- HuffJummah: Getting Ready for Ramadan
In today's HuffPost Jummah, I would like to briefly discuss a very timely matter with you. In a few days a very special guest, a guest of God to Muslims will start. Holiest of the holy period in Islamic calendar will start with the start of the month of Rajab, followed by the month of Shaban and the grand finale with the month of Ramadan in eight-weeks time. Many mosques around the world will mark the start of this holy season and invite believers to start preparing themselves for the Islam's holiest month: Ramadan. As every other important thing in life, Ramadan's success also significantly depends on our ability to do what we need to do as pre-work before Ramadan.
Ramadan requires serious preparations individually and collectively in order to get the best out of this spiritual feast. How can we proactively prepare ourselves for this holy month of Islam in these coming eight weeks? How can we bring ourselves to be in a state of mind and heart that is ready to receive the very many rich blessings of this sacred time? God is beyond time and space. God is Semi and Basir as God Almighty tells us in Holy Quran. God is all hearing and seeing in all times. God Almighty says in Holy Quran (40:60) "Call me with your duas and supplications. I will respond to them, I will answer them," any time and anywhere. However, God also says in the clearest terms, and the prophet of Islam beautifully exemplifies this, that God made this month of Ramadan, this specific time, Holy, and God pays very special attention to what God's servants do or say in this month. God grants special blessings and spiritual opportunities for this month. The worship and good work are rewarded so many times more than the very same act some other time of the year. In the words of Prophet Muhammad: "The gates of Haven open in Ramadan and the gates of hell are closed and the satans are chained." The moment the month of Shaban ends and the month of Ramadan starts very special types and kinds of Mercy and blessings start pouring down on the earth for those who are able to receive them. To be able to receive the special treasures of Ramadan requires serious preparation. It requires enabling our hearts and minds to receive what Ramadan could offer. In what ways can we prepare ourselves to Ramadan? I think we can put these preparations into two categories. First: physical, technical and logistic preparations. Second, and more importantly: internal, mental, intellectual, emotional and spiritual preparations. Ramadan is all about our internal growth, our ability to feel the presence of God in our lives and improving ourselves in upholding the ethical and moral ideals of Islam and all the dos and do nots of Ramadan and physical preparations are there to enhance and expediate that expected internal growth. In the first category of preparations, we will have to start training our bodies for the types of spiritual disciplines and worship practices that we are asked to do during Ramadan. Gradually introduce the type of discipline that our bodies need for less eating, less drinking, less sleeping, etc. So that when Ramadan starts, we will not waste anytime for adjustment and avoid certain health challenges which may prevent us enjoy the spiritual pleasures of Ramadan. Prophet Muhammad fasted during the month of Rajab and Shaban very frequently and advised us to do the same. Even if we cant fast for the whole days, gradually reducing the amount of food and water we take daily might be a very wise thing to do and since you do that with the intention of preparing yourself to the Holy Month of Ramadan, these mundane acts will be also recognized as acts of worship. Again in this first category of preparations there are some technical things that we believers can do to enhance our Ramadan experience. Observing Ramadan requires dedicating significant amount of quality time for Ramadan activities. Making that time is another important technical preparations as pre-work for Ramadan. One of the beauties' of living in American society, at least in its ideal, you are encouraged to live an organized life. You don't live your life on a day-to-day basis. We all have schedules and plan things in advance. So let's make sure Ramadan will gets its lion share in our calendar from July 20 to August 20. Let's do some serious work on our schedules for those dates. If there are some tasks, assignments and projects that we can finish up, if there are travels that we can do before then, if there are social responsibilities that we can fulfill in these short eight weeks prior to Ramadan, let's do it so that we will have less distractions during those sacred and holy days. Let us strive and pray and be creative with our external preparations for Ramadan. However, the real preparation needs to be done internally in order for Ramadan to yield a major internal, spiritual, ethical and moral growth every year. All the practices and external disciplines that we put ourselves into is to enable such growth. Ramadan is many things but clearly it is not just being hungry and thirsty for number of hours. As it has been beautifully exemplified in the practice of Prophet Muhammad, Ramadan is the month of self-auditing. Reviewing our lives annually and we where we are in our relationship with God and with God's creation. What are our pluses, minuses? If we die today, what kind of book should we expect to receive from the scribing angels? When our supervisor, academic adviser or boss calls and says, "Let's meet in eight weeks time and review what you have done so far," no reasonable soul responds, "Sure, see you then," and does nothing in those eight weeks. All of us would go and seriously reflect on the work that we have done, try to improve it as much as we can. We would identify the areas of strength and find out the areas weaknesses and the areas that need significant improvement. We should do the same in our preparations for Ramadan. Let us use these eight weeks in front of us to prepare ourselves for this audit and review as best as we can. To me, there are three main areas in this required deep internal reflection on our lives which all again requires serious mental preparation before Ramadan: The first area is thanksgiving and gratitude (shukr and hamd). Ramadan is a time when we thank God from the bottom of our hearts for the countless blessings that God has given us. And glorify God's names as God deserves. In order to do that we should deeply reflect on what are the things for which we are grateful to God. Going through the list of blessings that God grants us --health, wealth, success -- without feeling bad about them. There is nothing wrong to be healthy, wealthy and live in peace as long as we are in a constant state of gratitude toward God.
God says in the Holy Quran: "Thank me and I will increase my blessings onto you." The continuation of these blessings partially depend on we being grateful and thankful in response. The criterion in Islam whether or not you are thankful to God is easy. As again Prophet Muhammad says: "People who are not thankful to their fellow human beings, cannot be thankful to their Lord." We have eight weeks to bring ourselves to be in a state of gratitude and thanks to God Almighty. The second area is asking forgiveness and repentance (afv and maghfirah). Ramadan is the time when we seek forgiveness from God more intensely than ever for the sins and mistakes that we have committed in the past. It is a great opportunity to purify ourselves through our repentance (tawba) . Ramadan is a season of tawba. In the Quran God says, "Repent, ask forgiveness from God with the tawba of nasuh." When Prophet Muhammad explains to his companions what this tawba-i nasuh is, he says it has three major qualities: 1) feeling really sorry, remorse in your heart for the mistake that we do 2) doing something to correct that mistake and 3) develop a sense of discipline not to repeat the same mistake again. Who doesn't want his all sins to be cleaned away with such tawba-i nasuh in this coming month of Ramdan, when every dua and appeal for afw and magfirah (forgiveness) receives very special attention from God. So we have eight weeks to prepare such powerful repentance. To mature those tawbahs into a required level before the season of forgiveness starts. The last area is asking help and guidance (inayah and hidayah). When you get the special attention of someone of huge importance for a limited amount of time, what do you do? You share the most important and pressing issues with him or her. Ramadan is a time when you are expected to hammer out important issues for yourself. Looking back to your life finding out patterns of failures, soft spots growing edges. Who doesn't have the long list of things that we should do but we do not do and sometimes even a longer list of things that we shouldn't do but we end up doing over and over. These are the times our will fails us or not strong enough to do what needs to be done. Ramadan is the time to built those necessary ethical, moral and spiritual muscles in order to strive to do the ideal in life. It is a month-long lab where you can correct and fix things for yourself. For example if it is lying, money, fame, jealousy, doing enough charity, etc., do you see yourself keep failing over and over? How can I built the required strength against these universally condemned mistakes? May we all have a blessed and rewarding Ramadan in eight weeks. May we use these remaining time as best as we can to be ready to receive God's numuerous blessings in this months of mercy, compassion and forgiveness. Amin.Read More
- The Important of Mother.
Every society is made up of blocks of family units. The stronger each block is, the stronger the structure of the society. Families are thus the building blocks upon which rests the fate of society. For the development of good families, the mother plays a vital role. Many women today have aspirations of progress in their careers, and degrees in various fields. However it is indisputable that the most important achievement of a mother is the raising of sensible, virtuous children who will then move on to build other strong blocks for society. It has been said that it is easy to bear children but it is difficult to raise them well. In that lies the challenge for all mothers.
Islam’s respect for the MotherA Muslim mother has a valued and dignified role. Her contribution is acknowledged and appreciated. Her unparalleled gifts to the child have been aptly described by Imam Zaynul `Abidin (a) in Risalatul Huqooq – The Chapter of Rights. It is the right of your mother that you should appreciate that she carried you [in her womb] the way nobody carries anybody, She fed you the fruits of her heart which nobody feeds anybody. She protected you [during pregnancy] with her ears, eyes, hands, legs, hair, limbs, [in short] with her whole being, gladly, cheerfully, and carefully; suffering patiently all the worries, pains, difficulties, and sorrows. Till the hand of God removed you from her and brought you into this world. Then she was most happy, feeding you forgetting her own hunger, clothing you even if she herself had no clothes, giving you milk and water not caring for her own thirst, keeping you in the shade, even if she had to suffer from the heat of the sun, giving you every comfort with her own hardships; lulling you to sleep while keeping herself awake. The foundation of the family is laid with the decision to marry, and the importance of the mother is evident in Islamic teachings beginning with marriage, conception and then child rearing. The following points illustrate how Islam sanctifies the role of the mother
Emphasis on choosing a good wifeIslam advocates choosing of a wife based on moral characteristics. The Holy Prophet says: Marry into a decent family, for genes have effects. He is also reported to have encouraged Muslims to marry virtuous women in order to have virtuous children He has condemned those who look only for wealth and /or beauty when choosing a spouse.
Respect in this worldA mother commands great respect from her family. She is to be obeyed, and venerated. The Qur’anic verses which talk about the rights of parents include the mother. However the Holy Prophet (s) has enjoined goodness to the mother even before the father. A man once came for advice to him, as to who he should be good to. The Prophet (s) advised him to do good to his mother again. Three times the man asked, and three times the Prophet (s) told him to do good to his mother. At the fourth time, the Prophet (s) told him to do good to his father. This well-known story clearly illustrates the position of the mother in Islam.
Respect in the HereafterThe famous hadith of the Holy Prophet (s) says: Jannat lies under the feet of the mothers. A woman came to the Holy Prophet (s) and asked why going for Jihad was not obligatory on women. She was afraid that women were barred from achieving the great reward for those who fought and died in the way of the Almighty. The Prophet (s) explained to her that a woman was a fighter in Allah’s way from the time she became pregnant up to the time she delivered, and from the time she began breast-feeding till the time she stopped. If she died during that period, her position would be that of a martyr. To raise a virtuous child is one of the greatest good deeds. It continues to bring reward even after death. Holy Qur’an on the Mother Allah says in Sura Luqman: And We have enjoined man in respect of his parents - his mother bears him with faintings upon faintings, and his weaning takes two years - saying : “Be grateful to Me and to both your parents, to Me is the eternal coming. (31:14) And in Sura Ahqaf He says: And We have enjoined on man doing of good to his parents; with troubles did his mother bear him and with troubles did she bring him forth; and the bearing and the weaning of him was thirty months. (46:15) In both the above verses, although both parents are mentioned, the mother is singled out as she bears a greater responsibility and ultimately a greater reward. Two mothers are mentioned by name in the Qur’an. When Bibi Maryam, the mother of Nabi Isa (a) suffered the pangs of childbirth, she wished she was dead. She was all alone and worried about what was about to happen to her. At that time Allah consoled her and told her not to grieve. She was provided with fresh dates and water. She was also told to fast for three days by abstaining from talk, and Allah made the baby talk to prove that he was a miraculous baby (19:23-26).The mother is shown concern and consideration for her state.Allah does not abandon her, or reprove her by telling her that she is privileged to give birth to a Prophet. Although that was true, motherhood entails great difficulty, a fact recognized by the Qur’an. Another mother mentioned by the Qur’an is the mother of Prophet Musa (a). When she was told to put her baby in the river, she was given an assurance that the baby would be returned to her. Allah knows the love of the mother, and knows it is difficult to give away one’s child. When the baby was picked up by Firawn’s wife, he refused to suck the milk of any foster mother. Prophet Musa’s sister then suggested that they try her mother. Mother and baby unite, and Allah’s promise was fulfilled. (Sura TaHa 37-40, Qasas 7-13)
Qualities of a MotherA good mother has outstanding qualities. No one can replace her in the life of her children. The following are some of the things which make her so unique.
1. A deep love for her childrenA mother’s love is unmatched. Whether young or old, healthy or handicapped, troublesome or obedient, the child is still beloved to the mother. This love may be displayed in various forms. Sometimes children misinterpret scoldings and rebukes to be a sign of lack of love. It is important to assure the child that he is always loved, even when his behavior warrants disciplinary measures. Such a child becomes confident and happy, and will never seek solace elsewhere. The love of the mother becomes a source of happiness and peace at home. Children feel attached to the home because of the mother.
2. Sacrifice and dedicationA mother gives up a great deal for the sake of the child. She gives up her time, her sleep, her pleasures etc. to ensure that the child is all right. As Imam Zaynul ‘Abidin(a) says in his book Risalatul Huquq (mentioned earlier), nobody comes even close to doing what a mother does for her child. That is why he says that it is only with help of the Almighty that one can thank the mother for all her sacrifice and efforts. A good mother places the needs of the child, both physical and emotional needs, first. This is an important point to keep in mind, especially in these modern times. Women today are deluded by society into making their own careers and jobs more important than their homes. The home will always remain a woman’s most valuable work and that may require all types of sacrifices. It is not really a sacrifice, but is an investment which will reap great dividends.
3. Protection and securityA mother always tries to safeguard the child from danger and difficulties. However some mothers tend to be over protective. It is wise for the child to learn to face some problems in life, according to his age and circumstances. A coddled child will be unable to face the realities of the world when he grows up, a world which will not be as considerate of him as his mother. The role of the Mother
A window of the child to the worldWhen a baby is born, he is totally unaware of the outside world. The mother plays an important part in introducing him to the world. The outlook that the child will form towards life depends a lot on the mother. His attitude, his views - religious or otherwise- his perspective on life and its goals, will all be gained from her. Eventually he will mature and perhaps form his own changed views, but the initial years and what he learns in them will always have a lasting impression on his mind.
Model for the childSince the mother is the most important person in the life of a child, she is greatly revered. Her habits and behavior become a model for the child. Whatever the child observes from her, such as her housekeeping habits, her manners, her relationships with others, the way she spends money, and in general her lifestyle, will all undoubtedly affect the child’s character. A mother is said to be better than a hundred teachers. Her emotional strengths and weaknesses are an example for the child, and will be followed for many years to come even though all of it may not be worthy. People have been reported to be following their mother’s ways even when they know the mothers were wrong. It is almost like an unconscious reaction, and it takes effort to behave differently. Thus mothers have an important task of setting forth a good example. It may seem difficult, even impossible. Many mothers think it too great a burden to be acting near perfect all the time, even in the familiarity of their own homes. However it is a good training. What mothers will change in themselves for their children will become a habit, and will lead to a real change. It is not perfection that Islam demands from mothers, but a willingness to accept the responsibility of modeling good acceptable behavior. Many great people remember their mothers and the role they played in nurturing their greatness. Syed ar-Radhi, the compiler of Nahjul Balgha, mourned the death of his mother greatly. He wrote a poem for her in which he says: O Mother! I cry and shed tears for your separation hoping that perhaps the burning drops of tears coming out of my sorrowful eyes may melt and remove the mountain of sadness from my heart. O Mother! You were such a precious jewel and valuable pearl that for getting you released from the plundering enemy’s hand I would have sacrificed everything in my possession as your ransom. But Alas! The death ahs snatched you away from my hand and nothing can be taken back from its deadly claws. O Mother! If all the mothers of the world would have been righteous like you, indeed the children of the world would not have required the presence of their fathers. O Mother! All are witness that you were an honorable and noble lady because you have handed over decent and noble children to society.
Excerpts from Meeting the Pious, Ash-Sharif ar-RadiShaykh Mutaza Ansari, a great Shi`a Jurist also wept bitterly at the death of his mother. One of his scholarly pupils reproached him, saying it did not befit a learned scholar to agonize so much over the death of his mother. The Shaykh replied: It seems you are not aware of the high status enjoyed by a mother. The proper training given by this mother of mine to me, and the numerous hardships borne by her for my sake elevated me to this position. The initial training given by her to me paved the way for my making all this progress and acquiring this high status in the world of knowledge.
Strengths of a MotherThe following qualities need to be acquired by all mothers.
Awareness of responsibilityMotherhood is a career, and those who take it up must try and excel at it. It is the duty of every mother to look into better techniques and strategies of parenting. A wide variety of material is available, both Islamic and secular. Although Islamic material may not be abundant in English, many secular books and magazines are published about parenting. Reading these from time to time helps increase awareness and vision. When a mother reads about problems that parents face, she is comforted by the fact that she is not alone. That is very reassuring as often parents assume they are the only ones having difficulties. Also, reading about solutions used by other people, or advice given by psychologists etc. helps broaden the choice of possible tactics in dealing with children.
Setting clear goalsA mother has to know what she expects from her children, and then explain that to them. It is not enough to want good children. The children must know what exactly is expected from them, and what the mother wants them to do. Sometimes a mother tells the child to lay the table properly. Because it has not been explained to the child what properly means, he does it the way he thinks it right. The child may consequently be blamed for being sloppy, lazy etc. for not setting the table right. The frustration and heartache could have been avoided if the child knew exactly what was expected from him, rather than a vague order to lay the table. The same can be applied to all chores, behavior with others, academic achievements etc. The mother must have definite goals of what she wants, and make them clear.
Encourage children according to their potentialEach child comes with his own distinctive potential. The Holy Prophet (s) has said: Human beings are like mines of gold and silver. Children have abilities that could lead to great achievements. Some show skill and interest in a certain area, while others prefer a different one. Apart from not trying to compare children with one another, a good mother tries to bring out the best in each child. She makes the child develop his skills in whatever area he is good at, as well as remedy the weakness in each child. If one child is very shy, for example, the mother should not demand that he socialize and interact with others the way his siblings do. Some mothers unwittingly put their children through a great deal of embarrassment and humiliation. The child must be taught to overcome his shyness. Some books on shyness may help. Or the mother could give practical suggestions of what the child could talk about to others. A mother’s gentle guidance can remedy many a flaw and weakness in the character of the child.
Wise Words1. Fortunate is the person whose mother is chaste and virtuous.
Imam Ja`far as-Sadiq (a)2. Each one of you is a guardian (shepherd), and each one of you is responsible for his charges . . . so the man is a guardian over his family, and is responsible for them. A woman is a guardian over the family of her husband and his children, and she is responsible for them.
Holy Prophet (s)
- Belief in day of Judgment
In the Name of God, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful Death is one of the few indisputable facts of life. Regardless of faith, race, status or age, we will all die. While the certainty of death is universally accepted, the question of what happens afterwards has been debated throughout history. Islam teaches that one’s life doesn’t end on earth; rather, it is followed by the eternal life of the hereafter. This pamphlet explains how this belief has a major impact on our earthly lives, while instilling hope for healing in a perfect world where God’s ultimate justice will prevail. Despite its inevitability, we get so absorbed in living that we forget about death. Our daily routines, the comfort of our homes and our relationships keep us so busy that we have little time left to ponder over the fleeting nature of this world. Then, suddenly, we are forced to face the reality of our existence when a loved one is afflicted with a debilitating disease or we experience a shocking loss. Helpless, we are jolted by the frailty of life, leading us to question our priorities and reevaluate our lifestyles. According to Islam, when confronted with a calamity, one should say, “To God we belong and to Him we shall return” (Quran 2:156). This invocation is also recited when someone dies. Reminding us of our origin and our ultimate destiny, it puts the purpose of our lives in perspective. God clearly states in the Quran, the divinely revealed message from God to all humanity, that He has created humankind to worship Him. Since worship is a comprehensive concept in Islam, consisting of specific rituals as well as general actions that promote good, it encourages people to conduct every aspect of their lives with God-consciousness. Muslims believe they will return to God (Allah in Arabic) when they die. Therefore, instead of the end, death becomes part of a continuum which stretches into eternity. Beyond Here What happens after death? Does a world exist beyond this life? Is there such a place as heaven or hell? These are common questions we ask from time to time. After all, the enigma of death stumps us. We’ve devised various ways of killing other humans. Yet, despite innumerable technological and medical advances, we still cannot prevent an individual from dying. Furthermore, unlike life which we experience daily, we really don’t have firsthand knowledge of life after death. Aside from some near-death incidents, no one has come back from the dead to tell us what they encountered. Due to their faith in the One God who created this universe and sustains it, Muslims rely on divine guidance for glimpses of a reality invisible to human eyes. Divine guidance comprises prophetic examples and scriptural revelations. God sent prophets to guide humanity, such as Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus and Muhammad, the final prophet of God, peace be upon all of them. Moreover, He also revealed holy books, including the Torah, the Gospel and the Quran. In keeping with the universal message of God, every prophet warned of the certainty of the afterlife and each of the divine books speaks of the existence of the soul. In the Quran, God promises, “Every soul will taste death. Then to Us will you be returned” (29:57). On the Day of Judgment, every individual will be resurrected to account for their lives. God describes this event in the Quran, “On that Day, people will come forward in separate groups to be shown their deeds: whoever has done an atom’s weight of good will see it, but whoever has done an atom’s weight of evil will see that” (99:6-8). God will weigh everyone’s good and bad actions according to His Mercy and His Justice, forgiving many sins and multiplying the reward for many noble deeds. One who excels in goodness will be rewarded generously, but one whose evils and wrongs outweigh his virtues will be punished. Those who fulfilled their purpose in life and lived righteously will enter an eternal paradise of pure bliss. The people of heaven will reside in beautiful mansions, no longer suffering from fatigue, disease and old age. God will remove animosity and pain from people’s hearts, providing supreme healing in a world of abundance and luxury, of lush gardens and flowing rivers. In contrast, those who die in a state of transgression against God or oppress others will be led to Hellfire. Despite all of God’s blessings, they neglected their ultimate purpose of leading their lives in accordance with His Will and Guidance. The Quran describes Hell as a place filled with immense suffering, with extreme temperatures, unquenchable thirst and blazing flames. Truly, God wants each one of us to be salvaged in the afterlife. He has sent guidance and left signs for those who seek Him and reflect. At the same time, He has given us the choice to freely indulge in the world around us or to abide by His laws. In the Quran, God declares, “Why should God make you suffer torment if you are thankful and believe in Him? God always rewards gratitude and He knows everything” (4:147). The Greater Plan Belief in the soul and the afterlife gives a context to our current existence. Those who focus only on this immediate life miss out on the bigger picture. Indeed, they become heedless of their purpose in life. God reminds humanity, “The life of this world is merely an amusement and a diversion; the true life is in the Hereafter, if only they knew” (Quran 29:64). Islam teaches that this life is simply a test to determine our place in the eternal life after death. Those who understand the reality ahead of them are aware that their ultimate fate after death is based on their actions in this life. Such individuals are thankful for all the blessings that God has given them and humbly worship Him while promoting goodness in all aspects of their lives. When a person embraces such a God-conscious way of life, their purpose extends beyond merely enjoying worldly pleasures. Their life is one of submission to God and they seek to positively contribute to the world around them. All of their transactions with people, even animals and the environment, are rooted in this motivation. They are guided by the certainty that they will one day return to their Creator and be held accountable for their deeds. Although they have the freedom to live according to their whims, they limit their attachment to this brief and imperfect life, seeking an eternal paradise in the hereafter. Why Believe? Believing in the soul and the afterlife is foremost about having faith in the unseen. Just as our souls are intangible beings giving life to our physical bodies, the world we see around us is functioning based on an invisible system created by God who is Ever-Watchful and All-Aware. Muslims believe that God is also Just and He maintains a meticulous record of our deeds. We will be recompensed for our earthly lives in the hereafter where ultimate justice prevails. Humans naturally seek justice in all aspects of their lives. When a person works, they expect to receive an appropriate salary. When an individual is harmed, they seek compensation. When someone helps another, they anticipate appreciation for their effort. Even though humans strive hard to establish justice, the reality is that this world will never be perfectly just. Many criminals go unpunished while the oppressed are denied basic rights. Do their lives simply dissolve without any accountability or fair dealing? God proclaims in the Quran, “Do those who commit evil deeds really think that We will deal with them in the same way as those who believe and do righteous deeds, that they will be alike in their living and their dying? How badly they judge!” (45:21). In the afterlife, the evil doers will not be able to escape the grip of justice and victims of worldly suffering will be recompensed for their pain. People who spent their lives responsibly, avoiding temptations to commit sins, will also be rewarded. As mentioned in the Quran, “God created the heavens and the earth for a true purpose: to reward each soul according to its deeds. They will not be wronged” (45:22). According to Islam, one of the greatest injustices humans can commit is to deny God’s existence, add partners to Him or worship worldly ideals or materialistic goals. Islam teaches that God is the Creator, Sustainer and Nourisher of every being in the heavens and the earth. As His creation, it is His right that we worship and obey Him. He showers us with His blessings every day out of His love and mercy. Worshiping Him is an expression of gratitude to God, and ignoring Him or worshiping others is ungratefulness and a denial of His blessings. If our man-made judicial systems punish people for committing injustices against other people, it is even more understandable that God would punish those who deny Him His rights and commit injustices against His creation. God says in the Quran, “We shall set up scales of justice for the Day of Judgment, so that not a soul will be dealt with unjustly in the least, and if there be (no more than) the weight of a mustard seed, We will bring it (to account): and enough are We to take account” (21:47). God’s Mercy As imperfect beings, we often make mistakes and commit wrong actions. While God does not expect perfection from us, He calls on us to strive to the utmost to worship Him and to live righteously. Out of His Mercy, God pardons whom He wills in the hereafter. God promises us in the Quran: “And those who believe and do righteous deeds – We will surely remove from them their misdeeds and will surely reward them according to the best of what they used to do” (29:7). Muslims seek salvation in the hereafter by living a God-conscious and virtuous life in this world. The fear of accountability in the hereafter, along with hope in the promise of God’s ultimate justice, motivates them to orient their present lives around the comprehensive worship of God, the true purpose of human existence. In this way, they endeavor in this temporary life for eternal joy. [To the righteous it will be said], “O reassured soul, return to your Lord, well-pleased and pleasing [to Him], and enter among My [righteous] servants, and enter My Paradise.” (Quran, 89:27-30)Read More
- Marriage In Islam
“And among His signs is this, that He created for you mates from among yourselves, that you may dwell in peace and tranquility with them, and He has put love and mercy between your (hearts): Verily in that are signs for those who reflect” (Quran 30:21). “O Humans revere your Guardian Lord, Who created you from a single person created of like nature its mate, and from this scattered (like seeds) countless men and women. Reverence Allah through Whom you claim your mutual rights” (Quran 4:1). The above verses of the Quran lay out the framework for the basis and objectives of marriage in Islam. In the ultimate Wisdom of Allah we are first told that both partners, man and woman, are created from the same source and that this should be paid attention to as it is one of His Signs. The fact that we come from the same soul signifies our equality as humans. When the essence of our creation is the same, the argument of who is better or greater is redundant. To stress on this fact, and then to talk about marriage in the same verse, is of great significance for those of us who are in the field of marriage counseling. A shift in this attitude of gender equality as human beings causes an imbalance in marital relationships leading to dysfunctional marriages. Whenever one party considers that they are superior or above the law there is a power shift which may subsequently lead to misuse or abuse of that power. As a result, the less valuable partner is seen as an easy prey. Many marital difficulties are based on, or caused by, control and rule stratagem. By stressing on the equality of all humans, men or women, and making it the basis of marriage, Allah, in His Infinite Wisdom, has laid the ground rules for establishing peace. He has assigned different roles to husband and wife as functional strategy, rather than as a question of competence as humans. Prophet Mohammad (pbuh) has stated that: “men and women are twin halves of each other” (Bukhari). This narration also brings home the fact that men and women are created from a single source. Furthermore, by using the analogy of twin half, the Prophet (pbuh) has underlined the reciprocal and interdependent nature of men and women’s relationships. The objective of marriage, according to the above Quranic verses, is to enable us to dwell in peace and tranquility. It is important for us to reflect on these words and their significance in the Islamic frame of reference. In order to have peace certain condition must be met. These prerequisites to peace are Justice, Fairness, Equity, Equality, and fulfillment of mutual rights. Therefore any injustice whether it is oppression, or persecution, cannot be tolerated if there is to be peace in Muslim homes. In the domestic realm, oppression is manifested when the process of Shura (consultation) is compromised, neglected or ignored. When one partner (in most cases the husband) makes unilateral decisions and applies a dictatorial style of leadership, peace is compromised. Persecution is present when there is any form of domestic abuse being perpetrated. Tranquility on the other hand is a state of being which is achieved when peace has been established. Tranquility is compromised when there is tension, stress and anger. It is a mistake to take tranquility to mean perpetual state of bliss, since being a Muslim does not make one immune to tragedies and catastrophes. In fact God tells us repeatedly in the Quran that a believer will be tried and tested. However, a state of tranquility empowers one to handle difficult moments with their spouses as obedient servants of God. God, in His infinite Mercy, also provides us with the tools by which we can achieve this state of peace and tranquility. The second principle on which Islamic family life is based is Rahma, meaning mercy. As mentioned in the above verse, God tells us that it is He that has placed mercy between the hearts of spouses. We are therefore inclined by our very nature to have mercy for each other. Mercy is manifested through compassion, forgiveness, care and humility. It is obvious that these are all ingredients that make for a successful partnership. Marriage in Islam is above all a partnership based on equality of partners and specification of roles. Lack of mercy in a marriage, or in a family, renders it in Islamic terms dysfunctional. Allah further states that He has also placed in addition to mercy, love between spouses. It should be noted, however, that the Islamic concept of love is different from the more commonly understood romantic love that has become so valued. The basic difference is that love between man and woman in the Islamic context can only be realized and expressed in a legal marriage. In order to develop a healthy avenue for the expression of love between a man and woman, and to provide security so that such a loving relationship can flourish, it is necessary to give it the protection of Shariah (Islamic law). Marital love in Islam inculcates the following: Faith: The love Muslim spouses have for each other should be for the sake of Allah and to gain His pleasure. It is from Allah that we claim our mutual rights (Quran 4:1) and it is to Allah that we are accountable for our behavior as husbands and wives. It sustains: Love is not to consume but to sustain. Allah expresses His love for us by providing sustenance. To love in Islam is to sustain our loved one physically, emotionally, spiritually and intellectually, to the best of our ability. (Note : To sustain materially is the husband’s duty. However, if the wife wishes she can also contribute) Accepts: To love someone is to accept them for who they are. It is selfishness to try and mould someone as we wish them to be. True love does not attempt to crush individuality or control personal differences, but is magnanimous and secure to accommodate differences. Challenges: Love challenges us to be all we can, it encourages us to tap into our talents and it takes pride in our achievements. To enable our loved one to realize their potential is the most rewarding experience. Merciful: Mercy compels us to love and love compels us to have mercy. In the Islamic context the two are synonymous. The attribute Allah chose to be the supreme for Himself is that He is the most Merciful. This attribute of Rahman (the Merciful) is mentioned 170 times in the Quran, emphasizing the significance for believers to be merciful. Mercy, in practical application, means to have and show compassion and to be charitable. Forgiving: Love is never too proud to seek forgiveness or too stingy to forgive. It is willing to let go of hurt and letdowns. Forgiveness allows us the opportunity to improve and correct ourselves. Islam emphasizes the principle that if we want God to forgive our mistakes, then we should be forgiving of others too. Respect: To love is to respect and value the person, their contributions, and their opinions. Respect does not allow us to take for granted our loved ones or to ignore their input. How we interact with our spouses reflects whether we respect them or not. Confidentiality: Trust is the most essential ingredient of love. When trust is betrayed and confidentiality compromised, love loses its soul. Caring: Love fosters a deep fondness that dictates caring and sharing in all that we do. The needs of our loved ones take precedence over our own. Kindness: The biography of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) is rich with examples of acts of kindness he showed towards his family and particularly his wives. Even when his patience was tried, he was never unkind in word or deed. To love is to be kind. Grows: Marital love is not static, for it grows and flourishes with each day of marital life. It requires work and commitment, and is nourished through faith when we are thankful and appreciative of Allah blessings. Enhances: Love enhances our image and beautifies our world. It provides emotional security and physical well being. Selflessness: Love gives unconditionally and protects dutifully. Truthful: Love is honesty without cruelty and loyalty without compromise. Edited from article by: Sahina Siddiqui www.soundvision.comRead More
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