Ar-Rihla

Live in this World Like a Wayfarer, Only Passing By...

My Dear Son

August 13th, 2013 | Tuesday


Wisdom, as some say, is a key. Indeed it is. And for this reason, Luqman (A.S.) was given the title “Al-Hakim”. Luqman Al-Hakim. Luqman the Wise. So great was his wisdom that the Quran itself testifies to this fact. And what greater testimony does one need, right?


Luqman (A.S.) was an Abyssinian slave, deprived of his freedom. He was an insightful man, contemplative of his purpose in life. It so happened one day that Allah (‘Azza Wajjal) sent an angel to him whilst he was sleeping under a tree. The angel stated that Allah (‘Azza Wajjal) was going to bestow upon him one of two things: Wisdom or Kingship. Every second one of us most probably would have jumped for Kingship. Oh, but Luqman (A.S.) was so much wiser. He chose wisdom.


Allah (‘Azza Wajjal) gave this beloved servant of His, such an employer that Luqman (A.S.) was no longer treated as an actual slave. In fact, he was given an employer of such high moral and ethical values, of so great a God- consciousness that it was as though the employer was the slave and the slave, the master. The employer’s love for this great friend of his was boundless. It became his habit to first feed Luqman (A.S.) his dinner and then eat the left overs himself. SubhanAllah. What great lessons lie in this for the employers of this age!


It so happened one day that the employer received a melon for it was the melon season. Luqman (A.S.) was not present so he was called. When Luqman (A.S.) came, the employer cut the melon into slices and presented Luqman (A.S.) with it, slice by slice. By the looks on Luqman’s face, the melon seemed to be very sweet, to the employer’s pleasure. When only a single slice of melon remained, the employer then said: “Let me eat this one slice to see how sweet it may be.”


No sooner had he swallowed the slice, the employer fell unconscious due to the extreme bitterness of the fruit! After he regained consciousness, he asked Luqman (A.S.): “O Beloved one! How did you manage to eat those slices of melon so heartily?” Luqman (A.S.) replied: “O Friend! From your hands I have received hundreds of gifts. The burden of thanks upon me is so great, that my back has gone crooked. Hence, I felt ashamed that the hand that had granted me so many favours, if one day some distastefulness or bitterness should come, how can I turn away from it? O Friend, the pleasure of knowing that it comes from your hands has changed the bitterness of the melon to sweetness."


Such were the exchanges! May Allah (‘Azza Wajjal) help us understand and implement these noble actions. Ameen.


On a more focused note, the Quran talks about Luqman (A.S.) in the light of his advice to his son. There are ten precious advices mentioned in Surat Al-Luqman.


§  The greatest injustice a man can commit is shirk- ascribing partners with Allah (‘Azza Wajjal). Allah (‘Azza Wajjal) stated in the Quran that Luqman (A.S.) said: "O my son! Join not in worship others with Allah. Verily, joining others in worship with Allah is the greatest injustice/oppression indeed." [31:13]

§  After Allah (‘Azza Wajjal) and the Prophet (S.A.W.) come the rights of the parents. Thus, in Surat Al-Luqman, it is stated: "And We have enjoined on man to be dutiful and good to his parents. His mother bore him upon weakness and hardship. And his weaning is in two years; give thanks to Me and to your parents. Unto Me is the final destination. And if they both strive with you to make you join in worship with me others that of which you have no knowledge, then obey them not, but behave with them in the world kindly." [31:15]

§  Allah (‘Azza Wajjal) is the All-Mighty, the All-Powerful. None can challenge Him. Thus, Luqman (A.S.) says: "O my son! If it be equal to the weight of a grain of mustard seed, and tough it be as a rock, or in the Heavens or the earth, Allah will bring it forth. Verily Allah is subtle in bringing out that grain, well aware of its place." [31:16]

§  Salat (Prayer) is the boundary line between Kufr (Disbelief) and Iman (Belief). Thus, the importance is highlighted: "O my son! Offer prayer perfectly." [31:17]

§  Evil is of great bounds. Mischief huddles in every corner of this world. Luqman (A.S.) warns his son: "enjoin (people) for good, and forbid from evil." [31:17]

§  And Allah is always alongside the patient ones. He loves the patient ones! So patience! And so, Luqman (A.S.) gives away his next gem: "And bear with patience whatever befalls you.

Verily, these are some of the important commandments ordered by Allah with no exemption." [31:17]

§  When Shaytan refused to bow down to Adam (A.S.), it was due to arrogance. Alas, but arrogance is only befitting to Allah’s Might and Power! So Luqman (A.S.) said: "And turn not your face away from men with pride." [31:18]

§  Ego always gets in the way. Always. So Luqman (A.S.) told his son to get rid of his ego. Crush it: "Nor walk in insolence through the earth. Verily Allah likes not each arrogant boaster. [31:19]

§  Islam monitors even the way one walks: And be moderate (or show no insolence) in walking." [31:19]

§  Even the way one speaks! SubhanAllah! "And lower your voice. Verily the harshest of all voices is the voice (braying] of a donkey! [31:19]


The wisdom of Luqman (A.S.) is spread throughout many traditions. They are such eloquent, precious gems that if one were to live by them, this life would be so much more fruitful to the person himself as well as to the people around. These are sayings that should be up on quotegarden.com. They need to be up there. These are basic principles of life.


According to some traditions, these advices are entitled “Luqman’s Advice to His Son.” The following are a few of them:


§  "O my dear son, sit in the company of the Ulema (religious scholars) frequently and listen carefully to what the wise men say, for Allah gives life to the dead hearts by the 'Nur (light)' of wisdom, just as He revives the dead earth by heavy life-giving rains."


§  "My son entertain good expectations from Allah without losing fear of His punishment. A fear of His punishment should make you despair of His Mercy." His son replied, "The heart is one. How can it contain hope and fear at one and the same time?" Luqman (A.S.) responded, "A believer is such as if he possessed two hearts: one teeming with hope and the other equally full of fear."


§  He says: "My dear son no one can perform good deeds unless he possesses a firm belief in Allah. If a person's heart is unsound, he is very weak in performing good actions."

§ 
"My dear son, if Satan (the Devil) were to create doubts in your mind, let your firm belief overpower him and silence his whispers; and if he tempts you to be negligent in virtues, defeat him with remembrance of the grave and the Day of Resurrection; if he (the Devil) tempts you towards the joys of this world or makes you afraid of the hardships of this life, say to him, 'One must inevitably leave this world (neither the luxuries nor the hardships of this life are enduring).'"

 
§  He says: "My dear son, he who tells a lie loses the freshness of face, he who cultivates bad habits will ever remain sad; it is far easier to move huge mountains from one place to another than to reform the ignorant stupid."

§  He says: "My dear son, abstain from telling lies; for lies soon arouse enmity and hatred for the liar."

 
§  "My dear son, be very particular about attending funeral prayers and avoid attending festivities. For, funerals remind one of the Hereafter and festivities divert One's attention towards this world."

§ 
"My dear son, do not eat anything, when your stomach is full; it is better to put food before a dog than to overeat."

§ 
"My dear son, don't be so sweet that people swallow you up, nor so bitter that they spit you out."

§  "My dear son, do not be less capable (in devotions) than a roster which starts crowing at early dawn and you be lying asleep in bed."

§ 
"My dear son, don't delay Taubah (Repentance), for death may take you unaware."

§  "My dear son, do not make friends with stupid people, lest you should develop a liking for their foolish talk. And do not incur the enmity of a wise man, lest he should turn away from you in disgust (and you should he deprived of getting the benefit of his wisdom)."

§ 
"My dear son let no one but the pious partake of your food and always consult Ulema (religious scholars) in your affairs."

§ 
Someone asked Luqman (A.S.), "Who is the worst of men?" He replied, "The one who does not mind being watched while doing an evil deed."

§ 
He says: "My dear son, associate frequently with the pious for, in this way alone, you can attain to the virtues that they possess. Besides, when Allah's special favours descend upon these beings you will also be able to receive your share of blessings; for when it rains; showers fall on all sides of the house."

§ 
"My dear son, avoid the company of the wicked people, for no good can be expected to come out of associating with them. Moreover, if at any time, Allah's punishment befalls them, you will also be affected by it."

§  He says: "A father's punishment is as beneficial for a child as is the water for the fields."

§  He says: "My dear son, since the day you were born, every day, you are getting closer to the Hereafter with your back towards this world. So, your abode in the Hereafter is far nearer to you (because you are advancing towards it every day, at all times) than your house in this world (because you are moving farther and farther away from it day by day)."

§ 
He says, "My dear son, avoid incurring debts; for a debt is a humiliation by day and a grief by night. (One is disgraced when the creditors make demands by day, and one spends the night in grief, worrying about his debts.)"

§  "My dear son, entertain hopes of mercy from Allah, but let not your hopes make you bold in committing sins; be fearful of Allah but let not your fear make you despair of His mercy."

§  "My dear son, if someone comes to you with the complaint that so and so has taken both his eyes and you actually see both his eyes missing, do not form any judgement about the person until you have heard the other side. For, this man might have hit the other person first and taken out four eyes earlier."

 
§  When the last hour came for Luqman, he said to his son, "My dear son, I have given you a lot of advice during my lifetime; now that I am leaving the world, I would like to advise you about six points:

(1) Busy yourself in the affairs of this world to the extent of the remaining period of your life (which is nothing when measured against the eternity of the Akhirah (the Hereafter).

(2) Worship Allah according to the measure of your dependency on Him (and, obviously, one needs His help in everything).

3) Make preparations for the Hereafter according to the extent of your stay in that world (and, obviously, one shall have to stay there eternally, for there is no other place to go to after death).

(4) Continue to struggle for redemption from Hell-fire till you are sure you have attained it. (It is common knowledge that, if someone is under trial for a grievous offence, he continues to make efforts for his acquittal till he is sure that the case is going be decided in his favour.)

(5) If you have the audacity to indulge in sins, do so to the extent that you can endure Hell-fire (for, punishment of sins is dictated by law and you are never sure whether the Sovereign, however infinite His mercy may he, will grant you mercy petition.)

(6) When you want to commit a sin, look for a hiding place that is not being watched by Allah and His angels (for, everybody knows the consequences of engaging in a revolt before the eyes of the Sovereign Himself or in the presence of his secret agents.)


May Allah (‘Azza Wajjal) help us understand, implement and relate to this wisdom. May our lives be full of wisdom, such as that of Luqman (A.S.) and may we continue in the path of wisdom till the Last Hour. Ameen!


The Ar-Rihla Team



You Love to Pardon, So Pardon

August 4th, 2013 | Sunday

The last few precious days of Ramadan have approached. Many of us are probably unsatisfied with our performance through the whole month. Many goals have been left unfinished; many hours left unproductive. Many Du’as unasked. But you know what Ibn Rajab once said? He said:

“Let those who have failed to make the most of this month (Ramadan) end it with good, because actions are by their endings.”


As we mentioned in our latest discussion in the forums section, the last ten days of Ramadan carry in them a hidden jewel. The jewel of Laylat al Qadr. In fact, this jewel of a night- The Night of Power- is so blessed, so very much precious and priceless that Allah (‘Azza Wajjal) has dedicated a whole chapter in the Quran to this incredible night. Allah (‘Azza Wajjal) says:

“The Night of Power is better than a thousand months.” [Ayah # 3. Surat Al Qadr]


A thousand months! What could be better than a thousand months of goodness, khayr and utter tranquility between you and your Divine Lord?


‘Aisha (R.A.) once asked the Prophet Muhammad (P.B.U.H.): “O Messenger of Allah, if I know what night is the night of Qadr, what should I say during it?”

Muhammad (P.B.U.H.) replied: “Say: O Allah, You are pardoning and You love to pardon, so pardon me.” [Ahmad, Ibn Majah, and Tirmidhi].


Istighfar, Traveller. Istighfar!


Seeking forgiveness of all sins is key during Ramadan and during this night especially. The du’a mentioned above by our beloved Prophet Muhammad (P.B.U.H.) should be repeated over and over again during this night. In Arabic, it goes:

اللْهُمَّ إِنَّكَ عَفُوٌّ تُحِبُّ الْعَفْوَ فَاعْفُ عَنِّي


It’s all about pardon isn’t it? Allah is always so close to us, so close. Yet, we are so far away from Him. So very far. Even in Ramadan. And as Ramadan is approaching to an end, isn’t it about time that we cry to Allah (‘Azza Wajjal) in our prayers? Isn’t it about time that we purify ourselves in front of our Lord?


Yes. It is about time.


O Allah, we seek Your help and we seek Your forgiveness. We attribute all goodness to You. We are grateful to You and refuse to be ungrateful to You; we abandon and forsake all those who reject You. O Allah, You alone we worship, to You alone we pray; to You alone we prostrate, and for You alone we strive; and to You alone we flee for refuge. We hope in Your mercy and we fear Your retribution. Verily, Your punishment is bound to catch up with those who reject the truth.


O Allah, apportion to us such fear (khashya) of You as should serve as a barrier between us and acts of disobedience; and such obedience as will take us to Your Paradise; and apportion for us a share of certainty (yaqeen) that will make it easy for us to bear the hardships and tribulations of this world. Allow us, O Allah, to enjoy our hearing, our sight and our strength as long as You keep us alive, until we pass away; grant us retribution, but only from those who have wronged us, and do not put over us, due to our sins, an authority that does not fear You in regards to us nor shows us compassion.


O Allah, do not let worldly affairs (dunya) be our principal concern nor the ultimate limit of our knowledge; do not make the Fire our abode, and make, O Allah, Paradise our home and final dwelling place, by Your Mercy, O Most Merciful of those who show mercy.


O Allah, we ask You for guidance (huda) and piety (tuqaa), virtue (`afafah) and richness (ghinaa.)


O Allah, we ask You [to grant us] the performance of good deeds, and restraint from the forbidden, and love for the poor. [We ask] that You forgive us and have mercy on us, and that if you will for a people to be tried by tribulation (fitna), that You grasp us to You, and prevent us from being from among them.


O Allah, we ask you for Your love, and the love of those who love You, and the love of those deeds that draw us close to Your love, O Lord of Majesty and Honor (Dhul Jalali wal-Ikram.)


O Allah, grant our souls (nufus) piety (taqwa), and purify them, for You are the best to purify them, and You alone are their Guardian and Master, O Lord of Majesty and Honor (Dhul Jalali wal-Ikram.)


O Allah, accept our repentance, wash away our sins, respond to our supplications, make firm our proof, guide our hearts, straighten our tongues, and remove rancor and ill-feeling from our hearts.


O Allah, enrich us with forbearance (hilm); ornament us with knowledge (`ilm); honor us with piety (taqwa); and beautify us with well-being (`aafiya), O Lord of Majesty and Honor (Dhul Jalali wal-Ikram.)


O Allah bless us in our hearing, our sight, and our hearts; [bless for us] our spouses and our children, and accept our repentance, for You are the Oft-Relenting, Most Compassionate (at-Tawwab ar-Raheem.)

Make us thankful for Your blessings, declaring our praises and gratitude for them (thana), and expressing that in our speech; and complete and perfect [such blessings] upon us, for You are the Benevolent, the Generous (al-Jawaad al-Kareem.)


La ilaha illaAllah…[Praise] proportionate to the amount of creatures who walk on earth and on its steps. All praise is due to Him in Whose Hands are the keys of relief and refuge (faraj.)


Our Refuge when all doors are closed… and all means (of escape) are cut… and a barrier lies between us and our families and companions…


O You besides Whom there is no other lord (rabb) to call upon, nor angel to whom one’s request is deferred, nor intercessor that is beseeched. O You Who only increases in generosity and munificence with every request … Who only increases in graciousness and benevolence when presented with large amounts of [people’s] needs


Allow us to taste the coolness of Your Pardon.


Ameen Ya Rabbil ‘Alameen!


The Ar-Rihla Team

Inspiration: http://www.suhaibwebb.com/personaldvlpt/worship/fasting-ramadan/when-all-doors-are-closed-a-ramadan-dua-with-translation/

 

 

Ramadan: The  Wayfarer's Guest

July 28th, 2013 | Sunday

The guest just came. Twenty days done. Ten more to go. The next time we see it will be after three hundred or so days. And that too, is provided if we see it. A big, giant, solid if. If we are alive. If we are healthy, up and about- like right now. If, if, if, if...


It’s all up to the will of Allah (‘Azza Wajjal). And He knows best.


But how about right now? Right now is different. The big, giant, solid if is to some extent, absent. And the guest is still going to be here. For ten days. Which is about twohundred and fourty hours, give or take. Best guess: you still get to entertain your guest. Or rather, you get to train yourself with the help of the guest.


So do you know how the training goes? Or what the training is? Let us enlighten ourselves...


There is only one place in which the Quran talks about Ramadan. And if one studies the ayaat (verses) carefully, one will be surprised to find how totally off-course the traditional views on Ramadan are. What are the traditional views? Abstain from food and drink and certain interactions. Abstinence. Although that is part of the training, without doubt, the real deal is so much more. So much so, it’s amazing for ordinary folks, like us.


Let’s get into a contextual talk here. The placement of the ayaat (verses) is mighty significant. Before Allah (‘Azza Wajjal) mentions anything about Ramadan, He reveals to us a historical detail. And what is that historical detail?


Surat Al Baqarah is essentially divided into two parts. The first part is about the previous nations and their mistakes, overwhelmingly being the Bani Israel (The Children of Israel). The second part of the surah deals with the Muslims. The first part, which deals with the Bani Israel (The Children of Israel) talks about how Allah (‘Azza Wajjal) favoured them, how many monumental mistakes they made, and many more lessons for the generations coming later.


For this specific topic, the vital argument to be highlighted and extracted from this surah is that the Jews of Medina, by overwhelming majority, rejected the Prophet Muhammad (P.B.U.H.) on the basis that he was not from the Bani Israel (Children of Israel). In fact, they argued that he was from the Children of Ismail (Ishmael). For this reason, Allah (‘Azza Wajjal), in his Great Wisdom, brings the conversation on their terms in the following ayah:

Ayah # 132,

Surat Al- Baqarah           

 

And Abraham instructed his sons [to do the same] and [so did] Jacob, [saying], "O my sons, indeed Allah has chosen for you this religion, so do not die except while you are Muslims."


Before we proceed into the analysis of this ayah, it is necessary to note the ancestral background. Ya’qub [Jacob] (A.S.) was also known as Israel. Ya’qub’s [Jacob] (A.S.) father was Ishaq [Isaac] (A.S), whereby, his father was Ibrahim [Abraham] (A.S.). So Allah (‘Azza Wajjal) said to the aforementioned Jews of Medina in this ayah that since they did not want to include Muhammad (P.B.U.H.) in the family of Israel/ Ya’qub [Jacob] (A.S.), let the conversation be about Israel himself. Since they claimed that Israel was part of their family, Allah (‘Azza Wajjal) asked then an indirect question: “Isn’t Ibrahim [Abraham] part of your family?”


So first, Allah (‘Azza Wajjal) talked about the grandfather, Ibrahim [Abraham] (A.S.), adding to it the fact that Ibrahim [Abraham] (A.S.), had a lot in common with Israel/ Ya’qub [Jacob] (A.S.). “Common what?” you say? The answer again lies in the next ayah:

Ayah # 133, Surah

Al-Baqarah

 

 

 Or were you witnesses when death approached Jacob, when he said to his sons, "What will you worship after me?" They said, "We will worship your God and the God of your fathers, Abraham and Ishmael and Isaac - one God. And we are Muslims [in submission] to Him."


Let us note in this ayah that before the actual sons of Israel/ Ya’qub [Jacob] (A.S.) mention their own father, they mention Ismail [Ishmael] (A.S.), their great grandfather- them being the sons of Ishaq [Isaac] (A.S.). Thus, the Quran is relating a fact to the Bani Israel (Children of Israel). They were claiming that they were the Bani Israel (Children of Israel), but the Quran denounces their claim by saying that the actual twelve sons of Israel had more respect for Ismail (Ishmael) than they even had for their own grandfather. It’s clear! They mentioned him first! So Allah (‘Azza Wajjal) is rhetorically asking them: “Why, then, are you turned off by the fact that he (The Messenger of Allah [P.B.U.H.]) is a son of Ismail [Ishmael]?


On a second note, the word that the actual twelve sons of Israel used, when surrounding their father’s death bed, to describe themselves, was “Muslims”.

  Ayah # 133, Surah Al-Baqarah

                                                                         And we are Muslims [in submission] to Him."

So these are the closing arguments of Allah (‘Azza Wajjal) with the Israelites. That they have always been Muslim. And that when Muhammad (P.B.U.H.) was given Islam, he was given what they had already been given.

Now let us glimpse even further back. When Allah says:

Ayah # 127, Surah Al-Baqarah

 

 And [mention] when Abraham was raising the foundations of the House and [with him] Ishmael, [saying], "Our Lord, accept [this] from us. Indeed You are the Hearing, the Knowing.

 

Now it’s all about a construction project. Allah (‘Azza Wajjal) is now saying to the Bani Israel (Children of Israel): This Ka’bah (House of Allah in Makkah) was built by your father too, Children of Israel. He built this Ka’bah along with his own son Ismail, who was honoured by your own fathers (the actual sons of Ya’qub).

Thus, Allah (‘Azza Wajjal) established the legitimacy of the Ka’bah first. Once that is clarified, then Allah (‘Azza Wajjal) tells the Ummah:

Ayah # 150, Surah Al-Baqarah

 

 

 And from wherever you go out [for prayer], turn your face toward al-Masjid al-Haram. And wherever you [believers] may be, turn your faces toward it in order that the people will not have any argument against you, except for those of them who commit wrong; so fear them not but fear Me. And [it is] so I may complete My favor upon you and that you may be guided.


This is where the commandment of the direction of the Qiblah came up and about. Before this change of Qiblah, the Muslims used to pray in the direction of Al-Aqsa: Jerusalem. And that’s where the real bone of contention lay for the Jews of Medina: When the direction of the Qiblah changed.


A NEW CAPITOL, A NEW NATION


When asked, “What is the capitol of Islam?” the obvious response would be, “Makkah.” And that’s true. However, back when the Qiblah was still towards Jerusalem, the capitol of Islam was Jerusalem.

When a capitol is mentioned, a nation is a tag alongside it. A capitol is symbolic of a nation. Therefore, when Allah (‘Azza Wajjal) says in the above ayah that now, the Muslims have to pray in this direction, it is as though Allah (‘Azza Wajjal) is saying: Now, you have a new capitol.


So now, think. If you are assigned a new capitol, that must mean that now, you are a new nation. And it is extremely logical that Allah (‘Azza Wajjal) mentions right after this:

Ayah # 143, Surah

Al-Baqarah

 

 

And thus we have made you a just community that you will be witnesses over the people and the Messenger will be a witness over you. And We did not make the Qiblah which you used to face except that We might make evident who would follow the Messenger from who would turn back on his heels. And indeed, it is difficult except for those whom Allah has guided. And never would Allah have caused you to lose your faith. Indeed Allah is, to the people, Kind and Merciful.


Now here is a thought: You are praying in a public place. Does it matter to anyone passing by you as to which direction you are praying in? Not really. South East, North West, East. It doesn’t matter to them. Why? Because they see themselves as different. Not part of what you do.


If the Jewish community of Medina, saw themselves as a separate nation (because of all the arguments we just discussed above), the change of the Qiblah would not have really bothered them, right? You would think they would not react at all. Oh, but you think so wrong! For then, they say:

 Ayah # 142, Surah Al-Baqarah

 

 The foolish among the people will say, "What has turned them away from their Qiblah, which they used to face?" Say, "To Allah belongs the east and the west. He guides whom He wills to a straight path."


“And what made them turn away!” It was as if the Jewish community of Medina knew, deep down inside, that the way of Islam, of the Prophet Muhammad (P.B.U.H.) was the actual truth. So the fact that they got offended in and of itself proved that they were already accepting it as a true message.


Then came the turn of the Muslims themselves.  Allah (‘Azza Wajjal) said to them that since the Bani Israel (Children of Israel) squandered their resources- them being given the opportunity, it was now the responsibility of the Muslims to be the role of model nation that the Bani Israel (Children of Israel) never were.

Ayah # 143, Surah

Al-Baqarah

 

And thus we have made you a just community that you will be witnesses over the people and the Messenger will be a witness over you. And We did not make the Qiblah which you used to face except that We might make evident who would follow the Messenger from who would turn back on his heels. And indeed, it is difficult except for those whom Allah has guided. And never would Allah have caused you to lose your faith. Indeed Allah is, to the people, Kind and Merciful.


So now, Allah (‘Azza Wajjal) has established: We are a new nation. But what makes us different from the previous nation?


It is the Holy Quran.


The very beginning of Surah Al-Baqarah testifies to this fact:

Ayah # 2, Surah Al-Baqarah

 

This is the Book about which there is no doubt, guidance for those conscious of Allah.


So our capitol is Makkah and our constitution is the Quran. Think. When a constitution has been formed and a declaration of a new state has been made, is there any form of celebration? There sure is. The Declaration of Independence of the United States of America: 4th of July. The 1st of July for Canada. The 14th of August for Pakistan and the 13th of the same month for India. There is always a sense of commemoration, a sense of festivity for that day.

Now you may think: What’s all this got to do with Ramadan? The answer: A whole lot.


Here we come to the actual ayaat of Ramadan:

 

 

Ayah # 185, Surah Al-Baqarah

 

The month of Ramadan [is that] in which was revealed the Qur'an, a guidance for the people and clear proofs of guidance and criterion. So whoever sights [the new moon of] the month, let him fast it; and whoever is ill or on a journey - then an equal number of other days. Allah intends for you ease and does not intend for you hardship and [wants] for you to complete the period and to glorify Allah for that [to] which He has guided you; and perhaps you will be grateful.


So what does Allah say? He says, well, you know, the month of Ramadan, it’s the month in which the Quran was revealed. Now taking this first ayah into understanding, what do we learn? Allah does not put it this way: The month of Ramadan, it is the month in which you are supposed to fast.

This ayah teaches us something very powerful about Ramadan. It is as though Allah is telling us that the month of Ramadan is the inauguration of the Ummah as a result of the incredible constitution that came from the sky: The Quran. And it is not just a single day. It is a whole month. Thirty days. Of pure celebration.


The next time someone asks you, “What is Ramadan,” you reply, “Ramadan is the celebration of the fact that we are a new Ummah, under one God.”


So did you know that before this, we prayed in the same direction as the Jews, and we also fasted on the same days as them (and those fasts were for about nine or ten days only)? The ayah for this argument goes:

Ayah # 183, Surah Al-Baqarah

 

O you who have believed, decreed upon you is fasting as it was decreed upon those before you that you may become righteous

Before Ramadan was obligated upon us, we fasted for roughly about nine days. Thus Allah (‘Azza Wajjal) calls it “a handful” in the first part of the next ayah:

                                                                                                                                      Ayah # 184, Surah Al-Baqarah

 

[Fasting for] a limited number of days.


The same ayah also testifies to the valid excuses, before Ramadan was in place:

Ayah # 183, Surah Al-Baqarah

 

[Fasting for] a limited number of days. So whoever among you is ill or on a journey [during them] - then an equal number of days [are to be made up]. And upon those who are able [to fast, but with hardship] - a ransom [as substitute] of feeding a poor person [each day]. And whoever volunteers excess - it is better for him. But to fast is best for you, if you only knew.

Thus, two excuses were laid out: health and travel. Fasting later or feeding a needy person were two ways of making up that were established in this ayah.

Then the next ayah continues:

Ayah # 185, Surah Al-Baqarah

 

The month of Ramadan [is that] in which was revealed the Qur'an, a guidance for the people and clear proofs of guidance and criterion. So whoever sights [the new moon of] the month, let him fast it; and whoever is ill or on a journey - then an equal number of other days. Allah intends for you ease and does not intend for you hardship and [wants] for you to complete the period and to glorify Allah for that [to] which He has guided you; and perhaps you will be grateful.


What we extract from that is this: Whoever witnesses the month of Ramadan should fast the entirety of it. And it doesn’t just stop there. They ayah goes on to say that now that you are fasting the whole month of Ramadan, if you are sick or in travel, you can make it up afterwards. Option # 2 just disappeared. No more paying your way out.


And now, you’re thinking, “Man, fasting just got harder.” Well guess what? Allah knew you were going to think that. So the very next wording of the same ayah is this: Allah wants ease for you, he does not want hardship for you.

And now, you’re thinking, “Man, Allah knew what I was thinking!” Yes.

Let us rewind the ayah a bit:

Ayah # 185, Surah Al-Baqarah

 

The month of Ramadan [is that] in which was revealed the Qur'an, a guidance for the people and clear proofs of guidance and criterion...

Allah (‘Azza Wajjal) says it’s guidance for all people and a set of proofs. We thus conclude this: Ramadan is a reminder that we are obligated to share the word of Allah with humanity. Plus, it is an implication that this capitol of Makkah is not just a capitol for the Makkan Muslims but this is a capitol for all those who believe in this guidance. Also, that this guidance (The Quran) is a guidance for the humanity at large, across ethnicities, continents, genders, and tribes.


Notice: Has Allah (‘Azza Wajjal) even talked about fasting yet? No. Not in this ayah yet.

Before we continue, lets draw a final conclusion from the above ayah discussed (Ayah # 185, Surah Al- Baqarah). Ask yourself a question: Other than the fact that the Quran was revealed in the month of Ramadan, did the Muslims not already know the following three things?

  1. Its guidance for humanity
  2. It has proofs for guidance
  3. It makes a distinction between right and wrong

The answer would be: Yes. These are all basics and everyone knew and acknowledged these facts. But it teaches us something: Every Ramadan, we are supposed to go back as Muslims to the Quran as though it is the first time we are reading it. We are being re-oriented, re-introduced to this book, all over again.

                It’s a fresh start.

Now, back to the same ayah:                                                                                     Ayah # 185, Surah Al-Baqarah

 

 

..and supreme evidences of the guidance and the all-distinctive Criterion; So, whoever of you is present (Literally: witnesses the month) at the month, then he should fast it...


The wordings are such, especially the choice of the phrase “whoever of you witness the month”, that it is as though Allah (‘Azza Wajjal) is implying that not all of us will get the chance to experience this month. And that whoever one of us has been gifted to experience this month, then that person had better celebrate. Celebrate how, you say? Fast. Fasting is the Muslims’ show of joy.


RAMADAN: A MONTH OF TRAINING


Every profession has training programmes. Especially those professions that are constantly prone to danger such as Fire fighters, Police etc. All of the programmes for training are exercises for real life situations, sure, but there is a level of safety provided. So the trainee can improve.

                Similarly, Ramadan is a month of training for us. And what is our biggest challenge? The Shaytan (The Devil). So what does Allah (‘Azza Wajjal) do to give us a certain level of safety? He chains him up! He, Allah (‘Azza Wajjal) doesn’t want us to mess up in our training. SubhanAllah (All praise is to Allah).

                But what exactly is this training for? Let us find out.


BE AMONG THE MUTTAQUN (THE PIOUS)


                When you starve your body, you feed your soul. That is exactly what you are doing in Ramadan. When your head tells you to get yourself some water, the heart intercepts the signal, “Hey, no! Not until Maghreb.” And so, the heart wins over and over again. For thirty days, straight.

Now that is some good training. So when, after the thirty days, Shaytan gets thrown back into the world, and he whispers to you something that goes against the commandments of the Quran, you’d be having none of his nonsense.

Yep, that is taqwa (God-consciousness) alright. And this is exactly where the ayah fits in, where Allah tells us: I want ease for you; I don’t want hardship for you. Allah wants ease for us our entire lives.  With taqwa comes guidance and with guidance comes ease. That is why Allah gave us Ramadan. SubhanAllah (All praise is to Allah).


THE DAY OF EID


                And then Eid comes. You know what that depicts? It is the celebration, the happiness after you get your training certificate- you get your Ramadan done with all that you were supposed to do. That is why, towards the end of the ayah, Allah (‘Azza Wajjal) says:

Ayah # 185, Surah Al-Baqarah


And when My servants ask you, [O Muhammad], concerning Me - indeed I am near. I respond to the invocation of the supplicant when he calls upon Me. So let them respond to Me [by obedience] and believe in Me that they may be [rightly] guided.

What do we do when we are walking towards the Masjid for Eid prayers, on the day of Eid? We say the takbir!

We are constantly glorifying the praises of Allah! It all connects so beautifully, SubhanAllah (All praise is for Allah).

 

RAMADAN IS A MONTH OF ASKING


                Yes. Supplication. Dua. For the very next ayah is:

Ayah # 186, Surah Al-Baqarah

He do

And when My servants ask you, [O Muhammad], concerning Me - indeed I am near. I respond to the invocation of the supplicant when he calls upon Me. So let them respond to Me [by obedience] and believe in Me that they may be [rightly] guided.

According to a hadith in Sahih Al=-Bukhari:

The Prophet (P.B.U.H.) said that Allah the Almighty has said: “I will declare war against him who shows hostility to a wali (pious worshipper/devoted servant who is beloved to Allah) of mine And the most beloved things with which My slave comes nearer to Me is what I have enjoined upon him; and My worshipper keeps on coming closer to Me through performing Nawafil (praying or doing extra deeds besides what is (obligatory) till I love him, then I become his sense of hearing with which he hears, and his sense of sight with which he sees, and his hands with which he grips, and his legs with which he walks; and if he asks Me, I will give him, and if he asks My Protection (Refuge), I will Protect him, I do not hesitate about anything as much as I hesitate about [seizing] the soul of My faithful servant: he hates death and I hate hurting him.”


May Allah (‘Azza Wajjal) make this Ramadan a month of forgiveness for us. May Allah answer to all our prayers and needs. We ask Allah (‘Azza Wajjal) to make this month of Ramadan a month of taqwa for us, a month of gratitude for us and a month of being set straight on guidance for all of us.

Ameen.


The Ar-Rihla Team

 

 

The Journey of Inspiration

 
July 25th, 2013 | Thursday

Life is inspiration. Something you look up to becomes your inspiration in life. And then, slowly, when it encompasses and becomes your thoughts, you begin to speak a certain way. The way you speak gradually manifests into the way you act. And deal with others.Your prospects on life change. You see connections everywhere. Creator with the creation. Human with another human being. Cruelty against kindness and mercy.
 

You start differentiating between right and wrong. Good and bad. Not only that, but you start acting on your judgements and conclusions. You listen to your heart, not your head. Rational thinking, yes, but not just some rational thinking. It involves the will of your Divine Lord. Of God. Of Allah ('Aza Wajjal).

All because you have just aspired from an inspiration .
Yes, its a chain reaction for many.

It happens to so many people, you being one amongst them. One video clip from YouTube here, an off-hand hint at a Khutbah there, and maybe a whisper from your conscience just hits it. Its like a slap across the face and you see reality for the first time. You just wake up. Because you just realized you were drowning. Sinking. Right.To.The.Bottom.

But because of that one Sheikh's pleading advice in a Youtube video made on a jittery, non-HD smartphone camera, Allah guided you. And he guided you to further ask for guidance.
 
اهْدِنَا الصِّرَاطَ الْمُسْتَقِيم
Guide us to the Straight Path [Surat Al Fatihah, Ayah # 6]

All because you got inspired.
So what do you do?
You say: Alhamdulilahi Rabbil 'Alameen  الْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ  [Surat Al Fatihah, Ayah # 1]
And what else do you do?
You pray for all your brothers and sisters in humanity. You pray to Allah that they may be guided, just as you were. And then, you act on what the Prophet Muhammad (P.B.U.H) told you to do. Spread the word. Nicely. Kindly. Mercifully. Because remember, you were once on the edge of the fire, but you got saved. With all praise to Allah ('Aza Wajjal).

May Allah guide us all to His Straight Path. The Path of those whom He has guided. Not of those who earned His Anger. Nor of those who went astray.
Ameen.

The Ar-Rihla Team