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Which deeds are most beloved to Allah?

Alhamdulillah, by the blessings of Allah (swt) and readers like yourself, MuslimMatters has been an independent platform for our best thought leaders to educate us in our faith and catalyze change through powerful, necessary conversations. Since our humble beginnings as a basic wordpress blog in 2007, our content has remained free.

The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support us with a monthly donation of $10 per month, or even as little as $1. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

By Ibrahim Khan

 

Attending jumu’ah on a weekly basis can give us an opportunity to learn many things. However, nearly every Friday towards the end of the khutbah, the khatib recites a verse that many of us are accustomed to:

“Indeed, Allah orders justice and good conduct and giving to relatives and forbids immorality and bad conduct and oppression. He admonishes you that perhaps you will be reminded. [An-Nahl; 90]

Some of us may have even memorised this verse directly from the mouth of the Imam during the Friday Khutbah. Why do Imams recite this verse nearly every Friday in the jumu’ah khutbah worldwide? What is the significance of this verse?

Imam Ahmad reports a Hasan Hadith on the authority of Abdullah bin AbbasraḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) with regards to the revelation of this verse, who said:

‘While the Messenger of Allah was sitting in the courtyard of his house, Uthman bin Maz`un passed by and smiled at the Messenger of Allah.

The Messenger of Allah said to him, “Won’t you sit down?”

He replied, “Certainly.”

So the Messenger of Allah sat facing him, and while they were talking, the Messenger of Allah began looking up at the sky, looking at it for a while, then he brought his gaze down until he was looking at the ground to his right. Then the Messenger of Allah turned slightly away from his companion Uthman to where he was looking. Then he began to tilt his head as if trying to understand something, and Ibn Maz`un was looking on. When the matter was finished and he had understood what had been said to him, the Messenger of Allah stared at the sky again as he had the first time, looking at whatever he could see until it disappeared. Then he turned back to face Uthman again.

Uthman said, “I have never seen you do anything like you did today while I was sitting with you.

The Messenger of Allah said: “What did you see me do?”

Uthman said, “I saw you staring at the sky, then you lowered your gaze until you were looking to your right, then you turned to him and left me. Then you tilted your head as if you were trying to understand something that was being said to you.”

The Messenger of Allah said, “A messenger from Allah came to me just now, when you were sitting here.”

Uthman said, “A messenger from Allah!”

The Messenger of Allah said, “Yes.”

Uthman said, “And what did he say to you?”

The Messenger of Allah said, “A verse was revealed to me:

إِنَّ اللَّـهَ يَأْمُرُ‌ بِالْعَدْلِ وَالْإِحْسَانِ وَإِيتَاءِ ذِي الْقُرْ‌بَىٰ وَيَنْهَىٰ عَنِ الْفَحْشَاءِ وَالْمُنكَرِ‌ وَالْبَغْيِ ۚ يَعِظُكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَذَكَّرُ‌ونَ

“Indeed, Allah orders justice and good conduct and giving to relatives and forbids immorality and bad conduct and oppression. He admonishes you that perhaps you will be reminded.”

Uthman said, “That was when faith was established in my heart and I began to love Muhammad.”’ [Tafsir Ibn Kathir 16;90]

 

If we carefully analyse this verse, we find that Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) has mentioned 6 principles; 3 commandments and 3 prohibitions.

 

  • Justice

The first command is to be just. From amongst the 89 commandments within the Qur’an in which Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) addresses the believers by beginning with the statement, ‘O you who believe’, Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) says in one of those verses:

O you who have believed, be persistently standing firm for Allah , witnesses in justice, and do not let the hatred of a people prevent you from being just. Be just; that is nearer to righteousness. And fear Allah; indeed, Allah is acquainted with what you do.” [Al Ma’idah;8]

From amongst the other prophets of Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) who were commanded within the Qur’an to act with justice, is the Prophet Dawud 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him). Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) narrates in Surah Sa’d an event that occurred during his lifetime in which his ability to act justly was tested. Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) says,

”And has there come to you the news of the adversaries, when they climbed over the wall of [his] prayer chamber –

When they entered upon David and he was alarmed by them? They said, ‘Fear not. [We are] two adversaries, one of whom has wronged the other, so judge between us with truth and do not exceed [it] and guide us to the sound path.

Indeed this, my brother, has ninety-nine ewes, and I have one ewe; so he said, ‘Entrust her to me,’ and he overpowered me in speech.

(Dawud) said, “He has certainly wronged you in demanding your ewe [in addition] to his ewes. And indeed, many associates oppress one another, except for those who believe and do righteous deeds – and few are they.” And David became certain that We had tried him, and he asked forgiveness of his Lord and fell down bowing [in prostration] and turned in repentance [to Allah ].

 

Allah tested Dawud 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) by sending him two angels disguised in the form of shepherds. These shepherds where brothers; one of them had a single female sheep (ewe) whilst the other had 99. They both came to Dawud 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) to present their case to him. The one who had a single sheep spoke and said that his brother wanted to claim his one sheep (to make a total of 100 sheep). Without hearing the other side of the story, Dawud 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) made a judgement and said the other brother’s claim was oppressive towards his brother. The two brothers then vanished and Dawud 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) realised it was a test; he fell into prostration seeking Allah’s forgiveness. Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) accepted his repentance and then commanded him to judge with justice on the Earth.

So We forgave him that; and indeed, for him is nearness to Us and a good place of return.

[We said], “O David, indeed We have made you a successor upon the earth, so judge between the people in truth and do not follow [your own] desire, as it will lead you astray from the way of Allah .” Indeed, those who go astray from the way of Allah will have a severe punishment for having forgotten the Day of Account. [Surah Sa’ad; 21-26]

 

  • Excellence

The second principle mentioned in the verse is the command to act with excellence. If you study the Qur’an, you will find إِحْسَانًا or أَحْسَنُ meaning ‘excellence’ to be a prevalent theme throughout.

When Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) speaks about being obedient to parents, he mentions obedience in the most excellent form,

And your Lord has decreed that you not worship except Him, and to parents, excellent treatment.” [Surah Isra’;23]

When Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) speaks about talking, Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) mentions excellent in utterance,

And tell My servants to say that which is excellent[Surah Isra’;53]

In Surah Mulk, when Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) speaks about the purpose of his creation, he relates it to excellence:

“It is he who created death and life to test you [as to] which of you is excellent in deed – and He is the Exalted in Might, the Forgiving “ [Surah Mulk;2]

These are just some of the examples mentioned in the Qur’an. Within the Sunnah our Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) summed up excellence in a single hadith:

إِنَّ اللَّهَ كَتَبَ الْإِحْسَانَ عَلَى كُلِّ شَيْءٍ
“Verily, Allah has prescribed excellence in everything.” [Muslim; 1955]

 

Whatever actions we perform, whether it is related to Islam or the Dunya, the foundation of excellence should be there.

 

  • The Rights of the Relatives (Ties of Kinship)

The third and final command of Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) within this verse is to be kind to relatives and to uphold the ties of kinship. Our prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) mentioned many ahadith which emphasised the status of the relatives. In just one of those ahadith, the Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said:

The quickest good deeds to be rewarded are righteousness and good relations with family. The quickest evil deeds to be punished are transgression and severing family ties.” [Ibn Majah; 4212]

One of the greatest dilemmas facing Muslims in today’s time is the cutting of kinship. A person will do their best to maintain ties of relationship with relatives only to have them cut off.  During the time of the Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him), a man came to him and complained, “I have relatives with whom I maintain ties while they cut me off. I am good to them while they are bad to me. They behave foolishly towards me while I am forbearing towards them.” The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) replied, “If things are as you said, it is as if you were putting hot ashes on them (it is going to harm them because of their behaviour) and you will not lack a supporter against them from Allah as long as you continue to do that.” [Adab al Mufrad; 52]

 

  • Immorality 

Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) now moves on to the prohibitions. The first prohibition that the believers -both male and female- are commanded to stay away from is immorality. It is very unfortunate, living in the West that we Muslims are exposed to immorality on a daily basis; at work, school, university and the easily accessible media.

With regards to this principle, I want to outline two remarkable hadiths. Our Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said:
“Modesty is part of faith and faith is in Paradise. Shamelessness is part of impudence and impudence is in the Hellfire.” [Tirmidhi; 2009]

The paths to eternal bliss and eternal punishment have been made clear.

The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) also said:
“Obscenity is not found in anything but that it spoils it, and modesty is not found in anything but that it beautifies it.” [Tirmidhi; 1974]

 

  • Evil

Allah within the Qur’an praised this Ummah because of their enjoining of good and forbidding evil.

You are the best nation produced for mankind. You enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong and believe in Allah. [Surah Al-e-Imran; 110]

The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) gave us a stern warning, if evil was not prohibited when he said, “By Him in Whose Hand my life is, you either enjoin good and forbid evil, or Allah will certainly soon send His punishment to you. Then you will make supplication and it will not be accepted“. [Tirmidhi; 193]

 

  • Transgression 

The final principle and prohibition is to avoid transgression. Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) commanded the Muslims to be united through the bond of La ilaha ilallah, enveloped by brotherhood & sisterhood, and to be upon the Qur’an & Sunnah:

And hold firmly to the rope of Allah all together and do not become divided. And remember the favour of Allah upon you – when you were enemies and He brought your hearts together and you became, by His favour, brothers. And you were on the edge of a pit of the Fire, and He saved you from it. Thus does Allah make clear to you His verses that you may be guided.” [Surah Al-e-Imrah;103]

For this reason, there are numerous ahadith of our Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) mentioning the virtues of unity. The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said:

لاَ تَبَاغَضُوا، وَلاَ تَحَاسَدُوا، وَلاَ تَدَابَرُوا، وَكُونُوا عِبَادَ اللَّهِ إِخْوَانًا، وَلاَ يَحِلُّ لِمُسْلِمٍ أَنْ يَهْجُرَ أَخَاهُ فَوْقَ ثَلاَثِ لَيَالٍ

Do not hate one another, nor be jealous of one another; and do not desert one another, but O Allah’s worshipers! Be Brothers! And it is unlawful for a Muslim to desert his brother Muslim (and not to talk to him) for more than three nights.” [Bukhari; 6076]

The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) at the end of this hadith mentioned that it is prohibited to desert talking tot your brother for more than three nights. How many households are there where brothers don’t speak to one another, or sisters don’t speak to sisters or children not speaking to their parents? This principle is very similar to the previous principle mentioned earlier on this verse on the importance of being kind to relatives. These two principles involve giving other fellow human beings their right and for this reason, the Prophet combined them two (transgression and ties of kinship) within a single hadith where he said:

There is no sin more deserving for Allah to quicken its punishment in this life, in addition to the Hereafter, other than transgression and cutting off family ties. [Tirmidhi; 2511]

 

These 6 principles; Being just, acting with excellence, maintaining ties of kinship, staying away from immorality, forbidding evil and avoiding transgression, if followed, will lead to the ideal Islamic society being formed within our communities. If we all implement these 6 principles on an individual level, this will insha’allah be embodied on a communal level. This verse encapsulates both good and bad and for this reason, the great scholar of the Qur’an, Abdullah Ibn Mas’ud raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) commented on this verse and said;

“There is no verse in the Qur’an which is greater in combining the halal and the haram and the command the prohibition than this verse.” [Adab al Mufrad; 489]

 

 

Ibrahim Khan was blessed to have been able to memorize the Qur’an in the UK and then went on to study Aqeedah, Fiqh, Hadith with different teachers and scholars (some from which visited the UK from abroad).

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Dawah and Interfaith

10 Lessons I Learned While Serving Those in Need

Abu Ryan Dardir

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charity
Which deeds are most beloved to Allah?

Alhamdulillah, by the blessings of Allah (swt) and readers like yourself, MuslimMatters has been an independent platform for our best thought leaders to educate us in our faith and catalyze change through powerful, necessary conversations. Since our humble beginnings as a basic wordpress blog in 2007, our content has remained free.

The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support us with a monthly donation of $10 per month, or even as little as $1. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

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. 

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. 

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

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. 

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

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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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#Islam

He Catches Me When I Fall: A Journey To Tawakkul

Merium Khan, Guest Contributor

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Tawakkul- a leaf falling
Which deeds are most beloved to Allah?

Alhamdulillah, by the blessings of Allah (swt) and readers like yourself, MuslimMatters has been an independent platform for our best thought leaders to educate us in our faith and catalyze change through powerful, necessary conversations. Since our humble beginnings as a basic wordpress blog in 2007, our content has remained free.

The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support us with a monthly donation of $10 per month, or even as little as $1. 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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So You Are The Wali, Now What?

Dr Shadee Elmasry

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Which deeds are most beloved to Allah?

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The way most Muslims (as well as conservative Christians and Jews) live, a man asks for a woman’s hand in marriage from the father.

The father is not just a turnstile who has to say yes. He is a “wali” or protector and guardian of his daughter’s rights. So he will be asking some serious questions that would be awkward if the woman had to ask them.

Furthermore, in the Muslim community today esp. in the West, there are many converts that seek out a wali because they have no male relative who is Muslim. In this post, I share some guidelines aimed at the wali in his new role and stories that are useful.

Being a wali is not an honorary role. You’re not just throwing out the first pitch. You’re actually trying to throw curveballs to see whether the proposal checks out or has issues.

Here are some questions and demands a wali should make:

Background check: Call and meet at least four people that were close to the man who has proposed and interview them. There’s no husn al-zann (good opinion) in marriage. As a potential suitor, you are rejected until you prove yourself, much like an application for employment. These days, most people’s background can be found on their social media, so the wali has to spend time scrolling down. Keep scrolling, read the comments, look at the pictures, click on who’s tagged in those pictures. Get a good idea. You are a private investigator *before* the problem happens, not after. 

Check financials:  You need to see the financials to make sure they are not in some ridiculous debt or have bad credit such that they can’t even rent an apartment or cover basic needs. You want some evidence that he can fulfill the obligation of maintenance.

Check the educational background or skill set: This is a given. If it’s solid, then it can outweigh lack of funds at this moment.

Check medical records: If this is a stranger, the wali needs medical records. There was once a wealthy, handsome young man that was suave and a seemingly amazing prospect who proposed for a girl who was comparatively of average looks and from a family of very modest means. The mother and daughter were head over heels, but the dad had enough common sense to know something was up.

“Why would he come knocking on our door?,” he asked.

So the father demanded medical records. The guy never produced them. When the dad pressed him, the man admitted, he had a sexually transmitted disease (STD) and that’s why he couldn’t find anyone else to marry him.

Now note, there are legitimate cases where people have a past when they have made mistakes. This happens to the best of us, and the door for tawbah (repentance) is open. In those cases, there are organizations that match-make for Muslims with STDs. People should act in a responsible manner and not damage the lives of other humans beings.

Lifestyle: It is your job to check if the two parties have agreed on life essentials such as religious beliefs, where to live, how to school kids, etc?

In-laws: Have you at least met the family of the suitor and spent some time with them to make sure there’s nothing alarming?

Engagement: Contrary to popular understanding, there is such a thing as engagement in Islam. It’s an announcement of a future commitment to marriage. Nothing changes between the fiancees, but nobody is allowed to propose anymore. The purpose of engagement is to give time for both parties to get ready. For example, the groom may want to save up some money, or the girl may be finishing up college. Also, it’s easy to put on a face during the get-to-know process, but it’s hard to fake it over an eight or nine-month period. I remember a story where a young woman was engaged, and four months into the engagement they discovered the young man was still getting to know other women. He basically reserved the girl and then went to check for better options. Needless to say, he was dumped on the spot. Engagements are commonly a few months. I think more than a year is too much.

Legal/Civil:  The marriage should be legal/civil in the country where you will settle. If you accept a Shariah marriage but not a civil one, know that you’re asking for legal complications, especially if a child enters the picture. (Ed. Note- we realize that some countries do not allow legal registration of more than one marriage- if that is a consideration please look at all options to protect your ward. There are ways to get insurance that can be set up.)

Mahr: Get 50% of the dowry upfront (or some decent amount) and whatever is scheduled to be paid later should be written and signed. I’ve seen too many cases where a really nice dowry is “promised” but never produced.

The dowry should be commensurate to current standards depending on the man’s job. For example in our area in America 5, 7, or 10k is a common range.

In sum, there are very few things in life that are as bad as misery in marriage. The wali’s job is to eliminate the bad things that could have been avoided. If that means he has to be demanding and hated for a few months, it’s worth the cost.

It’s preventative medicine.

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