Humbleness… how to attain it?

The most important ingredient of our relationship with Allah is humility… It is the utmost realization that we are nothing without Him… and this intense feeling of dependence on Him is something that will glue our hearts to Him like nothing else. And then worship will truly become an act of love and gratitude…

As Someone said: Humbleness in prayer is that when you raise your head from your prostration, your heart is still in sajdah… !!

So what are the signs of true humbleness? The first and foremost thing is that you will think of Allah’s favours as countless and your own good deeds will appear very small in comparison… and so your biggest concern will be to ask Allah to accept your efforts… and if He accepts it then you will think of it as a favour from Him… not something that you earned…

On the contrary the sign of arrogance is that people assume their righteous acts to be so great that they have no doubt of their acceptance… and when they are so sure of their piety then they won’t be so concerned to ask Allah for acceptance…

Secondly this humbleness will be reflected in the way we deal with people… the way we talk to them… the way we think about them… the way we express our opinions about them…

There can be no harshness… nothing judgmental about our attitude if we are truly humble…

So how do we attain this rare and precious attribute?

  • 1- By praying this dua of Prophet Ibrahim(a.s.) as he was building the Ka’abah…

“Our Lord, accept it from us, You are the Hearer, the Knower… and accept our repentance. You are the Acceptor of Repentance, the Merciful.” (2:127-128)

  • 2- By recognizing our flaws and shortcomings and admit them to Allah…

  • 3- By seeking Allah’s forgiveness for every mistake that we do… or we remember from the past…

  • 4- By counting the favours of Allah… and giving thanks for the tiniest little thing… as small as the ability to blink your eyes… because imagine how painful will be our life if the eyes become dry like parched earth, without this constant lubrication that we don’t even think about… and if you develop a habit of looking for these miraculous blessings, both in and around you… you will hardly find time to complain…

  • 5- By looking at people through the lense of compassion and appreciation… look at how good they are… focus on their positive habits and praise Allah for giving them the talents that they have… They are the creation of Allah so when you praise His creation then it will be an act of worship… and it will increase you in softness and generosity…

  • 6- When you see unpleasant things in people’s behavior then pray for their forgiveness and ask Allah to guide them… and give thanks to Allah that He saved you from being like them. Recognize that if you have been saved from the bad qualities which you see in society… then it is nothing that you earned for yourself, rather it is a favour from Allah.

  • 7- Never encourage your children to talk badly about others… teach them to be humble and grateful… because if you teach them well, then they will be your best reminders… and as soon as you slip, they will catch you!!

  • 8- Read about and talk about the high achievers… those who earned the praise of Allah… the Quran is full of such examples… also read about the Muslim Heroes of the past and present… Think about the great sacrifices they made and the great levels they achieved… so that you can come out of any illusions that you might have of your own greatness!!

  • 9- Focus on the verses of Quran which reflect the lesson of humbleness… One of my most favourite is in Surah Al-Araaf…

As for those who believe and do righteous works—We never burden any soul beyond its capacity—these are the inhabitants of the Garden; abiding therein eternally. (7:42)

We will remove whatever rancor is in their hearts. Rivers will flow beneath them. And they will say, “Praise be to Allah, who has guided us to this. Had Allah not guided us, we would never be guided…” (7:43)

Its as simple as Two plus Two!!

Quite a number of the People of the Book wish they could Turn you (people) back to infidelity after ye have believed, out of their inner selfish envy, after the Truth has become Manifest to them: But forgive and overlook, Till Allah accomplish His purpose; for Allah Has power over all things. (Al Baqarah…109)

When I read the above ayah I felt that it is giving us a solution to one of our topmost problems… dealing with negative minded people!!

You must have experienced that it is so much easier to make goals than to act on them. And when you analyze the reason for it, you will see that most of the time the barriers which hold us back, are not physical but emotional. Because we keep getting disturbed by other people’s behavior… and sometimes it puts such a burden on our hearts, that we do not feel the motivation or enthusiasm, which we need to work towards our goals, with consistency and discipline. But how are we supposed to deal with these things?

For example sometimes people can be in very tough situations where they are surrounded by animosity and jealousy from others. Now imagine that if you are immersed in such an environment where people cannot bear to see you happy, where they are bent upon letting you down whenever they get a chance, where they are constantly thinking and planning to harm you… then it can be extremely painful to endure… and you might start thinking to retaliate and reciprocate their evil attitude… but no!! you cannot stoop to their level, because you have to maintain your good character. So what are we supposed to do? If you see in the above ayah… Allah has given us two key words to deal with all negative minded people…

  • forgive

  • forget

So don’t keep blaming them… just forgive and put your affairs in Allah’s hands… Let Him take care of them…

And secondly, instead of  focusing on every hurtful word they say… just forget it… because there are far better things that should be occupying your thoughts… and what are these?

And be steadfast in prayer and regular in charity: And whatever good you send forth for your souls before you, you shall find it with Allah: for Allah sees Well all that you do. (2:110)

So another pair of key words for us to inscribe on our hearts!!

  • Salah

  • Zakah

Seek closeness and protection of Allah, by praying with deep love and concentration… and experience the deeply satisfying pleasure, of helping the needy, through giving zakah. 

And what should be the driving force behind everything that you do? Again, two things to remember from the above ayah:

  • Whatever good you do is for your own benefit… (no favour on anyone!)

  • Whatever good you do, you will find it with Allah… (so no need to find approval from people.)

What usually happens, is that when people see that you are busy seeking Allah’s pleasure by doing many good deeds, then they will start taunting you, that you cannot go to Jannah because you don’t belong to this group or that… its absurd the way people come up with their self-invented theories on who can go to Jannah and who will be deprived…

And they say, ‘No one shall enter paradise except one who is a Jew or a Christian.’ Those are their [false] hopes! Say, ‘Produce your evidence, should you be truthful.’(2:111)

The answer to this crazy attitude is in this ayah:

Yes! whoever submits himself entirely to Allah and he is the doer of good (to others) he has his reward from his Lord, and there is no fear for him nor shall he grieve. (2:112)

So remember two things:

  • Submission to Allah

  • Unconditional goodness towards His creation

What will be the reward? Freedom from two things:

  • Fear

  • Sadness

So it all boils down to one thing… having a positive outlook in life!! And it cannot happen until we learn to ignore the negative things. Acquiring a positive attitude cannot happen like magic… rather we have to develop in into our characters… through pondering on the words of Quran and acting on its timeless advice… today and always… inshaAllah!!

let’s get educated…!!

Nobody wants to be known as an illiterate person. And we are so proud of our educational endeavors… But are we really educated? Allah gives us the ultimate definition in the words of Quran…

“And among them are uneducated who know the Scripture only through hearsay, and they only speculate.” (2:78)

So the first action point for today is…

  • Invest your time and efforts in getting some real education… Daily reserve some portion of your time in learning the Quran, word to word, cover to cover… our education will be complete only when we understand what guidance Allah has revealed for us to live a most productive and success oriented life.

  • The second thing is our behaviour towards our parents… Allah says: “And to your parents do Ehsaan…” (2:83)

Nobody can say that they have not heard of this command, but very few act on it… because often we misunderstand their softness towards us as their weakness… and so we dump our frustrations on them… or we think we can frankly display our emotional tantrums in front of them because of course they don’t stop loving us and so we boldly say whatever we feel like… But we forget that Allah has no weakness whatsoever… and He is going to give us the consequences of this serious crime… yes, indeed… it is no less than a crime to be unkind and discourteous to our parents who have devoted their whole lives for us…

The most scary thing is that the effects of our behavior towards them, become apparent in our own lives… and the way our own children behave towards us.

So if you want success for yourself and your children, then be very very careful of how you treat your parents…

Remember that Allah expects for them nothing less than ehsaan… which means absolute respect, kindness, care, affection and honour…

  • The third tip of the day is from the same ayah… Allah wants us to be very careful about the way we talk to people…

“…and talk to people in the most beautiful way…” (2:83)

Now this seems to be a very simple thing to do, but in reality it is quite a tough battle to fight your ego, when you are talking to those who seem “less” than you… or to maintain a tone of respect to those who have acted foolishly… or to talk kindly to those who have hurt you… or to be pleasant to those who always respond in an unpleasant way…

In all these situations we have to remind ourselves again and again that we have to obey Allah, no matter what the situation might be… so we will maintain a pleasant tone and choice of words… not just in their presence but also behind their back… talk good “to” people and talk good “about” people!!

So I guess this should be sufficient homework for today… just three things: focus on your education and then reflect your “educated-ness” in your beautiful manners with your parents… and in your pleasant way of talking to everyone.

May Allah help us all to come out of our ignorance and embrace true knowledge of Quran… Ameen

From Gratitude to Rocks!

Yesterday after I posted some action points from the Quran, I was thinking, that even to act on these few things would take a lot of time and effort… and these are just from the first few pages… How are we going to act on the whole Quran?

So it made me realize that understanding and following the Quran is like building and nourishing a lifelong relationship… and it will never end as long as we are alive.

Our success in this relationship depends on how much importance we give it… how much concerned we are to win this test of life… how much love and companionship we develop with Allah’s words… how much are we willing to sacrifice for it?

Because it cannot happen that we continue to give priority to other less important things, and then expect Quran to be our most beloved friend… just like any other “extra special” beloved… this one also demands your entire attention and love and sacrifice… and the pleasure you derive from this special relationship, is worth everything which you put aside for its sake… really!

So let’s get some more tips from the Quran on how to make our journey of life more productive and more fruitful inshaAllah…

  • 1- Say goodbye to all forms of sadness, anxiety, depression and hopelessness… because they eat up your energy, and your spirit and enthusiasm… Allah says:

“And when guidance comes to you from Me, whoever follows My guidance – there will be no fear concerning them, nor will they grieve.” (2:38)

And then of course the opposite will also be true that if you ignore Allah’s guidance, then you can never be happy no matter how many treasures you might have.

  • 2- Let us all make a collective habit to talk about and keep remembering the favours of Allah… so that we can truly realize how blessed we are…  because in reality our attitude has become quite distorted, in which we forget the favours… and we keep pointing out the difficulties and problems of life… thus it is not the problems itself rather it is the repeated mentioning of problems that adds the burden of sadness and anxiety on our hearts… On the contrary we find that the happiest people are those who are grateful and appreciative.

  • “Remember My favor which I have bestowed upon you…” (2:40)

  • So the moment a negative thought comes to attack you, fight back with positive words!! and soon your heart will learn to think positive too…

  • 3- Everyone has a person in their lives to whom they turn in any problematic situation. But there are others who feel alone and lost because they don’t have anyone helpful or sympathetic… Allah is giving us a far better and reliable alternative…

“And seek help through patience and prayer, and indeed, it is difficult except for the humbly submissive [to Allah]” (2:45)

  • 4- Do not blindly follow your desires… because even though we are free to choose but choices are not free… you can lose your respect, your self-esteem your health, and even your life if you go after temptations… like the nation of Bani Israel, who said they were “bored” with the heavenly food they were receiving from Allah as a gift… and wanted other spicy things… So their prophet Musa (a.s.) said to them:

“Would you exchange what is better for what is less?” (2:66)

Therefore, let your intellect be the decision maker… not temptations!

  • 5- When you are trying to bring your family towards following Allah’s commands… or maybe you are a teacher working with your students… there can be times when you want to give up because nobody seems to understand… they are just sitting there like stones and you don’t get any response at all… but don’t lose heart because Allah has revealed the most awesome lesson for us to keep our hopes intact!! He says that even if people have hearts like rocks, still there is hope because even rocks can split open one day and rivers will gush forth…

“For indeed, there are stones from which rivers burst forth, and there are some of them that split open and water comes out, and there are some of them that fall down for fear of Allah. And Allah is not unaware of what you do.” (2:74)

And I love the end part so much… Allah is not unaware of what you do… I think that if we can instill this one statement in our hearts… then we can never ever be hopeless… because isn’t it enough that He is aware of my tiniest little efforts… and His approval is all that we need really… so never lose heart… keep going and leave the results to Allah. He knows which seed will sprout in which season… which tree will grow fast and which one will take years… which rock will split instantly and which one will take more time… so keep working and keep praying… because Allah is not unaware of what you do!!!

Walk the Talk…

When we say that Quran has been revealed for our guidance… then obviously it means that it contains the secrets of success… as well as the solutions to all our problems… and the answers to all our doubts and questions. But we can achieve these benefits only when we do these two things:

Understand what it is saying

And then doing what it says

So when I was listening to the Dawra-e-Quran lessons this Ramadan, I thought I will just write down a few action points from every juz so that I can really have a checklist to do at least some of the things which Allah made me understand… because it is a sad reality that for most of us, religion is either a thing to “celebrate” certain days and nights… or it has been reduced to a topic of debate and discussion… while those noble characters who were the first recipients of this great book were most concerned to translate it into their lives by acting on its guidance… and that is why they succeeded in all spheres of life… while we are just running around in circles…

So why not we do the same… not just talk but walk the talk too!!

Here we go… First Juz…

  • Open the locks of your heart by learning the meanings of the beautiful ayaat of Al-Fatihah… because it is the formula for success… listen to its tafseer and fall in love with it… don’t just “read” it in your salah… but also “feel” it in your heart… it is also called the “Ash-Shifa” so feel its healing effects on your whole existence… 

  • The second thing is to make surah Al-Baqarah a daily part of your life. You don’t have to recite it completely every day… but you can do a small portion daily before going to bed and complete it every few days. The benefits are abundant. The best one I like is that it is a cause for shaitan to run away from your homes… and Allah’s blessings and barakahs will envelop you.

  • Develop taqwa… Allah consciousness… pray for it… and strive to achieve it… why? Because it is the root of all goodness.

  • Always keep your salah on the top priority… this is the daily practice for meeting Allah!

  • Spend and share with others all that you have been blessed with… this is the best way to maintain and increase your blessings… Allah gives those who share!

  • Develop and maintain a daily bond with the Quran… understand it… ponder upon it… and let its wisdom reflect the way you live.

  • Do everything keeping the end in mind… in other words become “akhirah oriented”… develop a firm conviction in the fact that this life is temporary and just a testing phase… the real life starts after death and the quality of that life depends on how we used this one which we have right now… so don’t drown into the duniya… rather rise above its temptations and “use” duniya to build a fabulous akhirah… this is what will lead us to the ultimate success… inshaAllah

  • Never say “no” to any command of Allah… pray for His help and try your best… but never make excuses like this is not applicable or I don’t need to do it. Why? Because if we act superior and pick and choose, then Allah will put locks on our hearts… making us totally incapable of understanding the truth.

  • Also beware of all forms of hypocrisy… where you present one image to people while your true self is totally the opposite. Or you say things which are not truly the voice of your heart. Or you cheat and deceive others… or you casually break your commitments… why? Because hypocrisy is a disease and it spreads like cancer… what’s the cure? Renew your faith and ponder on the Quran… act on what you say…

  • Take lessons from the story of Adam (a.s.) Knowledge will not prevent you from making a mistake… but you will know how to wipe it off… so seek knowledge daily and when you fall, get back up and do taubah… don’t insist on your sins like shaitan…

May Allah help us to do everything that makes Him pleased with us because in the end this is what matters… Ameen   

Do Not be Deprived…

Alhamdulillah we are about to  reach the climax of Ramadan which is the lailatul Qadr… the night of power… the night of destiny…

So just like we prepared for Ramadan in Rajab and Shabaan… similarly we have two or three nights remaining in which we must prepare for the great night that’s coming ahead inshaAllah…

Because if we think about it, this is the night of miracles and we all need miracles in our life to achieve all that we want for our success. So we cannot afford to let it go by without us making the most of it… As our Beloved Prophet (s.a.w) said… whoever is deprived of this night will be truly deprived…

So if you are already having this sense of deprivation and regret that you haven’t quite done your best in this Ramadan… maybe because of some illness… or lack of proper planning… or lack of good company… or simply because of not being protective of your time… and now you feel like a loser or something… be happy that all is not lost yet…!!

So if you are truly conscious of the value of your life… and if you really want to end up as a winner… then pull yourself up and begin with a fresh mindset… remember that all deeds will be evaluated according to their end… so if we can end Ramadan with the best time management… the best worship… the best charity… the best manners… the best duas… the best prayers… the best recitation… then our entire month will be recorded as the best… inshaAllah…

How merciful and kind is our Rabb who gives us chances to come back to the right track again and again… but we have to make use of it by doing our very best… and by not repeating the mistakes of the past…

So identify where you went wrong… pray to Allah with the most sincere tears and beg Him to save you from deprivation… have a planner ready for how to make the best use of the last ten days and nights… and then put your whole heart and soul into it… have your dua lists ready and beg like a beggar… because at the end of the day this is what matters… that we should realize the essence of our existence… and behave like slaves to our Master and Creator… if we can achieve this realization and live in this humbleness then inshaAllah no one can deviate us from the path to Jannah… neither the devil nor the shaitan… but when we act like the masters and treat everyone else like lower beings then we lose our very intellect for which we are so proud… and we get diverted… and lost… even though apparently we have all the senses… but we lose the sense of our real success and failure… may Allah save us all… Ameen

Accumulate Love… and happiness

Although it is already the middle of Ramadan yet it feels like I have just begun to experience it… every year this month comes with a different flavor… and gives me a new perspective. And this time it is all about making a positive difference in my habits, in my attitude, in my expectations from myself and others… but mostly in the way I worship my Rabb… Because I always have this uncomfortable realization that I don’t really worship Allah the way He deserves. If I am praying the five time salah… or I am reciting Quran… or doing tasbeeh or making duas… mostly it is like making a quick trip from point A to B… like you just go on a drive and if you complete the trip then you feel like you have done the job… and there is this sense of relief that its done… and that’s it… but even if we go on a drive it is always for a purpose… either we go to meet someone or we go to buy something… or we drive to work or study… or we go to eat somewhere… always there is some objective… and even if it is just to enjoy a drive in the rain or something… that is also a purpose which we fulfill by observing the atmosphere and by enjoying the views… But when we drive through our rituals of worship it is just as if we have to cross a certain distance with our eyes closed and our hearts totally inattentive… because we never knew that these rituals are meant for us to interact directly with Allah through these divine words that we are uttering mindlessly… so what happens is that although we hope to get rewarded because of making the journey… but we miss out on all the other benefits like experiencing the joy and the satisfaction of being spiritually uplifted…

So I do try to change my habits… I try my utmost to focus on the presence of Allah as I face Him in salah… I try so much to keep my focus on the meaning of Quran as I recite it… and to feel the words of tasbeeh nourishing my soul as I repeat them over and over again… but I never quite reach the level of focus which I want…

So this time when I was listening to the Ramadan prep lectures by various scholars, I got this idea that since this is the month of miracles, so I will use its miraculous effects to make the changes that I want… and once I began to think on these lines I felt like how fortunate we are that Allah has given us this month in which we can work towards whatever improvement we want… and with just a little effort and discipline, Allah will bless us and help us like we cannot even imagine… But why we remain poor and miserable instead of being rich and happy… is because we don’t even think that it is possible to come out of our mental prisons… we don’t even give a thought to the power of Allah because we keep saying that the chains of habits are too strong to break…

Saying something and believing in it, are the first step towards whatever change we want… so forget all your weaknesses and talk about the perfection of Allah… forget all your pains and think of the healing power of Allah… forget all your dependencies and think of how independent Allah is in all His decisions…He just commands something to be… and it happens.

So stop thinking of just accumulating rewards… think of accumulating the duas of people whom you treat so well that they can’t stop praying for you… don’t just pray to complete a set of rakahs… pray to complete and perfect your faith in your Lord… don’t just hurry to complete the juz of Quran… but take your time to let your heart feel the joy of interacting with Allah through His words… be happy… feel loved… so that you can spread this happiness and love wherever you are… let us all become true believers of Allah for whom nothing is impossible… so that we can truly be free from the shackles of our limited vision… May Allah make this our most precious… most enlightening… and a most empowering Ramadan… Ameen