Living by It. One lesson a day…

… from Quran. Changing slowly, but surely.

Lesson 28 – Purpose to my Existence. Purposeful Existence. March 30, 2010

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Rabi Al-Sani 16, 1431

“Why have We created the heavens and Earth and all that is in between the two? Only with precision for purpose, and for a finite term. And people who commit kufr (who refuse to believe) turn away from that of which they are warned.”

Surah Al-Ahqaf (Surah 46), verse 3

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My dad is quite the philosopher. Life amazes him. The beauty of the world, the nitty gritties of life, the fact that we go out of the house to earn our livelihoods, the sky, the stars, the foods we consume, our laughter, our cries, our fights, our sorrows, our minds, people – everything fascinates me. And confuses him. Ever so often, he’ll invite me to sit with him and just talk about why we’re here, how we’re here. I don’t find the conversation enjoyable. Maybe I’m a dimwit who doesn’t want to talk in length about Allah’s Plan – something I possess little knowledge of, if at all. Maybe I’m just lazy to wrack my brains and come up with answers.

But day before yesterday, I told him, “Abbu! We DON’T KNOW! There IS a purpose! We’re not just living away lives because Allah just Created us like that. It’s there in the Quran, that’s all I know.”

The funny thing is, a few years back I used to play in my mind the words “pointlessness”, “uselessness”, “wastefulness” when I thought about life, in general. The hurts, the worries, the mistakes all led me to consider life to be so meaningless. I mean why ARE we here? We wake up, get dressed, go somewhere, come back home and sleep… only to repeat the cycle. Everyday. So I guess it’s the kind of question we all pretend to find answers to, every now and then… which brings me to the current verse.

Allah has Declared that a) there IS a purpose, b) all of this has been done with precision. Nothing was left on chance or on invariable entities. Everything IS, in fact, in order – that, however, is beyond our comprehension, c) it’s for a finite time – life, as we know it, IS going to end. Nothing we save will remain, nothing will go to waste. Something WILL follow things-that-are-there-for-a-finite-term.

Some day I’ll list the things we’ve been warned of. We will all then decide whether we’re kafir‘s or Muslims.

Upon further exploration and reading, I’ve discovered that our purpose is to worship Allah and obey His Commands. It’s a concept I’ve had to work on because I used to wonder about WHY I need to worship Him, WHY HE Made me in the first place… Just so I could worship Him? I wish I could explain better but it seems that’s what I gotta do. Live a life with the purpose to help humanity, to worship Him.

 

Lesson 27 – Taught & Learnt March 28, 2010

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Rabi Al-Sani 12, 1431

“And We had done all that. And We taught him the manufacture (of such) clothing for you with which to protect yourself in your war. Then are you grateful?”

Surah Al-Anbiaa (Surah 21), verse 80

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The “he” refers to Hazrat Daood (raw). Let me get this… Allah is Saying Hazrat Daood (raw) invented the armour. We think we’re such hotshots inventing this gadget and that technology, developing this design and that vaccine. What brought us to this level? What preceded all this? When we compare this time with that of our parent’s childhoods, we come up with soooooo many things that were unthinkable then and a necessity now. What of generations hundreds of years ago?

This verse make me ponder about something else too… about how Allah is the One who Grants us knowledge. It’s not what we get out of books, we could read tons and tons of literature and not grasp anything out of if Allah doesn’t Will it to be. I actually experienced that back when I was doing Pharmacology a few years back. I didn’t get ANYTHING of Pharma. And I didn’t TILL AFTER THE EXAMS! I read two Pharmacology books, I did questions but I just didn’t get it. That’s how mathematics is for a lot of people, but I digress. All my friends got it, they remember the classifications, they remember some of the unique characteristics of certain drugs. I mean I’m not super smart but how could it be that I picked almost nothing from the subject while everybody managed to struggle their way out of?

During exam time, I actually ask Allah to make my learning possible and useful for me. Who else am I going to ask, you know? There’s a part in Ayat-ul-kursi that says something along the lines of how we would know of nothing unless Allah Allows that to happen. So I keep reciting that with a prayer in my heart of letting me understand what I intend to read and study. What I need to do now is to remember to be grateful when He DOES Allow for that to happen, and not think about how smart and strategic I was with my “study” plan.

 

Lesson 26 – Investing in Joy March 26, 2010

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Rabi Al-Sani 10, 1431

“O you people who believe! Spend (utilize) the good things which you have earned and of the (agricultural and mineral) product of the earth which We have grown for you. And do not deliberate that when you spend, you will give what is rotten among these (things), and you will not accept such (a thing) except that you overlook this (matter). And understand that Allah is Free of want, Worthy of all praise.”

Surah Al-Baqarah (Surah 2), verse 267

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Sometimes when we have a lot of moolah on our hands we start thinking so much for ourselves, we can’t care less for anybody else’s needs and wants at all. Of course it’s important to utilize the money you’re earning on yourself and on your loved ones, but every once in a while we should take into consideration other people, whose needs we can help fulfill. These could be your friends, your employees, your colleagues… anybody you know, who is probably doing worse than you and would enjoy the luxury of what you think is a routine need for you.

Sometimes when you’re short on money and there are events coming up that require you to give presents, you begin to look around for things that will be within your budget, but maybe not something you would want for yourself because of whatever reasons. So many times when we have a choice of two things for ourselves we give away the one we like a little less to somebody. It’s an odd topic, an odd feeling, but it happens. Only when our own needs are fulfilled that we choose to give away something we would truly want for ourselves.

I don’t know if this is a global feeling but every time we indulge in pleasurable things like food, clothes, movies, traveling we get an uncomfortable, sinful feeling about it… like we don’t deserve it, like there are so many people out there who don’t have what we have and maybe we should give away something (not because we’re being generous, but because it’ll lessen the baseless guilt we have)… the roots of this feeling bud when we are continually fortunate, never when we’re getting what we want in an on and off manner. I think it’s critical to understand that Allah Made unlimited bounties for us to enjoy. That’s what they are there for. If we are giving away enough, if we are being honest about what we’re getting, if what we’re enjoying are free from lewdness and extravagance, if the pleasures are giving birth to pure gratitude to the Creator, if those things are helping us become better beings with better souls, then I think we’re doing our jobs right. No way should we feel guilty for being fortunate. No way should we consider it sinful to be truly content and no way should we shy away from whatever else Allah is Offering to us, be those material possessions or peace of mind.

I know it gets preachy when I say, “Give away what you think is perfect for you to somebody who, you feel will cherish it even more,” but I will say it because I know He has bigger hands and He will get me stuff that’s much bigger than what I’ve imagined to be perfect for myself.

Some other important things I’m going to pick from this are:

  • Hoarding your earnings is a complete no- no. You don’t want to be a millionaire on your bank statement and an annoying miser to a majority of people.
  • Products of earth – I only read fruits when I read “products of earth” only because to me, fruits are divine gifts, nothing less. What flavors Allah has Created, what textures, what shapes, what variety… and fruits are just one of the hundreds of things I can list that exemplify Allah’s Favors on us.
  • Allah doesn’t need me. I need Him. He doesn’t Need my fake gestures, He Wants pure intentions. He doesn’t Need me to live away a meaningless life, He Wants me to spend it being grateful and appreciative… because He is the only One who deserves that.
 

Lesson 25 – Incessant Ingratitude March 24, 2010

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Rabi Al-Sani 8, 1431

“And there is the one among the human beings who worships Allah on the fringe (indecisively), that is if one good befalls him he is content. And if he is tried with adversity he turns his attention towards his back (away from Allah). Suffers losses in both; in this world and the hereafter. That is clearly a big loss.”

Surah Al-Hajj (Surah 22), verse 11

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That’s me, mostly.

You can find me in a fetal position when things go wrong… and you’ll find me beaming with positivity and love for Allah when things are agreeable. Sometimes when things are really really wrong, you’ll find me begging for His Mercy and making prayers furiously. Ugh.

I’m a disappointment to myself when my yo-yo attitude manifests itself in various forms. Like these days, when final year is beginning to take its toll on me, when my hospital is loathe to me (for oh so many reasons!), when the subjects are killing me, when I’m unable to update this blog which means neither am I reading the Quran as much as I should, nor am I living by it. Ugh.

The above verse is followed by: “Rather than Allah they plead to others who cannot harm him and who cannot benefit to him…” I don’t think I do that, I’m mostly silent on my problems and just ponder (excessively) and procrastinate things until I get tired of the gloominess. It’s the time when I’m least productive and it’s the time when I have random bouts of glorifying Him. I think I pretend to be His obedient slave who remembers Him during the dark times… but who am I kidding? He Knows I haven’t trusted His decisions the moment I decide to lie on my bed and stare at the ceiling for hours because nothing matters at that point. My mom is of the opinion that feeling sad about your life, in general, equates to hopelessness which equates as a kind of disbelief and mistrust in Allah and I’m beginning to really see her point. My dad always preached that I gotta stay positive no matter what or rather, ESPECIALLY when things aren’t going right because that’s a true indicator of my character. I slip ever so often and it makes more sense than ever, that one should always surround himself with people who have great ideas and great knowledge and above all, a strong faith in ALL that He Does for us. That way, when one slips, the others help him get back to where he wants to be and when he’s there he can hope to help his companions out if the need be.

May Allah Guide me.

 

Lesson 24 – Salat | Forgiveness | Repentance | Reward March 18, 2010

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Confused about the date. Help?

“Of course your Rabb knows that you certainly stand (for salaat) for less than two-thirds (2/3) of the night.

And for half of it (at times), and a third of it (at other times).

And also a group from among people who are your companions.

And Allah has decreed that the duration of night and daylight hours (must decrease and increase).

He Knows that you are unable to count of it (your time of devotion).

So He has turned to you (in acceptance of your repentance).

Therefore read as much of the Quran as you easily can.

He is Aware that some of you may be ill and others will be traveling in land seeking of His bounty.

And yet others fighting (or preparing for) war in Allah’s cause.

Therefore read as much of it as you easily can.

And stand regularly for salaat and give zakat. And give an interest free loan to Allah, a beautiful loan.

And whatever you send ahead of you, the good for yourself, you will find that what Allah has with Him is better and a great recompense. And keep asking Allah to (provide the cover of) forgiveness for you.

Indeed Allah Forgives, He is Merciful.”

Surah Muzammil (Surah 73), verse 20

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Wow. *blink*blink*

Okay.

  • So two thirds of about an average 8 hours of night is actually 5.3 hours. I don’t think I stand even one eighth of the night! Either I’m not following this… or I’m a poor Muslim. A half would be 4 hours, a third 2.6. Somebody help and explain me this!

From what I understand, night is the time to ask for forgiveness because He has turned to us at that time. Makes sense because nights are when the distractions are minimal, when the day has ended and so have the energy levels, when we realize we haven’t thought about ourselves all day and need to, when the misery of the day comes crashing back to infuriate us and we’re looking for a pure vent out. So Allah Knows all that and He Chose that time to turn to us… although to be fair, I think He’s always available, if we just bothered to check.

  • For the last few years, I’ve been having conversations with myself about what Allah Wants from me. Surely, He Knows how I spend my time, the duties I have and the chores I have to do. He can See how I don’t have time for myself sometimes and admittedly so, the movies and blogs took much of it… but if I were to eliminate those wastes from my routine, I think it’s still understandable I don’t have time for everything everyday. But guess what! I don’t even have to fret about it! Because He had already given me the leverage that I was just beginning to contemplate on… and He didn’t Say it just one time! He has Said it twice here: Read as much as you easily can. The problem arises when I de-prioritise reading Quran and loosen the definition of what is easily readable, on a day to day basis, to according to just my terms. That’s just being clever. I think we all look for ways to excuse ourselves from whatever that limits our number of roads; I mean I think we enjoy entertaining the idea that opportunities are unlimited and that we have so many roads to go down on. The road that leads to Allah is what we sideline because we read He’s Merciful and we think, “Oh well, I’ll get to it… Someday, but I will.” The next time we think about WHEN that day will come, it’s already a few years for some, a few decades for others. By that time, the vices, the sins, the selfishness, the miseries, the hopelessness have all accumulated and we attempt to direct ourselves with a whole new perspective, a seemingly wise one (because we equate years to wisdom) until a point is reached when we rue on our laziness to rush to His promises and His guidance.

I may not be reading as much as I, truly, easily can everyday… but writing it all down has the very evident advantages of helping me remember the verses more and it’s helping me to uncover the different angles of a seemingly small verse, that by the end of the post reveals its profundity albeit to what I can decipher alone. I like the idea of questioning things, it’s definitely the best way to let ideas sink and stay anchored.

  • Zakat and loans. Okay, so those are lessons for another day InshaAllah.
  • I know a few people, as of now, who are going through tough times. Not surprising because times are really tough for most! The thing is, almost all of them fit the bill for upright-and-maintaining-integrity types… and honestly, that shocks me. And fascinates me. I’m at that point in time where things are Alhumdolillah great, nothing to complain about and I seriously doubt if I would maintain my integrity if circumstances were less than favorable for me… but I digress. This last bit of verse about recompense and forgiveness? I think people should read this regularly and thank Allah for His Kindness in that He is basically Calling out to them (and to people who’re working to improve lives, making waves, helping humanity) to stand where they are and just trust Him. HE WILL GIVE THEM BACK WHAT THEY SENT. AT A BETTER PRICE!!!!!! That’s like I give you a Cadbury bar and a few years later, you give me a Lindt bar. I just wrote that to drive home the point better; no disrespect or trivialization was intended during the construction of that statement…. Along with that, He Asks you to keep asking for forgiveness. Either that means the tough times are a payback for the sins (which seems highly unlikely to me because of the distortion that thought process is capable of) or that continuously asking for forgiveness will keep you busy and humbled during your tough times and indirectly remind you of Who is truly in control or that the prayers during the tough times are adhered to more (again a highly likely situation to me). Or it could simply be because man is liable to sins and Allah is just Asking us to watch out! Whichever one of those that it is, He ends the verse by reassuring us that He will Forgive a truly repenting soul.

SubhanAllah!

 

Lesson 23 – Who Died and Made You King of Anything? March 16, 2010

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Rabi Al-Awwal 27, 1431

“They said: “O Saleh! You are from among us, we expected a lot from you before this. Now you want us to desist from worship of those our fathers worshipped? Indeed we are in doubt about what you invite us to, we have an (obscure) suspicion”.”

Surah Hud (Surah 11), verse 62

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I know of somebody who leads his ward group in university. He’s a cooperative, helpful guy who takes the inititative whenever required, basically a reliable leader overall. His group is, however, something else. Competitive, disagreeable, fussy… That’s what I got to know AFTER I decided to spend about 12 hours with them for a study session. Before that I thought they were an okay group, I mean everybody faces problems every once in a while; other than those, they looked like they survived well together.

So I join them and lo and behold! I’m shocked at the negativity I see, the taunts, the rigid rules, the ad hocness, the competitive ways. I later talk to this friend and ask him about the shocking contrast and I’m a bit amused by just how many stories he has to tell and just how much he’s suffering at the hands of a few!

Apparently the group members don’t trust him with anything when, in fact, he’s the one making calls, making arrangements, fixing schedules, accommodating his “friends”; he’s the one who has to give up his time in class to make “emergency” arrangements. There was a time when one of the members (admittedly, the centre of negativity in my opinion) actually said, “Oh, so YOU are going to take the decisions? Why? Why should you, of all the people? I think we should put in our votes about what we want to do, as a group!” Guess what, they actually did put in votes… and ever since they’ve been casting votes about almost every decision they have had to take… Some are downright petty! Now it’s not like all of them infuse their negativity, there are some in the group who actually manage to allow consensus to take place on a regular basis… and then, there are some who act as passive “enablers”.

It seems like they don’t want to take responsibility but they don’t want to trust their leader either, who, by the way, IS taking pains to keep the group intact (why? I don’t understand after all that drama). It’s highly likely that some egos are being brushed because some people out there DO have that kind of psyche of just talking negatively about issues, people, system, whatever. Is it me or is this group’s story similar to what Hazrat Saleh (raw) was facing, in terms, of the problem they had with having somebody from amongst them leading them?

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“But Ma did it like this!”

“I know, but the latest study says the results are better if kids are not given punishments…”

“Yeah, well, she applied that on us and we turned out fine!”

“Umm sorry to break this to you, but you have issues! Don’t you think you’d have turned out differently if you were given respect and time instead of the smacks? If you could, wouldn’t you trade for the embarrassment and humiliation you felt? Don’t you think you would have been less rebellious, so to say, if your views were listened to, at that time?”

“I can’t say, but I think Ma did a wonderful job and your “angel” of a Zoozoo is turning out rude so why don’t you do things the way your STUDY tells you to and I’ll stick to my ways, thank you.”

In our respect and love for our parents and their ways, we forget to question what’s right, what’s wrong, more often than not. We ponder sometimes and make silent resolves sometimes, but change the traditions slash ways slash culture slash norms? No sire! Thank you, but that’s too much work! If I were to relate that to my life, I’d pick how weddings are done in the Muslim world… or wait, should I say the sub-continent? Whatever. The thing is, SO much money is going into it. Not just the hosting parties’ money but a lot of the people attending it! New clothes to make/ buy, new shoes to buy, new bags, the presents to give. The hosting parties are, well, living with an open tap (a rather lame analogy) – all the money’s getting drained out on the venue, the set up, the foods to serve, the events to arrange, the greeting cards, the presents to give away, the clothes, the salon. Ugh! What for? Wouldn’t it be great if a small event just took place? Where only the close family members are invited to? Where the concerns of all the people not so concerned with the wedding are shoved away and just a minimal amount of money and time spent on an event that’s first of all, just another part of life and secondly, basically going to last for a few hours?

The media nonchalantly calls it the “big” day, the day when brides should go all out, get pampered and what not? Newsflash: It’s another day really. This post is losing its focus a bit, but the point really is, when something’s so deep set in our minds because that’s how we grew up, we actually forget to question its roots and its significance. When we DO realize that the roots (and the significance) are unsubstantiated, we say we’re powerless to change anything about it. I think it’s just a farce. We act weak because it helps things to continue smoothly. If we took the step, we’d be too bothered about the views of the not-so-concerned people, which is why we never TAKE the step in the first place!

Again, I find this very relatable to what Hazrat Saleh (raw) faced, when his people questioned his ways instead of their forefathers, when they subtly admitted to their weakness in going against the norms and traditions instead of taking the guidance they were receiving in (good) stride.

 

Lesson 22 – Do good, yo! March 14, 2010

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Rabi Al-Awwal 25, 1431

“Who can say a better word than the one who invites towards Allah? And does good deeds and says: “I am indeed among those who submit to be a Musalman”.”

Surah Ha Meem Sajda (Surah 41), verse 33

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It took me such a long time to come out of the shell of “personal”  religion. I always thought my prayers were my own, nobody else’s business, that faith was something I don’t need to tell anybody about because He Knows what’s in MY heart. It’s only recently I started being more open about my struggles, about my strategies in upgrading my iman because I needed help and because all of us need help. I still haven’t crossed over all my inhibitions about how I take this; there are things I want to do and I don’t know how to start, more so I don’t know if I have the credibility to go out and just suggest ideas to people that I think will help them.

I only give out ideas to people who, I think, will take them or to people who, I feel, are really down and out and could do with a little bit of genuine care on my part. I don’t want to be taken as preachy,  I don’t want to waste my energy on people who’ll probably just go back to their ways that are harming them knowingly. I’ve been through both and I know those are annoying situations to be in.

I am very inspired by stories about people who do good but never feel the need to tell anybody until their “secret” gets out, and while I still believe in that, I’ve realized one should put forward ways of doing good anonymously… somewhere… because it has a very rewarding domino effect on people and it becomes the very thing a person, with relatively less ideas, needs to read or hear to decide how he wants to become the person he wants to become but couldn’t find ways to until your input came.

Now the problem is, this blog is becoming the prose of a slightly self-indulgent hypocrite and I was debating on whether I should continue with it or not… until I hit upon this. So I may not be even close to being perfect, but the value of my work is still there if it helps anybody even a teensy bit… and while I may not have the power to influence people towards Allah’s Path, I can try and trudge along. While I can’t talk very well about the good I try to do and I don’t think I ever should have to, I am going to stick to writing about my struggles and problems with my faith so that I’m doubly rewarded if this is helpful for other people.