question anything that he saw. So he said, How can you kill a pure innocent child for no reason whatsoever? You have done something unjustified and have committed a heinous act. Once again Khidr reminds him of the condition that he made and the promise that Musa (as) had given.
Verse 75: He said, “Did I not tell you that you can never bear with me patiently?”
Didn’t I warn you that you wouldn’t be able to handle what I would do? Didn’t I tell you that you wouldn’t be able to remain silent when I do certain things? In this reminder, Khidr added the word “laka” to show that this time his reminder is more severe and clearer. The first time someone forgets and makes a mistake it’s overlooked. The second time it’s also overlooked but with a sense of hesitation. Musa again feels a sense of regret for breaking his word and not sticking to the conditions of Khidr. He’s now done this twice so he apologizes by saying,
Verse 76: He said, “If I ask you about something after this, do not keep me in your company. You have had enough excuses from me.”
Musa (as) again apologizes but this time gives himself one last chance. He said if he questions Khidr one more time then Khidr can choose to part ways with him. Once again Khidr accepts his apology and they set off on their way. After commenting on this part ibn Kathīr narrates a hadīth from the Prophet ﷺ. He writes, “Ibn Jarir narrated from Ibn `Abbas that Ubayy bin Ka`b said: “Whenever the Prophet ﷺ mentioned anyone, he would pray for himself first. One day he said:
- «رَحْمَةُ اللهِ عَلَيْنَا وَعَلَى مُوسَى لَوْ لَبِثَ مَعَ صَاحِبِهِ لَأَبْصَرَ الْعَجَبَ، وَلَكِنَّهُ قَالَ:
- ﴿إِن سَأَلْتُكَ عَن شَىْءٍ بَعْدَهَا فَلاَ تُصَاحِبْنِى قَدْ بَلَغْتَ مِن لَّدُنِّى عُذْراً﴾»
May the mercy of Allah be upon us and upon Musa. If he had stayed with his companion he would have seen wonders, but he said, (`If I ask you anything after this, keep me not in your company, you have received an excuse from me.’))” That brings us to the third and last adventure they had together.
Verse 77: Then, they moved on until they came to the people of a town and sought food from them. But they refused to show them any hospitality. Then, they found there a wall that was about to fall down. So he (Khidr) set it right. He (Musa) said, “If you wished, you could have charged a fee for this.”
Musa and Khidr continued traveling until they came upon the people of a town that most commentators identify as the ancient city of Antioch. Being tired and hungry they asked them for some food but they refused to give them any or show them any hospitality whatsoever. As they were leaving the city they came across a wall that was about to fall down. Khidr stopped by it and repaired it. Now, this situation is also bizarre; Khidr is a complete stranger in a town that refused to give them food or host them yet he still stops and fixes their wall for nothing in return. Musa finds the situation full of irony. Why should a stranger exert so much effort in rebuilding a wall in a town where they were denied even a little food and all hospitality? He should have at least demanded some money for his labor and then they could have bought some food to eat.
Musa couldn’t hold himself so he objected, “If you wished, you could have charged a fee for this.” And that was the end of their relationship. Khidr responded,
Verse 78: He said, “This is the parting between me and you. I shall inform you of the meaning of that which you were unable to bear with patiently.”
Meaning, this is the end of our relationship and this is where we’ll part ways. But before we go our separate ways I’ll explain to you the wisdom and hidden meaning behind everything I did. Up till this point in the story, we’ve probably been just as impatient as Musa ; we have no clue why Khidr did the things he did. But he then explains everything is detail; why he pulled a plank out of the bottom the ship, why he killed an innocent child and why he rebuilt the wall without taking anything in return.
Verse 79: As for the ship, it belonged to some poor people who worked at sea. I wanted to damage it, for just beyond them was a king who was seizing every ship by force.
Khidr is explained that his act of damaging the ship was, in reality, a means of saving it. It comes in a narration that these poor people were ten brothers, 5 of them were handicapped while the other five worked. The ship was their only source of income. The king was a cruel, tyrannical oppressor who would take ships by force. The damage done to the ship made it undesirable for the king and ultimately saved it for its owners. Had it been seaworthy, it would certainly have been confiscated by the tyrannical king. Perpetrating some small damage to the boat saved it from the greater harm and ruinous injustice which was certain to take place without it. Hence, causing such damage was a good and kindly action. So damaging the ship actually turned out to be a good thing.
Verses 80-81: And as for the young boy, his parents were believers and we feared that he would make them suffer much through rebellion and disbelief. So we desired that their Lord give them in exchange one who is better than him in purity, and nearer to mercy.
Although the young child seemed to be pure and innocent in reality the seeds of disbelief and wickedness were entrenched in his heart. If he had grown up he would have been a source of grief and sorrow for his parents who were believers. Their love for this child would have led them towards evil and wickedness as well. They would suffer because of the rebellion and disbelief. So Allah told Khidr to kill this boy to spare them that grief and to replace him with a child that would be better and more dutiful. Now obviously the parents weren’t aware of this at this time so to them this was a huge loss and tragedy. They weren’t aware of the future difficulties that they were saved from by his death.
Qatādah said, “His parents rejoiced when he was born and grieved for him when he was killed. If he had stayed alive, he would have been the cause of their doom. So let a man be content with the decree of Allah, for the decree of Allah for the believer, if he dislikes it, is better for him than if He were to decree something that he likes for him.” That’s why in connection to these verses ibn Kathīr رحمهم الله quotes the hadīth, “Allah does not decree anything for a believer, save that it is better for him.”
- «لَا يَقْضِي اللهُ لِلْمُؤْمِنِ مِنْ قَضَاءٍ إِلَّا كَانَ خَيْرًا لَه»
It is mentioned in a narration that the parents were blessed with a pious daughter who gave birth to a Prophet. So the murder of this child actually turned out to be something good in the long run.
Verse 82: And as for the wall, it belonged to two orphan boys in the city, and beneath it was a treasure belonging to them. Their father was righteous, and your Lord desired that they should reach their maturity and extract their treasure, as a mercy from your Lord. And I didn’t do this upon my own command. This is the meaning of that which you couldn’t bear with patiently.
Khidr explained to Musa that the wall that was about to fall that he rebuilt was covering a treasure that belonged to two orphan boys. If the wall had fallen down the treasure would be exposed and the orphan children would’ve been deprived of their wealth. By rebuilding the wall Khidr made it possible for them to access their treasure when they grew up. This was done partially because their father was a righteous and pious man. Khidr then explains to Musa that he didn’t do any of these things based on his own accord or understanding. Rather he did them according to the Divine command, decree, and will of Allah ﷻ. “And I didn’t do this upon my own command.” He concludes by saying, “This is the meaning of that which you couldn’t bear with patiently.” Meaning, this is the explanation of my actions that you didn’t understand and weren’t able to be patient with.
1) One of the most powerful and profound lessons we learn from this entire episode is that oftentimes a tragedy is a blessing in disguise. Everything that happens in this world, whether good or bad, happens according to the Divine will and decree of Allah ﷻ. There’s some deep divine wisdom behind every single thing that happens in this world. When something good happens we recognize it as a blessing. For example, if we get a good job, get a raise at work, purchase a new car or are blessed with the birth of a child. All of recognize this as something positive. On the other hand whenever we face setbacks, difficulties, hardships and tragedies we tend to lose patience.
This incident is teaching us that difficulties, tests, trials, and hardships are oftentimes blessing in disguise. The first thing to understand is that Allah isn’t sending these difficulties our way to break us or destroy us. Rather he’s sending them our way to test our patience and faith, as a source of mercy and a reminder. As a way of nurturing and training us. He’s reminding us to turn back to Him, to hold on to our faith, to be steadfast, patient, strong, and to persevere. When we’re struggling and going through difficult times we shouldn’t assume that somehow Allah is displeased with us. Similarly, when we’re comfortable and enjoying life we shouldn’t assume that Allah is pleased with us. The opposite can be true. The Prophet said,
- « إِذَا أَرَادَ اللَّهُ بِعَبْدِهِ الْخَيْرَ عَجَّلَ لَهُالْعُقُوبَةَ فِى الدُّنْيَا وَإِذَا أَرَادَ اللَّهُ بِعَبْدِهِ الشَّرَّأَمْسَكَ عَنْهُ بِذَنْبِهِ حَتَّى يُوَفَّى بِهِ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ
“If Allah wants good for his servant, He hurries on His punishment in this world, and if He wills ill for a servant, he holds back punishing him for his sin so He can give it to him in full on the Day of Resurrection.”
Everything we face in this world is actually a source of blessing for us. The Prophet said:
- «مَا يُصِيبُ المُسْلِمَ مِنْ نَصَبٍ،وَلاَ وَصَبٍ، وَلاَ هَمِّ، وَلاَ حُزْنٍ، وَلاَ أَذًى، وَلاَ غَمِّ، حَتَّىالشَّوْكَةِ يُشَاكُهَا؛ إِلاَّ كَفَّرَ الله بِهَا مِنْ خَطَايَاهُ»
“No fatigue, illness, anxiety, sorrow, harm or sadness afflicts any Muslim, even to the extent of a thorn pricking him, without Allah wiping out his sins by it.”
Allah tells us that the main tool, the key to deal with the world and all the problems it contains is through patience and turning towards Him. When we’re dealing with our problems we should turn to Allah. We should make dhikr, read Quran, spend time in prayer and reflection and try to be around good company. We should try to focus our attention, our spiritual and emotional energy on our relationship with Allah instead of our problem. By doing so we’ll find peace and comfort. True contentment. Part of patience is recognizing that whatever we’re going through is something that we can handle. Whatever we’re going through will not last forever. That’s why throughout the Quran whenever Allah consoles and comforts the Prophet He reminds him to be patient and to turn to him. “So be patient over what they say and exalt [Allah] with praise of your Lord.” (20:130) “So be patient. Indeed, the promise of Allah is truth.” (30:60) “So be patient, [O Muhammad], over what they say and exalt [Allah] with praise of your Lord before the rising of the sun and before its setting.” (50:39)
2) Being content with the Divine decree of Allah ﷻ.
Why I Turned to Tech to Catch Laylatul Qadr
Make sure you maximize your sadaqah
My life, just like yours, is sooo busy. So naturally, as the tech nerd I am, I turn to tech to help me manage my regular routine including project management apps to manage my daily tasks. I even have a sleeping app that wakes me up at the optimum time (whatever that means!). But even though tech has changed everything in all sectors and helped make efficiencies in my daily life, it had had little impact on my religious activities.
A few years ago, whilst I was preparing for the last 10 nights of Ramadan, it hit me – why doesn’t something exist that automates my donations during these blessed nights to catch Laylatul Qadr. Rather than putting a reminder on my phone to bring out my bank card every night and inputting it into a website – why doesn’t something exist that does it for me, solving the problem of me forgetting to donate. After all we are human and it’s interesting that the Arabic word for human being is ‘insan’ which is derived from the word ‘nasiya’ which means ‘to forget.’ It is human nature to forget.
So the techie in me came out and I built the first scrappy version of MyTenNights, a platform to automate donations in the last 10 nights of Ramadan (took two weeks) because I wanted to use it myself! I thought it would be cool and my friends and family could use it too. That same year, nearly 2000 other people used it – servers crashed, tech broke and I had to get all my friends and Oreo (my cat) to respond to email complaints about our temperamental site!
I quickly realised I wasn’t alone in my need – everyone wanted a way to never miss Laylatul Qadr! Two years down the line we’ve called it MyTenNights, and our team has grown to 10, including Oreo, senior developers, QA specialists, brand strategists, creative directors and more. It fast became a fierce operation – an operation to help people all over the world catch Laylatul Qadr!
Last year alone we raised almost $2 million in just 10 days – and that was just in the UK. We’ve now opened MyTenNights to our American, Canadian. South African and Australian brothers and sisters and we’re so excited to see how they use it! We’ve made it available through all the biggest house name charities – Islamic Relief, Muslim Aid, Helping Hand, Penny Appeal, you name it! All donations go directly to the charity donors choose – all 100% of it.
Looking back at the last couple of years – it feels surreal: The biggest charities in the world and tens of thousands of users who share my need to be certain they’ve caught Laylatul Qadr. Although I hear many impressed with the sheer amount MyTenNights has raised for charity (and that excites me too!), it’s not what motives me to go on. What excites me most is the growing number of people who catch Laylatul Qadr because we made it easier.
I often tell my team that the number of people that use MyTenNights is the only metric we care about, and the only metric we celebrate. It makes no difference to us whether you donate $1 or a million – we just want you to catch Laylatul Qadr and for you to transform your Akhirah, because (after Allah) we helped you do it.
Ismael Abdela is a Law & Anthropology graduate from the London School of Economics. He spent some years studying Islamic Sciences in Qaseem, Saudi Arabia. He is now a keen social entrepreneur. Ismael likes to write about spiritual reflections, social commentary, and tafsīr. He is particularly interested in putting religion in conversation with the social sciences.
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