Light Up Your Life With Islam

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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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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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What’s Missing?

Bismillah.

Do you know that every single thing around you, whether animate or inanimate, has the ability to feel? The difference is that humans can express it whereas the expressions of other than humans are not discernible to us. However, once a tree trunk showed its feelings and its love in front of everyone’s eyes. Yes, it was a miracle of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ and yes, the tree trunk revealed its adoration for the one whom everything in nature and in tune with nature is in love with. <3

This is one of the cutest stories ever!

Sahih Bukhari, 3584:

Narrated Jabir bin `Abdullah:
The Prophet (ﷺ) used to stand by a tree or a date-palm on Friday. Then an Ansari woman or man said. “O Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ)! Shall we make a pulpit for you?” He replied, “If you wish.” So they made a pulpit for him and when it was Friday, he proceeded towards the pulpit (for delivering the sermon). The date-palm cried like a child! The Prophet (ﷺ) descended (the pulpit) and embraced it while it continued moaning like a child being quietened. The Prophet (ﷺ) said, “It was crying for (missing) what it used to hear of religious knowledge given near to it.”

Imagine what kind of man was he for whom the date-palm cried like a child? Indeed, a mercy for all mankind! Imagine the beauty of his words, imagine the wonderful and honest message that he delivered for which even non-humans hankered after. What kind of religious knowledge did he bring which was worth crying for? Have you ever wondered?

And if you have the basic know-how of that knowledge, then have you ever considered sharing it ahead with those who don’t have it? Why should they remain in the dark? Let them know what Prophet Muhammad ﷺ talked about, let them know what Islam truly is!

What a beautiful message and what a beautiful man who brought it! Because if the message is good and the messenger delivers it to you in an ugly manner or if the messenger is very polite but the message is unpleasant, would you value it the way it should be valued? Of course not. So let’s hug those around us who are crying, depressed, struggling, stressed and tell them it’s because they have something missing in their life. Tell them about the knowledge and message that came to make lives beautiful and to dispel away grief. Because they don’t know what’s missing!

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One Wrong Word…

Bismillah.

Many huge fights, arguments and heart-breaks in relationships are due to little things. Surprisingly, the weapon used to strike is very small and soft and yet it pierces like a dagger. Yes, it is the tongue that is used to utter something cutting and then comes the response and then it continues. Often these big fights having little foundations are the ones that ruin the peace of a household and sometimes even take it toward ultimate destruction.

One of the arguments that is common in many houses is about food. The food is not good, it has too much salt, it has no salt at all, the food is cold, it is late, you don’t even know how to cook etc. The opposing party having little patience as well launches a full fledged attack in defence. And fighting ensues.

Food, however, is just a basic example. We feel it’s an obligation upon us to comment if we see anything negative in our surroundings. Today, it is kind of an accepted fact that if you keep doing everything right, no one will appreciate you but one single mistake will open many mouths. This is negative reinforcement which leads to more negative behaviour. Unfortunately, this is not what Islam teaches us. Islam likes us to maintain a peaceful, positive and encouraging atmosphere in our homes. So that our homes become our safe haven instead of a battlefield.

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The question is if you see something negative (but not sinful), say, something not to your liking, what should you do?

Sahih Bukhari, 3563:

Narrated Abu Huraira:
The Prophet (ﷺ) never criticized any food (presented him), but he would eat it if he liked it; otherwise, he would leave it (without expressing his dislike).

Just don’t comment at that time. Control the desire to lash out. :)

Prophet Muhammad ﷺ did not pinpoint people publicly over their mistakes anyway. It makes one feel humiliated more than it reforms them.

There are other wiser and more polite ways of correcting mistakes than criticizing. Use your skills and discover those instead. Remember that positive reinforcement will take you a long way.

Q. Your spouse cooks your favourite dish for you but makes it too salty by accident. What do you do?

Options:
a) Criticize it harshly and push the plate away.
b) Tell them that the taste is ruined but eat it anyway.
c) Don’t say anything about the food but don’t eat either.
d) Tell them tactfully that you appreciate what they did for you however you were planning on ordering/cooking food for them tonight from their favourite place and go and bring food for them/cook for them.
e) Other…

 

The Beloved Man

Bismillah.

The best of people that ever lived on this planet were prophets. They were chosen people by Allah who were sincere, truthful and had exemplary characters. We are supposed to follow the way of the prophets and spread the message of peace and submission to one God that they brought.

The last and final prophet who was sent on this earth for the guidance of mankind was Prophet Muhammad ﷺ. He was given the religion and way of life that is perfect, complete and unchangeable till the end of times and so there’s no need of another prophet now. However, we the followers of that Prophet ﷺ are supposed to take his mission forward and spread that message of truth and guidance to all mankind.

Today there are more than 1.6 billion Muslims in the world who all revere and love the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ to bits even though they never met or saw him. But everyone has this yearning of knowing what he looked like and of meeting him eventually (inshaAllah).

Fortunately, we find many narrations where the Companions of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ describe his appearance. Following are some excerpts from a few of them just to give you a flavour:

Prophet s.a.w

Sahih Bukhari, 3549:

…Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) was the handsomest of all the people, and had the best appearance. He was neither very tall nor short.

Sahih Bukhari, 3548:

… (He ﷺ was) neither absolutely white nor deep brown. His hair was neither curly nor lank…

Sahih Bukhari, 3546:

…(When he was old) “He had a few white hairs between the lower lip and the chin.”

Sahih Bukhari, 3551:

…The Prophet ﷺ was of moderate height having broad shoulders (long) hair reaching his ear-lobes…

Sahih Bukhari, 3552:

Al-Bara’ was asked, “Was the face of the Prophet (as bright) as a sword?” He said, “No, but (as bright) as a moon.”

Sahih Bukhari, 3553:

Narrated Abu Juhaifa: … (After the prayer), the people got up and held the hands of the Prophet and passed them on their faces. I also took his hand and kept it on my face and noticed that it was colder than ice, and its smell was nicer than musk.

This was a glimpse of our beloved Prophet Muhammad ﷺ. Notice how people observed everything about him. We do not compare in any way to the Prophet of Allah ﷺ but if we are the carriers of the same message and are taking his mission forward and are Muslims, then people notice us too. They notice us very deeply and then they talk about it. Some people in their ignorance might consider our bad habits to be part of this religion. We Muslims represent Islam. We ought to be careful in how we look, dress and deal with others. We can’t have the “I don’t care” attitude. Because we should care. We want others to know how Islam shapes its followers beautifully in well-balanced individuals. We want them to come closer to this perfect way of life.

Let’s look good, talk good and smell good. :)

Woman of Substance

Bismillah.

Half the human race, if not more or less, consists of women. Their rights and duties, their status in society, their issues, these are some debates that never grow old. Islam has honoured women very highly. It appreciates them for the good they do in whatever situation they are. It does not expect the same results from each one of them in order for them to reach that certain standard of accomplishment. It does not put them through the stress of being ‘equal’ to men and doing a 9-5 job, or else be a failure. Islam is much more vast and accommodating than that.

This point is proven by the various examples of great women given in the authentic Islamic text. It does not want them to be painted with the same paint in order to be successful. It brings to light different women as role models who had different life situations and faced different problems.

Sahih Bukhari, 3411:

Narrated Abu Musa:
Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) said, “Many amongst men reached (the level of) perfection but none amongst the women reached this level except Asia, Pharaoh’s wife, and Mary, the daughter of `Imran. And no doubt, the superiority of `Aisha to other women is like the superiority of Tharid (i.e. a meat and bread dish) to other meals.”

In another hadith, we find:

The Messenger of Allaah ﷺ drew four lines on the ground, then he said, “Do you know what this is?” We said, “Allaah and His Messenger know best.” The Messenger of Allaah ﷺ said: “The best of the women of Paradise are Khadeejah bint Khuwaylid, Faatimah bint Muhammad, Aasiyah bint Mazaahim the wife of Pharaoh, and Maryam bint ‘Imraan.
[Reported in the Musnad of Imaam Ahmad 2663 and it’s Saheeh]

All these women had completely diversified roles and things to cope with.

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Asia RA: She had the most tyrannical husband ever, who tortured her like anything. Yet she kept her faith.

Maryam AS: She was slandered even though she was innocent. She had a child to raise without a husband.

Aisha RA: She was widowed in a very young age yet it didn’t stop her from spreading knowledge and educating thousands of people.

Khadija RA: She spent all her wealth and energies in supporting and protecting the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ and his message of truth when no one else was there for him.

Fatima RA: She served her family, her husband and kids and took care of the house so expertly without any sort of help.

All these women had very different lives and their situations pretty much sum up what women today complain about; a bad husband, no support system, being worked to death etc. Yet they all had one thing in common: a very strong and unwavering faith. It kept them going even when they were tested so hard. And eventually it led to their ultimate success.

May Allah make us beneficial in the circumstances that we’re in and make our faith unwavering and lasting as well. Ameen.

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