Taqwa & Spirituality

The Journey of Hajj is for Muslims, a journey of a lifetime. Most of the Muslims undergo this journey only once in their lifetime. With the economic prosperity that many Muslims have witnessed, some Muslims undergo this journey more than once in their lifetime. The month of Dhul Hijjah and the Ibadah associated with this month are essentially the Sunnah of Prophet Ibrahim (A.S), be it Hajj or the sacrifice. The life of Ibrahim is amazing. An idol breaker son, born to an idol maker father. The spiritual presence of Prophet Ibrahim is always felt in the whole Muslim world, with his recurring remembrance, both in the Quran and a Muslim’s daily prayers. Islam attaches great importance to the annual pilgrimage of Hajj, which is intimately connected to the story of Ibrahim, his son Ismail and his wife, Hagar.

Prophet Ibrahim and Ismail’s story is about love and sacrifice. Unwavering love for Allah and the spirit of Sacrifice in His way. Hagar and Ismail were abandoned by Prophet Ibrahim at the place where Mecca stands today. It was to this valley that Ibrahim brought Hagar and their son Ismail. This valley between rocky hills, naked, hot and barren under the fierce desert sun. A place which was swept by flaming desert winds.

It was the proper setting for Ibrahim and his family to undergo the trial that Allah had set out for them. Prophet Ibrahim was convinced that Allah’s mercy is limitless. With this belief, Ibrahim left his weeping wife and the child in this uninhabited valley, leaving with them a water skin and a skin filled with dates.

A solitary tree stood in this valley. Hagar sat under its shadow with Ismail on her lap. Around them there was nothing. Just scorching heat, rocky slopes and an endless silence, with no other living being around. The hot day was followed by a cooler night and this went on. But on the third day, the dates in the skin were over and it was all despair. But when the child cried for water, Hagar could not do anything except crying out to her Lord. How could the distraught mother bear the sight of her dying child, crying for water? What could she do in a forlorn desert with no signs of any life around?

She started to run, to and fro with uplifted hands through this barren valley, over the same stretch, between two hills. It is in remembrance of her despair that the pilgrims who go for Hajj, run between these two hills, Saf’aa and Marwa.

The Lord was listening and then came the answer to her prayers. A stream of water gushed forth and the water began to flow over the sand. Hagar shouted with joy and immediately pressed the child’s face in the water so that he might drink. She drank with him and called out between her gasps, ‘Zummi, Zummi’.  Afraid that the water might run out, Hagar heaped a little wall of sand around the spring. The water ceased to flow and became a well, which came to be known as the well of Zamzam and the pilgrims, from centuries, have been filling water from this well and even carrying it back home with them.

Prophet Ibrahim returned to the valley after some time and found his son and wife alive. From then on, he visited them often. Ismail grew up there and married. Years later, Ibrahim and Ismail built the prototype of the sanctuary in Mecca known as the Kaaba. As they were cutting stones, Ibrahim exclaimed, ‘’Labbaik, Allahumma Labbaik’’—‘O my Lord, here I am at Your service, The pilgrims on their journey of Hajj, raise this chant.

Hajj is a journey which calls for immense patience, sacrifice, perseverance, persistence and humility among many other things. It is a journey which can drain you emotionally. The first sight of Kaaba leaves you speechless. The mind goes blank and tears start rolling down your cheeks. Is it true that I am in front of the Majestic Kaaba? How lucky does one feel at that moment? For a moment, you seem to be floating in the air. It just leaves you speechless and there is only language that you can speak—the language of tears. Don’t restrain yourself. Weep, sob, cry, repent, pray, plead, ask forgiveness from your Lord, for this is the chance to be born again. 

Islam believes in only one division in mankind and that is based on Taqwa. The one who is more dearer in the sight of Allah SWT is the one who is better in Taqwa. Allah SWT says: “Indeed, the most noble of you in the sight of Allah is the most righteous of you. Indeed, Allah is knowing and acquainted,” [Hujrath 49:13].

No superiority of the Arab over the Ajam, White over the Black, Rich over the Poor. In the two piece Ahram, the Prince and the pauper stand shoulder to shoulder. The great egalitarianism of Islam is on full display there. That is the main highlight of the Hajj.

This script is authored by Tariq Jameel


Ramadhan, What next??

End of Ramadhan does not essentially mean end to all the good that we did during the blessed month. The sign of the accepted Ramadhan is that we remain steadfast in whatever we did during the month till we meet our end. Allah SWT says: “And worship your Lord until the certainty (i.e. death) comes to you,” [Al Hijr 15:99].

Shawwal, Tenth month of the Lunar Calender

Now that Ramadhan is over, most of us find ourselves in a dilemma. How do we continue with the spirit of Ramadhan? The fact that “Shaytan’ is no more chained and the gates to the hell are no more closed, how do we bring the spirit of Ramadan into our lives for the rest of the year.

It is quite common among masses that once Ramadhan is over we drift away from the path of obedience to Allah SWT and start falling prey to satanic traps. People plan to watch a movie on the following days of Eid as a mark of celebration, try and watch the backlogs of missed TV serials, masjids will have a deserted look and five obligatory prayers are taken lightly to an extent that Fajr is constantly missed with congregation.

If a Muslim lived through Ramadan and spent the days of it in fasting and nights of it in praying, and habituated himself to doing acts of good, then he must continue to remain upon this submission to Allah SWT at all times. This is the true state of the servant (abd), for indeed, the Lord of the months is One and He is ever vigilant and observing His servants at all times. Therefore, the enthusiasm and the zeal of a Muslim must be constant and he must continue to remain in the service of his Master.

Shawwal is the following month of Ramadan. The first day of Shawwal is Eid-ul-Fitr, a day in which Allah SWT rewards HIS slaves for their submission to HIS will during the blessed month.

Its Sunnah (Tradition of Holy Prophet) to fast for six days in Shawwal, Abu Ayyub Al-Ansari RA related the Messenger of Allah PBUH said: “Whoever observes the Ramadan fast and follows it with six days of fast in Shawwal, it is as if he has fasted Dahr (the whole year).” [Bukhari]

The servant of Allah is obligated, after having Emaan in Allah, to persevere and be steadfast upon obeying HIM by performing the obligatory acts and avoiding the prohibited ones. This is achieved by following the Straight Path, which is the firm Religion, without drifting away from it. Indeed, the true manner of a Muslim is that of one who praises and thanks his Lord for having been bestowed the ability to fast and make Qiyaam (night prayer). His condition after Ramadan is better than it was before Ramadhan. He is more ready to obey, desiring to do good deeds and quick to implement the obligatory acts.

Steadfastness after Ramadhan and the rectification of one’s statements and actions are the greatest signs that one has gained benefit from the month of Ramadhan and striven in obedience.

Ramadan, as you know is considered to be a time for change. But changes that are not sustainable have little or no benefit to them

During Ramadhan, we do more Ibadah, recite more Quran and do more charity besides other acts of worship.  Keep up these things, even though little. The Prophet PBUH said, “The deeds most loved by God are those done regularly, even if they are small.” [Bukhari and Muslim]

The nature of change is that it should come from within. Here are a few ways we can continue the spirit of Ramadhan in our lives:

  1. Read a little of the Qur’an every day – you would just need to read 18 verses of the Qur’an per day to finish the whole Qur’an within the year. It is that simple.
  2. Give charity on a regular basis, even though it might be small. The Prophet said: “Give charity without delay, for it stands in the way of calamity.” [Al-Tirmidhi]
  3. Increase your connection with Allah through His remembrance. Prophet PBUH: “O Messenger of Allah SWT! Verily, the sanctions of Islam have become too heavy for me, so tell me something that I can easily follow, The Prophet PBUH replied “Let your tongue always be moist with the remembrance of Allah”. [Al-Tirmizi]
  4. Be more compassionate with your family, especially your parents.
  5. Always ask for Allah’s help and His favours even in the smallest of matters.
  6. See around your neighbourhood and see if anyone needs help. Try to help the needy in whatever way you can.
  7. While sitting with family or friends avoid frivolous talk and instead talk constructive.
  8. Take some time off every day to reflect upon yourself.
  9. Control your food and DO NOT overeat. The Prophet PBUH said: “No human ever filled a vessel worse than the stomach. Sufficient for any son of Adam are some morsels to keep his back straight. But if it must be, then one third for his food, one third for his drink and one third for his breath.” [Tirmidhi & others]
  10. Have self-control as practised in Ramadhan.
  11. Sleeping is necessary for human body. But do not oversleep and what is more than necessary.
  12. Develop patience.

There is no end to such a list. But it will take commitment and perseverance to imbibe the spirit of Ramadhan throughout the year. Suffice to say that as Muslims, we have to be good in our words and deeds and it should reflect all thru our life.

TAQWA: The Fear of ALLAH

ALLAH SWT has decreed in Holy Quran: “Every Soul will taste Death” [Al Imran 3:185] and accordingly the Creator has specified a time when HIS creation will cease to exist. Death is as certain for all as life. Even an atheist will concur that death is a universal truth. Post death, on the day of resurrection (Qiyamah), all of us will assemble and our Book of Deeds will be revealed. None will be spared from presenting the Account of Deeds. Wise is the one who reflects on this and is better prepared in advance for the ultimate examination. What could be the best thing a person can possess to present to ALLAH?

Fear of ALLAH SWT is the best thing what a servant (of ALLAH) can take as a provision for the goodness of his Deen (way of life). ALLAH SWT states, “And take provisions, but indeed, the best provision is fear (of ALLAH)” [Baqarah 2: 197]. No good deed is acceptable except that which is a result of Taqwa. ALLAH says: “But righteousness is (in) one who fears (ALLAH)” [Baqarah 2:189].

Let us understand the meaning of Taqwa. Taqwa essentially is to protect self from punishment of ALLAH by obeying HIS orders and by abstaining from what HE has prohibited. It was reported that Umar bin Khattab asked Ubay Ibn Ka’b about Taqwa. In reply Ka’b queried Umar (RA), ” O Leader of the believers, what do you do when you have to pass through a thorny road? Umar (RA) replied, “I lift my cloth up to my calves and watch my footsteps and take each step slowly from the fear of thorns lest they don’t prick me”. Ka’b said, “This is Taqwa”.

ALLAH SWT says, “O you who have believed, fear ALLAH as HE should be feared and do not die except as Muslim (in submission to HIM) [Al Imran 3:102]. He who fears ALLAH SWT and acts according to HIS instructions will be secured from HIS punishment. ALLAH SWT says: “And fear ALLAH and know that ALLAH is severe in penalty” [Baqarah 2:196]. He who is safe from the torment of that day (Qiyamah) will notice that his days on earth were nothing compared to what he is rewarded. ALLAH says: “And the hereafter is better for one who fears (ALLAH)” [Nisa 4:77].

Some of the factors that lead to Taqwa are:

Obedience to ALLAH’s diktat and abstinent from what HE SWT prohibits;
Submission to the Will of ALLAH and to the decree HE SWT has set;
Love of ALLAH SWT and HIS Messenger PBUH;
Striving in the way of ALLAH and HIS Messenger.

We observe that the affection towards this worldly and materialistic life has corrupted our heart to renounce Islam and its beautiful teachings. We have become slaves of this perishing life to such an extent that we consider the rich and those who have gained this world and its splendours or luxuries to be the most successful. Woe on us!! Whereas ALLAH says, “Indeed the most noble of you in the sight of ALLAH is he who has the most consciousness and fear (of ALLAH)”. [Al-Hujraat 49:13].

Abu Zar RA narrates that the Prophet SAW said to him, “Fear ALLAH wherever or however you are, and make a good deed subsequent to a bad deed; so that the good wipes away the bad, and treat people with the best of characters” [Tirmizi]. Our beloved Prophet SAW always advised his companions to fear ALLAH in all their matters. He once said, “Fear (ALLAH) in your worldly matters and fear HIM regarding your wives” [Ibn Majah]. In another hadith, Abu Ummah RA narrates that he heard the Prophet SAW saying in a speech during his Hajj, “Fear ALLAH, and pray your five prayers, fast your month, and pay the zakat of your money, and obey those who are in authority among you so that you will enter your Lord’s Paradise.” [Tirmizi].

The ill morale and character of the present society has deprived us the fear of ALLAH. Satan has showcased evil deeds in such an attractive package that the evils are being glorified and not considered harm. The condition of Muslim society can be improved only by retaining and refreshing Taqwa in our lives, i.e. by fearing ALLAH SWT and acting on HIS orders. May ALLAH guide us to HIS fear and reward us better than what we deserve and may HE love us in return of our fear for HIM. Aameen. ALLAH mentions, “whoever fulfils his commitment and fears (ALLAH) – then indeed, ALLAH loves those who fear (HIM)” [Al-Imran 3:76].

Observing Eclipse: The SUNNAH Way

Solar and lunar eclipse is a natural geographic phenomenon. Both Sun and the moon are created by Allah and they revolve around in their defined orbits. Quran says: “It is not for the sun to overtake the moon, nor does the night outstrip the day. They float each in an orbit” (Ya-Sin 36:40). The Arabic word for solar eclipse is Kusoof, which is the partial or total cutting off of the sun’s light when the moon comes between it and the earth.
These eclipses are not the moments to cherish and celebrate. During the time of Prophet Muhammed PBUH eclipse did occur. It is also recorded by Abu Musa that there was a solar eclipse and the Prophet Muhammed PBUH said, “If you see something of this nature, rush to the remembrance of Allah, supplicating Him and ask His forgiveness.” (Bukhari and Muslim)

It so happened that Ibrahim, son of the Prophet Muhammed PBUH passed away on the day of eclipse. The companions wondered and asked Prophet PBUH whether the eclipse is due to the death of your son; to which Prophet PBUH replied, “The lunar and solar eclipse do not happen due to the death of anybody, or due to one staying alive, but they are one of the evidences (proofs, signs) of (the existence of) Allah. If you see that happening, remember Allah until that clears up” (Bukhari & Muslim).

The Prophet use to offer two rakah of sunnah mu’akkadah (confirmed sunna) prayers. The prayer is for both male and female believers. It is better to offer it in a congregation. Each rakah contained two ruku instead of one. The pattern of the prayer is recorded in the Hadith in this manner:

“Prophet PBUH went to the mosque, and he stood in salah and made the takbir and made a lengthy recital during the salah. Next, he made the takbir and made a long ruku’, but it was not as long as the recital. Following that, he raised his head, saying: ‘Allah hears him who praises Him. And to You, our Lord, belongs the praise.’ Afterward, he stood and made another long recital but it was shorter than the first one. Again, he made the takbir and made a ruku’ that was shorter than the first one. Then, again he said: ‘Allah hears him who praises Him. And to You, our Lord, belongs the praise.’.After this, he prostrated. He did the same in the next rak’ah and finished four ruku’ and four sujud.

The sun appeared again before he finished. Finally, he stood and addressed the people and praised Allah as He deserves it and said: “The sun and the moon are two signs from among Allah’s signs and there is no eclipse due to someone’s death or life. If you see them occurring, hasten to pray.” [Bukhari and Muslim].

Apart from prayers Prophet used to seek forgiveness from Allah SWT, supplicate and give charity. It is recorded from Ayesha RA, the Prophet said, “The sun and the moon are two signs from among Allah’s signs and there is no eclipse due to the life or death of anyone. If you see that [an eclipse], supplicate to Allah, extol His greatness, give in charity and pray.” (Bukhari and Muslim).

There are many misconceptions among masses of Muslim population. The most common misconception is that many believe that the fetus of a pregnant woman gets affected by an eclipse. Hence, pregnant ladies are laid to rest in dark rooms and many more. As Muslims, it is our duty to shun all forms of superstitions from our lives and avoid linking the natural phenomena to certain physical calamities or disabilities which has no clear evidence in the doctrines of Shari’ah (Islamic code of law). The medical sciences are carrying a lot of research on this topic but still they have not come to a concrete platform to prove it.