I am going to dedicate this page to a great scholar who wrote a most fantastic book. But before you read my reflections, I want to tell you a little about Minhaaj-ul-qasidin:
Minhaaj-ul-Qasidin is a book written by Abdul Rahman Ibnul-Jawzi (may Allah have mercy on him). This is a most amazing book which gives wonderful guidance in all areas of life and teaches us how to develop a strong bond with Allah. If you want to read its English version click on the following link:
The author Imam Ibnul Jawzi was a great scholar of the 6th century (according to the Hijrah calendar) and had great knowledge of Quran and Hadith. For a detailed account of his biography visit the following link:
I had the wonderful opportunity to study this book from online as well as live classes conducted by respected Ustazah Farhat Hashmi during her visit to Pakistan in March this year. It gave me a totally fresh way of looking at things and opened my mind. But the best thing is that this book became like an ever present friend and teacher which I had always wanted! You can visit the following link to listen to the recorded lectures:
Following is my impression which I recorded after the first class….an intro to Ibnul Jawzi:
Monday, March 17, 2008 2:57:49 PM
If someone was to ask me to describe in one line what I learnt from today’s class……….I would say that I learned to value my dreams and to accept the pain of being incapable of achieving them, even while spending each and every breath of mine towards their fulfillment.
Thankyou my dearest teacher for introducing this amazing person who has reawakened my belief in myself…….the amazing flood of gratitude for Allah the Al-Rahman who made me the way I am…..so that I feel like I have found a soul mate…..who thought like me……..had impossible dreams……who wrote those dreams so that so many centuries later people like me could read them and share the excitement, renew the faith in Allah and in the hope of reward……..
I feel like I have just been saved from falling into a deep pit of hopelessness……of inactivity…..of loss of spirituality
I am just soooo HAPPY and yet I cried so much…….all the time I was sitting like hypnotised ……….I was so deeply moved…….I can’t even begin to describe…
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
Desires, Dreams and Ambitions
After today’s lecture I asked my nafs the following questions…..which I think all of us should be asking ourselves:
1- We all wish for goodness……but is this wish so strong within us that we are willing to give it a shape in our mind, by dreaming about it?
2- Are we just satisfied in dreams or are we ambitious about it by giving it a visible shape in the form of a well thought out and written plan?
3- Then are we just happy to write all the details of that plan and allot various time slots to various tasks…..does it complete our desire or are we willing to work hard for its fulfilment too?
4- And then what happens after the first few days……when the initial burst of energy starts dwindling……are we content to give up after a few setbacks or is our commitment true enough to identify the loop-holes and work to improve the plan………and then keep working and keep dreaming the next dream and the next dream and the next……following each with work, more work and still more work……….?
5- Do we really and truly want to follow “Allazina An’amta alaihim”?
If the answer to the above questions is a YES then we have to prove it to ourselves………we don’t need to prove to Allah because He knows us anyway!!!!
The problem is that we don’t want to know our real selves and so we keep pretending to be very sincere in our desires………although the fact is that where we are spending our time and energy……those are our real desires….
So if we are ashamed of admitting those petty things to be our desires then we have to train our nafs and bring it lovingly as well as firmly towards those things which we really want to be associated with.
May Allah make us true to ourselves and help us in becoming what we dream of…..so that He may forgive us for our mistakes and admit us into His Rahmat
Allahumma waffiqna lima tuhibbu wa tardha
This evening was quite tough on me in many ways and I desperately needed someone to talk it out and get some direction…….then I remembered the “remedy” and so applied it……….previously too I used to try and read the Quran but then gave up because the heart would be grieving too much over the problem and would not concentrate on the duas or the Ayaat……but thanks to you for reading out Ibn-ul-Jawzi’s personal experience……today I didn’t worry over my lack of concentration but just kept on and on reading………until reached the Ayat where Allah says:
Wa khalaq-Allahu-ssamawati wal-Ardha bil-Haqqi wa-li-tujzaa kullu nafsin bimaa kasabat wa hum laa yuzlamun
And Allah created the skies and the earth with a purpose so that every person should be compensated according to what he accomplished and they will not be wronged.
How clear the message is that the purpose of life is not to grieve over things which one desires so much and cannot have— due to Allah’s own Taqseem
rather we should invest that urge of completion (which is a part of our nature) towards Akhirat by working to our utmost capacity…….because the purpose of Allah’s creation of this universe is recompense……..we will be given according to what we worked for……..and there will be no zulm….
therefore to avoid self pity and sadness…….one should keep a daily checklist and see how much he has earned out of his day for the akhirat………
focusing too much on the fulfillment of desires of the nafs gives nothing but pain……and eventually the desires can also become the object of worship and the guiding priciples of life…….what a terrible fate that can be……as in the next ayat Allah says:
Afa-Ra’aiyta man-ittakhaza ilahahu hawahu wa adallahu-llahu ‘ala ‘ilmin wa khatama ‘ala sam’ihi wa qalbihi wa ja’ala ‘ala basarihi ghishawatun….fa-man-yahdeehi min ba’dillah? afalaa tatazakkarun?
Have you seen the person who has appointed his desires as his object of worship and so Allah let him be misguided despite his knowledge by putting a seal over his ears and his heart and on his eyes He placed a covering….so who can guide such a person after Allah? Do you not take any lesson?
19 march 2008…………Another practical….
Assalamualaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu
Once again I experienced the sweetness of instant proof of what we are learning through practical implementation…
As it happened I couldn’t get the book and so had to rely on my hearing and imagination to grasp the superb gems of knowledge and inspiration….so I was writing as much as I could
Yesterday I was feeling pity on myself that why was I deprived of the book when it seemed to me that the whole world would have it..!!!
But the “remedy” through Quran had healed me from that as well as the other problems which were annoying me
So this morning I was feeling very happy and grateful that Allah has given me so many things due to which I am able to learn even when you are so far away
The computer, the internet, the diary, my hands, my desire to learn, my isolation (no distraction) are all blessings for which I was doing mental shukr when you read the lines that Gratitude is rewarded by more blessings……I was writing it and feeling so happy in my mind because of heartfelt shukr….when the door bell announced someone had come…..I went and it was my son…..holding the book in his hand…..the same one which I had been trying to get…..Minhajul qasidin…
I was so happy as if I had found the one I had been waiting for….
enjoyed the rest of the lecture……with the coolness of eyes……reading the same words which you were saying and my ears were listening and my heart was responding and coming alive and the soul was like a thirsty land absorbing water!!!
I am SO Grateful
From today’s class I learned the following precious lessons which I will always hold dear to my heart like precious gems:
1- If I really and truly value time then I will not waste even a second in vain useless talk.
2- If I really and truly value the power of speech then I will not remain quiet when it is the right time to speak for the sake of Allah.
3- I will not wait for the most perfect time (or mood!!) to work on my writing project, rather I will consistently write within its allotted time according to my planner. Moreover I will not worry excessively if in the beginning the quality is not up to my desire. Practise makes perfect….
4- I will remember to gain strength and focus from silence….
5- I will try and think well of others……Husn-e-Zann…..so that I might be able to speak well of them too!!
May Allah help us all to act upon all that we learn.
JazakAllah khairan kaseeran to My dearest Ustazah and all those who are the stars of guidance for us.
I love Allah
How can I not love Allah? the day I read in the Quran: Wallazina Aamanu Ashaddu Hubban Lillah…(those who are believers love Allah most intensely); I came to know for the first time in my life that Allah can (and should) be loved!!! To me it was a strange revelation……I can still recall the moments of surprise…….as I sat wide eyed and totally spell bound….listening to the explanation of this Ayat…..that man loves perfection and so he cannot love anyone more than Allah because Allah is the most perfect being…..the ONLY perfect being…….no other person or thing can satisfy human being’s urge to find perfection and perfect reciprocation from his beloved…..
It might be my intense craving for love that made me want to learn to love Allah…..all my life I had thought that the need to love and to be loved was my one and only “worldly desire”…….but I was such an idealist……the few friends I made over the years were lovable in my eyes for their intelligence and for their wit and humour and love for language…….but eventually I found that their knowledge and thinking was not complete……..they refused to have that blind faith in Islam which I had… even while I was ignorant about it and consequently did not practise it……but I knew one thing……that Islam must be the only acceptable way of life and Quran must be the most perfect book…….
So when I discovered this treasure in the 36th year of my life I was at a stage where all my previous loves were incomplete in my eyes and I was totally depressed and dissatisfied with life……because I felt there must be something more to life than just going through the same round of activities day after day after day…..So you can imagine how the rain of Quran drenched my thirsty heart……I thought I had found my beloved…….my perfect ideal……but reaching the Ayat I mentioned above, I realised that I had no idea of who Allah is……I had never even thought of loving Him……so how was I going to enter into His list of Momins? That day I started to ask for His love….I started to think on these lines…….I visualised How His love must feel like…..I was in my quest for a lot of answers that I needed but there was no one to give me those answers……when one day the class in-charge announced that the next cassette of the tafseer was not available due to some reason…..so instead we will listen to another cassette titled “zikr-e-ilahi” by dr. Ghulam Murtaza……..my nafs complained….oh no I don’t want to listen to anyone else and I want to just do the lesson……maybe now someone will start telling us how we should read wazeefas….I had such a limited concept of “zikr”………. how ignorant I was!!!!!. I had no idea at that time that I was about to listen to one of the most valuable, most enjoyable lesson of my life…….Although I loved it from beginning to end and savoured every word of it…….yet the most amazing thing which he said was that Allah’s love is not a dull or dry thing…..you can feel it just like when you enter an air-conditioned room and feel the chill in the air……..no one needs to tell you that the AC is on….you can feel it……..so Allah’s love can also be felt !!!!
I was astounded……..here were answers to all my questions ………the way he explained Taqwa and strength of faith and other things until finally at the end of the talk he said that Allah’s love cannot be attained with any other thing except through the Quran…..and I was so full of joy because I already loved the Quran passionately so It gave me hope that very soon I will be able to love Allah too…….but with time and experience Allah showed me that the various thinking “disabilities” in my heart were preventing me to really and truly appreciate Allah and really love Him…….But Alhamdulillah I never gave up……..after every painful episode I would go back to my Quran and tried to comfort my wounded soul that at least I love His words so maybe He will forgive me………I was so ignorant I failed to see the most obvious thing that It was Allah himself who had put that love of Quran in my heart…..
It was when I started writing my reviews for the Quran after I had completed the course, that I realised this fact……and every time I completed a review, I would be filled with true gratitude and appreciation for Allah for enabling me to write…..
And today sitting in front of my teacher…….attending my first ever live lecture from her….and reading about Allah’s love, from the book ” minhajul Qasidin” by Imam Abdurrahman ibnul Jawzi…….I felt the cool breeze enter my heart…….
even in the scorching heat on my way back home……I felt like Allah was looking at me and telling me that this is why I made you crazy for love…….to love me …..to be a true momin…….so even though the heart is in constant danger of pollution and negative attacks of the shaitan and the nafs…….I am glad that I experienced those few moments in which I could really feel my heart full of love for Allah……Alhamdulillah
Today’s topic was such an important one for me to understand because I have always been afraid of Takabbar…..It is so terrifying to think that it can destroy all my chances of going into Jannat even if it is as little as a mustard seed.
The problem is that it is so difficult to diagnose…….
Allah has put the sense in us to differentiate between good and better and the best……..and has invited us to compete with each other in goodness………fastabiqul khairat………and……Wa Fi Zalika falyatanafasil mutanafisun (so for this let the competitors compete)
Then how is it possible for us to go for the best when we don’t analyse between the varying degrees of faith, commitment and performance in the way of Allah. These things are not hanging in the air like clouds, but are associated with people. Therefore when we appreciate goodness then naturally we will appreciate that person in whom we see that goodness. Similarly when we see someone acting in an unpleasant way then it becomes nearly impossible to dislike only the action and not the person who was exhibiting that action…….And then we judge ourselves as better or worse……like in a race, the runner is conscious of other runners too.
But if want to avoid any arrogance in ourselves then I think we will have to train ourselves to compete against our own self……and when we see the display of good and bad actions we should just see how we can develop this goodness in our own life……and how we can stay away from this evil which we see in others……and not indulge in judgement…….because that is what leads to arrogance.
May Allah save us all from this evil and help us to analyse our hearts in an honest way so that we can strive for purification while we still have time.
After today’s class someone asked the question:
“What is the difference between Ujub (self love or self praise) and self esteem?”This difference is very important to understand because most of us are illusioned by the terms of self confidence and so on…….and in doing so indulge in self love or ujub.
1– As far as I understand, the first sign of self love is:
To be self centered and to constantly think of one’s own goodness to such an extent that even the bad things look good.
On the other hand self esteem is basically self recognition. And it comes with fair evaluation of one’s own self and to be able to judge the good and bad things in us, with an intention to further develop the good and to remove the bad.
2– The difference is further expressed when someone criticizes us.
The one indulging in self love will never want to listen to the truth.
Whereas the one who wants to recognize himself will welcome the other person’s help in coming to a true evaluation.
3– the most important thing is that self love leads to denial of the favours of Allah.
Whereas self recognition leads to appreciation and recognition of Allah’s Ehsaan on us. Thus the more one develops in self awareness, the more is one able to discover one’s talents to be used to serve Allah…..as well the faults too which need to be removed….it is like a diagnosis…..in a doctors clinic…..as opposed self love which resembles the pampering of ego in a beauty parlour!!
Today I attended the lecture on the chapter of Purity for the sake of Allah and the main point was that while doing something our only intention should be to seek the pleasure of Allah. No other expectation or intention should me mixed up with it otherwise the deed will not be pure. Even sometimes there is a happiness of the ego when we do an act of worship. The question arises that is it wrong? The following is the analysis I wrote to my teacher after this class:
I am still thinking on your words and the matter of happiness of the heart… is it shirk? Is it contamination in purity to feel good in worship?
So far I just got these points…
In Surah Al-Baqarah Allah says: wa man tatawwa’a khairan… Fa huwa khairun lahu:
Whoever happily does some good deed then it is better for him…
Then the words Fal-yafrahu… which mean that they should be happy…
So I feel like it is a must that while doing a good thing for Allah our heart must recognize its goodness and feel good. But we have to be careful that our motivating factor should be just to make Allah happy, and give it more importance than our own happiness.
Like the example someone once gave me:
You make a window in your room with the intention that you will hear the azaan more clearly. So you will get the sawab for this. While the sunshine and air which comes through the window is a bonus… which you will get anyway. So should we not enjoy the sun and the views? certainly it is good but the limit is there… One should not forget Allah in Pleasure… rather do even more and more shukr and do Taubah constantly for any impurity that we might not be even aware of.
After thinking about it I reached the following conclusion:
There are two types of “happiness”
The happiness of the heart and the happiness of ego.
Some people feel good in worship because the act is so good and it connects him to Allah… this is in appreciation of the act. But at the end he will be filled with more yearning to make himself better.
On the contrary some people are feeling good because they think they are doing some great thing and this happiness is due to self-praise.
the difference between the two attitudes is that that the first person will never be satisfied with his efforts and will always be searching for greater heights of Ikhlaas and Taqwa.
the second person is feeling good with himself so he will never doubt whether he needs further improvement or not.
the first one does not believe people’s opinion when they praise him because he knows he is not perfect as he seems to be and is even more afraid of Allah for not being as good as he appears to be.
the second one is happy to receive the praise and if anyone dares to criticize him then he gets touchy and resentful because his self image gets hurt.
Therefore khushi (happiness) is not haram as long as it is not khush fehmi (illusions about oneself)
CRY ON YOUR OWN SINS
I was feeling very sad that my children were being taken to a musical concert. I spent two days in trying to explain to everyone that it is haram and the work of shaitan and so we should save ourselves but no one was being convinced. After they went away I was feeling like totally abandoned and defeated so when I stood up to read the Isha Prayer I started crying, but the strange thing was that my tears were not cool and this thought came to me even while I was in the depth of my misery for my sweet, innocent children being exposed to such a haram act. And I was asking Allah desperately to save them and also anger for why aren’t people worshipping Allah and why are they involved in such acts. As the sobs became louder the tears became hotter and faintly I recalled the article I had once written on my observation that the tears that you cry only in front of Allah are always cool.
Anyway after the Namaz as I was still crying, I thought that maybe there is something wrong in this… some riya? (Showing off) But then I thought no it could not be so because no one is watching. Then what? Maybe this is shaitan’s trick to make me so exhausted that I will not be able to work on Quran Tafseer as I had planned. And then as soon as I held up the torch into my heart I was stunned by the voice of my zameer… (Conscience)… the nafs-e-lawwama… which said to me in a very mocking tone… “On other people’s sins you are feeling so much anger and resentment which you think is for the sake of Allah. But have you ever cried like this on your own sins?” And I sat there like a stone… simply shocked!! How deep is this deception… apparently I had thought that my anger was for the sake of Allah but during this crying I had felt someone telling me how pious you are that the rest of the people will be enjoying breaking the limits of Allah and you hate sins so much that you are crying your heart out… the same thing had happened in three-four years ago and that day too I had been proud of getting up from such a gathering and boldly told my husband to take me back home… I had thought I was so good. And until today maybe in one way or the other I am always trying to be so good and when I accomplish a target I think I am so good while the rest of the world is just wasting away their lives. This is the ego-satisfaction, the self praise which spoils all good deeds… and this is what makes me feel so restless because I had felt deep in my heart that there is something seriously wrong with me but till this episode I couldn’t identify it properly.
Now that I have recognized it then I prayed extra nafals and apologized to Allah for all the mistakes and asked him to wash me to make me pure and to accept my taubah which I felt was khalis for the first time.
I am feeling so relieved now as if I have dropped a burden which I had been carrying on my back for as long as I can remember and that was the burden of other people’s sins. Now I realize that the only thing worth sobbing about and worth crying is my own mistakes. While it is certainly my responsibility to warn others of the akhirah but my primary focus should be my own self. Shedding off this burden has made me feel an immense change immediately. Now I am ready to forgive and to forget because now I want forgiveness for myself more than anything else. Who am I not to forgive anyway? Who am I except a slave…? I just hope I can remember this lesson.
My niyyat of writing to you this long tale is that somehow it connects to our topic of ikhlas and maybe you can explain to others too that even if we are at the height of naiki and taqwa we should keep asking Allah to tell us the right thing because just as the poor people who fall into sins without knowing; Similarly we people, who have “announced” to be Allah’s faithful servants, are human beings and sometimes we also don’t see clearly. But Alhamdulillah Allah has done intizaam for everything and placed a guard inside our hearts which will keep telling us when we cross the limits… but only if we allow it to talk and keep it alive by believing in its wisdom even if its verdict goes against us.
It is perfectly alright to be declared as wrong in this world rather than finding it out in the next world.
Jannat and Jahannam (the final chapter of Minhaj-ul-Qasidin)
In the winters of 2005, I was doing the last paras of Taleem-ul-Quran at home and in the evenings I used to write notes or did the revision. My washing-maid also came in the evenings and sometimes would get very late. So one day it was almost maghrib time and I was standing on the terrace and she was hanging the washed clothes on the line. I just remarked to her how cold and windy it was and she said to me in a very hesitant tone… “Baji can I ask you something?” I said why not, tell me what is it? She looked at the far corner of the terrace where stood in the corner tall rolls of canvas curtains with canes sewn on one side (we call it chik… I don’t know the English word for this) anyway it is used in summers to hang outside windows or verandah to ward off the intolerable heat of the sun. She told me that she has a small two room house with one tiny verandah which she used as a kitchen. She said that it is so cold to cook chapattis at night or even early morning because it is open. “If you could please give me these chiks then I can cover it up and will be saved from the cold” I hesitated to answer her right away thinking that they were absolutely new and specially bought for these tall windows but then I thought that if I can save her from cold then Allah will save me from heat in the summers. So I said ok you can have these and her eyes shone with delight…
When the heat wave started a few months later we suddenly got the chance for a 2 month vacation to the northern city of skardu. And when I landed on the airport and felt the first cool breeze on my face I remembered that incident and was so excited to realize that Allah had listened to my dua. I had the best time of life in Skardu… wonderfully cool weather and beautiful views of gigantic mountains surrounding the city on all sides. Luxurious fruit trees of apricots, apples and almonds… it was almost a paradise on earth.
But now almost three years later, when I read the chapter on Jannat and Jahannum in the end of Minhaj-ul-Qasidin, I realized that even if we are trying to please Allah through our actions we want the results in this world. We do good deeds for barakah, for pleasure and blessings of Allah. Which is fine but our real goal should be the Akhirah. For example if my vision had been right, I would have given her the canvas sheets, with the dua that Allah might save me from the fire of Hell. If my eyes are focused on Jannah then I should make life easy for people with the hope that Allah might make the day of Judgement easy on me. If I make others happy and comfortable, I should pray that Allah might make my grave comfortable and give me happiness with the company of Quran, and light up its darkness with the light of my good deeds… that should be my main concern and not the duniya. If I am a fearful person then my fears should be of the punishment of grave and hellfire. And if I am ambitious then my ambition should be for the Paradise. I think that if we are able to guide our focus in this direction then we will get the true taste of faith… inshaAllah