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Ramadhan: It is time we change to connect

Ramadhan is around the corner! And we have all waited eagerly for this blessed month. Let’s make this Ramadhan a significant life changer! Let’s make this Ramadhan a way to become better Muslims and oblige by the teachings in this beautiful religion of Islam of which we’ve been heedless of. And as a result,  become closer to Allah, the One who created us. And what better way to connect to Him than prayer?

For us to understand the value of prayers, we first need to understand the purpose of our existence, and most crucially make ourselves know about Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala (Glorified and Exalted), for if a person truly knows his Lord, only then will he worship Him in the way that He truly deserves.

We Muslims believe in the worship of one Lord, Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala (Glorified and Exalted) who alone has the right to be worshiped and Mohammed SallAllahu Alaihi Wa Sallam (Peace and blessings be upon him) to be His final Messenger. There are two things that a believer should adhere to –
i)  the book of Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala (Glorified and Exalted) and
ii) the Authentic Sunnah (Actions and sayings of the Prophet Mohammed SallAllahu Alaihi Wa Sallam (Peace and blessings of Allah be upon him)).
Even the person who does not pray knows this. But what makes him/her careless about the prayer? The problem is lack of knowledge, strong conviction deep inside the heart, realization of the Akhirah (Hereafter) and most significantly love,
fear and hope of the one who created him.

Our religion Islam is built on five pillars –
i)   Shahadah (Testimony of Kalima لا اله الا الله)
ii)  SALAH (5 obligatory prayers)
iii) Zakaah,
iv) Hajj and
v)  Saum (Fasting during Ramadhan)

Among these 5, we have As-Salaat – the Fardh (obligatory prayer). To understand why these five prayers are obligatory, we need to understand why Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala (Glorified and Exalted) has asked us to pray and  what exactly is an obligatory prayer. Of course we know the technical aspect of it that there are 5 and we have certain set of Raka’as for each Salah, but what do they mainly signify?

Salah is an act of worship. It’s the one-on-one connection of the human creation with the Creator. Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala says in the Noble Quran:

“And I did not create the jinn and mankind except to worship Me. I do not want from them any provision, nor do I want them to feed Me. Indeed, it is Allah who is the [continual] Provider, the firm possessor of strength.” [Quran 51:56-58]

Know that Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’la is free of any need, He is self Sufficient; instead we are the ones who need Him and we are in the urgent need to worship Him because He is the one who created us, He is the one who is the controller of our lives, He is the One who is going to reward and punish us according to our worship and deeds.And we have only time to earn His reward till the moment of our death from which there is no escape.

“Death is going to reach you even if you are in the fortified towers.” [Quran 4:78]

When death is inevitable, why not ask Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala to guide us and make us die in a righteous state? Even though we have wronged ourselves all this time, Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala has given us a majestic blessing – a chance to repent. SubhanAllah! Repent from what you did in the past, bring a new you and sincerely prepare yourself for the hereafter which is the ultimate abode for every single one of us.

Know that this life is short lived. Everything has to perish, that’s the law, that’s the rule of the Creator, and nobody can possibly deny this. Everybody has to die and return to where they belong.  We belong to Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala and to only Him we shall return. Doesn’t a person realize that if he were to return to Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala then he should meet Him in his righteous state?

Jabir RadhiAllahu Anhu reported:

I heard Allah’s Messenger Sallalahu Alaihi wa Sallam as saying, “Every servant would be raised (in the same very state) in which he dies”

(Reference: Sahih Muslim 2878 a ;In-book reference: Book 53, Hadith 101)

If you die in an act of disobedience to Allah, you will be raised once again in that very state of disobedience after your death. But if you die in an act of obedience to Allah, you will be raised in that state of obedience after your death. Which do you prefer? In which state do you want to meet Allah?

All the enthusiasm that springs up in the heart to fulfill the beautiful act of praying is driven by the awareness that we will meet Allah one day.

Worship Allah by offering Salah as though you are seeing Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala and if you cannot see Him, then know that He definitely is watching you.

Jibreel Alayhis Salam asked the Prophet Sallalahu Alayhi wa sallam:

“O Allah’s Messenger, What is Ihsan (i.e. perfection or Benevolence)?” The Prophet Sallalahu Alayhi wa Sallam said, “Ihsan is to worship Allah as if you see Him, and if you do not achieve this state of devotion, then Allah sees you.”

Narrated Abu Huraira, Sahih Al Bukhari, Book 65, Hadith 4777

How can a person not pray when he realizes that the very first question to be asked when he meets his Lord will be about Salah and everything else comes next?

It was narrated from Abu Hurayrah that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “The first thing among their deeds for which the people will be brought to account on the Day of Resurrection will be prayer. Our Lord will say to His angels, although He knows best, ‘Look at My slave’s prayer, is it complete or lacking?’ If it is complete, it will be recorded as complete, but if it is lacking, He will say, ‘Look and see whether my slave did any voluntary (naafil) prayers.’ If he had done voluntary prayers, He will say, ‘Complete the obligatory prayers of My slave from his voluntary prayers.’ Then the rest of his deeds will be examined in a similar manner.”

(Narrated by Abu Dawood, 864; classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh Abi Dawood, 770).

If we are not praying, then surely there is something wrong with our hearts. The Heart is the leading central feature of a human which has to sincerely submit to Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala.

The Prophet SallAllahu Alaihi Wa Sallam (Peace and blessings be upon him) said “Indeed there is  a piece of flesh in the body, if it is sound, the entire body is sound, and when it is corrupt, the entire body is corrupt.Truly it is the heart.”

[Reference: Sahih al-Bukhari 52; In-book reference: Book 2, Hadith 45]

Belief, yes; Speech, yes; But Action, NO?  Does that do any justice to our belief?

When the heart believes in the oneness of Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala; love, fear and hope are infused in the heart of the slave of Allah.[1] And when this love fear and hope of his Lord rises in the heart – this drives the slave to do something – the slave remembers Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala (Glorified and Exalted) in his mind, his thoughts and by his speech. The body starts following the heart and bows down to Him in the act of worship of Salah!

The Prophet SallAllahu Alaihi Wa Sallam (Peace and blessings be upon him) said: “Whoever possesses the following three qualities will taste the sweetness of faith: The one to whom Allah and His messenger become dearer than anything else; he loves a person and he loves him only for Allah’s sake, and he hates to revert to disbelief after Allah has saved him from it, as he hates to be thrown in fire.”

[Reference: Sahih al-Bukhari 16; In-book reference: Book 2, Hadith 9]

The essence and a sense of comfort that you feel while in the state of sujood (prostration) before Allah is one of the best testimonies for the love of Allah.

The following is an amazingly beautiful prayer made by Ibrahim Alayhis Salaam that signifies the importance of prayer:

“My Lord, make me an establisher of prayer, and [many] from my descendants. Our Lord, and accept my supplication.” [Quran 14:40]

If you haven’t prayed even once in your life, don’t let the Shaitaan deceive you into thinking that Allah will never accept your repentance. The following remarkably touching Ayah of the Noble Quran gives us a lesson that the servant of Allah should not lose hope in the mercy of Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala (Glorified and Exalted).

Say, “O my servants who have transgressed against themselves [by sinning], do not despair of the mercy of Allah. Indeed, Allah forgives all sins. Indeed, it is He who is the Forgiving, the Merciful. [Quran 39:53]

So repent now and return to connect with Allah 5 times a day.

Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala says: 

“Indeed, prayer prohibits immorality and wrongdoing.” [Quran 29:45]

So when you are praying right, you are saving yourself from wrongdoing. This is one of the reasons why Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala (Glorified and Exalted) has asked us to pray.

Ask Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala (Glorified and Exalted) for forgiveness – admit, accept and confess your mistakes to Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala (Glorified and Exalted). Cry your heart to Allah! For verily only He can understand you and He knows you more than you can possibly imagine. Pray all your pain away unto him. Remember that your heart will never find peace except in the remembrance of Allah as Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala Himself said:

“Verily, in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find rest. ”  [Quran 13:28]

You’ll only land into greater troubles if you don’t pray to Him, you’ll wander blindly in darkness, you’ll lose soberness, you’ll feel constricted when anybody does not feed your ego, your entire life revolves around walloped hopes, your life becomes superficial, you’ll create an impenetrable wall in your heart which cannot allow anything into it. Once this dangerous bug (Not having a sense of praying) gets into you, it infects everything – your heart, your soul, everything.  

And the life of this world is nothing but play and amusement. But far better is the house in the Hereafter for those who are Al-Muttaqun (the pious). Will you not then understand?” [Quran 6:32]

Doesn’t a person realize that whatever he has is from his Creator and that he should thank Him?

“Then we forgave you after that so perhaps you would be grateful” [Quran 2:52]

If you turn back to Him, He will make the light shine upon you even if you are in the deepest pit hole of the nastiest sins. Look at what He tells you:

“Indeed what is to come will be better for you than what has gone by.” [Quran 93:4]

“No one besides Allah can rescue a soul from hardship.” [Quran 53:58]

You just need to turn back to Him! His mercy is endless, boundless and that which encompasses everything.

“My punishment – I afflict with it whom I will, but My mercy encompasses all things.” So I will decree it [especially] for those who fear Me and give zakah and those who believe in Our verses -” [Quran 7:156]

Narrated Abu Huraira : Allah’s Apostle SallAllahu Alaihi Wa Sallam (Peace and blessings be upon him) said, “When Allah completed the creation, He wrote in His book which is with Him on His throne, “My MERCY overpowers my anger”

[Bukhari Book#54, Hadith #416]

Never never ever give up on the mercy of Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala (Glorified and Exalted), He has the power over all things, He is Strong and we are weak. Nothing is difficult for Him, He just has to say it to ‘be’ and it is.

Verily, His Command, when He intends a thing, is only that He says to it, “Be!” and it is! [Quran 36:82]

So ask Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala (Glorified and Exalted) to guide you, to make you understand the value, spiritual urgency and importance of prayer. Ask Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala to help you increase in knowledge and seek Allah’s protection from a heart that does not fear Him.

There are signs and examples right in front of us. We ask Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala to protect us from blindness. How many times have we seen that people from our family, among relatives or friends or our neighborhood, who lived with us, talked to us, who were healthy and died in front of our eyes? We saw them dead. We saw them at their death bed. We cried and moaned. We realized at that moment that it is Allah to whom we shall return. We learnt to live without them. But then what did we do? We went back to live our lives making ourselves busy with gaining the pleasures of this life while being negligent of our duties to Allah, and then again there came a reminder, a live example of one more death and then another, and another. And then we might be next. Who knows? For the certainty of our time is only and only with Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala (Glorified and Exalted).  We certainly have no knowledge of the time of our death, and hence we have to be prepared and ready all the time by praying all the prayers on time.

The time is now to make a transformation in you, the time is right now, even while reading this, if you have missed a prayer or the time for prayer is running out, go pray! Set your priorities right.  Remember that knowledge without practice is culpable. If Salah is important for you, you will definitely make the effort to complete it, for it is in your complete capability to do so.

It is either His way or no way, remember this. He is our ultimate refuge. The more you ask Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala to help you in fulfilling your duties, the more He responds to you.

“And your Lord says, “Call upon Me; I will respond to you.” Indeed, those who disdain My worship will enter Hell [rendered] contemptible.” [Quran 40:60]

This issue also comes to proper parenting; righteous parents push their children towards Salah. Realize the purpose you serve towards yourself and Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala (Glorified and Exalted). If you pray five times daily, take along your friend who doesn’t. Humble yourself and reconnect with the one who created you and blessed you with all the provisions in this World. It’s high time we realise and prepare ourselves for the Day when things cannot be undone. It is easy for you to say, “let’s face it on the Day of Judgement.” Seriously? Without a shadow of a doubt you will face it but will you be able to do anything about it at that time?

And once we start praying properly, our fasting will be even more enjoyable. The essence of fasting is not just being hungry; it’s about attaining righteousness and will you be able to achieve this without fulfilling this very important act of worship?

“O you who have believed, decreed upon you is fasting as it was decreed upon those before you that you may become righteous -” [Quran 2:183]

It should all be only between you and Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala (Glorified and Exalted), fasting is only for the sake of Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala (Glorified and Exalted) and He is the only one who values it with reward, the quality of our fast is known only by Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala (Glorified and Exalted), no one else, and Allah has ordained us to fast, to fast by not missing the obligatory prayers.

Narrated by Abu Huraira RadhiAllahu Anhu:
Allah’s Apostle Sallalahu Alayhi wa sallam said, “Allah said, ‘All the deeds of Adam’s sons (people) are for them, except fasting which is for Me, and I will give the reward for it.’(Bukhari, Volume 3, Book 31, Number 128, Agreed upon)

Remember that we get unending rewards during this blessed month, even a small act of worship has its rewards multiplied by several units, [2] SubhanAllah.

Don’t miss this endless reward by making this Ramadhan just a medium to suffice your hunger and thirst at the end of the day and nothing else. While Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala (Glorified and Exalted) is observing our fasts independently, this being a very great privilege to all of us, talk to Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala (Glorified and Exalted), talk to him about everything, understand what Surah you are reciting in the Salah, connect with Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala (Glorified and Exalted). And the best best feeling, sometimes is that – out of utmost humility in front of Him, you may even cry, but that is the best feeling ever, and we get this chance 5 times a day! SubhanAllah ! Don’t we want to make the most of it? Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala (Glorified and Exalted) says,

“And when My servants ask you, [O Muhammad], concerning Me – indeed I am near. I respond to the invocation of the supplicant when he calls upon Me. So let them respond to Me [by obedience] and believe in Me that they may be [rightly] guided.” [Quran 2:186]

 

The obligatory prayer in congregation is better than performed individually by 27 degrees. And in Ramadhan, rewards are multiplied, you cannot imagine how many rewards are waiting to be filled into your account!

Allah’s Messenger Sallalahu Alaihi wa Sallam said, “The prayer in congregation is twenty seven times superior to the prayer offered by a person alone.”

[Reference:  Sahih al-Bukhari 645; In-book reference: Book 10, Hadith 42]

Allah wants to give us, and if we on the other hand fail to offer prayers, what a sad and unfortunate predicament!

The act that makes us differ from the non- Muslims is the Salah.

Jabir bin Abdullah RadhiAllahu Anhu says: I heard the Messenger of Allah Sallalahu Alayhi wa Sallam saying this: “The difference between a man (Muslim) and kufr is the abandoning of salaah.”

(Sahih Muslim: Kitab ul Iman: Book 001, Number 0147)

What’s gone is gone, the Past is gone forever, you are alive – Ma sha Allah, blessed are you that Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala (Glorified and Exalted) is giving you a chance to repent now and start praying. You CAN repair the damage caused, keep repenting relentlessly and Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala (Glorified and Exalted) will shower His blessings upon you.

Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala (Glorified and Exalted) is Al-Ghafoor (The All forgiving) , He is Al-Haleem(The Most Forbearing). He does not haste to punish His servants even if He is capable of doing so.

Ibn al-Qayyim (Rahimahullah)  said in al-Nooniyyah (3278): “He is the Forbearing and does not hasten the punishment for His slave, (granting him respite) so that he may repent from his sin.”

Al-Sa’di said in his Tafseer (19):  “Al-Haleem is the One Who keeps bestowing blessings, both visible and hidden, on His creation, even though they disobey Him and make many mistakes. So He forgives and does not give the sinners the punishment they deserve; He encourages them to repent and gives them time to turn to Him.” [3]

“Allah, may He be exalted, loves those who believe, hence He makes faith dear to them. And He hates those who disbelieve and disobey Him, unless they repent. If Allah helps a person to believe and makes faith dear to his heart, and makes the believers dear to him and makes him dear to them, and he lives and dies following that, then he is one of those whom Allah loves.” – Sheikh Muhammed Saalih Al Munajjid

Allah, may He be exalted, said of the people of faith whom He loves (interpretation of the meaning):

“but Allah has endeared the Faith to you and has beautified it in your hearts, and has made disbelief, wickedness and disobedience (to Allah and His Messenger SallAllahu Alaihi Wa Sallam) hateful to you. These! They are the rightly guided ones” [Quran 49:7]

To sum it up, if a person has the characteristics of obedience to Allah and to His Messenger, then he may be one of those whom Allah loves; if a person persists in disobedience to Allah and His Messenger, then he deserves to incur the hatred and wrath of Allah. [4]

So I conclude by making the following duas for you and myself.

May Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala (Glorified and Exalted) make us realize the private consciousness and awareness of Him within us, immerse our feelings into piety, and may He guide us to understand that it’s not just about fasting of the mouth (i.e. refraining oneself from eating/drinking) but it’s about fasting of the heart, the limbs, the thoughts etc. and that fasting helps us to attain righteousness and piousness. May we continue praying regularly even after Ramadhan and for the rest of our lives.

And May Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala (Glorified and Exalted) guide us to reflect outside what we believe inwardly. Allahumma Ameen. Summa Ameen.

“My Lord, make me an establisher of prayer, and [many] from my descendants. Our Lord, and accept my supplication.” [Quran 14:40]
“O Lord. Let not our hearts deviate after you have guided us.” [Quran 3:8]

 

Written by Sidra Ali

Ramadhan_ It is time we change to connect

References:

[1] – Worshiping Allah out of love, fear and hope;

http://www.salafipublications.com/sps/sp.cfm?subsecID=IBD01&articleID=IBD010006&articlePages=1

[2] – Good deeds get multiplied in the month of Ramadhan;

https://islamqa.info/en/221733

[3] – Meaning of Al-Haleem;

http://islamqa.info/en/22210

[4] – Allah loves those who are obedient to Him;

http://islamqa.info/en/192976

 

The Final Departure

When their comes to us the inevitable call
The time for separation of body and soul

The moment which leaves everybody in mayhem
When the minds stop functioning at such an occasion

When the cries of the people around gather
With some of them trying to curb the matter

It’s the time for our final departure
Towards our Lord, the ultimate Master

Our children, our friends and our relatives
Our money, our houses and all our belongings

Nothing can be taken along with us there
Even though we managed them with utmost care

The only thing we carry are the deeds we acquire
Without doing them for the masses to admire.

We see people departing on this journey with our eyes
But why does this not effect our lives?

Why do we force ourselves to forget this bitter reality?
That today it was someone else, tomorrow it is us in actuality

The devil has surely succeeded in deluding us in his plot
Only few people take heed from such reminders*, Allah’s aid is sought

Remember, the time for our final departure is not distant
When our relatives will inform each other about it all hesitant

It’s high time that we change our lives and start the preparation
Before we fail in it and are left with self accusation.

– Written by Safi Ahmed

17/12/1436AH

The situation in the poem above has been described by Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala (Glory be to Him the Most High) in the Quran as:

Nay, when (the soul) reaches to the collar bone (i.e. up to the throat in its exit),
And it will be said: “Who can cure him and save him from death?”
And he (the dying person) will conclude that it was (the time) of departing (death);
And leg will be joined with another leg (shrouded)
The drive will be, on that Day, to your Lord (Allah)!
[Surat Al Qiyamah; Ayahs 26-30]

*Indeed, the Hour is coming – no doubt about it – but most of the people do not believe.
[Surat Ghafir; Ayah 59]

The Final Departure