International World Day of Peace

2d20cd91d48d20c3b9b3c46efbbc302fWe are living in a time in history where there is little or no peace .. either on a national level or on a personal level.  So many people are feeling stressed.  Life is not easy for most people and peace is one of the last things that people would use to describe a way they feel.

Every day as Muslims we say some of the most beautiful words that man will ever utter..  “As salaamu alaykum”.    These are words spoken as a greeting when we meet another Muslim.   We so often say these words without realising that not only are we giving rights to another Muslim that they have over us,  but we are uttering a prayer for them.  When we say these words we are literally saying to the person we give the greeting to   ”  Peace be upon you” and we say “Peace”  we are not meaning just a feeling of peace.

One of the names of Allah Al-Salām (Peace) . Allah says: “He is Allah, besides whom there is no God, the King, the Holy One, Peace, the Giver of Security…” [Sūrah al-Hashr: 23]

Allah is the bringer of peace who spreads peace throughout creation. Since life was first created, it has been predominated by long stretches of peacefulness, security, tranquility, and contentment. Allah is Peace and from Him emanates all peace. It is as the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “O Allah! You are Peace and from You is peace. Blessed be You, possessor of glory and honor.” [Sahīh Muslim (091)]

When a Muslim says “a salaamu alaykum” to another Muslim,  we are literally asking for the Giver of Peace..  who Himself is Peace..  to give that peace to another Muslim.   The response  “Wa Alaykum Salaam” is equally as important.. as the reply offers the same prayer  to the one who originally said it  ” And to you Peace also”..

What a beautiful thing to remember today when the International Day of Peace is meaningless to so many many people around the world..  even here in Australia..  and yet for every Muslim who knows the peace of Al Salaam.. everyday is the Day of Peace.

tumblr_lx4zsixeEk1r86zjto1_500   Every day as Muslims.. indeed as humans, we are faced with changed plans.  When those plans are just small ones.. like deciding whether to go ahead and have chicken for dinner or something else, or if friends don’t show up for a planned visit, we can usually accommodate them without it really being an issue or causing us much if any stress.

When those plans are major life plans, it can be extremely stressful.  In thinking about what it is that creates that stress, I have decided that it’s all about expectations not being met and being left with  a sense of disappointment, frustration or even anger towards the situation, the one who caused it (if anyone)  and sometimes maybe even subconsciously even towards Allah Himself. (though maybe we don’t admit that to anyone, not even ourselves.

Changed plans and unmet expectations are a part of being human.   An inevitable part of our tendency to make plans and expect them to remain unchanged.  We build our futures around those plans and when they fail to materialise we are left feeling shattered.  What does this teach us about our knowledge of qadr of Allah?   Or our understanding of Tawhid and what that means to us, not as a belief system, but as something that directs our thinking about our lives and the things that happen to us.

We say La ilaha illallah many times a day in our salaat. Like so many things  we repeat  we don’t often reflect on it’s meaning.  In repeating those words we are stating as fact that we believe that Allah is not only ONE.. but that He is the  Creator of the heavens and the earth, the Master of the East and the West and Sustainer of the entire universe.It should and must challenge our thinking and our responses to the difficulties and problems we face daily.  No more do we see ourselves as victims to chance.. or at the mercy of the consequences of changed plans and their outcomes.  These are but an opportunity to wait patiently with sabr to see what HIS SWT better plan is.  We surrender and accept, yet not as a victim but a victor.   We are fully conscience of our Lord.  Each time we pray or repeat the Kalimah we are invigorated with humility and gratitude and accept all that happens as a benefit to us, as He the Creator of the Universe has promised it’s for our benefit.. if not in the dunya then in the Akhira.. or maybe in both.

Suhaib said that, ‘we were sitting with the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) and suddenly he laughed. . He asked his companions: ‘Won’t you ask me what I am laughing about?.’ So they asked the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) ‘what are you laughing about ?’ So he said : ‘I laughed because I was astonished at the affair of a believer.’  All of his affairs, all of his circumstances are good, all of it. If something happens to him that he loves, if Allah blesses him with something that he loves, then he praises Allaah and this is good. And if something happens to him, if he is put into some difficulty, test or tribulation or hardship or something that he hates, he is patient and that is good for him. And no o­ne’s situation is totally good except the believer. And no o­ne else’s affair, no o­ne else’s circumstance, no o­ne else’s condition, no o­ne else’s situation is totally good except the mu’min, except the believer.’

May we be among those who are the Mu’min the true believers  who understand and submit to Tawhid.. ameen.

Ramadhan Day 12

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There is a time for most Muslims during Ramadhan when things become a little less exciting.  When the body is tired and drained and the momentum begins to fade.  This is the real time of benefit for Muslims during Ramadhan.  This is the time when the self discipline and real change can begin and take place.

It is not easy to face another day of fasting, or to even get out of bed early to make suhoor when outside the bed, it’s cold.  Every part of your body is asking for “reprieve” and being allowed to give into the most basic of needs.. that of sustenance and rest.

At Tarawih last night, it was evident the imam was very tired and it made me think to remind Muslims who are reading my blog, to remember to pray for those in leadership in the Mosques  (Masjids) around the world who are especially drained at this time as they balance the extra activities at the Masjid, whilst also fasting, spending time with their family and friends and also increasing their own ibadah (worship).

Ramadhan is not called the “month of training” for no reason.  Just like athletes around the world whose minds are fixed on being selected for the upcoming Olympic Games have to throw their whole selves on the line to achieve the goal.. so also.. infact how much more so should Muslims want this for their own spiritual development.

Twelve days into the fast we have completed the preliminary training.  Now our bodies are adjusting/adjusted to the changes imposed .. now we can focus on acts that will increase our spiritual development. Now we should be looking for ways of increasing our giving in charity, praying, helping others,  We are setting ourselves up for attitudes and actions and good habits that should continue well beyond Ramadhan.. infact should never stop.  We are in a training regime that doesn’t stop with Ramadhan, but will in sha Allah continue in our lives, seen by others as part of our nature.. of who we are.

As someone said to me recently. It’s scary.  When we sin, get angry, are selfish.. we can’t blame Shaytaan’s whispers any more.  We now plainly see who we are inside. Our Nafs are speaking (our inner self).  Those harsh words we spoke to our spouse.. they are an issue we need to deal with..  they are the part of us that is not listening to the command to “speak good or remain silent”.   That desire to be always right is our nafs speaking..  and we forget the promise that “Jannah is promised to the one who gives up arguing even if they are right”.

This time of lethargy and apathy is a last ditch attempt by our nafs to still “rule our actions and reactions”.. Shaytaan doesn’t cause these thoughts and behavious, he simply whispers to them as the weaknesses that dictate who we present ourselves as t both to the world and to Allah. The Shaytaan are chained during this month helping us gain a clear awareness of who we are and what needs to be dealt with in our lives..  We have completed the days of Mercy.. now we are entering the days of forgiveness where we can lay ourselves totally open to our Lord ..

A reminder to myself first..  that these are the days where the hard work on becoming a better version of myself as a slave of Allah is being accomplished by His Mercy and Help in sha Allah. It would be easy to give up now and say it’s all too hard.. but just like an athlete.. who finds the tough training regime to difficult and misses out on the coveted goal of being selected on the Olympic Team will ultimately regret his moments of weakness and loss of stamina.. so also will we if we give up.  Our goal is much greater.  Allah SWT has said that Fasting is for Him.. and He will reward.  What a prize!!!

Al-Bukhaari (1761) and Muslim (1946) narrated that Abu Hurayrah (may Allaah be pleased with him) said: The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Allaah said: ‘Every deed of the son of Adam is for him except fasting; it is for Me and I shall reward for it…’” 

“Only those who are patient shall receive their reward in full, without reckoning”

[al-Zumar 39:10] 

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Ramadhan Day 11

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As I was doing the dishes after sahoor this morning and will listening to a lecture by Yasir Qadhi on the Names and Attributes of Allah  a thought came to my mind.   Who is Allah/God and what do we think about Him.  I wasn’t thinking of it in terms of myself or Muslims at this moment since I was hearing about Him through the lecture.  I was thinking of it in terms of modern day Christians and Jews and other monotheistic believers.

I have been talking to people of Jewish background recently and in many ways I can relate to the Jewish concept of God much more than the concept of God as seen in modern day Christianity.  In my journey to Islam .. which took many years,  I know that my own submission to Allah as an 11 year old girl found it’s home when I embraced Islam as a 46 year old woman.  The God I submitted to at that young age was Almighty, All knowing and all powerful.  The longer I stayed in Christianity the more frustrated I became at the watering down of this understanding. Over 35 years of Christianity I struggled constantly with the concept of God that was being weakened as Jesus was elevated to places he himself never wanted to be taken..

God is Almighty ..  Creator of All things.. the One who alone is the Source of all life.  There is nothing that is not created by God.time, life, everything is not only created by Him, everything is in His control.  We don’t serve a weak God who is “our friend”.. We don’t serve a God who can’t forgive sin without blood sacrifice. We don’t serve a God who needs to manifest Himself through a man in order to be known.  We serve a God who is known by His Names and Attributes and Who reveals Himself through Creation as signs for those who reflect.

Surah Ikhlas is the most comprehensive and beautiful description of Allah SWT  to be found anywhere..  Prophet Muhammad SAW said that if we read this.. it’s like we have read 1/3rd of the Quran.  Such an important verse as it’s a declaration of Tauhid.. “Oneness of Allah”.. the most important concept in Islam.

My thoughts today, which I plan to reflect on in tomorrow’s blog.. is the concept of God in each major monotheistic religion in sha Allah.

 

Ramadhan Day 9 and 10

 

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The Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “This is a month, the first part of which bringsAllah’s Mercy, the middle of which brings Allah’s forgiveness, and the last partof which brings emancipation from the hellfire.” [Bukhari]

Today is the start of the 10th day of Ramadhan.  I had a busy day yesterday returning to work and organising a number of things in my own personal life as well as at my work. Last night at Tarawih the Shaykh reminded us that today is Day 10 of Ramadhan.  For Muslims this is significant.

Ramadhan is divided into 3  ten day segments

Days 1-10 are known as the Days of Mercy

Days 11-20 are known as the Days of Forgiveness

Days 21-30 are the Days of Salvation from the Hell fire

The first ten days of Ramadan are known as the “Ten Days of Mercy”.Muslims are aware that Ramadan is a month of spiritual opportunities, but what does the “mercy” really mean to Muslims?

One of God’s names is Ar-Rahman, the Most Merciful, and Muslims call upon God using this name in nearly everything they do. Thus, there is no surprise that Mercy manifests itself in the month that God created for Himself.

In the sacred hadith below, God says:

“O son of Adam, as long as you call upon Me and put your hope in Me, I have forgiven you for what you have done and I do not mind.

O son of Adam, if your sins were to reach the clouds of the sky and then you would seek My forgiveness, I would forgive you.

O son of Adam, if you were to come to Me with sins that are close to filling the earth and then you would meet Me without ascribing any partners with Me, I would certainly bring to you forgiveness close to filling it.” (Authenticated by Al-Albani)

Imagine entering Ramadan in full reflection of wrong doings. Many believers worry of the sins that they incurred along the way – the ones that were committed conscientiously and without realizing it. Yet God promises forgiveness. There is no similar attribute to anyone or anything in this world, hence the reminder to remove idolatry from one’s beliefs.

Through this hadith alone, God reminds that He is Ar-Rahman, the Most Compassionate, and Ar-Raheem, the Most Merciful. Basking in God’s Mercy – and finitely – the Mercy of Paradise – is something that every believing Muslim prays for. And with this fear of God’s punishment that is close to the heart of the believer, God says:

{Say: O My servants who have transgressed against their own souls, despair not of the mercy of Allah. Indeed, Allah forgives all sins. Truly, He is Most Forgiving, Most Merciful.} (Az-Zumar 39: 53)

Du’a and Dhikr Are Keys to God’s Mercy

First Ten Days of Ramadan: A Shower of Mercy

Ramadhan Day 8

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Hundreds of years ago, an Islamic scholar Ibn Al Qayyim wrote

“The heart on its journey towards Allah the Exalted is like that of a bird. Love is its head, and fear and hope are its two wings. When the head is healthy, then the two wings will fly well. When the head is cut off, the bird will die. When either of two wings is damaged, the bird becomes vulnerable to every hunter and predator.

Ramadhan is about preventing the bird that is me losing her head or damaging her wings. For 11 months, myself and Muslims around the world live in the world and we partake all that the world offers.  For this one month, I am focused totally on the health of my “head” and wings”.   Ramadhan is about reflecting on the year that has been, seeking forgiveness for my sins and drawing closer to Allah SWT through my worship.

I was listening to a talk last night.  Ramadhan has another name. . it’s called the month of the Qur’an because this is the month that we as Muslims believe that Allah SWT sent down the first revelation of the  Qur’an as a guidance and mercy to all mankind. The early believers knew it as the Month of the Qur’an long before it became the Month of Fasting.  The speaker, Nouman Ali Khan reminded us that the Qu’ran changed the whole world.  .. so how much more will it change us?  How much more will it change me?

Around the globe this month.. people will be going to the Mosque and listening to the Qur’an and hearing the recitation of the Qu’ran completely recited  for the full month.  There is so much reward in it.  Someone once said “how can we understand something that is recited but in another language we do not understand.”… A story was used to illustrate just how important it is..

An old American Muslim lived on a farm in the mountains of eastern Kentucky with his young grandson. Each morning Grandpa was up early sitting at the kitchen table reading his Qur’an.

His grandson wanted to be just like him and tried to imitate him in every way he could. One day the grandson asked, “Grandpa! I try to read the Qur’an just like you but I don’t understand it, and what I do understand, I forget as soon as I close the book. What good does reading the Qur’an do?”

The Grandfather quietly turned from putting coal in the stove and replied, “Take this coal basket down to the river and bring me back a basket of water.” (A coal basket is also called a scuttle, which is just a metal basket for carrying coal, with holes in the sides and bottom so the coal dust can be shaken out before it is carried.) The boy did as he was told, but all the water leaked out before he got back to the house.

The grandfather laughed and said, “You’ll have to move a little faster next time,” and sent him back to the river with the basket to try again. This time the boy ran faster, but again the basket was empty before he returned home.

Out of breath, he told his grandfather that it was impossible to carry water in a basket with holes, and he went to get a regular bucket instead. The old man said, “I don’t want a regular bucket of water; I want a coal basket of water. You’re just not trying hard enough,” and he went out the door to watch the boy try again.

At this point, the boy knew it was impossible, but he wanted to show his grandfather that even if he ran as fast as he could, the water would leak out before he got back to the house. The boy again dipped the basket into river and ran hard, but when he reached his grandfather the basket was again empty.

Out of breath, he said, “See Grandpa, it’s useless!”

“So you think it is useless?” The old man said, “Look at the basket.” The boy looked at the basket and for the first time realized that the coal basket was indeed different. It had been transformed from a dirty old coal basket and was now clean, inside and out.

“Son, that’s what happens when you read the Qur’an. You might not understand or remember everything, but when you read it, you will over time be changed, inside and out. That is the work of Allah in our lives.”

 “And We sent down the Qur`an as a healer and a mercy for those who believe…”    – Al-Isra’ 17:82

https://darvish.wordpress.com/2012/02/23/the-old-man-his-grandson-and-reading-the-quran/

This is the month of fasting, the month of the Qu’ran and it’s the time of internal clensing and of drawing near to Allah in order that the head of the bird stays directly attached to her body and her wings stay strong and undamaged.  in sha Allah

Yesterday.. I wrote this on my Facebook page and shared it with all my friends.

If you are fasting right now.. you are engaging in an intensely personal experience between only you and your Lord. He promises to reward you from His treasures personally…SubhanAllah.

. “Allaah said: ‘Every deed of the son of Adam is for him except fasting; it is for Me and I shall reward for it…’” [al-Bukhaari (1761) and Muslim (1946)]

 

Ramadhan Day 7

Before I reverted to Islam, one of the many things that excited me was that I found Islam in the Old Testament.  In Genesis 16 it says this

Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had borne him no children. But she had an Egyptian slave named Hagar; so she said to Abram, “The Lord has kept me from having children. Go, sleep with my slave; perhaps I can build a family through her.”

Abram agreed to what Sarai said. So after Abram had been living in Canaan ten years, Sarai his wife took her Egyptian slave Hagar and gave her to her husband to be his wife. He slept with Hagar, and she conceived.

The Old Testament and the Quran both speak of Sarah and Hagar  and of Ishmael (Hagar’s son) and of Isaac (Sarah’s son).. both the offspring of Abraham.   Both the OT and the Quran talk of Hagar and Ishmael being removed from Abraham’s household and going to the desert.  Both the Old Testament and the Qu’ran talk of them thriving there.

Ishmael and Isaac are both the sons of Abraham and the streams of faith that connect them are called the Ibrahamic faiths.   Christians around the world are today praying for Muslims and will do so throughout the month of Ramadhan in the mistaken belief that Muslims need their prayers due to some deficiency in faith perhaps even believing the God of  the Jews and Christians is NOT the same God as that of the Muslim.   Maybe even some Muslims believe this.  Truth is.. there is only ONE  GOD Who is the Creator of Mankind.. and in Arabic both Christians and Muslims call Him Allah. and He alone is the One worthy of worship.

Today I feel compelled to remind my Christian readers that the bible speaks clearly that God would be with Ishmael and Ishmael’s progeny and that Allah is calling Christians to return to the knowledge of Him as ONE.. just as Abraham called the people of His Day to renounce polytheism and to worship the One True God.

God Himself in the Bible narrative came to Hagar in the desert  through the angel and

10 The angel added, “I will increase your descendants so much that they will be too numerous to count.”

11 The angel of the Lord also said to her:

“You are now pregnant
    and you will give birth to a son.
You shall name him Ishmael,[a]
    for the Lord has heard of your misery.
12 He will be a wild donkey of a man;
    his hand will be against everyone
    and everyone’s hand against him,
and he will live in hostility
    toward[b] all his brothers.”

13 She gave this name to the Lord who spoke to her: “You are the God who sees me,” for she said, “I have now seen[c] the One who sees me.”14 That is why the well was called Beer Lahai Roi[d]; it is still there, between Kadesh and Bered.

The name Ishmael means  “God Hears”.. and according to both the Bible and Quran, Allah heard Hagar’s cry and not only supplied her with water, but also with a promise .. That of Abraham’s son Ishmael .. Christians always read the words “His hand will be against everyone, but forget it also says.. “everyone’s hand will be against him”.. distrust was two way.. not just one way.

In Genesis 17 we read something else that most Christians forget when they think of Islam.. According to the Bible, Abraham was promised a son from Sarah.  He heard of the wonderful covenant that was between him and God and He prostrated before God in accepting it.. but notice the first thing he says at the end of the words of God about the Isaac legacy..

18 And Abraham said to God, “If only Ishmael might live under your blessing!”

19 Then God said, “Yes, but your wife Sarah will bear you a son, and you will call him Isaac.[d] I will establish my covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his descendants after him. 2And as for Ishmael, I have heard you: I will surely bless him; I will make him fruitful and will greatly increase his numbers. He will be the father of twelve rulers, and I will make him into a great nation. 21 But my covenant I will establish with Isaac, whom Sarah will bear to you by this time next year.” 22 When he had finished speaking with Abraham, God went up from him.

23 On that very day Abraham took his son Ishmael and all those born in his household or bought with his money, every male in his household, and circumcised them, as God told him. 24 Abraham was ninety-nine years old when he was circumcised, 25 and his son Ishmael was thirteen;26 Abraham and his son Ishmael were both circumcised on that very day.27 And every male in Abraham’s household, including those born in his household or bought from a foreigner, was circumcised with him

Ishmael was always part of the covenant that God made with Abraham about his progeny.. and lest any would belittle the promise of God to Abraham.. read Chapter 21 of Genesis where the story is revisited with more detail

Early the next morning Abraham took some food and a skin of water and gave them to Hagar. He set them on her shoulders and then sent her off with the boy. She went on her way and wandered in the Desert of Beersheba.

15 When the water in the skin was gone, she put the boy under one of the bushes. 16 Then she went off and sat down about a bowshot away, for she thought, “I cannot watch the boy die.” And as she sat there, she[c] began to sob.

17 God heard the boy crying, and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven and said to her, “What is the matter, Hagar? Do not be afraid;God has heard the boy crying as he lies there. 18 Lift the boy up and take him by the hand, for I will make him into a great nation.”

19 Then God opened her eyes and she saw a well of water. So she went and filled the skin with water and gave the boy a drink.

20 God was with the boy as he grew up. He lived in the desert and became an archer. 21 While he was living in the Desert of Paran, his mother got a wife for him from Egypt.

For anyone to say that the God of the Muslim is not the God of the Christian or the Jew is to deny a promise that God/Allah Himself made as part of the Abrahamic Covenant.  The message that both Isaac and Ishmael gave to their people .. the Jews and the Muslims was one and the same..  “Hear oh Israel/Muslim  The Lord your God, The Lord is ONE God and Him only shall you serve.”   Jesus Himself repeated those same words  when He answered the question asked of Him   ”

“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[a] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b] 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

the Greatest Commandment  “

In response to Satan offering him the worship of the world according to the New Testament narrative   .. Jesus replied in Luke 4:8

But Jesus replied “It is written.. Worship the Lord Your God and  serve Him only

Christians are taught in Romans 9:6 that  “for God’s gifts and his call are irrevocable”

The belief system of all Abrhamic faiths can be summarised in the words of  2 Chronicles 7:14  and in the words of Abraham, Isaac, Ishmael, all the Prophets, Jesus and Mohammad

“If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land”

This is Islam!  Submission to the One True God and the Only One Worthy of Worship.

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