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Taqwa – Consciousness of Allah

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Originally posted 15/09/2009

Qari Muhammad Qayyam (may the mercy of Allah be upon him) related that a great deal of fighting and bloodshed had started prior to the Indo-Pakistan partition of 1947. He said that a very beautiful daughter of a very rich man in a certain community stepped out of her house to visit her aunt, who lived no more than a few streets away. Suddenly a riot erupted as she had gone halfway and she found herself trapped with apparently nowhere to go. She saw a mosque nearby and quickly went inside, sitting in the women’s section. The rioting continued late into the night and this girl did not know what to do.

The custodian of the masjid was a very young student there and late at night when he walked through the masjid before locking up he noticed this beautiful young lady. He was a respectful young man who feared Allah and so politely asked her to leave, saying that if she was found there then both would be dishonored and thrown out. She pleaded with him because of the extreme danger outside and so he agreed that she could spend the night, and sat down to study at the opposite end of the masjid.

The girl was unable to sleep with the events of the day in her mind and so watched the young man sitting studying by candle light at the opposite end of the masjid. She kept watching him and was very surprised at something she saw. From time to time this young man would extend his hand and keep it over the open flame, only withdrawing it when the flame obviously became unbearable. He then would resume his studies and continued this throughout the night until the dawn broke.

The young man called the adhan and asked the girl to leave before the congregation started coming to pray since now everything was calm outside. She agreed on the condition that he tell her why he was placing his hand on the candle flame throughout the night. The young man said that that was his own business and so the girl refused to leave until he told her what she wanted to know. The young man gave in and said, “I am at the age of youth and strong desire. We were alone and my desire was increasing, and although I was studying the shaytan would occasionally put temptation in my heart. Hence whenever I would feel any temptation I would put my hand on the flame and my fingers would burn. I would say to myself that this flame is nothing compared to the fire of Hell.”

The girl left the masjid and reached home, calming her parents’ fears as to what had happened to her. She also confided in her mother that she wanted to marry the custodian of the mosque near their house. She related the night’s events to her parents and said that only such a man with true fear of Allah in his heart can be true to his wife. Only such a man who truly fears Allah can fulfill a wife’s rights properly.

Hence the poor custodian of the mosque earned the daughter of a rich household in marriage. He received this honor not because of his looks but because of his character. Everything disintegrates and turns to dust but character remains strong. Honor is not bestowed because of handsome clothes or beautiful jewelry but because of what is in the heart. Knowledge is only beneficial when it is captured within the heart, and not merely written in books.

 The above account was received via e-mail (from Tayyab Abid of Active Saturdays) with no source attributed to it. It highlights the importance of Taqwa which is a vital part of faith. Allah (SWT) says in the Quran (3:102):

Oh you who believe, fear Allah as He should be feared and die not except as Muslims.

Traditionally most translations of the Quran have an interpretation similar to the above. However, the real meaning of the Arabic word Taqwa can not be summed up as fear alone. It is a combination of fear, respect, love, and obedience. The concept of Taqwa is both a motivation factor to do good and a deterrent to stay away from all that is evil. Thus, it is best summarized as “Consciousness of Allah (SWT)”.

A person who has Taqwa has the firm belief that Allah (SWT) is watching all that he does. Thus, any and all actions are thus controlled and done from a conscious level of thought.

There are many parts of the Quran that talk of Taqwa and attaining Taqwa. For example Allah (SWT) says in verse 183 of Surah Baqarah regarding Ramadan and fasting:

O ye who believe! Fasting is prescribed to you as it was prescribed to those before you, so that you may develop taqwa.

If one were to take the traditional translation of “fear” it would not make sense since fasting should not incite fear. However, fasting does help man attain consciousness of Allah and the things around him.

Ramadan is a month where taqwa of all muslims increase, as they fast and increase their prayers, their charity, and other forms of worship.

As Ramadan draws to a close and we enter the bottom of the ninth so to say, let us  pray that Allah (SWT) makes us among the Muttaqun (those who have Taqwa). Aameen.

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Also check out on From The Pulpit:
Ramdan Memories
This year on Pakistan’s Independence, mend some Broken Windows

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Taqwa – Consciousness of Allah

 Qari Muhammad Qayyam (may the mercy of Allah be upon him) related that a great deal of fighting and bloodshed had started prior to the Indo-Pakistan partition of 1947. He said that a very beautiful daughter of a very rich man in a certain community stepped out of her house to visit her aunt, who lived no more than a few streets away. Suddenly a riot erupted as she had gone halfway and she found herself trapped with apparently nowhere to go. She saw a mosque nearby and quickly went inside, sitting in the women’s section. The rioting continued late into the night and this girl did not know what to do.

The custodian of the masjid was a very young student there and late at night when he walked through the masjid before locking up he noticed this beautiful young lady. He was a respectful young man who feared Allah and so politely asked her to leave, saying that if she was found there then both would be dishonored and thrown out. She pleaded with him because of the extreme danger outside and so he agreed that she could spend the night, and sat down to study at the opposite end of the masjid.

The girl was unable to sleep with the events of the day in her mind and so watched the young man sitting studying by candle light at the opposite end of the masjid. She kept watching him and was very surprised at something she saw. From time to time this young man would extend his hand and keep it over the open flame, only withdrawing it when the flame obviously became unbearable. He then would resume his studies and continued this throughout the night until the dawn broke.

The young man called the adhan and asked the girl to leave before the congregation started coming to pray since now everything was calm outside. She agreed on the condition that he tell her why he was placing his hand on the candle flame throughout the night. The young man said that that was his own business and so the girl refused to leave until he told her what she wanted to know. The young man gave in and said, “I am at the age of youth and strong desire. We were alone and my desire was increasing, and although I was studying the shaytan would occasionally put temptation in my heart. Hence whenever I would feel any temptation I would put my hand on the flame and my fingers would burn. I would say to myself that this flame is nothing compared to the fire of Hell.”

The girl left the masjid and reached home, calming her parents’ fears as to what had happened to her. She also confided in her mother that she wanted to marry the custodian of the mosque near their house. She related the night’s events to her parents and said that only such a man with true fear of Allah in his heart can be true to his wife. Only such a man who truly fears Allah can fulfill a wife’s rights properly.

Hence the poor custodian of the mosque earned the daughter of a rich household in marriage. He received this honor not because of his looks but because of his character. Everything disintegrates and turns to dust but character remains strong. Honor is not bestowed because of handsome clothes or beautiful jewelry but because of what is in the heart. Knowledge is only beneficial when it is captured within the heart, and not merely written in books.

 The above account was received via e-mail (from Tayyab Abid of Active Saturdays) with no source attributed to it. It highlights the importance of Taqwa which is a vital part of faith. Allah (SWT) says in the Quran (3:102):

Oh you who believe, fear Allah as He should be feared and die not except as Muslims.

Traditionally most translations of the Quran have an interpretation similar to the above. However, the real meaning of the Arabic word Taqwa can not be summed up as fear alone. It is a combination of fear, respect, love, and obedience. The concept of Taqwa is both a motivation factor to do good and a deterrent to stay away from all that is evil. Thus, it is best summarized as “Consciousness of Allah (SWT)”.

A person who has Taqwa has the firm belief that Allah (SWT) is watching all that he does. Thus, any and all actions are thus controlled and done from a conscious level of thought.

There are many parts of the Quran that talk of Taqwa and attaining Taqwa. For example Allah (SWT) says in verse 183 of Surah Baqarah regarding Ramadan and fasting:

O ye who believe! Fasting is prescribed to you as it was prescribed to those before you, so that you may develop taqwa.

If one were to take the traditional translation of “fear” it would not make sense since fasting should not incite fear. However, fasting does help man attain consciousness of Allah and the things around him.

Ramadan is a month where taqwa of all muslims increase, as they fast and increase their prayers, their charity, and other forms of worship.

As Ramadan draws to a close and we enter the bottom of the ninth so to say, let us  pray that Allah (SWT) makes us among the Muttaqun (those who have Taqwa). Aameen.

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Also check out on From The Pulpit:
Ramdan Memories
This year on Pakistan’s Independence, mend some Broken Windows

Ramadan Memories

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Every year that Ramadan swings round the corner, and as I am standing in the Tarawih prayers, my thoughts invariably wander to the yesteryears of college.

What is it about standing in prayer that reminds me of college? Well Raleigh, NC (where I went to college) was a town with a small but vibrant Muslim population. During Ramadan, our Masjid (Islamic Association of Raleigh) had arrangements after Isha for Tarawih. Tarawih prayers were eight rakats, with a break after four during which someone or the other gave a short discourse on any topic of religious or societal importance.

I particularly remember my first two years in Raleigh, when Tarawih was lead by a visiting imam from Virginia called Muhammad Faqih. Brother Faqih was a young chap, under 30, who was blessed with one of the most beautiful voices I have ever heard recite the Holy Quran. We didnt finish the Quran during Ramadan as is the trend in a lot of places. But instead we had long Rakats of slow and thoughtful recitation, long rukoos and sujoods. As we stood beind Brother Faqih, despite not understanding the Arabic, we were moved to tears on the parts we should be crying (on stories of previous nations that disobeyed Allah and were destroyed, mention of Heaven and Hell, and other such places).

 Tarawih Prayer at the Haram in Makkah

So why is that experience remembered every year? It is maybe because here in Pakistanthe focus of Tarawih has shifted from a regular prayer of prolonged Qiyaam, Rukoo and Sujood to a bid to finish the Quran before the new moon is sighted. Today, we see people having 03 day, 05 day, 10 day, etc Tarawihs that are an insult to the very purpose of the prayer. The imam in order to recite the entrie Quran in 03 days is at Turbo mode and often it is impossible to decipher the words being recited (assuming any of the followers behind the imam or the imam himself know Arabic!). Suddenly the purpose has shifted to finishing the Quran and after 03 days the people head off to enjoy themselves, or to their businesses. However, the purpose is not the finishing of the Quran, it is the consistent act of praying 29 (or 30) days, reflecting on the text, and prostrating ourselves before our Creator in a bid to seek His Pleasure.

I sometimes regret that I never fully utilized the opportunity that Allah (SWT) gave me then, instead justifying missing prayers due to pressure from my assignments and classes, lack of transport to the Masjid, etc. Even after I began seeing life in a new light, I still missed the wonderful opportunity of those years.

In the past few years, Pakistan has seen a revival of Islamic thought and several organizations are now trying to get people to understand the Quran that is recited by having arrangments for explanation of the portions recited every 04 rakats to be translated and explained. However, this demands a considerable time commitment as this takes around 03 hours each night and most of us unfortunately are not willing to make this commitment.

I think as a first step, the major religious leaders should get together and ban any such Tarawih prayer where the recitation of the imam is so fast that the words blend into each other and often meanings are changed in the process. In addition, they should form the consensus that 03 day, 05 day, etc Tarawih are against the spirit of the prayer and discourage them on public platforms.

It is a long shot to ask but it is sorely needed as more and more of these Turbo sessions seem to be cropping up all over the city.

Now if you will excuse me I need to go back to re-living my memories…….

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Aqim Salatak – Say Your Prayers Before Your Prayers Are Said

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Last night I was forwarded a video on Facebook that I found deeply disturbing. Disturbing because it reminded me of the many times in my life that I too had skipped or delayed saying my Salat (Arabic for prayers).

This video is an effort of the team of Aqim Salatak (Arabic for “Establish Prayer”) who believe:

“If we can convince people to eat and drink through advertising, then it is even more important to convince them to pray”

Unfortunately, their website is in Arabic but they do have a fan page on Facebook.

The video is part of many that have been placed on TV and the internet to raise awareness among the youth of the importance of praying.

Another video from them shows a group of Soccer players playing an intense game. On timeout, they all gather to pray together. The aim is to promote that no matter where you or what you are doing, at the time for Salat, one should stop and pray.

These videos are a wonderful idea and should be translated in English and other local languages to enhance their message.

May Allah reward the creators of these videos. Their efforts will help many return to prayer.

Other People Who Have Appreciated These Efforts

Noble initiative — TV ads prod people to pray (Arab News)
Aqim Salatak – UAE Kitten

Aqim Salatak – Saudi Arabian Prayer Campaign
Aqim Salatak – Establish Your Prayer Videos
Saudi TeleVision Public Service Annoucements: Pray Before It Is Too Late!

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