Understanding the Prophet's Life Gradual Change
Changing people is not a simple task. Individuals become set
in their beliefs and attitudes, and dominant practices,
customs and traditions become part of their life. To change
these will require hard work and a great deal of patience.
Therefore, keeping human nature in mind, all the noble
Prophets of Allah worked according to the set priorities of
Islam and introduced change gradually so that it could become firm in
people's hearts and minds.
If change is rushed, it could have a negative impact on the person or
society that is being changed.
"The religion of Islam is a lenient one - so go into
it with ease and patience. No one who attempts to storm his
way into it will come out victorious." (Bukhari) Compiled From: "Building a New Society" - Zahid Parvez, p. 163
Cool Tips! Hard Moments
The poet Robert Frost wrote,
"Two roads diverged in a wood, and I - I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference." There are certain hard moments,
diverging-road moments, that, if we are strong in them, will make "all
the difference" down the road of life.
Hard moments are conflicts between doing the right thing and doing the easier thing. They
are the key tests, the defining moments of life - and how we handle
them can literally shape our forevers. They come in two sizes, small and
Small hard moments occur
daily and include things like getting up when your alarm rings,
controlling your temper, or disciplining yourself to do your homework.
If you can conquer yourself and be strong in these moments your days
will run so much more smoothly. For example, if I'm weak in a hard
moment and sleep in (mattress over mind), it often snowballs and becomes
the first of many little failures throughout the day. But if I get up
when planned (mind over mattress), it often becomes the first of many
In contrast to small hard
moments, larger ones occur every so often in life and include things
like choosing good friends, resisting negative peer pressure, and
rebounding after a major setback: You may get cut from a team or dumped
by your lover, your parents may get divorced, or you may have a death in
the family. These moments have huge consequences and often strike when
you're least expecting them. If you recognize that these moments will
come (and they will), then you can prepare for them and meet them head
on like a warrior and come out victorious.
Be courageous at these key junctures! Don't sacrifice your future happiness for one night of pleasure, a weekend of excitement, or a thrilling moment of revenge.
Living The Quran Good Projects Surah Al-Ankabut (The Spider) Chapter 29: Verse 69
"And those who strive in Our cause, We will certainly guide them to our paths. For verily Allah is with those who do right."
important for the Muslim minority to establish institutions of public
welfare such as hospitals, poor people's homes, children's homes,
orphanages, centres for the disabled, traveler's lodges, coaching centre
for students etc. These are essential not only for the survival of the
Muslim minority but also for non-Muslims. Keeping their doors open for
non-Muslims would have manifold advantages. This would ensure not only
the welfare of the minority but also endear the non-Muslims and serve
the cause of helping humanity.
complain of the lack of resources. Obviously resources are needed for
setting up such institutions. However, arranging for funds for these is
not so difficult. The Muslim community which has already been sponsoring
hundreds of thousands of madrasas and masjids can easily set up these
welfare institutions. What is really needed is the deep realization to
take up such projects. The
only thing missing is to realize community and national obligations and
to establish institutions which are suited best in the given
circumstances. There is a pressing need for taking up these
projects with single-minded devotion. For this sincere intention Allah
promises that He provides ways and means for all the good projects aimed
at His cause.
The Prophet, peace be
upon him, never put anyone to death for apostasy alone. Indeed, there
were cases when certain individuals apostatised after professing Islam
yet the Prophet did not even penalise them, let alone condemn them to
death. Affirmative evidence on this point is found in the following
incident which appears in the Hadith compilations of al-Bukhari and
A Bedouin came to the Prophet and pledged his allegiance to
him, professing Islam. The next day he came back, ill with fever and
said, 'Return my pledge to me.' but the Prophet refused - thrice. Then
the Prophet said: Medina is like a bellows which rejects its dross and
recognises its pure.
This was a clear case of apostasy, in which the Prophet made
no reference to any punishment at all, and the Bedouin, despite his
persistent renunciation of Islam was left to go unharmed.
The Prophet, peace be upon him, did not treat apostasy as a proscribed offence (hadd),
but, on the contrary, pardoned many individuals who had embraced Islam,
then renounced it, and then embraced it again. Included among these was
Abdullah Ibn Abi Sarh, the foster brother of Uthman Ibn Affan, and
one-time scribe of the Prophet. Compiled From: "Freedom of Expression in Islam" - Mohammad Hashim Kamali, pp. 96-98
Blindspot! Acting Together
One of the best testimonies that a religious or spiritual
tradition can give of itself lies in acts of solidarity between its
adherents and others. To defend the dignity of the latter, to fight so
that our societies do not produce indignity, to work together to support
marginalized and neglected people, will certainly help us know one
another better, but it will, above all, make known the essential message
that shines at the heart of our traditions: never neglect your brother in humanity and learn to love him or at least serve him.
More broadly, we have to act
together so that the body of values that forms the basis of our ethics
is not relegated to such a private and secluded sphere that it becomes
inoperative and socially dead. Our philosophies of life must continue to
inspire our civil commitment, with all due respect to the supporters of
a postmodernism whose aim seems to be to deny any legitimacy to all
reference to a universal ethic. We need to find together a civil
role, inspired by our convictions, in which we will work to demand that
the rights of all be respected, that discriminations be outlawed, that
dignity be protected, and that economic efficiency cease to be the
measure of what is right. Differentiating between public and
private space does not mean that women and men of faith, or women and
men of conscience, have to shrink to the point of disappearance and fear
to express themselves publicly in the name of what they believe. When a
society has gone so far as to disqualify, in public debate, faith and
what it inspires, the odds are that its system is founded only on
materialism and ruled only by materialist logic - the self-centred
accumulation of goods and profit.
We must dare to express our
faith, its demands, and its ethics, to involve ourselves as citizens in
order to make known our human concerns, our desire for justice and
dignity, our moral standards, our fears as consumers and televiewers,
our hopes as mothers and fathers - to commit ourselves to do the best
possible, together, to reform what might be. All our religious
traditions have a social message that invites us to work together on a
practical level. We are still far from this. In spite of thousands of
dialogue circles and meetings, we still seem to know one another very
little and to be very lacking in trust. Perhaps we must reconsider our
methods and formulate a mutual demand: to behave in such a way that our actions, as much as possible, mirror our words, and then to act together.
Living The Quran True Superiority Surah Al-Hujurat (The Chambers) Chapter 49: Verse 13 (partial)
"Indeed, the most honourable of you in the sight of God is the most God-fearing of you. Surely, God is all-knowing, all-aware."
cultures, if one is aware of his "high birth," he is obliged to behave
nobly. One of the blights of many societies is racism, when people feel
and act superior simply because of their race. The Quran lays waste to
false claims of superiority and states that the only rank that matters relates to one's relationship with God.
are honoured by having lineage traceable to the Prophet, peace be upon
him, and his family. While this is indeed an honour in itself, it is
something to be venerated when one's actions are likewise honourable. It
is said, "If your actions hold you back, your lineage will not speed you up."
"Purification of the Heart" - Hamza Yusuf, p. 126
Understanding the Prophet's Life Supreme Names
Abu Dawud and Nasai both related from Anas [ibn Malik] that
he was sitting with the Prophet, peace be upon him, when a man, after
offering his prayers, said in supplication: 'O God, verily, I ask You
because Yours is all praise. There is no deity but You, the One who
sends blessings, the Originator of the heavens and the earth. O You who
are endowed with might and generosity. You who are the Living, the
Vigilant.' The Prophet remarked, '[This man] has supplicated God through
His supreme name: when God is called upon by it, He answers; when asked for something through it, He gives [what is asked].'
In this way, the Prophet is telling us that a supplication is
answered when it is preceded by praise and remembrance, that this
praise and remembrance are the Supreme name of God and that this is the
most effective way for the servant to ask for his needs. Compiled From: "The Invocation of God" - Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya, p. 121
Blindspot! Love and Law
The Shariah experiences no tension between 'love' and 'law' or
between 'faith' and 'deeds'. Both are integrated into a harmonious
Guiding people to the Din,
the Way, through the Shariah is an act of God's greatest mercy, kindness
and love. Wherever the 'sending down of the Book' is mentioned in the
Quran, the attributes of mercy, wisdom and omnipotence are also
The very distinction between
love and law is alien to the temper of Islam and incomprehensible in its
vision. Love is all-embracing; how can it even conceive of displeasing
the Beloved and ignoring the guidance given by Him? How can One who
loves His creatures leave them wandering and groping in darkness to find
answers to the complex problem of life?
After we went to Perhentian, we stopped at Sweet Beach Resort for our final beach day. This beach was brown instead of white and the water was also brown, so not nearly as nice as Perhentian. The waves were huge and we could have went surfing there. They were so strong I couldn't stand up with my leg problems. The beach was so desolate as it was two days before eid although I did see one man running along it. The place we stayed at there, looked like it hadn't been updated since the 80's and every room had something wrong with it ie broken toilet seat, broken bathroom door etc. The restaurant was shut down since everyone pretty much had left so we had to walk to the road to eat from hawkers which was ok. The guy tried to guess where I was from and even said "shukran" to me...so many people thought I was arab this time in Malaysia because I was wearing jilbab. The first time back in 2000 I wore baju kurung so everyone seemed to understand that I was a white chick trying to go native, lol. Later on after spending time on the beach which was littered with old lawn chairs we went back to our room and except for my daughter and I everyone went back to the guy to get supper. It was very eerie as everyone at the resort had left, except a few, I'm guessing staff and then the lights went out. I thought, oh they will quickly fix this, or at least bring us a candle? But nobody came. I started to panic a little as Magrhib was coming and still the rest of the family was not back, nor any staff. As the minutes ticked by, I thought maybe next time I travel, I should bring a flash light. Then I made dua asking Allah to get the lights back on so I wouldn't have to pray Maghrib in the dark. Almost immediately the lights went back on and I was so grateful. So I prayed and then supper was brought home and since hardly anybody was there, they let us have two rooms to sleep in. Would I suggest anybody go? Not really but maybe we just saw the bad side. We did find lovely shells at this beach though.
Living The Quran Unique Beauty Surah Al-Hijr (The Rocky Tract) Chapter 15: Verses 16-18
have indeed set up in the heavens constellations, and endowed them with
beauty for all to behold, and We have guarded them from every cursed
devil, so that anyone who tries to eavesdrop is pursued by a flame clear
to see. ."
'constellations' may refer to the stars and planets themselves with
their huge entities, or it may refer to their positions which define
The reference here to the beauty of the universe, particularly the type seen in the sky, suggests that beauty is an intended purpose behind such creation.
It is not merely size or accuracy that are intended, but also beauty
which is clearly seen in all its aspects. A quick glance at the sky in a
dark moonless night, with so many stars and planets sending their faint
light our way, gives us a sense of that unique beauty. The same feeling
will be aroused by a similar look at the sky in a night with a full
moon, moving along in a romantic air, with the rest of the universe
holding its breath so that it does not disturb a happy dreamer. One
glance like that is sufficient to indicate the depth of the beauty in
the creation of the universe.
beauty comes preservation, pure and intact. None can spoil this purity
by trying to spread evil in it. Satan is allowed to do his evil work
only on earth, to tempt human beings to follow his wicked designs. The sky, which is a symbol for what is exalted and sublime, is beyond his reach. He may attempt to do so, but every attempt he makes is foiled.
According to a Hadith, the Prophet (peace be upon him) asked the believers to 'ponder upon the creation of God, but not on God. For you will never be able to do Him justice.' [Suyuti, al Jami al Saghir]
The restriction is
obviously based on the premise that the human mind is not endowed with
the capacity to define its Creator, although it may explore and explain
His attributes in relation to those aspects of His creation which are
known or can be known by it. In this way, our knowledge of God is directly related to our knowledge of His creation.
The Quran, on numerous occasions, invites attention to the signs of the
creation of God, which testify to His omniscience and omnipresence. We
are, thus, encouraged to investigate the world around us, to acquire
knowledge of the mysteries of creation, and through it also to increase
our understanding of the attributes and Exalted Names of God.
Since human knowledge of the universe is incomplete, knowledge of the Creator of the universe must also be an on-going process,
and one which is unlikely to attain perfection. Attempting to
'investigate' the Essence of God is an idle and dangerous exercise which
seeks to fathom the unfathomable, something beyond human capacity. It
is dangerous as it leads to error in belief. To attempt to specify the
Essence of God is to try to limit the limitless, which is, in turn,
tantamount to an attempt at reducing God Most High.
Ethical counterpowers must
emerge at the heart of civil societies as minds struggle against
propaganda, lies, and disinformation. We must reconcile these factors
with complex, in-depth debates and serious reading. This
turn of mind must be allied to national and international actions that
fight for the dignity of women and men, of citizens, foreigners, and
immigrants; for the right to welfare, health, education, freedom,
justice, and solidarity; and more broadly for the rule of law,
independence, and pluralism. We must be ambitious without
illusion and humble without naivete; the road will be very long. This is
because the ambition to resist must be combined with humility about
projects undertaken and results achieved.
This is in keeping with
fundamental spiritual teachings: the imperative requirement of resisting
with one's heart, conscience, and skills; determined patience and
active perseverance to go on; confidence in the name of meaning,
regardless of results. This is how Muslim spirituality, echoing all the
spiritualities in the world, teaches the meaning of dignity. We should never turn into dreamers or idealists finding legitimacy in aspirations to a hereafter.
We must look squarely at humans, hypocrisies, and lies; we must
simplify nothing. Nothing will be changed, for instance, by denouncing
wars and promoting wide-eyed, improbable pacifism. Lucidity requires us
to denounce all aspects of the business of war and promote a profound,
uncompromising ethics of peace. Victims have this right over our
intelligence and commitments. What spirituality and meaning first and
foremost require are competence, realism, consistency, and earnestness.
We only got to spend one day and night at Perhentian Besar. It was wonderful but too short. At least a week would have been nice. The problem was they were closing up for the season because it was almost Eid. The kids had so much fun swimming and playing with the crabs and burying a dead jellyfish. Eating alfresco at the next door restaurant was wonderful too. The beach was almost empty but there were some half-naked tourists that I didn't appreciate. They were mostly white but none of them were speaking in English. Seems like most of the tourists in Malaysia are either from Europe or the Middle East. But on this beach we were the only Muslims sadly besides the staff. In our burquinis we felt like outsiders and I had to keep telling myself that I was in Malaysia; a Muslim country. The nicest experience I had on the beach was when I was swimming in the evening. Suddenly we heard the azan coming from Perhentian Kecil; the island next to ours which has fishing villages. It was so beautiful, the scenery, the water, the sound. I immediately got out and went to our cabin to pray maghrib.
Living The Quran Essence Surah Al-Shams (The Sun) Chapter 91: Verses 9-10
"He is indeed prosperous who has grown it (the soul) in purity and he is indeed lost who has corrupted it."
Our essence is
like a seed. If we use our potential and intellectual and spiritual
faculties in this narrow world under the soil of the worldly life only
to satisfy the fancies of our carnal, evil-commanding soul or selfhood,
we will become corrupt, like a rotten seed, and merely enjoy fleeting
pleasures during this short life. Thus, we will depart from this world
with a heavy spiritual burden on our unfortunate souls.
But if we germinate
the seed of our potential under the "soil of spirituality" with the
"water of faith and worship," and if we use our spiritual faculties for
their true purposes, we will grow into an eternal, majestic tree, the
branches of which extend into eternity. We will yield fruit of virtue in
the world and eternal happiness in the next world. We will be
favoured in Paradise with infinite perfection and countless blessings.
All this means
that we have been sent to the world to grow through knowledge and
faith. And due to our special position among other beings, we have been entrusted with improving the earth through knowledge and faith and establishing justice on it. This imposes on us duties toward our Creator and other beings.
A man asked the Prophet, peace be upon him, "Give me advice." The Prophet said, "Do not become angry."
The man asked again, and the Prophet repeated his advice. For a third
time, the man asked the question, and the Prophet said again, "Do not become angry." [Bukhari]
According to scholars
like Imam al-Nawawi and others, when the Messenger of God said, "Do not
become angry," he meant do not allow anger to lord over oneself and
cause the loss of one's comportment. In other words, do not become
anger, its embodiment, such that people only see your rage. Instead,
control your anger and never lose control.
Anger is something that needs to be trained, not abolished, for
if people completely suppressed their sense of anger, many of the
injustices of the world would not have been opposed and tyranny would
have gone unchecked. Without anger, people would go around with
complete impunity and commit heinous acts without resistance from the
people. Corruption would cover the face of the earth.
A person who
has no feelings about oppression, wrongdoing and disbelief is, in
fact, an impotent person emotionally. It has been said, "Evil
flourishes when a few good people do not do anything to oppose it." Thus
response to injustice and oppression in a civilized way is the appropriate expression of anger. Being neutral to injustice is equal to contributing to injustice.
Improvement is a far more realistic goal than perfection. When we
believe "we must be this" we ignore who or what we actually are, our
capacity and our limitations. We start from the image of perfection, and
of course, from perfection there is nowhere to go but down.
When we think, "I want my parents to see me as the perfect daughter," all we can do is fail. First, perfection is unattainable. Second, we can't control how people perceive us. Lastly, there is no way that we can do every single thing that is expected of us or that we expect of ourselves.
When our goal is growth and
we say, "I'd like to improve this," we start from where and who we are.
"I'd like to work on my relationship with my parents" is a completely
different goal from "I want my parents to see me as the perfect
When we give ourselves
permission to be imperfect, when we find self-worth despite our
imperfections, when we build connection networks that affirm and value
us as imperfect beings, we are much more capable of change.