Tag Archives: Ramadan

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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The effect of music vs. the Quran on an apple | Imagine what it does to your heart

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When I started turning towards Islam in university, I was faced with the question of abstaining for music. It was a hard decision but I eventually took the plunge and gave it up. It wasn’t an easy journey for me and I moved back to listening to music, then gave it up only to once again start it again. I finally gave it up completely Alhamdulillah over five years ago (May Allah help me stay on this path).

There are many who would argue that there is nothing wrong with music, it is just another gift of God, etc. The below just serves to confirm to me that my decision was indeed a wise one, an attempt to raise my level of Taqwa, an attribute that needs constant work from our part. As we enter the last ten days of Ramadan, we will need to start the struggle to continue the momentum of Ramadan. For indeed if we were to walk away from Ramadan without a positive change it would be a big travesty on our part. Your positive change could be giving up music. Insha’Allah I hope the below will help you towards this change.

Ramadan Kareem and may Allah (SWT) accept our deeds and have this month serve as time for our forgiveness and for the shower of His mercy.

DiscoMaulvi


A few months back, the following email sent to the list serve of Al-Huda Canada was forwarded to another list I am on. The content of the email (reproduced below) was amazing.

Bismillah
Assalamoalaikum wrwb
Few weeks ago my daughter, who is in first grade had a science fair at her school.  We decided to do an interesting experiment.  Our Hypothesis was that listening to Qur’an has physical effects just like listening to music has physically visible effects.  To prove our point we took an apple which also has 60-70 percent water content like human bodies.  We cut the apple into half, put each half in a zip lock bag and then for seven days played Qur’an for one half of the apple and music to another half of the apple .. Both apples were kept on room temperature.  The results were amazing and so our hypothesis was accepted.
In Quran Surah Luqman Allah(s.a.w) says:
And of mankind is he who purchases idle talks (i.e.music, singing, etc.) to mislead (men) from the Path of Allah without knowledge, and takes it (the Path of Allah, or the Verses of the Qur’an) by way of mockery. For such there will be a humiliating torment (in the Hell-fire).(6)
In surah Yunus Allah SWT says about  Quran:
O mankind! There hath come to you a admonition from your Lord and a healing for the (diseases) in your hearts and for those who believe, a Guidance and a Mercy. (57)
Please look at the attached pictures.  The first picture is of the apple when it was freshly cut. Second picture is after 3 weeks of the experiment.
JazakAllah Khiaran

DSC00024DSC00027

Shared By: Quanita Rizvi

Wassalam,
Al Huda Institute, Canada

The above account was amazing. Thus, the staff at Reflections, a school in Karachi repeated the experiment to verify it. Below is the email sent by Asim Ismail, the Islamic curriculum head of the school.

For two weeks the teacher played music in front of half of an apple for 10 mins daily. While qirat was played in front of the other half for the same duration…the pictures speak for themselves (original pictures)…the rotten half is the one which heard music, and the comparatively fresh one was made to listen to Quran’s recitation… SUBHANALLAH! one more amazing thing is the Quran apple has a good smell and the other one u can imagine.

good applerotten apple

both apples

“Verily, in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find rest”

(Surah ar’Ra’d 13:28)

Subhan’Allah. May Allah help us to protect our hearts from corruption and to heal it with the remembrance of Allah (SWT) and the recitation of the Quran. Aameen.

Ramadan: Save and Continue

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Ramadan - Save & Continue

Nearly everyone in this age of modern technology has at some stage worked with a PC. We have used it to draft documents, amend these documents, copied and pasted onto documents, used the "undo" icon, edited documents, just to mention a few of the time saving operations that we find on this device.

After opening a document that we have worked upon previously and made the necessary changes and improvements a little box appears on the screen asking the question:
Do you want to save the changes you have made to this document?

You are then given the option of selecting the YES tab or the NO tab.

  • Selecting the YES tab will give you the desired results.
  • Selecting the NO tab literally takes you back to square one. All the effort made in editing, improving and shaping the document becomes an exercise in futility.

Don’t we all find ourselves in a similar predicament when the blessed month of Ramadan passes us? Just think of your book of deeds like a document on your PC.

During the month of Ramadan we have done amongst other things the following:

  • Increased our Ibaadah and acts of charity;
  • Took control of our feelings and emotion;
  • Responded with compassion and sensitivity to the needs of other;
  • Multiplied our good deeds;

At the same time we have spent many hours on the Musallah begging for Allah’s forgiveness for our sins, errors and transgressions.

The vital question that needs to be asked is:

Do we want to save the changes that we have made in the month of Ramadan? Are we going to press the YES tab or the No tab?

Pressing the YES tab will leave us with a new, improved version. A version of heightened spirituality, a version of righteousness, a version that is pleasing to our Creator.

Pressing the NO tab will take us back to square one; back to our old habits before Ramadan, back to the life of sin and immorality, back to a life of heedlessness and back to a life subjecting ourselves to the wrath of the Almighty.

How do we improve on this document

How do we improve on this document; the document of our lives, the document of our deeds, the document that we are going to present to Allah the Almighty on the Day of Reckoning? Here are some hints:

  • Copy and Paste from the life of our illustrious master Muhammad Sallallahu alayhi Wasallam.
  • Use the "undo" icon by making Taubah immediately after any transgression as the Hadith states "The one who repents from sin is like one who has committed no sin at all"
  • There may not be a need to do a "spell check" but there is certainly a need to do a "sincerity check" and a "Shariah check"? Are we complying?

There may be files and folders that we want to keep while there could be some others we would not even want others to know exist.

Many of us begged Allah to "delete" our sins and dark deeds .We cried before Allah, shed tears of remorse and vowed not to commit those sins in future. Going back to the sins that we have asked Allah’s forgiveness for would be like making a visit to the "recycle bin".

What about viruses?

PC users are also very wary about e-mails they receive and the sites that they visit, fearing the admission of a virus that may pollute their system and cause it to malfunction.

Why do we then subject our minds and thoughts to immoral sites and dens of vice which would pollute our moral system and cause us to malfunction?

What anti-virus software have we installed to ward off the variety of Fitnahs that confront us everyday?

Fortunate is the person who has saved the changes. Extremely unfortunate is the person who has made no changes as he /she has nothing to save.

Source: The True Call e-mail list
Permission is granted to circulate among private individuals and groups, to post on Internet sites and to publish in full text and subject title in not-for-profit publications.

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The Struggle To Continue The Momentum Of Ramadan

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The ceasefire is over!

As Ramadan draws to a close, Satan and his band of devils are now released. Having had an entire month to reflect and plan their strategy, they’re back with a vengeance.

We too had a month of training and discipline to raise our level of Taqwa, to condition us for the fight. We went 29 days without food and water from Dawn till Sunset, we prayed every prayer on time and often in congregation. We went for Tarawih prayers and recited the Quran. Some even went to a higher level and got up in the middle of the night for  Tahajjud and Qiyam-ul-Lail. Unfortunately, for most of us this was an effect of the environment around us and we did not condition our souls to incorporate this in our lives. Shawwal Moon by SKDurrani

There are some that say that creating a habit takes 21 days. This theory arose from the work of Dr Maxwell Maltz who noticed that it took amputees 21 days to cease feeling phantom sensations in the amputated limb. from further observations he extrapolated his findings to conclude that it takes 21 days to create a habit. Thus, the 21 Day Habit Theory came into existence and was quickly picked up by several self-help books and websites.

We just went through an entire month of repetitive fasting, prayers, recitation of the Quran, Charity, and other acts of worship. Then the moon was sighted for the new month and for most of us it all evaporated into nothingness. Most failed to go to the Masjid for Isha prayer (which they had been doing for 29 days), several skipped it altogether as they thronged the streets to do last minute shopping for Eid or to hangout with their friends. Music blared from car stereos and boys hung out on the streets for some Poondi (check out the fairer sex). Fajr, the next day, was ignored by yet more as they struggled to wake up for Eid prayers, suffering from a hangover of the previous night’s festivities. A friend recounted how the Imam at his local masjid delayed the start of the Eid prayer, instead asking those who had not prayed Fajr to get up and make up the missed prayer. He asked those who had prayed to lower their heads so as not to look at those who missed the prayer. Almost 50% of the congregation got up to pray. However, even with this rather embarrassing reminder, some preferred to just sit there and not make up that prayer. And this is barely 12 hours since the end of Ramadan!

Check out these tips by Hesham A. Hassaballa on Avoiding Post-Ramadan Letdown

While it is true that repetitive carrying out of a task makes it a habit, there is more to it than just mechanical robotic actions. It requires being on a higher conscious level to be able to take a mechanical motion and instill it in your inner self to make it stick as a habit. Dr Stephanie Burns of the Leadership Labyrinth writes in Installing a new habit and breaking an old one:

To create a new habit there a only a few steps and these are steps we all possess the firepower to do.

1. You have to decide on what you want to be a habit. It is important that you be as specific as possible. A habit of drinking more water is problematic whereas a habit of drinking 6 glasses a day is easier to install.

2. You have to set up triggers to help you remember the action at the time you want to do it.

It is hard to install a new habit if you keep ending up at the end of the day remembering that you were meaning to take the stairs at work instead of the elevator. 

During the time before the action becomes a habit (perhaps the first few weeks) you will need to use external triggers or reminders. Make it easy to remember what you are trying to do.

Alarms, notes, friends to call you, rubber bands on your wrist, padlocks or obstacles.

Rituals support remembering – do it in the same place, same time, same surroundings if possible for the first few weeks.

3. Once you have remembered you have to be able to motivate yourself to act. Before we discuss how to do that we should discuss the issue of repetition.

Installing new behaviors of any type take repetition over time. How much repetition and for how long depends on what it is you are trying to install.

Creating positive habits is harder than a falling into a bad habit since bad habits are often the path of least resistance. Similarly, Satan makes the path to sin easier by showing us dreams of enjoyment and good times. Heading to the Masjid at dawn for Fajr (or even getting out of bed to pray at home) seems a daunting task when the bed beckons. Yet it is so easy to stay up all night watching a new movie, or to sit and play cards with friends. My late Grandfather (May Allah forgive him and grant him paradise) used to say:

Satan keeps us up all night in merriment but as the time for Fajr (the prayer at dawn) approaches he starts to massage us to sleep.

I myself lost a battle this morning when I failed to get up for a post-dawn meal to fast the Six Recommended Fasts of Shawwal. What was worse was that I failed to get up at all for Fajr as Satan sung a lullaby and led me down the path of easy sleep.

 One of the tricks that Scott Young gives in 18 Tricks to Make New Habits Stick, is to get a buddy to go along with you in this quest and for each be a motivator for the other. Thus, when one slacks a little, the other is there to push back to the path and run the course so to say.

People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing –that’s why we recommend it daily. – Zig Ziglar

Muhammad Al-Shareef’s Post-Ramadan “Get it Done” Boot Camp

Another great trick is to associate with role models. Indeed, my own personal experience highlights this point as well. The Prophet (SAW) said (as reported by Bukhari and Muslim):

The likeness of a righteous friend and an evil friend, is the likeness of a (musk) perfume seller and a blacksmith. As for the perfume seller, he may either bestow something on you, or you may purchase something from him, or you may benefit from his sweet smell. And as for the blacksmith, he may either burn your clothes, or you may be exposed to his awful smell.

Ultimately, it is a war between you and Satan, and a struggle by you against your Nafs (inner self). Keeping the right company will help you fortify yourself in this and help you in winning battle after battle.

May Allah (SWT) guide us to the Straight Path and give us the strength and courage to form great habits in the footsteps of the Prophet (SAW) and the righteous. May He give us their company in Paradise.

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Eid Mubarak to all

To all the readers of From The Pulpit … I would like to wish you Eid Mubarak. Eid-ul-Fitr is being celebrated across Pakistan and in some parts of the world today.

Eid is a day of joy and happiness and feasting after the month of fasts (Ramadan). It is also however, a day on which one must remember the less fortunate around them and take care to make this day as joyous for them as it is for us.

For our family, Eid is rather subdued due to a death in the extended family on Saturday evening. Thus, the festivities are curtailed and toned down in support of our relatives’ mourning.

As the month of Ramadan comes to a close it is important to make sure that we carry on the momentum of Taqwa we acheived during Ramadan and keep our prayers and other deeds continued (more on this subject soon Insha’Allah).

To end I would like to greet all with the greeting of the Prophet (PBUH) to his companions on Eid:

Taqabba’Allahu Minna Wa Mikum (May Allah accept our deeds and yours)

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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