Small Thought #3 – Real Happiness and Inner Peace

Real happiness and peace can be found in submitting to the commands of the Creator and the Sustainer of this world. God has said in the Quran (which means):

“Those who have believed and whose hearts are assured by the remembrance of Allah. Unquestionably, by the remembrance of Allah hearts are assured.” [Al-Quran, surah Ar-Ra’d, verse 28]

On the other hand, the one who turns away from the Quran will have a life of hardship in this world. God has said (which means):

“And whoever turns away from My remembrance – indeed, he will have a depressed life, and We will gather him on the Day of Resurrection blind.” [Al-Quran, surah Ta Ha, verse 124]

This may explain why some people commit suicide while they enjoy the material comfort money can buy.

 


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Small Thought #2 – How Human Can Deny God When There are Countless Signs?

Non-believers often say that there is no God and there will be end once we die and we will not be resurrected on the day of Judgement and questioned for our good and bad deeds in this life. This claim of Non-believers surprises me a lot that when there are uncountable signs of almighty God then how they can deny him? When you deny God you are actually denying yourself.

Put all other signs aside and see yourself? How you are born? From a drop of sperm? So who makes a dirty drop of sperm into a human being? How you are created in pairs of male and female and there is affection between you? It happened by itself?

Just see the universe. sky, earth, moon, sun, and stars. how all these things came into existence by itself and then started running in an organized way. See the sky do you find any flaw in it?

Night and day are another sign of him. At night we sleep and end our tiredness and at day we are ready to work again. Who organized this system for us?

See the thousands of types of fruits and vegetables which grow from a small seed. So who made It possible?

There are so many signs of Allah SWT that we cannot count them if we want to. Indeed Allah SWT exists and signs are in front of us and after death, we will return towards him.

 


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God Is Merciful: Why Hell?

The majority of the adherents of the Abrahamic religions, namely, Jews, Christians, and Muslims believe in the concept of the Day of Judgment as well as Heaven and Hell. Unlike the believers in reincarnation, in which the dead are believed to be reborn into a better or worse life according to his/her deeds in the last life, the adherents to the Abrahamic religions believe that there are only two lives. The first, being from the mother’s womb, and the second, when a person is resurrected on the Day of Judgment to account for his deeds…..

The majority of the adherents of the Abrahamic religions, namely, Jews, Christians, and Muslims believe in the concept of the Day of Judgment as well as Heaven and Hell.

Unlike the believers in reincarnation, in which the dead are believed to be reborn into a better or worse life according to his/her deeds in the last life, the adherents to the Abrahamic religions believe that there are only two lives. The first, being from the mother’s womb, and the second, when a person is resurrected on the Day of Judgment to account for his deeds.

Reward vs. Punishment

So, in general, people believe in the concept of reward and punishment in various religions, but not in the same linear form.

In Islam, similar to Judaism and Christianity, God is looked upon as a just God. He is hasty to reward and slow to punishment. But one may ask why would He punish if He is a loving God?

It all boils down to whether we believe in God or not. If we believe in Him and His supreme justice, then it would make sense that He would guide us to the straight path. This is only possible through revelations sent down to His Prophets, which they relayed to their people.

In all preserved scriptures, one sees evidence of the loving-kindness of the Creator. This is manifested in numerous verses through which He shows guidance to mankind, so humans would not err.

So, for the believer, fear of God is part of strengthening his/her faith. One knows that in believing in God, he must have love, fear, and hope in Him.

Love and hope are two lengthy subjects. So, since the issue of Hell and the justice of the Creator are being discussed here, we concentrate on the attitude of a believer toward fear of God, which will ultimately save him from Hell.

The Believer’s Fear and Hope

The believer knows there are rewards and punishments and the ways which one may achieve either one. So, he distances himself from God’s punishment and draws himself toward His pleasure and mercy and thus he attains greater spiritual fulfillment. He would want to respect God’s boundaries, stays constantly vigilant and tries to seek God’s pleasure in the best manner he can. He knows this will save him from the fear of the Last Day and the eternal terror of Hell.

“Those who give away their wealth by night and day, secretly and openly, will have their reward with their Lord. They will feel no fear and will know no sorrow.” [Al-Quran, Surah Al-Baqarah 2: verse 274]

As described in the Qur’an, a believer who has an awareness of God and sincerely reflects on His attributes will immediately begin to experience that inner awe that is due to His Majesty and superiority. Thus, His infinite power will create within the believer a fear full of absolute awe. As a result of the believer’s vigilance and sincerity, God will reward him by His infinite mercy with tranquility in this world, and in the Hereafter with Paradise.

“For those who fear the Station of their Lord, there are two Gardens.” [Al-Quran, Surah Ar-Rahman 55: verse 46]

Yet, one may ask how would I know what pleases or displeases God? The answer is clear. One must gain knowledge of His Creator by understanding His words through the Qur’an.

“… Only those of His servants with knowledge have fear of Allah. Allah is Almighty, Ever-Forgiving.” [Al-Quran, Surah Fatir 35: verse 28]

Such believers would understand that the justice of God is unmatched. Thus they believe in all that He has warned them with:

“ [Believers are] those who affirm the Day of Judgment. Those who are fearful of the punishment of their Lord. No one is safe from the punishment of his Lord.” [Al-Quran, Surah Al-Ma’arij 70: verse 26–28]

Such is the justice of God and the believer relies on no one but God in fear and hope.

“… they call on their Lord in fear and ardent hope.” [Al-Quran, Surah As-Sajdah 32: verse 16]

About this issue, Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said:

“When the heart of a believer is filled with these two feelings of hope and fear, Almighty Allah fulfills his hope and saves him from what he fears.” (Ibn Majah)

God’s Justice

What about those who reject the Day of Judgment, when they meet their Lord and witness Heaven and Hell?

“The real losers are those who lose themselves and their families on the Day of Rising.” Is not that clear loss? They will have awnings of Fire above them and awnings below them. By that Allah strikes fear into His servants: “O My servants, fear Me!” [Al-Quran, Surah Az-Zumar 39: verse 15]


Taken with slight editorial modifications from aboutislam.net.

Written by Raya Shokatfard (refer here). Raya Shokatfard holds an MA in Journalism/Mass Communications and an M.A.D. in TV journalism. BA in Communication and BA in Islamic Studies. She has been Islamic propagator in the U.S and Egypt for many years and academic lecturer, writer, international presenter, consultant, foreign correspondent. She can be reached at: raya4peace@gmail.com

Reading – A Valuable Command From God to Mankind

The commands to read, or Iqra’, was not meant solely for Prophet Muhammad but is also a continuous command to all humankind. This is because the essence of this noble command is the key to one’s happiness and success in this world and the hereafter. If we study the opinions of experts in the Arabic language, we will find that their…

Educators should be wise and responsible and underscored the critical role of a religious educator. To be such an educator, one has to comprehend the basis of the philosophy of “Iqra’” which mean “Read”– the first revelation from Allah to our beloved Messenger, Prophet Muhammad. Allah says:

Meaning: “Recite in the name of your Lord who created – Created man from a clinging substance. Recite, and your Lord is the most Generous; Who taught by the pen; Taught man that which he knew not.” [Al-Quran, surah Al-‘Alaq, verse 1-5]

The commands to read, or Iqra’, was not meant solely for Prophet Muhammad but is also a continuous command to all humankind. This is because the essence of this noble command is the key to one’s happiness and success in this world and the hereafter.

readIf we study the opinions of experts in the Arabic language, we will find that their discussions on the meaning of Iqra’ is extensive and deep. It does not only mean “read”. The word has hidden meanings that can bring about positive effects to humankind. The command to read inspires every educator and teacher to continue to read, study, comprehend, explore its characteristics, and continue to pass it on. These early verses aim to remind us that when a Muslim reads any material, he has to read responsibly. This includes ensuring that whatever he reads is accurate and true to the source of the information as much as possible.

Furthermore, he should read in detail and examine if what he reads is truly beneficial, or otherwise. A believer (Mukmin) who reads for the sake of Allah, will not simply accept and believe news or information that reaches him without a comprehensive assessment of the material. For example, we may receive information via Whatsapp regarding food items, ingredients or products which are claimed to be haram. Sadly, there are many who often rush to forward such information to others without verifying its authenticity. What is more worrying is when it causes mass confusion, doubts (was-was) and misunderstanding. Such a trait does not correspond to the principle of knowledge, which requires one to study and be responsible for acquiring and spreading knowledge or information.

reading-on-grass_1600Besides that, the aforementioned Quranic verses also remind us that knowledge that we gain by reading books and papers should be enriched by studying its positive and negative effects, as well as the maslahah (greater good) towards mankind. For example, we know that many ulama or scholars have agreed that smoking is a habit that should be avoided seeing that it causes harm to the health of the individual as well as those around him. However, how do we deliver such religious advice?

We need to take into account the situation of an individual. Has he tried to throw away the habit for years, but still fail miserably? Or has he just returned to the right path, and is slowly living his life the Islamic way? Thus, he would have more important and critical things to learn and embrace. Hence, in trying to achieve a maslahah, do not neglect the maslahah of the individual who is working towards change and goodness. Based on this spirit of iqra’, we have witnessed and continue to witness, the persistence of the ulama in their continuous efforts to seek knowledge.

Knowledge or ‘ilm is something that is noble and extremely valuable. It cannot be acquired through shortcuts. Knowledge requires effort, diligence and a deep level of understanding. Rasulullah said,

Which means: “Ulama are the heirs of prophets, and prophets left no Dinar or Dirham but they left knowledge and anyone who takes from it will have inherited a great legacy.” [Hadith reported by Imam Tirmidzi].

This is why we read many stories on the diligence of the ulama in seeking and delving deeper into the search for knowledge. Observe the diligence of Imam Ibn Al-Mubarak. Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal said, “No one else during the time of Ibnul Mubarak was more diligent in seeking knowledge than him. He went to Yemen, Egypt, Syam, Basrah and Kuffah. He was among those who passed the knowledge and was perfect for it. He studied from the old and the young.”

Therefore, do not make the religious information that we obtain from the Internet, books, social media applications and so on, be the only methods of obtaining knowledge. If we truly want to acquire knowledge, there are several rules we need to observe. As mentioned by Imam As-Syafie:

“My brother, knowledge cannot be obtained except by these six ways and I will tell you the details: (1) intelligence, (2) zeal, (3) determination, (4) having sufficient means, (5) befriending (studying from) a teacher who can guide you, (6) a lengthy period of time.”

Hence as Muslims, we have to work hard to be a community that reads, thinks, and strive to dignify itself and develop future civilization for the benefit of future generations.

May Allah grant us opportunities and open the paths that will lead us to attain His pleasure in this world and the hereafter.

An Hour and An Hour..

One day, Hanzalah al Usaidi* said to his friend Abu Bakr*: “Abu Bakr, I have become a hypocrite!” “I seek Allah’s protection against the accursed Satan! Why are you saying this?” Abu Bakar was shocked. “I swear by God” Hanzalah continued, “When I am in the presence of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ * or when we are listening to the Quran from his mouth, or when he reminds us of Paradise, I feel motivated and energised and inspired! When he reminds us of Hellfire, I feel fear and aim to be extra careful in my actions. But the moment I reach home after the gathering, when I meet my wife and children, or when I go back to work after the gathering, I feel different! I often get busy and forget about the matters of Hereafter. I can’t recognise my own heart anymore!”

One day, Hanzalah al Usaidi* said to his friend Abu Bakr*: “Abu Bakr, I have become a hypocrite!”

“I seek Allah’s protection against the accursed Satan! Why are you saying this?” Abu Bakar was shocked.

“I swear by God” Hanzalah continued, “When I am in the presence of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ * or when we are listening to the Quran from his mouth, or when he reminds us of Paradise, I feel motivated and energised and inspired! When he reminds us of Hellfire, I feel fear and aim to be extra careful in my actions. But the moment I reach home after the gathering, when I meet my wife and children, or when I go back to work after the gathering, I feel different! I often get busy and forget about the matters of Hereafter. I can’t recognise my own heart anymore!”

Abu Bakr said, “You’re right. This is a problem. I feel the same way too! That makes the two of us. We’re both hypocrites! Oh no. Let’s go ask the Prophet!”

So, off they both went to see the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ straight away. They knew that the Prophet was the best teacher they ever had and nobody else could answer them in the best way possible.

After listening to their query, Prophet Muhammad ﷺ replied, “By Allah, Hanzalah, if you had the same feeling when you are here with me and when you are with your family or when you are at work, the angels in the streets would want to shake hands with you! Why? Because your level of faith is so great. And it is consistent too. The angels would turn up in broad daylight to come to shake hands with you. But O Hanzalah! An hour and an hour.”

Hmmm…
“An hour and an hour”?

Moral & Afterthought
What does the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ mean by “an hour and an hour”?

This means that we can put aside an ‘hour’ for our heart’s matters and its purification or cleaning process. And we can put aside another ‘hour’ for our dunya (temporary world) matters or even entertainment.

It does not mean that we can do one hour of good deeds and one hour of bad deeds. For example, we spend one hour listening to an Islamic lecture and we spend one hour at the club or pub, dancing, drinking, singing karaoke or gambling. No! That’s not what the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ meant.

What the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ meant by the dunya matters was that we have to attend to the necessary and important things that we do for our body, mind and lifelike eat, drink, go to the bathroom, go to work or school, clean the house, cook, ride the train or car or other vehicle, etc.

As for entertainment, we could perhaps read a book, watch a Halal* movie, play a video game, go for a walk, go shopping, spend quality time with your parents or grandparents, enjoy moments with your siblings or cousins or aunties or uncles, sew, paint, fish, solving puzzles, visit friends, etc.

There are numerous other Halal dunya activities and Halal entertainment activities that we can do. Can you name one more?

Don’t you just love Islam? Islam is perfect. It teaches us to be balanced.

*Hanzalah al Usaidi = he is also known as “Hanzalah al Asadi”. He is one of Prophet Muhammad’s ﷺ companions. He is not the same companion Hanzalah ibn Abi Amr who died in the battle of Uhud and who was washed by angels between the heavens and the earth.

**This true story (which was derived from a Hadith, refers Jami` at-Tirmidhi, Vol. 4, Book 11, Hadith 2514) and the words of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ were edited and paraphrased for ease of understanding. The story has been taken from a lecture called “Balance In Islam” by Sheikh Assim Al Hakeem. (The video was uploaded by Al-Khadeem Akymedia Channel in Youtube). The Afterthought section is generally put together by SFMK, using gathered resources such as the Muslim Matters website, Sheikh Assim Al Hakeem’s video and Ustadha Yasmin Mogahed’s video, and the like.