The Secret of Happiness…

After Ramadan we usually face a lack of energy… or lack of enthusiasm for good deeds. How can we avoid being a victim of this depressive/inactive state?

The first thing is to understand that human beings cannot always remain in the same mood… our hearts keep moving up and down… we are affected by every little thing… the weather… the people… light and darkness… the things we eat… the things we say… the things we see… the things we listen to… all affect us in one way or the other…

But we can take steps to maintain the consistency of our performance… despite the change in outer circumstances. Because that is the purpose of our life… to remain constant in the obedience and worship of Allah.

And this consistency in worship is the only thing that can keep us satisfied and peaceful and content. Because this is the food for our soul… and a starving soul cannot be happy. That is the reason why we felt such a tranquility in Ramadan… because even though our bodies were not being given their regular dose of food and water… yet our souls were enjoying their spiritual tonic of prayer and Quran and zikr and duas… and this is what made us happy.

But as soon as the eid arrives we forget that happiness cannot come from just food and good company… that has just a temporary effect… our real happiness is in spending quality time with Allah’s Book… and other forms of worship. We have to remain constant… like Allah says in Surah Al-Jinn…

And [ Allah revealed] that if they had remained straight on the way, We would have given them abundant provision

So in order to save ourselves from getting lost in this fast moving world… let us create some reminders… or some daily promises or checklists… which can keep us motivated and active… it can be something like this…

  • Have the intention to wake up for half an hour before fajr and make a good start of your day… pray and seek forgiveness a lot…

  • Try to spend the time after fajr in Allah’s zikr and Quran… the morning duas and the duas of protection should never be missed.

  • Praying two or four rakahs of duha prayer gives a high dose of tawakkul because it is a means of putting all your affairs in Allah’s hands… making your heart free from all kinds of tension and anxiety.

  • Give sadaqah daily… keep a sadaqa box and keep filling it…

  • Smiling is also a charity… so be extremely generous in spreading this charity wherever you work… whether its your kitchen or your office… smile and forgive and accept that we are not perfect. So help others instead of being critical and sarcastic… the love and respect you will gain by your kindness will act as fuel for all that you need to do in life.

  • Make family time a priority… keep your phones away and just focus on these precious people whom Allah blessed you with… imagine how precious they are and thank Allah for having them in your home and in your life…

  • The prayer times should never be compromised… remember that salah is the best time of your life… and the most precious experience of meeting Allah even though you cannot see Him.

  • Daily seek knowledge of Quran… focus on understanding it word for word… this should be a daily dose of energy and healing for your heart.

  • Be very very protective of your sleep routine… go to bed right after Isha so that you can wake up fresh and bright for the next morning’s worship.

  • Every moment is a jewel… don’t throw it away on things that don’t matter… like discussing other people… like useless videos… and other such activities which we have labelled as entertainment… they are just killers of our time and consequently our mood… because the soul hates it and makes us feel like losers. And how can a loser even think about anything productive?

  • Make duas to Allah for consistency… and never look down on people who seem to be far behind you in knowledge or faith… because this is surely going to make you fall down… remember Allah loves us to be genuinely humble and grateful to Him for all that we can accomplish… and this is the biggest secret of remaining steadfast… to keep on holding on to Allah’s support… and by avoiding His anger at all times…

Like Allah has revealed this in surah Al-Baqarah  Ayat- 256

There shall be no compulsion in [acceptance of] the religion. The right course has become clear from the wrong. So whoever renounces evil and believes in Allah has grasped the most trustworthy handhold with no break in it. And Allah is Hearing and Knowing.

A piece of paper…

One of the earliest lessons that I learnt about the reality of life was from a small piece of paper… torn off from some Urdu newspaper… and on it was written a small article… very logical and appealing to my young mind… (I guess I was a teenager back then or maybe in my early 20’s)

The theme of that article was “the reality of life”…  that this life which we are living right now is like an examination hall… and we have all been given a set of circumstances as our “exam”… our reactions are the answers that we write on the sheets of time… 

Now the rule of this exam is that for every correct answer we will get points multiplied by 10 or 70 or 700 or even more… depending on the quality of our answers… and if we write a wrong answer we get one negative point… so our chances of winning are far greater than we think… but why do most of us fail this exam despite this generous marking system? Its because we waste our time in complaining about the questions (the circumstances) and we don’t realize that even if the questions get changed, still we wont be given any points for the change in circumstances… the only thing that matters is that we write the correct answers. 

The other loss is that we waste our time in commenting and complaining  about other people sitting in the exam… no matter how bad they seem to us… no matter how much we prove that we are better than them… this is not going to be our criteria for success… rather it will only distract us from our own paper in front of us…

So imagine if our whole life revolves around useless activities… useless talk… and complaints and comments… when are we going to fill our answer sheet? And when the time is up… the exam is over… even if we realize the truth at that moment, it will be of no use because we are not going to be given even a moment more than what has already been written for us… just like any other exam, when the time is over the pens have to be put down… what’s done has been done… and that’s it…

So let’s wake up and start writing the answers before it’s too late…

And how fortunate we are that this life is an open book exam where we can open and see our text of instructions as many times as we want… So make the understanding of Quran your number one goal for this year… beautify your salah with its recitation… purify your heart with its reminders… make it the nucleus of your life to which you turn again and again… for comfort… for guidance… for contemplation… for peace of mind… for healing of all diseases… for the ultimate fulfillment of your heart… for abundance of every goodness that you want…

Having Taqwa on Eid…

Alhamdulillah the days of Eid are a time of joy and celebration… but we must not forget what this celebration is all about. It is to give thanks to Allah for increasing our relationship with Quran during Ramadan… and for giving us the tawfeeq to worship Him much more than our normal routine.

So how will we express our thanks?

  • 1- by not boasting about our good deeds

  • 2- by giving all credit to Allah and praising Him

  • 3- by continuing those deeds with even more discipline and consciousness

  • 4- by setting targets which we should complete before next Ramadan and then breaking them into monthly and weekly goals.

  • 5- also do some self-assessment and see what were the areas where you lacked… and then try to make up for it in the coming months.

  • 6- think of how you could have done better… and then write these reminders… so that you can avoid making the same mistakes next year in-shaa-Allah

  • 7- Make a note of all the good things you were doing in Ramadan and use this as a checklist to remind yourself to hold on to them forever.

Why do all of this? Because the purpose of fasting was to make us alert and conscious… and the purpose of Ramadan was to establish Allah’s Absolute Greatness in our hearts and in our lives…

May Allah’s pleasure and obedience be our top priority… so that we can truly enjoy the sweet taste of gratitude… May we have a truly blessed Eid… Ameen

“Fazkuruni”… So Remember Me…

Saying farewell to Ramadan is a time of mixed emotions…

On one hand is the happiness of all that we were able to do with Allah’s tawfeeq and on the other hand is the sadness for so much more that we wanted to do but were not able to…

On one hand is our eagerness to ask Allah for acceptance of all that we did… and on the other hand is this apprehension that now that we are coming out of this fortress of Ramadan… and we will face the world with all its distractions and the deceptions of our enemy, the shaitan… So the biggest question on our minds is: “How are we going to protect ourselves from going back to our same old routine?”

The Quran has a beautiful answer to this problem…

So remember Me, and I will remember you. And thank Me, and do not be ungrateful. (2:152)

We must realize that we cannot remain on our present level of imaan and taqwa which we have acquired in Ramadan, unless we have a direct help from Allah. And so if we want Him to help us retain our good habits then we must focus on His remembrance as much as we can… because the more we remember Him, the more He will remember us… which means that He will look at us with His loving attention… He will protect us from all harmful things… He will give us the strength to carry on the good deeds of Ramadan, throughout the year…

And the other thing which we need is to be grateful to Him and not be ungrateful…

Being grateful for what? For the blessing of faith… for the tawfeeq which he blessed us so much in Ramadan… for all the other blessings of life which are countless… and most especially for the blessing of Quran which we can always open as a guide when we are confused… as a friend when we are lonely… as a comfort when we are hurt… as a soothing relief from all the hassles of life…

And just being grateful is not enough unless we protect ourselves from ingratitude…

Because you see a lot of people being grateful for all they have but the moment they get a little trouble they start complaining and blaming… so this act of ungratefulness is like a poison which kills all the good feelings in the heart… and all the peace and happiness of our whole environment…

The other form of ungrateful attitude is when we ignore the blessings of Allah… we don’t give them the same importance as we used to give in Ramadan… blessings like the Quran… the long prayers of tahajjud… the act of fasting… the time spent in zikr and the long heartfelt duas… the crying in istighfar… these seemed to be our own acts of devotion to Allah but in reality they were the gifts which He showered on us… especially for Ramadan… and if we act ungratefully by ignoring these blessings, then this tawfeeq can be taken back… leaving us as empty hearted and empty handed as we were before this month…

But then the question arises that how can we find the strength to carry on our good deeds when we don’t have the shield of Ramadan to protect us against shaitan and the attractions of this world?

The answer comes in the next ayah:

O you who believe! Seek help through patience and prayers. Allah is with the steadfast. (2:153)

So we must hold on to our prayers as someone holds on to a support to prevent himself from drowning… we are also in the sea of this world and our prayers are only support… so give them the top priority… recite Quran slowly and thoughtfully… make duas… and admit your helplessness before the Almighty Rabb… Allah is surely with those who try their utmost to remain steadfast…

May we all remain on the straight path till the end… Ameen

Nothing hurts more than disapproval

If we fear something, we run away from it… because we are afraid that it will hurt us. But when we fear Allah we run towards Him… because this fear of Allah comes only after we recognize Him… and this recognition makes us aware of His extreme compassion… and so we know absolutely without any doubt that it is ONLY ALLAH who can save us from His punishment and His anger… and so we run towards Him with eagerness and hope of salvation.

Some people only talk of loving Allah and they think it doesn’t make sense to fear someone who is so loving and kind… But the thing is that our attitude and our obedience towards Allah cannot be complete without a balance of these two ingredients…

  • 1- Fear of His anger

  • 2- Hope of His mercy

Fear of His anger will keep us alert against His disobedience… and Hope in His mercy keeps us eager to please Him.

Otherwise we see that even in human relationships if we only love someone without having any fear of their displeasure then we cannot be obedient to them because we take them lightly… and we do only what we feel like doing… because there is no fear of any consequence.

That is why Allah has repeatedly given us this command in the Quran… to recognize His Worth… and His Power and His Might… and to Fear Him…

Therefore if we want to feel the sweetness of true faith then we must focus on acquiring this quality… Because it will keep us glued to His worship… and our hearts will find the true fulfillment in doing everything to please Him.

The greatest benefit of fearing Allah is that it will release us from all other fears that keep us imprisoned… it will give us the courage to do the right thing even if we have to face disapproval from others… it will also give us freedom from the chains of our own desires and moods…

Because what happens is that most of the time we are not able to do the things which we know are important for us… because we don’t have the motivation or the right mood to do it…

But if we have Allah’s pleasure as our goal… then the fear of His disapproval will act as the driving force, which will make us do all the right things at the right time…

Otherwise you see so many people right now in these last remaining days of Ramadan, complaining and sharing their feelings of regret that they didn’t do what they had thought of doing… why couldn’t they make use of Ramadan the way they should have? Because when we don’t fear Allah then there is no other force that can make us work tirelessly and consistently…

There is no doubt that love of doing good deeds is a motivation… seeking paradise is also a strong motivation… but these are only good enough when we are in a good mood… when we are in high spirits… and so when there is some disturbance we tend to give up our efforts… we become hopeless… and so we lose precious opportunities…

The remedy for this is to develop Allah’s fear… because all other feelings become secondary in comparison…

And if you find it hard to understand… just bring to your mind the image of a person whom you fear the most… whose opinion matters the most to you… whose loving approval you yearn for… whose displeasure makes you crazy with fear… whose relationship with you is the most precious thing of your life… so how do you work for such a person? How do you treat them? What is your level of sacrifice for them? If you notice, your way of sitting and standing, walking and talking, everything changes when you are in their presence… you become highly conscious of every little detail… because even want a little dot of disapproval makes your heart full of pain…

But Allah doesn’t want us to be slaves to any other being except Him… so he says: “do not fear them, but fear me… so that I will complete my favour on you… and so that you may be rightly guided” (2:150)

So we should check our level of fear… when we are standing before Allah in prayers… or reciting His book… or dealing with His creation… are we as alert and conscious? Are we so afraid of His disapproval? Or do we take Him lightly?

The more we take something lightly… the more it slips out of our hands…

And the more we hold tightly… the more it stays with us…

The choice is ours…

The center of life…

First of all I want to clarify one thing. Yesterday I talked about writing letters of loving advice, for our children. Many people responded that it was a great idea… it was then I realized that I had forgot to mention where I had got this idea from.

The credit goes to Ustadh Khurram Murad… who was a great writer. The letters which he wrote to his children were published in the form a book titled “Akhri Wasiyyat” and I had the pleasure of reading it many years ago. When I was reading the Quran and reached the event where Prophet Ibrahim (a.s.) and then Prophet Yaqoob (a.s.) were advising their sons, I was reminded of this book and so I shared this idea.

And now it reminds me that probably in the year 2015, I even started to translate that book but couldn’t get past the preface…

And it is not the only thing in my life which I started with great enthusiasm but left it incomplete… there are so many other things too… and time is so short… how am I going to go back and collect all those half-finished projects?

Today when I started my tadabbur from the second juz of Quran, I found the answer to this question on the second page… Allah says:

For everyone is a direction towards which he turns. Therefore, race towards the good deeds. Wherever you may be, Allah will bring you all together. Allah has power over all things. (2:148)

What this means is that we all have a center of life… towards which we keep turning back… or a nucleus… around which we constantly revolve… this is what occupies our thoughts… our speech… and our time…

So, ask yourself: “what is your center of existence?” What is the thing which you pick up after every little while? What do you find comfort in? what is the activity which gives you a sense of fulfillment…

And then ask yourself… is it really worth your precious time on this earth? Will it benefit you at the end of the day? Will it really count in your favour?

And then see what Allah advises us to do… to make good deeds our center of attention… because if this becomes our nucleus; then imagine how productive our lives would be… we would be constantly running from one good deed to another… and surely this will give us the true fulfillment that we need…

Because the truth is that, in the deepest corners of our hearts, Allah has already programmed in us the need for real success… thus even if we act blind to this need and we keep trying to please ourselves by other things, we don’t get the happiness we are looking for… every other so called “pleasure” leaves us restless and dissatisfied… and so we dive deeper in these things in trying to find that illusive happiness… getting further and further away from the things which could have given us true satisfaction and true success.

So what we need to do is to reassess our direction in life… and to choose the most beneficial activities as our “center of life”…

Let’s make Allah’s pleasure our goal… and strive to win in this race towards goodness… let’s become the forerunners instead of always staying behind…

May Allah help us to get rid of all the useless activities which distract us and make us forgetful… so that we can reach our goals and complete our projects… that benefit us in this life and also in the hereafter… Ameen

letters of never ending love…

Most people don’t want to talk about death… do we think that by not mentioning it, we will be saved from it? The fact is, that whatever events we plan about or talk about, might happen or they might not… there is no guarantee for anything except death… this is the one thing which we all have to encounter… it will come whether we accept it or not… So why not prepare for it? I think family members should openly discuss within themselves how they want things to proceed after they die… and these instructions should not just be about what to do with our material things… rather we should also advice our children about their religion so that they continue to follow the true path that will lead them to success… just like we find in surah Al Baqarah how Prophet Ibrahim (a.s.) and later on Prophet Yaqub (a.s.) were advising their sons…

And Abraham exhorted his sons, and Jacob, “O my sons, Allah has chosen this religion for you, so do not die unless you have submitted.”

 Or were you witnesses when death approached Jacob, and 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, Ishmael, and Isaac; One God; and to Him we submit.” (2:132 and 133)

So today I hope to focus on just this one point… Ask this question: what do I want my children to do after I am no longer here to advise them?

And then write letters to each one of them separately… and pour your heart out… seal them and let them know that these are to be opened after you leave…

Maybe all our life we keep telling them things to do which they are not able to follow… maybe the environment has too much effect on them and our words seem to have no use… but surely when they read our letters after we are gone, it will break open the locks of their hearts… and they might become a never ending source of reward for us… as well as become role models for their own children too… inshaAllah…