Light Up Your Life With Islam

Tales of the Courageous

Bimillah.

Every person in this world has the desire to live ‘happily ever after’. We keep searching for ways and means through which we can fulfil this dream of immortal peace and comfort. Some give their lives while searching for it. But alas, we do not know that no matter how much happiness we attain in this world, it’ll all be left behind when death, the unavoidable, overpowers us.

This world was not made for us to be ultimately happy in. It is temporary and full of strife. True and everlasting happiness is only to be found in Paradise. The place that no one is guaranteed to go to, no one has a surefire one-way ticket in hand. Everyone awaits to see the results of their attempt after the chance of attempt has been taken away from them.

But there were those in the past who were given the ‘ticket’ of Paradise during their lifetime. They were told that Paradise would be their ultimate abode. One wonders in amazement, “why were they so special?” “What did they do to deserve that?” And then, “if only I was given that ticket, I’d breathe in relief and spend the rest of my life in peace of mind and comfort”.

But surprisingly, they did not! They strove a lot more than you and me, before being given the glad tidings of Paradise and after being given them. They did not stop. And Allah knew that about them already. If we really want Paradise, then they are our role models, we have to follow in their footsteps.

One such person who was guaranteed Paradise was Zubair bin Al-‘Awwam.

Narrated Jabir:
The Prophet (ﷺ) said, “Every prophet used to have a Hawari (i.e. helper), and my Hawari is Az-Zubair bin Al-`Awwam.” 
[Sahih Al-Bukhari, Book 62, Hadith 68]

The Prophet (ﷺ) himself praised him and gave him a title of honour. But this was not merely a title of honour bestowed on him out of love rather a title that had history of bravery and sacrifice behind it. And this is how those people were who were given the glad tidings of Paradise. They had huge sacrifices, stories of great bravery, they stood up when no one else did. It wasn’t easy. It took courage and sincerity that we can only think of. Nothing good is ever achieved without a hefty price. They gave their blood, sweat and wealth to earn Allah’s pleasure and Allah rewarded them with His Mercy and Bounties and promised them Paradise.

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Why was he entitled such?

One of the great battles fought at the time of the Prophet (ﷺ) was the Battle of Confederates*. Many groups came together and surrounded the City of Medina, where the Muslims lived, from all sides. It was a tough time for Muslims. They were less than half of their enemy in number and their resources were quite meagre as compared to their opponents. At such a delicate moment, the allies of Muslims who were supposedly protecting them from one side, turned against them slyly. It was a time of unrest, exhaustion, bleak prospects apparently, and one demanding huge courage and sincerity.

At that time, the Prophet (ﷺ) called out for volunteers for a dangerous task.

Narrated Jabir:
On the day of Al-Ahzab (i.e. clans), Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) said, ‘Who will bring us the news of the people (i.e. the clans of Quraish infidels)?” Az-Zubair said, “I.” The Prophet (ﷺ) again said, “Who will bring us the news of the people?” AzZubair said, “I.” The Prophet (ﷺ) again said, “Who will bring us the news of the people?” Az-Zubair said, “I.” The Prophet (ﷺ) then said, “Every prophet has his Hawari (i.e. disciple, special helper); my helper is Az-Zubair.
[Sahih Al-Bukhari, Book 64, Hadith 157]

At such an occasion, Az-Zubair rose, not once but thrice. His coming forward despite the risk of his life and honour was what earned him this title of honour. And indeed, he deserved it.

Today, we might not have to go to the battlefield or act as a reconnoitre at great risk. But we do have our own tough situations to deal with. Each one of us has their own test. We have one battle or the other raging in our hearts and in our lives, and defeating the enemy of our own self, our desires, our doubts, our thoughts, our laziness, defeating the enemy Shaytan might demand the greatest courage and sincerity of all. These are our battles and our sacrifices at these times is what would be counted. Our big or small efforts and struggles is what will earn us Paradise or make us lose it. Because indeed, Allah does not look at the result only rather He considers the efforts and sincerity.

May Allah give us the courage and opportunity to face our troubles and overcome them, and may He bless us with a sincerity that makes our efforts pure for His Pleasure alone. Ameen.

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*Read about the Battle of Confederates on Pg. 156http://www.kalamullah.com/Books/Ar-Raheeq%20Al-Makhtum.pdf

Striking the Balance

Bismillah.

There are some rules of thumb that pass from generation to generation and end up becoming unquestionable facts. Out of those that you must have heard many times are: If you want to be healthy, eat a balanced diet. If you want to lead a comfortable life, have balance between work and play. If you want to have good relationships, be balanced in your dealings with others. If you want to be a good boss, be balanced in your firmness and softness.

It seems as if they say balance is the key to every success. Even though it’s true, tried and tested as it is, sometimes we find it difficult to follow it due to our distorted natures. We have got so much into the habit of being in extremes, that a balance in anything seems unreal. It’s almost as if we don’t even know anymore what balance means.

Well, here is the most beautiful and practical definition of balance that you will ever come across: the Companions of the Prophet (ﷺ). They were the picture perfect amalgam of commonplace and unique, of worldly life and worship, of justice and kindness. They were, in reality, balanced individuals leading healthy and happy lives.

Here are a few lovely glimpses of these inspirational personalities, showing the blend of kindness and justice, a rare and amazing combination, and that too from the family of the Prophet (ﷺ):

Poise

Jaafar (RA) was the cousin of the Prophet (ﷺ), one who had embraced Islam early, had done migration and was very dedicated to his cause.

Abu Hurairah narrates about him: 

…And the most generous of all the people to the poor was Ja`far bin Abi Talib. He used to take us to his home and offer us what was available therein. He would even offer us an empty folded leather container (of butter) which we would split and lick whatever was in it. [Sahih Bukhari, Book 62, Hadith 59]

As if his generosity was not enough, his devotion can be observed in the way he kept the flag high in the battle even after his arms were cut off one by one. Imagine how much the Prophet (ﷺ) would love him, being family and of being of such a noble character.

He (ﷺ)said to him once, “you resemble me in both appearance and character”.

When Jaafar (RA) died, Prophet (ﷺ) wept in sadness. However, after 3 days he said to his family that no one should grieve anymore.

Why did he say that? This was the justice in spite of, or rather complementary of, the kindness and affection. Because Allah’s commands, no matter what they are, are just and fair. The Prophet (ﷺ) and his Companions did not let anything come above Allah’s commands and that was their justice.

For us today, justice has taken a negative connotation. We think that to be just you have to be harsh and sever relationships or something. But that is not true. Justice coupled with kindness depicts honesty and sincerity which these people had and thus they lived simple and open lives without any complications and artificiality that we burden ourselves with. We either forget kindness in our “justice” or forget justice in our “kindness” and keep crying about our misfortunes and ruined relationships.


Another such incident is as follows:

Narrated Anas:
Whenever there was drought, `Umar bin Al-Khattab used to ask Allah for rain through Al-`Abbas bin `Abdul Muttalib, saying, “O Allah! We used to request our Prophet to ask You for rain, and You would give us. Now we request the uncle of our Prophet to ask You for rain, so give us rain.” And they would be given rain.”[Sahih Bukhari, Book 62, Hadith 61]

Umar (RA) himself was the Caliph at that time and yet he felt no qualms in acknowledging the honourable status of another, so much so that he called him to make dua for rain. What a beautiful and kind way to regard someone.

At the same time, the justice of Umar (RA) can be seen in the fact that despite Abbas (RA) being the uncle of the prophet and so respectable, he did not include him in his advisory board, on the basis of his accepting Islam very late and thus having that status and understanding difference in this particular instance from those who embraced Islam in the early period.


A third and very beautiful example,

Narrated ‘Aisha:
Fatima sent somebody to Abu Bakr asking him to give her her inheritance from the Prophet (ﷺ)… Abu Bakr said, “Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) said, ‘We (Prophets), our property is not inherited, and whatever we leave is Sadaqa, but Muhammad’s Family can eat from this property, i.e. Allah’s property, but they have no right to take more than the food they need.’ By Allah! I will not bring any change in dealing with the Sadaqa of the Prophet (and will keep them) as they used to be observed in his (i.e. the Prophet’s) life-time, and I will dispose with it as Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) used to do,” Then ‘Ali… added, “O Abu Bakr! We acknowledge your superiority.”… Abu Bakr then spoke saying, “By Allah in Whose Hands my life is. I love to do good to the relatives of Allah’s Apostle rather than to my own relatives” [Sahih Bukhari, Book 62, Hadith 62]

Who doesn’t know about the generosity and kindness of Abu Bakr? And yet, when Allah’s command came in front of him in the form of hadith, he did not hesitate a moment in implementing it. His regard for the family of the Prophet (ﷺ) was very great but justice demanded obeying Allah’s command first.

This general principle of being kind to the utmost but being just in obeying Allah’s commands can make our lives very beautiful, less complicated and simple. This is the balance that we need! This is what will lead us to ultimate success!

 

 

The Real Life Legend

Bismillah.

“Greatness today is usually overrated”, I said to myself with my eyes full of tears. They were tears of shame, due to our lowering the standards of greatness. And they were tears of love, for those who were actually great.

Many of you would know about Umar (RA) and his life and death. And many of you wouldn’t know anything about him. Whichever category you lie in, rest assured the following story will move you, coming first hand from someone who met him and knew him.

`Amr bin Maimun narrated:
I saw `Umar bin Al-Khattab a few days before he was stabbed in Medina. He was standing with Hudhaifa bin Al-Yaman and `Uthman bin Hunaif to whom he said, “What have you done? Do you think that you have imposed more taxation on the land (of As-Swad i.e. ‘Iraq) than it can bear?” They replied, “We have imposed on it what it can bear because of its great yield.” `Umar again said, “Check whether you have imposed on the land what it can not bear.” They said, “No, (we haven’t).” `Umar added, “If Allah should keep me alive I will let the widows of Iraq need no men to support them after me.” But only four days had elapsed when he was stabbed (to death).

A man so bent on taking care of everyone, one of the biggest proponents of social welfare, the one who considered the underprivileged and weak class of society his responsibility, who would consider killing such a man but an enemy of humanity? Because indeed, his death was not a loss merely to the followers of a certain faith but to more than half the world that was under his rule.

But how was he stabbed? `Amr continues the story, describing the scene where Muslims were gathered together for their prayer, standing in neat rows.

The day he was stabbed, I was standing and there was nobody between me and him (i.e. `Umar) except `Abdullah bin `Abbas. Whenever `Umar passed between the two rows, he would say, “Stand in straight lines.” When he saw no defect (in the rows), he would go forward and start the prayer with Takbir. He would recite Surat Yusuf or An-Nahl or the like in the first rak`a so that the people may have the time to Join the prayer.

This is the beauty of the Muslim congregational prayer. It is an icon of unity, discipline, strength, kinship and commitment. It teaches how to be an accountable leader and how to be a good follower. So on this particular day, as was the routine, Umar (RA) came forward to lead the prayer after making sure that all was in order.

`Amr says: As soon as he said Takbir, I heard him saying, “The dog has killed or eaten me,” at the time he (i.e. the murderer) stabbed him. A non-Arab infidel proceeded on carrying a double-edged knife and stabbing all the persons he passed by on the right and left (till) he stabbed thirteen persons out of whom seven died. When one of the Muslims saw that, he threw a cloak on him. Realizing that he had been captured, the non-Arab infidel killed himself, `Umar held the hand of `Abdur-Rahman bin `Auf and let him lead the prayer. Those who were standing by the side of `Umar saw what I saw, but the people who were in the other parts of the Mosque did not see anything, but they lost the voice of `Umar and they were saying, “Subhan Allah! Subhan Allah! (i.e. Glorified be Allah).” `Abdur-Rahman bin `Auf led the people a short prayer…

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The great leader and ruler of more than half the world was stabbed, along with thirteen other people, and yet, the congregational prayer continued. Not a moment of chaos or confusion was observed. The height of their commitment to Allah, the One true God, can be easily perceived in this situation. Their training was so immaculate that no outcries were heard and the one commanded to lead in place of the leader led calmly.

Ask yourself, if your leader is stabbed in a public place, what would happen? What is generally observed in such a situation? A commotion that would scare the weak hearted to death. Some people would run away. Some would scream. Some would try to help the victims. Some would start discussing who is responsible for this crime. Opinions, arguments and cries would be heard all over the place.

The question is what kept those people around Umar (RA) calm? And the answer is pretty simple, they established the congregational prayer regularly. Therefore discipline and calmness was their habit. Unfortunately, today if you go to a masjid at the time of prayer, you’d see half a row of people praying together only. It is a sight that stabs our hearts everytime we see it. Nothing can unite us more or strengthen our bonds more than praying together in the masjid at the prescribed times. The benefits of the congregational prayer alone deserve a separate post.

After the prayer finished, Umar (RA) talked to his companions without any display of pain or self pity, asking them who had stabbed him. He was carried to his home and the people of the city felt as if they had never suffered a bigger calamity before. He was made to drink some infusion of dates and milk, but it came out of his stomach. Imagine the pain he would be going through and imagine the sadness of the people for their beloved leader.

…A young man came saying, “O chief of the believers! Receive the glad tidings from Allah to you due to your company with Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) and your superiority in Islam which you know. Then you became the ruler (i.e. Caliph) and you ruled with justice and finally you have been martyred.” `Umar said, “I wish that all these privileges will counterbalance (my shortcomings) so that I will neither lose nor gain anything.”

No doubt he was just and fair, he had ruled to the best of his ability and yielded amazing results. But you don’t even see a speck of arrogance, nor even contentment upon the quality of his work. Rather you see him being afraid of accountability. Only hoping to be forgiven. Sadly, those who rule without justice and responsibility, demonstrate pride and satisfaction over don’t know what.

When the young man turned back to leave, his clothes seemed to be touching the ground. `Umar said, “Call the young man back to me.” (When he came back) `Umar said, “O son of my brother! Lift your clothes, for this will keep your clothes clean and save you from the Punishment of your Lord.”

He is wounded badly and near his death but he doesn’t fail to notice what’s not right around him and strives to correct it in the best manner possible, with sincerity and honesty. Because he felt it was his responsibility to save the young man from clear error.

We stop doing our own personal work when we feel unwell or sad, let alone calling others to good and stopping them from evil. We think too much about ourselves in contrast to this just man who thought of everyone else even in his own suffering. He continued to instruct his companions with an exemplary presence of mind, making sure he missed out no important detail and left no one under his rule ignored and speaking only that which was good and beneficial. The question that bugs is how could he use his mind and that too so well and talk so calmly in such a state? Again, the answer is simple. Because he had done it all his life. Whatever you did your whole life, you’ll end up doing that near your death. It’s like a default position. And default does not require too much effort. The one who spent his life talking good and used his mind well, will be able to talk good and use his mind easily in old age, in a calamity and near his death. And the converse holds true as well.

Though the story does not end here and its beauty does not diminish till the end, but I must stop as my post is getting long. :)

May Allah make us true followers of Islam and people of justice. And raise us on the Day of Judgement with the Prophets, martyrs, truthful and righteous people.

Read the whole story here and extract the amazing gems from it yourself: click for complete narration.

Poem on the legendary heroes of Islam:
https://lightenitup.wordpress.com/2013/06/05/gone-with-the-wind/

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Of Memories and Affections

Bismillah. 

Five days into Eid and I still remember the two pretty white sheep that my brother and his wife sacrificed this time. 

They had come to our home almost a year ago. Cuddly little things they were when they first arrived. My nephews and I used to play with them in the garden. In a matter of few months, they had become fully grown sheep. I recall when their wool was shorn and we used to marvel and laugh at how different they looked. Throughout the year, it was actually only a few times that I had spent time with them. And yet, I miss them even when Eid has passed. 

Usually, our mind doesn’t wander back to our sacrificial animals so frequently but just those few moments of association had built a bond not to be broken easily. Because humans are made to love and have affection, this is how they’re created. 

  
Imagine if this creation of love and affection is told to sacrifice, not sheep, but his own son. How would he ever relent to that? The bond of humans with their pets is strong. The bond of humans with other fellow humans is stronger. The bond of humans with other people who they know is stronger still. The bond of humans with their relatives is even stronger. And the bond of man with his kids is incomparable to any other bond in this world. This makes the bidding of sacrificing one’s own son seem odd and out of place. And yet, there was this man who not only accepted and obeyed but also did the deed with all his heart in it. 

Did he not love his son enough? Yes, he did. Maybe even more than usual. Because his child was not your usual everyday son but one who was obedient and of the best character. Who could help not adoring such a kid, let alone his father? 

How could he do this then? Surely, it was because the One who had commanded to do this act was more beloved to this man than any other human on this earth. Most beloved, because that’s how great is the One who told him to sacrifice his own son. So great that he did not have to question. This man knew His Wisdom, His Love, His Mercy, His Greatness surpasses all others. Because He is the Creator of that man and of all mankind. 

I wonder if we also know and believe in the Greatness of our Creator, what would we be willing to sacrifice? Would we sacrifice our time, energies, efforts, resources, desires, negative thoughts and lifestyles for Him? But perhaps, we do not know Him truly…  

  

Independence!

Bismillah.

“The independence day sales estimated to reach Rs. 40-50 billion this year”, reported a newspaper.

As I read the headline, I couldn’t help but feel embarrassed. Embarrassed to face the underprivileged class upon spending so excessively for the celebration of a single day, in the form of paper flags that are seen trampled on the roads on the morning of 15th, in the form of lights decking huge buildings when villages upon villages have no electricity throughout the year, in the form of fireworks and gunshots that disturb the peace of many ill, old and suffering, in the form of huge green and white cakes when thousands in this country sleep everyday without having eaten a single morsel, in the form of green and white paints and flower petals when so many walk around in rags.

What kind of love entails only words and one-time actions? Why do we always have to choose the more flashy and easy way out? Why do we polish and glamorize cracked walls, why not fix the cracks first? Why don’t we strive together to make every person of this land truly independent and free? Free from financial burdens, from hate, the shackles of undue cultural practices, from pleasing everyone all the time, from worshipping anyone and anything other than the one true God. Because indeed, this is what our forefathers dreamed of. A land where the one God, Allah could be worshipped freely, where His Laws could be implemented, where we won’t be compelled to follow human-made flawed systems.

And certainly, that one God commands of nothing but good. He tells us to take care of the needy and the poor. He tells us to have empathy, to put their worries above our own. And if we do follow His Laws and take care of the poor accordingly, then who will remain dependent? Who wouldn’t be free?

There’s still time, my dear fellow Pakistanis! Let’s start helping those around us, not only materially but also spiritually. Because they need it. We all need to be free by being slaves of Allah, as that is the ultimate freedom!

Let’s live, Pakistan ka matlab kia? La ilaaha illa Allah*

*La ilaaha illa Allah: there is no God worthy of worship except Allah.

 

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Paradise-Certified

Bismillah.

In today’s era of enlightenment and education, we recognize the importance of credentials. In various matters, people look up to the one who is certified in the relevant field and follow his example.

There lived some people back in the day who were given the certification of Paradise during their lifetime. Being Muslims, Paradise is the ultimate end that we strive for. It is an eternal place in which there is happiness, contentment, unimaginable luxuries and no death. A Paradise-certified person is definitely one we can look up to and learn from, so here goes something worth pondering over:

Sahih Bukhari, 3613:

Narrated Anas bin Malik:
The Prophet (ﷺ) noticed the absence of Thabit bin Qais. A man said, “O Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ)! I shall bring you his news.” So he went to him and saw him sitting in his house drooping his head (sadly). He asked Thabit, “What’s the matter?” Thabit replied, “An evil situation: A man used to raise his voice over the voice of the Prophet (ﷺ) and so all his good deeds have been annulled and he is from the people of Hell.” The man went back and told the Prophet (ﷺ) that Thabit had said so-and-so. (The sub-narrator, Musa bin Anas said, “The man went to Thabit again with glad tidings).” The Prophet (ﷺ) said to him, “Go and say to Thabit: ‘You are not from the people of Fire, but from the people of Paradise.”

Before we move on to the person who was given glad tidings of Paradise, observe the attitude of the teacher. How concerned he is about the absence of his students despite his very busy and occupied life.

Now look at the student. Just because he possessed a loud voice naturally and therefore spoke loudly than the Prophet ﷺ, he got so worried that he didn’t even go to the usual gathering. He was anxious because the following command had been issued:

“O you who have believed, do not raise your voices above the voice of the Prophet or be loud to him in speech like the loudness of some of you to others, lest your deeds become worthless while you perceive not.” [49:2]

Clearly, this was about those who spoke loudly out of carelessness or disrespect. But the chosen ones took it to the next level and made sure they did not even come near those who fall in this category. Such was their caution, such were their concerns. This consideration, this staying far away from what could possibly be wrong, this respect was what earned them the high status that they got.

We instead of taking extra precautions, try to get as near the risky area as possible and try to live on the borderline, not knowing that those who live on the edge of the cliff easily fall off. If we want the validation of Paradise, then we really need to check our attitudes because nothing of value is achieved without struggle!

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Quest for the Best

Bismillah.

If you have two kids in front of you and you give them each the exact same candy, chances are they would immediately look at each other’s, if not snatch it, to check if their’s is better or not. This thirst of having the better item grows with the kids and translates into horrifying attitudes in later life.

Competition today has taken the form of a contagious disease in our society. And this is what Prophet Muhammad ﷺ predicted or feared about us years ago.

Sahih Bukhari, 3596:

Narrated `Uqba bin `Amr:
The Prophet (ﷺ) once came out and offered the funeral prayer for the martyrs of Uhud, and proceeded to the pulpit and said, “I shall be your predecessor and a witness on you, and I am really looking at my sacred Fount now, and no doubt, I have been given the keys of the treasures of the world. By Allah, I am not afraid that you will worship others along with Allah, but I am afraid that you will envy and fight one another for worldly fortunes.”

Competition itself isn’t a bad thing when done in healthy ways and things. But the one we witness today reeks of spite, malice and narcissism. It is doing nothing but destroying human relations and family structures. Everyone’s racing towards the ‘bigger and better’ and sometimes they don’t even know that their whole life just got wasted in this chase. We have to somehow undo this attitude to have our hands free for the real goals of this life.

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It does not matter if you live in an elite area and I live in one having no fancy facilities. It does not matter if your child studies in a private posh school and mine studies in a cheap public one. It does not matter if you wear designer clothes and I wear clothes off the street vendor. It does not matter if your husband gives you expensive jewellery as gifts and mine only brings me onions and potatoes to be cooked for dinner. It does not matter if your post on social media gets more likes than mine. Seriously, it does not! 

Somewhere between our competition of which school is more flashy for my kids, morals got lost. Respect for elders and teachers got lost. Education for the sake of making responsible citizens got lost. Somewhere between the desire of having clothes of the best brand, modesty and simplicity got lost. Somewhere between the competition of whose house is better, love between blood relations got lost. Empathy and sharing of joys and griefs got lost. What a sad state we are in!

So what then is healthy competition? Which competition is encouraged that would make this world a better place to live in?

Allah says in Al-Mutaffifin 26,

“…So for this let the competitors compete.”

Compete for higher ranks in Paradise because that will make you do more good deeds and make you a better person. Compete for that what is eternal, not what is temporary.

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Look at the example set for us by the people of the best times:

Whenever Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him) prayed Fajr, he would then go out into the desert to collect something before returning to Madinah. Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) would be surprised as to why he would leave, so he decided one day to follow him secretly. After Fajr that day, he saw Abu Bakr leaving Madinah and arriving at an old tent in the desert. Umar hid behind a huge rock to see what was about to happen. Abu Bakr spent very little time in the tent and then left. Umar then emerged from behind the rock and entered the tent to find a weak and blind woman with small children.

Umar asked her, “Who is this person who comes to you?” She said, “I don’t know him. He is just an ordinary Muslim man. He has been coming to us every morning since such-and-such a time.” Umar said, “So what does he do for you?” She replied, “He cleans the house, prepares the dough, milks our animals, and then leaves.” Umar then left, saying to himself, “You have left the Caliphs who will succeed you exhausted, O Abu Bakr! You have left the Caliphs who will succeed you exhausted!”
[Taken from Enjoy Your Life, 2nd edition, Pg. 443]

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