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The Purpose of Our Lives – A Ramadan Reflection

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By Sana Gul Waseem

This might be my last Ramadan. And I am very excited about it.

I intend to use this month to find, understand and fulfill the purpose of my life for as long as I live. It’s a win-win situation, as inshaAllah, for as long as I am alive, I would be fulfilling the purpose of life in this world, and if I die soon, then at least I would die with the intention of having doing so, in addition to having spent my time productively.

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A totally beneficial process in my opinion!

That  we are all dying is a fact, for as Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) says:

كُلُّ نَفْسٍ ذَائِقَةُ الْمَوْتِ ۗ 

Every soul will taste death…”[Surah Ali’Imran; 185]

This ayah however, works its magic differently for me, as on coming to end of the long road of medical treatment for cancer, I can see death more clearly than ever before. On the other hand, the fact that I choose to hold on to my belief in Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) that all cure comes from Him, and in the saying of Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him):

There is no disease that Allah has created, except that He also has created its remedy. [Bukhari]

I am very hopeful of winning this battle inshaAllah.

With the arrival of Ramadan and its mercies, abundance, and blessings, I want to benefit more from the recommended acts during this month. As I thought about this, I realized what could be better than to use these acts to find, understand, and fulfill the purpose of my existence and live my days more attuned and in sync with it?

From the amount of time that I have lived in this world (a lady never tells her age!) I have learnt through a very hard way how to accomplish these three goals tied to the purpose of our lives.

 FIND THE PURPOSE OF LIFE

وَمَا خَلَقْتُ الْجِنَّ وَالْإِنسَ إِلَّا لِيَعْبُدُونِ 

And I did not create the jinn and mankind except to worship Me.” [ Surah Adh-Dhariyat; 56] 

There! The purpose of my existence spelled out for me. Whew! 1/3 of the work done.

I firmly believe with all my heart and mind in the word of Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) and accept the truth of the fact that my purpose of existence is solely to “worship Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He).”

UNDERSTAND THE PURPOSE OF LIFE

Understanding the purpose was as hard as finding the purpose was easy. Let me show you how! As my health started slipping rapidly, holding on to hope as part of my faith, became my goal. But hope is a fickle thing. Sometimes it stayed and at times it deserted me. I realized I needed something stronger than just hope to hold onto my faith, as no matter what, I cannot afford to use my faith!

I searched for ways which could keep my faith going, and to entice hope to stay longer with me. I turned to Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) for help. and He helped me by drawing my attention towards the example of Prophet Ayub 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him). I felt that although the magnitude of my tests is much lesser than his ever were, they fell into similar categories. Losing health, battling personal issues; I felt my plate was overloaded to the point of breaking.

Struggling to be patient and hopeful at times, I yearned to know how he managed both at all times. I tried to get to know him more, in the hope of finding his secret to being so awesome. The immense reward he received from Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He), propelled me further. Even if I got a tiny portion of it, it would be so great! I then came across a lecture on prophet Ayub 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him), and as I sat in the hospital bed with chemo coursing through my veins praying it would work, I eagerly listened.

Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) gave me what I wanted in His own way. I listened to the lecture in the hope of hearing something new about him, but began to feel disappointed when no new information came up. Nevertheless, I decided to go on a with it. The secret finally broke through the cloud of drowsiness brought by the chemo meds, and I sat up!

It was very simple. He had found the purpose of life and kept his focus on it. With all of his worldly possessions, his loved ones, and his body gone, the only thing that worked was his heart and tongue. He used the only things that worked to worship Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He), thus fulfilling the purpose of his existence. I had much more things than him that worked for now!

I felt light; as if a huge boulder had been removed from my chest. Good health and other blessings are as transient as bad health and misfortunes, and this effects the way I live and feel, as it effects my faith. If I simply moved my focus away from what was currently going on in my life in order to fulfill the purpose of my existence (like Ayub 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) had), then no matter what, I would always be working to achieve this purpose.

This is why it is very important to truly comprehend the purpose of our existence. It helps to keep our focus on the main goal -that is to worship Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He)– and not get overwhelmed with either a cascade of blessings or a mudslide of misfortunes. Ayub 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) never lost his focus, but instead worshipped Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) in all circumstances.

FULFILL THE PURPOSE OF LIFE

Unlike the previous steps, fulfilling this purpose is an ongoing process. It requires focus on the goal, self-introspection, reflection upon the word of Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) and His creation, and innovation to tailor our acts of worshipping Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) according to our current circumstances .

Life, with its many distractions and with shaitaan as a persistent enemy, keeping our focus on the goal is not a piece of cake. With our busy schedules, self-introspection and reflection seem time consuming! And innovation requires creativity.

This is why, Ramadan is the perfect time to begin the process of finding, understanding, implementing a plan and getting into a habit of fulfilling the purpose of our existence in this world.

For those of you who will fast, each moment that you are fasting you will be in a constant state of worship. We all carve time out to read at least some portion of the Quran, increase our dua’s, consciously make an effort to do good deeds, give charity, and increase our prayers. Use this time to reflect upon the word of Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He), self-reflect and to open your eyes to the magic that unfolds in the creation of Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) each day. Get into a habit of daily dhikr while driving, or even waiting in queues. Beg Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) to help you never lose focus of the goal and help you fulfill it no matter what.

The reward for just trying is immense!

إِنَّ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَعَمِلُوا الصَّالِحَاتِ إِنَّا لَا نُضِيعُ أَجْرَ مَنْ أَحْسَنَ عَمَلًا 

Indeed, those who have believed and done righteous deeds – indeed, We will not allow to be lost the reward of any who did well in deeds.” [Surah Kahf; 30]

I take your leave with some promises that Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) has made to us which will come to pass, as surely as the sun will rise tomorrow, inshaAllah.

مَنْ عَمِلَ صَالِحًا مِّن ذَكَرٍ أَوْ أُنثَىٰ وَهُوَ مُؤْمِنٌ فَلَنُحْيِيَنَّهُ حَيَاةً طَيِّبَةً ۖ وَلَنَجْزِيَنَّهُمْ أَجْرَهُم بِأَحْسَنِ مَا كَانُوا يَعْمَلُونَ 

Whoever works righteousness, man or woman, and has Faith, verily, to him will We give a new Life, a life that is good and pure and We will bestow on such their reward according to the best of their actions.[Surah An-Nahl; 97]

 

وَعَدَ اللَّهُ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَعَمِلُوا الصَّالِحَاتِ ۙ لَهُم مَّغْفِرَةٌ وَأَجْرٌ عَظِيمٌ 

To those who believe and do deeds of righteousness has Allah promised forgiveness and a great reward.” [Surah Al-Ma’idah; 9]


Sana Gul Waseem, is a lecturer at Islamic Online University, teaching Business Administration and Islamic Business Ethics. She is also on the author call of Productive Muslim and Islamic Online University and has previously published in SISTERS, Virtual Mosque and Habibi Halaqas.

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3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Bushraa

    June 7, 2018 at 1:43 AM

    Allaahu yashfeek…Jazaakillaahu khairaa!..precious insights indeed!!

  2. Avatar

    Asma Khouaja

    June 10, 2018 at 11:24 AM

    This is one of the most beautiful articles that I have ever read! You are truly inspirational and I love you just for that! May Allah help you in this battle, I know just how hard it can be because my father lost this battle againt cancer 11 years ago now… But I hope you win and get to live a healthy and beautiful life because mashallah yoi faith in Allah is very strong, I hope nothing ever shatters it! I send you all my love and support and I will surely make dua for you sister!

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#Islam

30 Khawaatir in 30 Days- A Parent’s Guide | Day 10: The Dua’ of Umm Salama

Now that we have learnt about a good word, let’s talk about the dua’ of Umm Salama.

Today I’m going to share with you a story of a very important woman in Islamic history named Umm Salama raḍyAllāhu 'anha (may Allāh be pleased with her). She was a female companion, which means she was a sahaabiya (female companion)

Umm Salama raḍyAllāhu 'anha (may Allāh be pleased with her) was one of the first people to embrace Islam and she was one of the few Muslims who actually performed the hijrah twice. 

Question: Who can tell me what a hijrah is?

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A hijrah is when someone leaves a place they are in for the sake of Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He). The first hijrah was to Ethiopia, where a just Christian ruler named Najashi took in a group of Muslims and took good care of them. 

So Umm Salama raḍyAllāhu 'anha (may Allāh be pleased with her) and Abu Salama raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) went to Ethiopia. After some time living there, they really wanted to go back to Mecca so that they could be next to the Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) and learn everything about Islam. As they waited patiently, news traveled all the way to Africa saying that the Muslims were no longer getting persecuted because Umar ibn al-Khattab raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) and Hamza raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him), the uncle of the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him), had embraced Islam. 

Umm Salama raḍyAllāhu 'anha (may Allāh be pleased with her) and Abu Salama raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) decided to return back to Mecca, and when they did, they realized that it was only a rumor and that the Muslims were still being tortured by Quraysh. So, when the Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) instructed all of the Muslims of Mecca to leave to Madina for the second hijrah, they wasted no time getting ready. 

Question: Do you see how they were so active and didn’t take their Islam for granted?

As Umm Salama raḍyAllāhu 'anha (may Allāh be pleased with her) was about to mount her camel, her tribe, the Banu Makhzum, came and told Abu Salama raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) that they would not allow him to take Umm Salama raḍyAllāhu 'anha (may Allāh be pleased with her) to Madina. Then Abu Salama’s tribe, the Banu Asad, takes Salama, his child, away.  Abu Salama raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) could not defend himself against all of these men, so he sets off to Madina.

In just one day Umm Salama raḍyAllāhu 'anha (may Allāh be pleased with her) lost her husband and her child, and she suffers so much because of it. She is in a lot of pain. After some time her cousin starts to feel sorry for her and speaks to the tribes on her behalf. He is then able to reunite her with her son. Then after a year of waiting, Umm Salama raḍyAllāhu 'anha (may Allāh be pleased with her) is finally able to meet her husband in Madina. 

Abu Salama raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) was known to be a very caring husband and courageous man. He fought in the Battle of Badr as well as in the Battle of Uhud. In Uhud, he received a wound that he wasn’t able to recover from. 

Umm Salama raḍyAllāhu 'anha (may Allāh be pleased with her) was so sad the day Abu Salama raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) died, but the Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) taught her to recite a beautiful dua’:

إِنَّا لله وإنا إليه راجعون اللهم أجرني في مصيبتي وأخلف لي خيرا منها 

“We belong to Allah and to Allah is our return. Oh Allah, reward me for my calamity, and replace my loss with something better.”

Umm Salama raḍyAllāhu 'anha (may Allāh be pleased with her) recited this dua’, but in her mind she thought, “Who can be better than Abu Salama raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him)?” 

After a few months passed, Umar ibn al-Khattab raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) proposed to Umm Salama raḍyAllāhu 'anha (may Allāh be pleased with her), but she said no. 

Then, Abu Bakr raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) proposed to Umm Salama raḍyAllāhu 'anha (may Allāh be pleased with her), but again she said no. 

Then, the Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) proposed to Umm Salama raḍyAllāhu 'anha (may Allāh be pleased with her) and she accepted. So now, she was not only the mother of Salama, but the mother of all of the believers until the end of time! 

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This Eid And Beyond Boycott Goods Made With Enslaved Labor Of Uyghurs Even If It Is Your Favorite Brand

Bidding farewell to Ramadan, celebrating Eid?

Well, the Muslims of East Turkestan under Chinese occupation had neither Ramadan nor will they have Eid…

Not only that, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) run government has transferred Uyghurs and other ethnic minority citizens from East Turkestan to factories across the country. Under conditions that strongly suggest forced labour, Uyghurs are working in factories that are in the supply chains of at least 83 well-known global brands in the technology, clothing and automotive sectors, including Nike, Gap, Adidas, Ralph Lauren, Carters and others. Read Uyghurs for Sale for more information

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CCP is also pressuring governments across the world to extradite Uyghurs back to occupied East Turkestan.

Here is what you can do to help them:

Action Items

  1. Keep making dua for the oppressed of East Turkistan and the world.
  2. Boycott Chinese products! Do not be complicit in slave labour. Start with focusing on the companies in the graphic. Share it with #SewnWithtTears, #StopChina, #BoycottChina. Write to them and demand that they do better.
  3. Raise awareness on the plight of Uyghurs and the East Turkistani cause. Learn more at SaveUighur.org
  4. Work towards reducing your country’s economic dependence on China.
  5. Build alliances with all people of conscience to demand a cessation of China’s oppression of all faith groups, be it Muslim Uyghur, Hui; Chinese Christian; or Tibetan Buddhist.
  6. Encourage and promote fairer trade and commerce with Muslims and others rather than China.
  7. Inquire about Uyghur diaspora members in your area. Organize to help out orphans, widows, and students.
  8. Pressure governments to provide legal protection to Uyghur refugees-exiles by granting either citizenship or refugee/asylee status. Stop the “extradition/repatriation” of Uyghurs to China!
  9. Get your universities/endowments to divest from China. Raise awareness about Chinese espionage and hired guns in academia. Demand academic and financial support for Uyghur scholars and students. Request more academic attention and funds for Central Asian, Uyghur, Turkistani studies. 

Read a greater discussion of action items in A Response to Habib Ali Al-Jifri’s Comments on the Uyghurs, which also contains a greater discussion on East Turkistan’s history and its current situation. A condensed Arabic version of the article can be found here

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30 Khawaatir in 30 Days- A Parent’s Guide | Day 9: A Good Word

Now that we have learnt about the life of this world, let’s talk about a good word.

I want you all to close your eyes and think of a beautiful tree. 

Question: Who can tell me what their tree looks like? Is the tree big and strong? Does it have lots of branches and leaves? Does it have fruit?

Now, I want you to think of a time when someone said something really nice to you.

Question:  What are some of the nice statements you remember people telling you?

Question: How did those statements make you feel?

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Yes, they fill us up with a warm feeling. We may have felt proud of ourselves and we may have felt loved. Do you know that Allah [wt] describes a good word to a good tree? 

In Surah Ibrahim, Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) says:

أَلَمْ تَرَ كَيْفَ ضَرَبَ اللَّهُ مَثَلًا كَلِمَةً طَيِّبَةً كَشَجَرَةٍ طَيِّبَةٍ أَصْلُهَا ثَابِتٌ وَفَرْعُهَا فِي السَّمَاءِ 

تُؤْتِي أُكُلَهَا كُلَّ حِينٍ بِإِذْنِ رَبِّهَا ۗ وَيَضْرِبُ اللَّهُ الْأَمْثَالَ لِلنَّاسِ لَعَلَّهُمْ يَتَذَكَّرُونَ 

Have you not considered how Allah presents an example, [making] a good word like a good tree, whose root is firmly fixed and its branches [high] in the sky? [Surah Ibrahim; 24]

It produces its fruit all the time, by permission of its Lord. And Allah presents examples for the people that perhaps they will be reminded. [Surah Ibrahim; 25]

Question: Now, I want you to think of a time when someone said something mean to you. How did that make you feel?

It’s not fun to remember the mean stuff right? Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) continues in Surah Ibrahim and says:

وَمَثَلُ كَلِمَةٍ خَبِيثَةٍ كَشَجَرَةٍ خَبِيثَةٍ اجْتُثَّتْ مِن فَوْقِ الْأَرْضِ مَا لَهَا مِن قَرَارٍ

And the example of a bad word is like a bad tree, uprooted from the surface of the earth, not having any stability. [Surah Ibrahim; 26] 

Question: What do you think are good words we can use to build strong, firmly rooted trees?

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