Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for April, 2009

Salaam everyone,

One of my beloved students, Sarah told me about this site. This will help those who need to write in Arabic inshaAllah

Check it out

Arabic Keyboard

Make dua for Sarah everytime you use it inshaAllah 🙂

Read Full Post »

Here is one of my favorite khutbas from last semester:

Assalaamu Alaykum wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatu my dearest brothers and sisters in Islam,

We are all at the conclusion of either our first, or yet another semester at (Trinity/Wesleyan) and we have all been facing extra pressure in order to meet deadlines and excel in our academics. Surely, excelling in our academics is one of our main priorities at this stage in our lives since, with the help of Allah, it will assist us in paving our future and contributing positively to the society we live in. Yet, we also can very easily get lost in this dunya thinking that the only way that I will ever be successful is to get straight As, get into a top notch graduate school and afterwards make a comfortable living. While none of these goals should be erased from our agenda we should ask ourselves if this is the proper definition of success.

Alhamdulillah we all gather together today as Muslims and inshaAllah as believers of this divine faith. We try our utmost to emulate the best of creation, Sayidna Muhammad (sas). Sayidna Muhammad (sas) was the best of the creation because he willfully submitted himself to Allah. He was known to be the walking Qur’an. Reflecting on this title, we can conclude that this means two things, the first being that he was able to recite the Qur’an whenever necessary in order to give advice or derive a law. The second important inference that we gather from this title is the fact that the Prophet Muhammad (sas) implemented everything found in the Qur’an- the guidance for humanity. We can therefore conclude that if the Prophet Muhammad (sas) was the best of creation and he was also the walking Qur’an success is found through implementing what Allah tells us to do in His Book.

When we embark on any journey, we end up facing many uncertainties and variables. We are not sure whether majoring in economics is the best thing for our future. We cannot be one hundred percent confident that pursuing a higher degree before working is the best decision. We are never really sure on even bigger decisions that we will have to make in our lifetime, like choosing the most compatible spouse. Since we are finite human beings, the future for us is unclear. Yet, we have immeasurable blessings because of the generosity of Allah (swt). Allah promises the believers success. In Suraht Al Mu’minoon (The Believers) Allah begins by saying:

23_1

Your browser may not support display of this image.Qad aflaha al mu’minoon which means Successful indeed are the believers. This means that Allah guarantees the believers success. We all want to be successful. We all want to have a meaningful existence and most of us will do anything within our power to avoid failure. Humans naturally strive to excel, and Allah is telling us how to do just that. We excel through being mu’mineen- believers.

In order for someone to be considered a mu’min, he/she must have Imaan. Imaan is to have unwavering faith in Allah, His Angels, His Messengers, His Books, The Day of Judgment and the Divine Decree…. but also more.  It is what takes  position in the heart, and actions are what prove that statement. It is more than just a claim, al mu’minoon speak through their acts not their words.

Let us take this opportunity to take an even closer look at this one aya. Qad aflaha al mu’minoon. Allah begins it with قَدْ “qad” and when this word appears before a verb (in this case, أَفْلَحَ “aflaha”, “he succeeded’) it shows two things:

1- It appears before an expected matter, a matter that will surely occur. This denotes the meaning of: certainty, it is definitely going to happen.  Also, Qad could also denote the PAST tense…so this matter has already happened in the “time” of Allah.  This should give us all hope…we ALREADY are victorious inshaallah.

2- ‘qad’ makes the verb after it in the past, present and future tense, so it will give the meaning: certainly, the believers will succeed and will be successful and are successful and were successful…subhanAllah.

The word Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala uses for ‘success’ is أَفْلَحَ “aflaha”, and a muflih is one who is successful. What does aflaha actually mean though?

Aflaha is derived from the root ف ل ح (fa-laam-ha) and it literally means to split something and cleave it. A fallaah is a farmer. How does success relate to farming? My dear brothers and sisters, a farmer is one who splits the earth, sows the seeds, waters it, watches it, and takes care of his farm, tending to it every day with great care. A fallaah is a person who puts in all the work. A person who wants to achieve his goals and breaks them down into tasks and milestones with determination and consistency.

The farmer cannot water his plants one week and leave them the next thinking they will still flourish properly without him doing anything else, So a Muflih is one who bears difficulty and hardship and puts in his maximum effort to achieve his aim and goal, effort is the most important aspect.  What makes someone a success and one a faliure is how much  effort they put in.  Subhanallah, this is also true in anything in life (at work, in a relationship, etc) The farmer will go in the sun and heat, seven days a week and he will put in his highest effort until his plants are harvested properly.

A muflih is not just one who does a good deed here and there, but he does it until he reaches what he wants, consistently. Al-Muflihoon are the people who are successful and this success is not because of luck or good fortune, it didn’t just happen, but they became successful because they put in the work and effort to reach their goal which inshaAllah should be Jannah and receiving the pleasure of Allah.

However, this does not necessarily mean that the farmer will have the best of harvests for that year. There could have been a drought, or, at the other end of the spectrum, flooding. In one fell swoop, all of his effort could be gone. However, is it really gone? One’s answer can only be determined by asking ourselves what our ultimate concern is. Is our ultimate concern to live for this temporal life, fulfilling all our base desires and eventually passing that same mentality to future generations or, is it to live as believers knowing that this life is an exam for us, of which we are assured that those who believe will surely pass with flying colors?

Throughout the Qur’an, Allah gives us descriptions of what it means to be a believer. Believers are those who avoid vain talk, who guard their prayers, who have humility when they pray, who have chastity, who avoid backbiting and slander and who remain steadfast on the path of Allah. There is one particular aya my dear brothers and sisters that I wanted to focus on in today’s khutba which gives us three attributes of a mu’min.

In Suraht Al-Anfal verse 2 Allah says:

8_2

Your browser may not support display of this image.

Innama al mu’minoon alladheena idha dhukirallahu wajilat quloobuhum wa idha tuliyat a’layhim ayaatuhu zaadat-hum imaanan wa ‘ala rabbihim yatawakkaloon.

Only they are believers whose hearts tremble when Allah is mentioned, and when His Signs are recited to them, their faith increases, and upon their Lord, they put their trust.

In just this one aya, we have three descriptions of the believers. The believers’ hearts are filled with fear (wajila) of Allah, their faith increases when they listen to the beautiful words of Allah and they have tawakul in Allah. The fact that Allah starts with Innama is key. This means that what is to follow will differentiate those who are believers to those who are not. Allah could have said believers do such and such, but rather, He uses innama which means that to be a believer you have to have these qualities.

– Just at the remembrance of Allah, their hearts tremble. Simply by saying alhamdulillah, or bismillah, or subhanAllah, there is a change in the Qalb, or heart. The qalb is a beautiful mysterious organ. Allah is Muqallib al Quloob (The turner of hearts) and we always ask Allah to thabit quloobina 3la deenahu, which means to secure our hearts on His religion. Not only are the believers’ hearts turned (root- qalaba, to turn) towards Allah but they are attached. Attached to the point that they are vulnerable at the mere mention of His name. My dear brothers and sisters, when you may have a slight hunch that your friend is upset with you, you become so worried.

We usually ask ourselves, “What have I done to upset him? How can I make it up to him?” We should ask ourselves if we feel this same worry towards our Creator. Do we think of Allah and pray that He is pleased with us and really take heed of what it means to be in a constant state of thikr? Thikr can be remembrance, but at the same time it can also mean mention. At the mere mention of Allah, we should have a trembling heart.
The second part of this aya describing the muminoon is the fact that they increase in faith when they hear the Qur’an. This is interesting to note because it shows us that we are always on an uphill climb to increase our faith. Believers are not born with the utmost faith automatically. This illustrates our purposeful need to struggle in increasing our faith. We cannot just ask Allah to be of the believers without attempting to do things that will make us worthy of that title. This also shows that all hearts have different levels of faith- some are at a very high level while others are struggling to keep afloat. We should take heed of this in our approach towards dawa. Oftentimes it is easy to assume that everyone is at the same level of faith as us because it is easy to forget where we once were. I think this aya helps us to remember that faith is never a constant point, but rather sways and oscillates (inshaAllah all the awhile gradually increasing). We should remember that Umar ibn al-Khattab’s heart turned away from hating Islam towards an almost blind love for this deen through listening to the recitation of the Quran. My dear brothers and sisters, how is our relationship with the Qur’an? Are we listening to it every day? Are we attempting to at least read a couple of verses and reflect on the meaning? In order for us to find success in this life and in the hereafter, we have to have a relationship with this Most Generous Book. The Qur’an has a very important position on the Day of Judgment. On that Day, this Guidance to Humanity will either stand as a witness for us or stand as a witness against us. There will be specific surahs such as Al Baqarah and Ale Imran that will be clouds providing shade from the unbearable sun to those who memorized them. Reading Suraht Al-Mulk every night will protect us from the punishments of the grave. My dear brothers and sisters, we cannot afford to not have a relationship with the Qur’an.  Even if we feel that our imaan will stay the same after reading a few verses, we should continue to strive. A body builder doesn’t become a body builder after only one visit to the gym. Let us not get discouraged and make a concerted effort to link ourselves with the best blessing that Allah could have given us, which is the Qur’an.
The third part of this aya which describes the qualities of the mu’min pertains to having tawwakul. Tawakkul is not an easy thing to achieve. There is definitely a balance when it comes to tawakkul. We can’t take a back seat and say Allah will take care of everything for us. At the same time my dear brothers and sisters, we sometimes want to be in control of everything and this can be seen as a lack of trust in Allah. For example, in choosing a spouse, we pray istikhara (tawakkul) and yet we also ask all the necessary questions in order to feel like we are making a properly informed decision. We get married having very little real knowledge about the person, but we have tawakkul that Allah will put baraka in the union because we did it for His sake.

Akoolu kawli hadha wastaghfir Allah lee wa laakum

mtnclimber1

My dear brothers and sisters, we are nearing the conclusion of this khutba. Before we part, I want to leave you with a story, one of my favorite stories having to do with this important aspect of tawakkul.

Once there was an amazing hiker. This hiker was remarkably skilled at climbing mountains. He was never afraid to climb mountains by himself. One day he decided that he wanted to conquer the highest and steepest mountain. He began very early in the morning, and went by himself. He never lost his tenacity or determination to reach the top and conquer the mountain. As the sun set, he began to notice how steep the climb really was and he had only reached the middle of the mountain. He had the option to continue forward in the darkness or to climb down and attempt the climb another day. He resolved to continue on. As nighttime fell, the weather began to drop and it had suddenly become very cold outside. All of a sudden the skilled mountain climber lost his footing and fell, still holding on to his rope. His rope fell with him but stopped at a specific point. At this point however, the mountain was cleaved in and all around him was just empty space and nothing to hold on to. His hands began to bleed from holding on to the rope so tightly for dear life. He began to shout to God asking God to help him and save him from this situation. All of a sudden he heard a voice. The voice said, “Do you believe in me?” The climber, in his complete hysteria, responded, “I always denied your existence outwardly, but I know that you exist.” The voice said, “Do you trust me?” The climber responded, “Of course I do, You are the only one who can help me.” The voice then said, “Let go of the rope.”

The climber said, “That is insane. There is no way I can let go of the rope- it is the only thing that is keeping me alive.”

The next day a rescue team went out to look for the climber and they found his body still holding tightly to the rope. He had frozen to death.

When people saw the frozen climber, they could not help but ask, “Why didn’t he just let go of the rope? He was only two feet off the ground.”

My dear brothers and sisters, let us be of those who attempt and strive and work hard towards Allah, and still have complete trust in Him and only Him.
May Allah make us of those who have trembling hearts when He is mentioned.
May Allah make us of those who increase in their faith when His verses are recited.
May Allah make us of those who have a deep trust in Him and only Him.

Akeemu salaah

Read Full Post »

Names are important. Whenever I hear a friend is pregnant, one of the first questions that comes to mind is, “What names are you thinking about?” Sometimes my husband and I will discuss names we like (a pretty popular conversation) and I am surprised by some of the reactions I have to a name. There are times I react by saying, “You cannot have such and such a name and not be cool.” Other times, we associate names with people of our past; people that we have loved and love us, people that were our bullies in school, and those people from afar that we wanted so badly to impress or emulate.

Islam is so rich with names. It is interesting to note that in the Arabic language there is a direct correlation between the importance of a thing and how many names it has. We only need to think about the amazing amount of names that Allah has, the amount of names ascribed to the Day of Judgment, or even the names for the king of the jungle (Asad, Usama, Hydar etc.) to know that this is true.

I used to be a teacher for IRD- Institute of Reading Development. During training, the first thing our boss emphasized was the importance of learning all the students’ names. Makes sense. When someone says to me, “Hi, Marwa,” it is completely different than a passing hello. It means that person cares enough to spend that extra time saying those two syllables. It also means s/he has my full attention. It’s not a, “hi, I know you look familiar but I can’t remember your name.” Innately, we know that calling people by their names (even though, for the most part, they have no choice regarding that name) is the gateway to the soul.

When we start developing nicknames for our friends, the relationship becomes that much more intimate. Abu Hurairah (May Allah be pleased with him) had an appointment to meet with Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), however he found himself in a predicament as his cat was lying on him fast asleep. He ended up missing the appointment with the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) and when asked what delayed him, he responded by saying, “A cat was lying on top of me fast asleep and I did not have the heart to wake her.” The Prophet (pbuh) then gave him his nickname, “Abu Hurairah (the father of cats).” Imagine receiving a nickname from the Messenger of God! What a beautiful feeling that must be.

Then there are other times when names are disputed. This happens frequently among Muslims when we debate on whether we should say “Allah” vs. “God” in a largely non-Muslim gathering. Some people despise the fact that Muslim speakers translate Allah to God because “Allah” has more depth in meaning and it means we are conforming in a way that we shouldn’t. Others think that if we use Allah we will no longer be relevant to our crowd. Honestly, I think both sides have legitimate arguments however I lean on the side of saying “God” with the disclaimer that I may use “Allah” because of my natural inclination to invoke God by that name. If I were going to a Hindu lecture and someone spoke about God as Krishna, I would not necessarily translate that to my idea of God and so I wonder how it is for non-Muslims when they hear Allah being used. At the very least, the name to them is foreign sounding and may connote a degree of separation. We also know that Allah is used by the Christian Copts who predominantly reside in Egypt and Arabic is their mother-tongue.

It’s important to be relevant in our speech. It’s important to try and do justice to the name of Allah. How do we do that? Ibn Qayyim’s description of The Name continues to expand my thoughts of Allah every time I read it:

This Noble Name has ten characteristics in its physical wording that are specific to it. As regards to its meaning the most knowledgeable of creation (pbuh) said, “I cannot enumerate praise of You, You are as You have praised Yourself.” How is it possible to enumerate the specificities of a Name, the object of which has every single perfection without restriction, who deserves all commendation and praise, all lauding and veneration, who possesses all magnificence, and perfection, and all nobility and beauty? All goodness, beneficence, generosity, grace, and gifts belong to Him and come from Him. This Name is not mentioned over something paltry except that it lift it, nor at a time of distress and worry except that it alleviates it, nor at a time of constraint except that it liberate it. No weak creature depends upon it except that it grants him strength, nor one undergoing humiliation except that it grants him honor, nor one who is poor except that it leads him to richness, nor one who is left alone except that it grants him comfort, nor one who is overcome except that it aids him and supports him, nor one in a state of dire need except that it lifts his need, nor one who is run astray except that it draws him back. It is the Name through which hardship is removed, through which blessings descend, through which supplications are answered, through which the foot does not slip, through which evil is repressed and good is promoted. It is the Name through which the heavens and earth stand, because of which the heavenly scripture descended, the Messengers were sent, the legal laws legislated, and the legal punishments established. Because of it, the Scales erected, the path laid out, the Paradise and Hell made ready. Through it is the Lord of the worlds worshipped and praised and to establish its rights were the Messengers sent. Felicitous is one who has come to know it and establish its right, wretched is one who is ignorant of it and left off its right. It is the core of the creation and the command and through it do both stand and become firm, and to it they end…

Oh Allah we call on you with every name that is Yours that You have named Yourself or taught us in Your book or descended upon Your creation….

Read Full Post »