Make every day Count…

Imam Ibnul Jawzi has stated:

‘Every morning after having performed the essentials, one should detach oneself from everything and talk to his own self. He should tell himself ‘O my own self, my only capital is my life. If it is lost, there would be nothing to gain from. A new day has just begun, and having deferred my death, Allah has given me another chance to do something good. O my own self, thou must regard it as a new lease of life. Save this day from being lost. Thou must realize that the 24 hours in one day and night are like 24 closets. On the day of Reckoning, these closets would be thrown open and the quantity of good stored in them would be assessed.

If this quantity is large, the closets would be filled with Light and the person would be so happy that if that happiness is distributed among all the residents of Hell, they would forget about their pain. But if on the contrary, there is more evil than good in them, then instead of Light there would be darkness and stinking smell in the closets and the person concerned would feel such anxiety and indignity that if feeling is distributed among all the residents of Paradise, it would spoil all the blessings endowed upon them’

 

For those who do not care to act, there would be another treasure that would be empty. There would be neither happiness in it nor sorrow. This would represent the time which they wasted. Everyone who wasted his time, would then be repentant in a manner like that of a person who was in a position to make a large profit but lost that opportunity.

Everyone must ask his own self to act today so as to fill every closet with good deeds and not to leave anyone empty.’

 

Hazrat Umar (R.A) has said, ‘Assess your own self before the day of Reckoning arrives. Weigh your actions yourself before the same are weighed on the day of Judgment and prepare yourself for that day.’

The magic of lists!

On one hand I think that making a list of things to do gives me a better perspective on the availability of time and the need to complete my targets for the day; But on the other hand it is also a source of guilt when I see that I do not always go along with it. So many things remain undone… putting burden on my heart and making me want to completely do away with this ritual of making to-do lists altogether. Except that there are some extremely important benefits that I get from this daily habit:

1- It activates an inner alarm system which starts ringing the moment I get off the track and start wasting time… (I spoil this benefit when I turn off the alarm instead of getting back on track)

2- It lets me get through at least 50% of the things which is a lot more than I would do without this self motivation and accountability.

3- It helps me to check for loopholes and distractions which make me forgetful.

4- It is a great tool for self assessment and constantly wants me to improve the use of my time.

5- It also transforms my wishes into intentions because when I specifically assign a certain time slot to an activity, then it shows that I mean to do it.

But the reason why I chose this topic today is not to tell you the benefits of making to-do lists… in fact this morning when I opened the diary to write my day’s plan, I came upon this little motivational message that I wrote to myself on top of one of these to-do lists that I made several days ago… and I thought I should share it:

I divided the page into two columns and on top of each gave a bold heading “DREAM” and “REALITY”. Underneath the “DREAM” came all the things I wanted to complete that day and on the other side I thought I would write all that I actually did. 

And on top of all of that I wrote this question I often ask myself: why don’t I use my time the way I write it? And then I wrote the answer:

Who can stop you from making this dream a reality except your own desires…?

Who can help you to fight your desires except Allah?

But you have to decide… whether you want to win or not?

So decide and make dua and strive with excellence…

Respect Muharram…

What if two people promise never to hurt each other… and they succeed in always treating each other with utmost care and respect… how strong will be this relationship… how deep will be their bond of love and care…

Similarly if this rule is observed within a household… no one hurts anyone physically or emotionally… they respect one another’s rights… they take care and protect each other’s lives, possessions and dignity… will there be any anger, resentment or grudges in such a family?

And if this is the way people live in a country… there is mutual respect and care… how much peace there will be… and how much prosperity too… because one is the result of the other.

So if you think about it, most of our problems can simply disappear, if only we can bring this one word in our lives… Respect.

And the reason why we do not respect people is because we don’t realize their true worth. Or we take them for granted because we think it doesn’t really matter… But look at the words of Allah when He describes the sacred months…

 “Indeed, the number of months with Allah is twelve months in the register of Allah from the day He created the heavens and the earth; out of these, four months are sacred. That is the correct religion, so do not do “zulm” on yourselves during them… [Quran 9: 36]

These sacred months are Rajab, Zulqaa’dah, Zulhajjah and Muharram. And Allah is saying that the most important thing in these months is that we should not do zulm on ourselves… but who would be unkind to one’s own self? We are so protective about our own interests so it seems unthinkable that we would be unjust or cruel to our own selves… so what does it mean?

The fact is that when we are being unkind and unfair to others then we are loading our own destiny with the harmful consequences of such actions. And this doesn’t only affect us in the long run… rather the effects of hurting others are instantly felt in our own heart and soul… Just like doing an act of charity brings instant happiness in the heart… similarly unkind acts destroy our peace of mind…

So you can see how a whole society becomes engulfed by negativity… and anxiety… and restlessness… and insecurity… due to lack of kindness and courtesy… and the only solution to bring back peace and prosperity in our lives is to start evaluating our attitude towards one another…

The beautiful thing about our religion is that we begin our new year with the sacred month of Muharram… and these sacred months are like a training period for us to be extra conscious not to do zulm… so that we can stay away from it in the other months too…

What exactly is zulm? It refers to all acts of injustice and cruelty… Not caring for the rights of others… not acknowledging their status… is zulm on yourself… because when you don’t give love and respect to others then you deprive yourself from their love and care. If you don’t honour your parents then you don’t get the benefit of their priceless love and duas… when you don’t give quality time to your children then you will lose their loving gestures and delightful companionship… if a wife doesn’t respect her husband then she gets ignored too… and if a husband doesn’t admire and encourage his wife then he will lose her trust and love that she could have given him endlessly…

So when we don’t give rights then we ourselves end up as losers… even if we live in grand palaces and ride in the most luxurious cars… our hearts are empty and we keep filling them with material objects that can never satisfy us because lifeless objects cannot give life to our hearts…

So lets contemplate and internalize the sanctity of this sacred month… lets make it our number one resolution this year that we will respect the rights of Allah and of our fellow human beings… let’s not be unkind to ourselves anymore…

May Allah help us to remember it… Ameen.

Memories of Muharram 1432…

The following article is from 2010… an old story with a timeless lesson for parents… especially mothers!!

Since I heard the lecture on the importance of Muharram and its link to Hijrah of our Prophet (s.a.w) I was longing to inform my kids but they are not usually receptive to what I tell them so I was waiting for the right time because I didn’t want to spoil this exciting information which I thought would surely light up their heart if conveyed in the right manner. Yesterday I got my moment in a totally unexpected way and I want to share it because it might work for other moms too:)

Since I came back from Hajj I have realized things in my life which had never bothered me before. One of them is my lack of quality time with my children. so I tried to sit and talk with them but found that it was not working. It made me think: why not get out of the house and take a walk. My youngest child was at once willing to accomany me and so we drove to the nearest walking track. When we got on to the track I was expecting that he would start jogging but he didn’t do that… I was really thrilled at this unexpected change because now was the chance to be together. I kept quiet for a while and waited for him to speak because suddenly I realized that may be they are put off by always thinking that the moment I open my mouth I am going to start a lecture. Well I didn’t know it then but Allah was allowing me to taste a glimpse of “wisdom” which is his ultimate gift to a believer… but we seldom make dua for it…

Anyway my son started talking about his day at school and I listened with interest. After some time I asked him did he know anything about muharram? He said yes “karbala”… I said what else? he was quiet so I asked him another question… What was the sacrifice of Ibrahim (alaihissalam) ? and what was the sacrifice of our Prophet (s.a.w)? He said Hijrat… How happy I was to hear this word from him:) because this was the key which opened the door of further discussion… why is Muharram the first month of the hijri calendar? He tried some guesses until I gave him a couple of hints which led him to the correct answer… making him feel as if he had “discovered” the solution to a riddle… it made him happy and excited because children love to “win”… and they will never forget something which made them feel good. During all this time we also observed the beautiful colours of trees and the sky with its amazing transformation from brightness towards sunset… He looked so happy mashaAllah… calm and relaxed…

Now there is a connection in all of this… Next time if I ask him a question it will inshaAllah bring forth this memory of a good time, pleasant evening, soft cool breeze, lovely trees with gold and red leaves and the excitement of learning something so important about our history… I just hope and pray to Allah that he enables us to remember this great clue to success… that to achieve something we need to do hijrat… we need to get out of our comfortable routines and sacrifice our time and energy to prove our sincerity. There is no shortage in Allah’s treasure but it is up to us how much we ask Him and how sincerely we want His pleasure.

Hifz tips…

A friend of mine asked me to give some tips for memorizing Quran… Although I have read many articles on it and have listened to the talks from various experts on this topic… still at the end of the day what matters is how much importance I give to Quran and how much I am willing to work for it…

Basically these tips fall into two main categories… interior and exterior.

We often make the mistake of focusing only on the exterior and that is why it doesn’t work long term…

By exterior I mean, following a balanced sleep cycle… choosing the best time… good posture… having a teacher… use of mobile apps… enough repetition… extra time for revision… keeping the same Mushaf… etc

But all of these things are like a building… a visible structure… but the building cannot stand without the foundation which is unseen but so important…

Therefore we must begin with the foundation… the inner preparation…

First of all we must be very clear on what we hope to achieve through this activity of hifz?  

Our purpose should only be to earn the pleasure and closeness of Allah. For my own self, it is like the water for my soul… because the more I repeat the words of Allah the more clear they become to my heart… and so my heart gets more and more focused on Allah and the hereafter…

It is extremely important to keep revisiting our intentions because when we forget our objectives and hifz becomes just a routine exercise of the mind… then the heart loses interest and we tend to give up… that is why we have so many gaps where we don’t “find time” for it due to so many excuses… and then finally when we do sit down to reconnect with Quran we find that so much has been lost… making us feel so miserable and disappointed… therefore this tip of making a solid intention and reminding yourself about it… should be the number one step of our journey through Quran…

2- The second tip is to get clean and organized… not just on the outside… but more importantly inside our hearts. Do a lot of taubah and istighfar to clean the heart from all the rubbish of sins and negative thinking. Doing Hifz without taubah is like filling a dirty glass with fresh sweet milk… no one would be so foolish not to clean the glass first!!

3- Be really really greedy… super eager and passionate… absolutely thirsty for Quran… because it is this intense longing inside the heart that will act like a sponge which collects the water in seconds…

To develop this yearning, it is recommended that whenever you feel a thirst in your heart… then don’t try to quench it with anything else except the Quran… and whenever you feel restless, then don’t try to comfort your heart with any other thing except the words of Allah… and whenever you feel any emptiness in your life, don’t try to fill it up with any other thing except this book of guidance… in this way you will train your heart to love the Quran more than any other thing in this world…

4- Nothing can happen without the will of Allah… so ask for His help and His tawfeeq… beg Him to make the Quran most beloved to you… and most easy to work with. The moment you feel any weakness, or any difficulty… turn to Allah… in humbleness and in hope…

5- Avoid sins like you avoid accidents and disasters… Fear the disapproval of Allah like you fear the fire… or drowning… or falling… because sins are even more harmful than these afflictions… So take all precautions that you can… but if you still happen to make a mistake, then don’t delay taubah… immediately do istighfar and come back on track!

6- Another good tip is to do daily sadaqah… it wipes away sins and also gives energy for doing good deeds.

7- The best sadaqah is to be on your very best behavior with your parents and other family members. Let them see how hifz is making you a good human being!

8- Let your tongue be used only for good words… because a tongue that backbites or humiliates others or taunts or utters nonsense… cannot truly taste the sweetness of Allah’s words… And the heart that bears grudges and resentments and jealousy and other negative emotions cannot retain the words of Allah… so do hifazat of your thoughts and words.

9- The person who wants to do Hifz of Quran is actually embarking on a great responsibility of being a carrier of Allah’s words… Such a person cannot indulge in idle pleasures and amusements… His time becomes so much precious, so he doesn’t waste it in vain activities… Be a hafiz of your time, and Allah will be Al-Hafiz over all your affairs… He will make it easy for you to concentrate on Quran.

Allah does not look at your talents but it is your dedication, commitment, time and hard work that matters… so even if it takes you 10, 15, 20 or more years to complete the Quran… just imagine being able to say… “I had a 15 year memorization relationship with the Quran and the Quality of my life improved with every second!!”

May Allah bless us all with such a life… full of Quran… inside and out… Ameen

Muharram and Migration

I just read this article but have no idea who wrote it… anyway it was too good so I thought of sharing it… may Allah help us to reflect and act on it… Ameen

Alhamdulillah, our new year has begun with the blessed month of Muharram. It reminds us of the migration (hijrah) of the Prophet (s.a.w) and the many sacrifices he made for the Deen. Due to increasing persecution, Allah’s (s.w.t.) commanded the Prophet (s.a.w) to migrate from Makkah to Madinah. This great event took place in the month of Muharram which changed the destiny of not just the muslims but the whole world.

So for us every year begins with this reminder that if we want to change our destiny then we have to change ourselves. Allah recommends that we should also depart from any place in which we are unable to practice our Deen, and this migration should be for the sake of Allah.

Let’s all analyze ourselves, are we facing any persecution or trials due to our practicing of the Deen? If so, then let’s migrate! However, most of us would say that alhamdulillah, we have freedom of religion, nearby mosques, large congregations for Friday and ‘Eid prayers and we are happy and comfortable in practicing our religion, so why should we migrate? 

But if we have so much freedom and opportunities to act on our religion then why are we not fully committed to it? The difficulty is not external, rather it is within us. We are all slaves to our soul, so let’s migrate, because moving away from sins, is also considered a form of migration. Furthermore, changing our day-to-day habits is also considered a migration. So let’s migrate. 

Let’s migrate from the slavery to our souls to the obedience of Allah (s.w.t.); let’s migrate from lies and falsehood towards speaking and acting on truth. 

Let’s migrate from pride and arrogance to humility and humbleness;

let’s migrate from a complaining attitude to one of patience.

Let’s migrate from laziness to being proactive.

Let’s migrate from depression and gloom to cheerfulness and positive thinking.

Let’s migrate from backbiting to good advice.

Let’s migrate from committing sins to repenting from our sins. 

Let’s migrate from deception to honesty and keeping our trust.

Let’s migrate from anger and rage to pardoning and forgiveness.

Let’s migrate from impatience to patience. Let’s migrate from the fear of people to the fear of Allah.

Every year we establish new year resolutions for ourselves, such as making the best use of our time, or taking Quran classes or teaching others what we know. However, the devil is our biggest enemy who deceives us and prevents us from being productive and makes us waste our time elsewhere.

But instead of wasting even more time in regrets and blames, let us thank Allah that we are still alive and we still have time, so we should all, right now, at this moment, make the intention to free ourselves from the chains of our desires and strengthen our souls by the remembrance and obedience of Allah.

Try your very best and also seek help through heartfelt duas. InshaAllah, Allah (s.w.t.) will appreciate our migration, and He will assist us in the same way as he assisted the Prophet (saw) and just as He opened the doors of mercy for His Beloved Messenger, similarly the doors of mercy will open for us too, inshaAllah! 

We ask Allah (s.w.t.) to save us from the evil of the devil and the weakness of our souls and allow us to perform the best of deeds. Ameen.

Respecting others…

I was listening to a lecture on Muharram and the scholar was emphasizing on the fact that Muharram reminds us of respecting the honour of our fellow Muslims. Then she narrated a Hadith of our Prophet (s.a.w) which stated that the honour of a Muslim is greater than the honour of the Ka’ba.

This statement really shook me from inside and I  felt really really struck… as if by lightening… my heart seemed to just stop as I thought of kaaba and felt the love that seemed to fill my heart and the awe and reverence that we all have for it and yet we are so so so ignorant of the true worth of a human being… we torment and make life miserable for our most near ones… the weak ones… and we back bite and spread bad opinions for the ones who are too strong for us to speak out in front of them… why are we like this? Because we never realize that Allah is not going to accept any good deeds except that we fulfill the rights of people…

How ignorant we are that we think that rights of family are just that I cook and clean for them? How do I talk to them when they irritate me? How do I talk about them to my friends? Do I save their honour? This is something we never ever give importance to… and it’s the same thing which has soured our relationships. When we are yelling to our kids because of some mistake they might have made we never think that his mistake doesn’t earn him an insult… on no account can we attack the self respect of any individual.

If it sounds impractical then just for a moment we can remind ourselves of any incident where someone insulted us… how did that feel? Could any amount of compensation wipe that out of our memory? Can any amount of happiness erase the wounds of the heart created by unkind words or degrading attitude?

So I just pray to Allah to never let us be off guard… May He always help us to remember that the honour of a momin is greater than the honour of the Kaaba… ameen