Oh, woe to me! I wish I had not taken that one as a friend.
He led me away from the remembrance after it had come to me. And ever is Satan, to man, a deserter.”
Oh, woe to me! I wish I had not taken that one as a friend.
He led me away from the remembrance after it had come to me. And ever is Satan, to man, a deserter.”
Day 5 – DO NOT EVEN SAY UGH OR UFF TO YOUR PARENTS
Today, I was speaking to a friend who has been undergoing the same issues as so many of us, and as myself. Elderly parents growing weaker every day pose more challenges than we acknowledge. We looked up to them all our lives. Now they look up to us and are dependent on us. They are no longer financially or physically supporting us. They no longer have that control over us which made us lower our voices in front of them. And herein lies our test. This beautiful ayat from Surah Bani Israel (17:23) starts with the very basic belief – belief in the oneness of Allah. And in the same verse, Allah (swt) reminds us of who is most deserving of our good behaviour, patience and kindness.
But the key here is the old age bit. Not only are they no longer dependent on us, but at the twilight of their lives they see their lives as downhill, and they have achieved every goal they had, and this realization often makes them cranky and unreasonable.
At this stage of life, children need to exercise patience. Even the smallest of reactions like rolling eyes or saying Ugh or Uff or speaking to them harshly may wash away our good deeds.
Read this: Abdullah Ibn ‘Umar saw a Yemeni man performing Tawāf (circumambulating the Ka’bah) while carrying his mother on his back. This man said to Abdullah Ibn ‘Umar, “I am like a tame camel for her! I have carried her more than she carried me. Do you think I have paid her back, O Ibn ‘Umar?” Abdullah Ibn ‘Umar replied, “No, not even one contraction!” [Al-Adab al-Mufrad Bukhārī 1/62]
And in a hadith, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said :
“A father’s pleasure is Allah’s pleasure, a father’s displeasure is Allah’s displeasure.” (Tirmidhi)
The following verse (17:24) even specifies our body language with parents, advising us that our shoulders must be lowered, and teaches us to make dua for them.
Parents are not saints or angels and are not without faults. But they are the most sincere and selfless in their love for their children, and no other love compares with that, though in Islam each relationship has its own distinct place. So, despite their shortcomings and the age related weaknesses, one must continue treating them with honour, love and affection.
Also, as spouses, one must never restrict one’s wife or husband from serving their parents.
May Allah (swt) enable us to act on these verses, and shower upon our parents His Mercy. Ameen.
Day 4 – DON’T LOOK AWAY, DON’T TURN YOUR FACE AWAY
This one scares me…The first ten verses actually.
So this is what happened: This surah was revealed in the Meccan era. Muslims were facing the oppression of the powerful Quraish. The Prophet of Allah Muhammad (saw) wanted to get the message of Allah across to the leaders of Mecca so that the oppression would stop and Islam would gain foothold, though the message was in no way exclusive only to the rich and famous, and the fact that so many earliest Muslims were from the underprivileged strata of Meccan society.
The background of the revelation of this and the following verses is that once the Prophet (saw) was deeply engaged in trying to explain the Holy Qur’an to some pagan Quraish leaders such as ‘Atabat‑ibn‑i‑Rabi ‘ah, Abu‑Jahl, ‘Abbas‑ibn‑’Abdul‑Mutallib and some others. He was hopeful that it would attract them to Islam, and in so doing, surely a lot of others would come to Islam, too. But, suddenly, he was interrupted by a blind man, ‘Abdullah‑ibn‑Ummi‑Maktum, who was apparently poor, so that no one took notice of him. He wanted to learn the Qur’an and asked the Prophet (saw) to teach him. He repeated his statement again and again, because he did not know exactly whom he was talking to.
The Holy Prophet (saw) in that moment did not like the frequent interruptions and this was seen on his face.
He turned away from ‘Abdullah and continued the work at preaching Allah’s Message to them.
At that moment he received the verses stated above.
The translation of the first ten verses of this Surah from the 30th Juz are as under:
1. He frowned and turned away
2. Because there came to him the blind man
3. And what would make you know that he might (spiritually) purify himself
4 Or become reminded so that the reminder might profit him?
5. As to one who regards himself self‑sufficient
6. To him do you address yourself!
7. Though it is no blame on you if he would not (spiritually) purify himself.
8. But as to him who comes to you striving hard
9. And he fears (Allah in his heart)
10. Of him you were unmindful.
So in this verse 80:1 of the Quran, and the verses that follow, Allah (swt) is admonishing the best of the best in the sight of Allah, Muhammad (saw). No one is closer to perfection than the last Prophet (saw). Yet, look how he is being reminded. So high is the honour and stature of a sincere person in the sight of Allah, even though he is poor and blind.
How many times, may Allah forgive us, have we judged someone on the basis of their financial status or their physical appearance? How many times have we been dismissive or demeaning to someone who is not influential or rich or powerful? How many times we punish people by our indifference and silence? Our body language suddenly becomes respectful and our choice of words becomes careful when we address someone who has a position. But with a poorer person we could care less.
It reminds me of that beautiful hadith:
عَنْ أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ قَالَ قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ إِنَّ اللَّهَ لَا يَنْظُرُ إِلَى صُوَرِكُمْ وَأَمْوَالِكُمْ وَلَكِنْ يَنْظُرُ إِلَى قُلُوبِكُمْ وَأَعْمَالِكُمْ
(2564 صحيح مسلم كتاب البر والصلة والآداب باب تحريم ظلم المسلم وخذله واحتقاره ودمه وعرضه وماله)
Abu Huraira reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said,
“Verily, Allah does not look at your appearance or wealth, but rather he looks at your hearts and actions.” (Sahih Muslim 2564)
Tremendous lesson here.
Also, I feel enormous love for the Prophet of Allah (saw) when I read this and similar verses. To be humanity’s ultimate role model, his every action was checked more strictly than anyone else on earth. What a heavy responsibility he carried all his life, and what all he went through, to be our role model.
The Quran is indeed the words…. Allah’s final message to humanity, pure and unadulterated. If it were, God forbids, authored by our beloved Prophet (saw), verses admonishing him would not have been part of it.
As for ‘Abdullah, after this revelation, the Prophet (saw) always held ‘Abdullah in high honor, and whenever he saw him he used to tell him
“Hail to the one for whom Allah admonished me.”
And, then, he questioned the man:
“Is there anything that I can do for you?”
The blind man became a true and sincere Muslim and as a direct appointment by the Prophet, himself, become a governor of Medina on two occasions when the Prophet (saw) went to battle.
May peace and blessings of Allah be upon Muhammad (saw), the final messenger, and may Allah enable us to follow his beautiful path.
Day 3 – WHEN WE SAY “I DON’T LIKE HER NOSE” or “HE IS SO DARK”
So imagine this: You look at someone and say something like “Her nose is so broad” or “such small eyes!” or “poor thing is so dark” or “what a good looking woman but what bad looking feet”. Often, the person saying this has no idea what a serious offence he/she has committed. And Who it is they have offended.
Let’s see the verse again. What a beautiful, majestic ayah this is from Surah Ghafir, also known as Surah al-Mumin. Allah, the Exalted, is reminding us of His place in our lives. The Master Creator mentions the creation of the planet we call home, and the mighty sky over our heads, and then goes on to mention His supreme creation – mankind. You. Me. Us.
First the ayah mentions that He created us and then says he created us beautifully in an “ahsan” (most beautiful) manner….in a design that is perfect in the sight of Allah.
When we criticize or think less of or ridicule someone’s physical attributes, we actually question Allah’s (swt) creation. Social conditioning has a lot to do with it. We come to believe only a certain kind of physical appearance is beautiful. In most cultures, a lighter complexion is considered beautiful. The millions and billions of dollars that globally go into whitening products are a testimony to that. Supremacy of the “white” is a part of this collective complex. More than 1400 years ago, the Prophet Muhammad (saw) elevated the ranks of the Abyssinian slave, Bilal (ra). Yet here we are, centuries later, commenting on people’s complexions. Have we really come of age?
In the upper tiers of urban societies, thin is beautiful. To other cultural sensibilities, a fuller body is beautiful. To some, coloured eyes are beautiful. To others they are not. Thinner or thicker lips, sharper or upturned noses, long fingers, small waistlines, taller statures…..are we talking about Allah’s creation or are we picking and choosing items in a shopping mall?
If you have true love of Allah, every creation of Allah is beautiful in a unique, unparalleled fashion. This is how he wanted you to look. This is who you are. Yes, our bodies are Allah’s amanah (trust) and we must take care of them and maintain them, but not to appease people’s ideas of beauty, but to feel good and healthy.
Here’s praying that our human pettiness, and the hurtful comments that we may have unconsciously uttered about someone’s physicality, are forgiven.
Allah is Beautiful, and loves the beautiful, and all that He created in His divine wisdom is beautiful.
Time to grow up and start thinking differently.
To every one out there, the thing to say is “hey, beautiful”!
Day 2 – TOO MUCH OF A HALAAL THING
O children of Adam! Beautify yourselves for every act of worship, and eat and drink [freely], but do not be extravagant (waste): verily, He does not love the extravagant!
Oh man! This one’s a toughie. Reason being that with the forbidden stuff, we know its a no-no. But this is all allowed, in fact recommended stuff….Allah has allowed us to eat well and dress well and enjoy the blessings He has given to us, but be thankful and share with those who have less than us. So far so good. But that’s not all. The use of all things good is conditional – do not overspend or waste or use it for means of being pompous and showing off.
Ramadan, ironically enough, is the toughest time to act on this verse. On one hand during Ramadan charity flows like water, for Muslims do believe in charity as one of the paths to Paradise. Yet, because the affluent Muslims give so much for Allah’s pleasure, they assume that if they are giving enough charity, that is a licence to be spendthrift and waste and flaunt. “Itna to deti hoon Allah ke raastay mein. Phir agar iftar par dus dishes rakh leen to kya farq parta hai (I give so much in the path of Allah. So what if I serve prepare 10 food items for iftar)” is the common retort. Fact is, giving charity does not justify overspending and wasting. One of the very things Ramadan aims at developing in us is accountability for Allah’s blessings. Extravagance saps that sentiment. Those who can afford it buy two dresses per day for the three days of Eid, run to “all you can eat” deals, and host iftars that are elaborate spreads fit for kings. So much time, effort, and money goes into all this. And to what end?
In our over zealousness for Ramadan, we over-buy, overspend, overeat, overdress, overcook, over-hoard groceries pre Ramadan. We overdo everything. The word for this is “Israaf” and one who does this is a “Musrif” and that is precisely the person Allah does not want us to become. Irony of ironies – we really work hard in Ramadan to ward off haraam (and even halaal during the fasting hours) to please Allah, but end up displeasing Him (God forbids) by extravagance.
Very related to Israaf is “Tabzeer” – wastage. There’s only so much you can wear or eat or hoard. When we overdo it all, we end up wasting it all. Food in the bin after a dinner is testimony of this – the over-piled dinner plates are the issue.
I found it fascinating that as I searched for verse 7:31 on the internet, I came across 1 Corinthians 7:31, and here is what the biblical verse says: “Those who use the things of the world, as if not engrossed in them. For this world in its present form is passing away.”
Extravagance is a symptom of a deeper disease: We are too attached to this world, and too involved in its hedonistic pleasures.
Islam is beautiful. We are advised not to renounce any pleasures, but just keep it under check and balance. So let’s try and do that, lest overdoing halaal makes it the opposite.
It is here…the most blessed of months. Ramadan ❤
What I am hoping to do here is InshaAllah post verses from the Holy Quran in the coming month….as nothing more but a reminder for myself. For when we share knowledge with others, we inevitably are the first addressees of it. These verses are not in any particular order. But each one has touched my heart and taught me what I needed to learn. May we all be able to act upon each verse of the glorious Quran. Ameen.
“And speak to him mildly, perhaps he may accept admonition or fear Allah.” (20:44)
So imagine this. There is this person who is arrogant, rude, dismissive, and thinks it his right to not just demean you but also threatens to kill you. And knowing him, he will. Yet, you are asked to go to him and share with him with utmost sincerity what will make his life better, both here and in the Hereafter. But your being sincere does not mean you cannot anticipate that this person is going to humiliate and insult you publicly…you are well aware and are expecting a terrible response. Yet, you are told to swallow your pride and go to him, hope and believe that your sincerity MAY bring out the inherent human goodness in his heart, and here comes the tough part…..speak to him gently and mildly….modulate the tone of your voice in a way that it is polite and congenial and choose words carefully. May be…just may be….he may understand.
This is what the two Prophets Moosa (as) and Haroon (as) are being told to do as they are being sent to the court of Pharaoh. What a massive, massive test of faith!
For those who have studied the 20th chapter of the Quran, Surah Taha, from which this verse is taken, would know what a touching chapter it is, as it talks about the entire odyssey of Moosa (as)…. from being separated as an infant from his mother, to being brought up as the adopted prince of Egypt, to having to live in the desert as a nomad, and then being called upon as a Prophet to lead his people out of bondage….and confront the very person he would have most liked to avoid confronting….and on top of it do that “gently”.
What a life! And through it all, Moosa (as) as Allah’s apostle is very human and real…showing human emotions like anger and fear….yet always obedient to his Creator.
For those of us who have had a life less ordinary, this Surah is like a mirror. It tells you about how Moosa (as), a role model for us, handled “change” in life.
It is much too easy to be harsh….much too easy to be snappy and rude and intimidate people with sarcasm or taunts or a loud harsh way of speaking. They may be quietened. But then they do not really listen to you. It takes courage and a big heart to speak gently.
This verse reminds us that it is not only important that we keep a track of what we say but how we say it. In person, or on social media. In agreement or in disagreement. The choice of words, the tone, and also the sincerity matters….for even if sometimes the tone is soft and the words are mild, the words under-laced with sarcasm do not touch hearts.
May Allah help us speak gently….from our heart.
Some beautiful lessons from Surah Taha:
· Open my heart. What a dua! Open-heartedness helps us develop empathy, and shun selfishness. (20:25)
· Pray for better communication skills. It enables you to understand and be understood. (20:27/28)
· On the path of Allah’s pleasure, don’t take a solo flight. Get some steam from your family. Develop a support group from within your closest circle. You need the support so pray for it. (20:29)
· If you are popular and loved, it is also a blessing from Allah. It is a special gift. Use it well. (20:39)
· It helps to remember some mistakes you made in the past. If you have repented and turned around, don’t pretend your past never happened. Acknowledge it, and thank Allah for the chance of having turned around. This keeps us humble. (20:40)
· Allah makes us go through ups and downs and various stops and stations in the journey of life because Allah is grooming us and carving us for something we are meant to do at a later stage. Trust His decisions. (20:41)
· Always believe in the inherent human goodness. You never know when someone may have a change of heart and turn over a good leaf. (20:44)
· The process of learning never ends. Keep learning; keep growing. For a deeper understanding of the Quran, step one is attending daura or classes. But you also have to do self-study…..ghaur o fikr….reflect….individually. How will you do it? Take one ayat. Read repeatedly. Reflect on the many interpretations. Then read many tafaaseer of it. Then ask your teachers about that verse. Don’t just say “Rabbi zidni ilma”. Take each verse of the Quran and when you are reading it ask Allah “Ya Allah, explain its meaning to me”. (20:99/100)
· Turning away from the message of the Quran has lasting detrimental effects on our lives. One of them, mentioned here, is a restriction of the heart – having everything yet not being content, unexplained sadness, easy things becoming difficult, deep-seated depression. (20:124)
· Looking longingly at blessings of other people robs us of contentment. Appreciate what you have instead of constant comparisons. (20:131)
Ramazan – the month of giving. As one of the world’s most charitable nations, and with the desire to earn an even higher reward than other months, Pakistanis open their hearts and wallets in Ramazan.
The same holds true for Muslims all over the world. This is heart-warming and wonderful, but with just one exception. Somehow, somewhere, we have made this “giving” a justification for extravagance, excessive spending, and consequent showing off. The common understanding is that if I am giving my prescribed percentage of Zakat, and also a bit of additional charity, it justifies any amount of money that I squander.
This, then, is a deeply flawed and worrisome understanding of the concept of charity. Charity, primarily, is meant to keep the flow of money going in society instead of allowing it to stagnate in a few hands and a few bank accounts. Instead, the economic divide is getting wider. Despite the affluent giving so much charity, the poor are literally dying of poverty. Clearly, we are missing a key part of this whole equation.
It is then no wonder that in Pakistan, the 18 million richest people’s total consumption is 1.5 times more than the poorest 72 million people. Studies show that among the four key signs of perpetuating poverty, the first is that the poor remain poor and the rich remain rich. There is no level playing field for everyone, despite our charities, and our overspending has something to do with it.
Imagine this. I get my domestic helper a decent dress for Eid worth Rs1,500 or more. And that, in my head, makes it okay for me to spend on up to three dresses for Eid, shoes and accessories amounting to Rs20,000 – more than 10 times of what I gave. In summers, even the middle class Pakistani woman will end up spending thousands on an average of sixsummer wear ensembles. Upper scale lawn dresses are known to cost even up to Rs7,000 or more each. But what she will give away as her summer charity is not the same quantity or quality.
While from among the upper-middle class, or those whom we can crudely call the rich, people with tender hearts give generously to the less privileged. Yet many of them will feel no guilt in spending even a thousand dollars on a handbag as a feel-good factor. Our weddings cost millions, resembling lavish fairy tales. Maintaining ourselves and our homes costs us exorbitantly. From our prayer beads to our cell phones, everything is opulent or “classy”. There is a resulting disconnect between people from different economic strata in Pakistan.
In Ramazan, instead of being reminded by the hunger pangs that a hungry child in Tharparkar goes through, we numb the few spiritual lessons we get with “all you can eat” deals. Sales lure us into buying separate designer clothes for taraweeh prayers, others for Eid prayers, and yet others for the family Eid dinner. The month, instead of being an intended exercise in self-control, becomes a festival of overabundance. What is left of the piety that we may have gained through worship is blown away within the three days of Eid. And throughout it all, we are telling ourselves that it is okay because we give so much charity.
To keep consumption of anything under check and balance is part of the ethics in any religion. In Christianity, the seven deadly sins are on the same page, gluttony being one of them, which is the over-consumption or obsession with food, and we see a lot of that in Ramazan, including related sins of greed, sloth, pride and envy.
Islam has not stopped us from eating or dressing well. It has not given us any prescribed limit beyond which we cannot spend. It has, however, given us a framework and examples from the lives of the Prophet (PBUH), his family and his companions as role models. Among them, there were men and women who were very poor. Others were extremely rich, and were known for the profuse amounts of charity they gave. What made them different from us, however, was that they exercised a degree of self-restrain when it came to spending. While they may have led comfortable lives, they were careful not to make evident the economic gulf between themselves and the less privileged. And to build those bridges, they did two things – they spent lesser on themselves than they could afford to, and they gave charity more than they needed to. In so doing, step by step, the gap lessened.
One may counter this idea by debating why we should be made to feel guilty if Allah (SWT) has given us more. That part is justified, and true, and if you look after your community and people around you, you may have done a part of your share. But looking at the bigger picture, let us exercise a little sensitivity when flaunting wealth. Ostentation and overspending willaffect others – both those who are on the lower tiers of the social pyramid, and also contemporaries who are silently competing. The rat race has and will continue to prove that prophetic tradition correct in which the Prophet (PBUH) expressed his fear that the biggest trial for his followers would be wealth. Even those strictly adhering to tenets of religion fall into this trap – they see use of intoxicants and promiscuous lifestyles as serious sins, but see over-spending, over-eating and flaunting of wealth as permissible.
In Pakistan, this causes deeper problems. Poverty, insecurity, economic frustration and jealousy are resulting in an angry and violent collective temperament. When they cannot get it by just means, they steal it, loot it and even resort to crime and violence. While this is not acceptable, this is a bitter reality. And somewhere, we are part of this equation and are indirectly responsible for it.
Considering that Ramazan is a good time for introspection, it might be good to try and aim for moderation in spending so that we may control the glaring economic disparity in our society.