Powerless

I remember this story of this person studying in Egypt. He’s so desperate that he goes to his teacher and is holding onto his garment and telling him about how still can’t committing this sin while he is weeping to his teacher and he’s begging him and asking him what to do. His teacher turns to him and says good, you are asking the right questions, but now turn to the One that can actually help you, Allah.

Imagine if we had that much sincerity when approaching Allah. Sometimes we become so stagnant as people that we assume this is the way we are, but we’ve lost sight of the transforming power of faith and in reality don’t think highly enough of Allah to change. If we turned to Allah subhana wata alaa in sincerity, we would realize that He has power to do anything, including transform us into great people. We even make our duas as if Allah couldn’t give us anything in the world and universe! Remember that he took a man who worshiped idols, who was intending and acting to go kill the Prophet of God, sallallahu alayhi wasalam and made him into one of the best believers this world has ever seen. We think our sins and mistakes and flaws are so large, yet we are taught that Allah is greater.

One of the best things a worshiper can say is:

la ilaha ila Allah wahdahu la sharika lah, lahu al-mulk wa lahu al-hamd, wa huwa `ala kulli shay’in qadir

There is no god but Allah, alone, without partner. His is the sovereignty, and His the praise, and He has power over everything

So anytime you think yourself so small or so insignificant, think about how when you call upon Allah subhana wata alaa, you are calling upon the Creator of all things, The Rabb of the Worlds, The one who is All Knowing and is All Hearing. Feel confident that in reality we have no power, but we turn to the One who has power over everything. “Wa Huwa ‘ala kulli shay’in qadir.”

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Navigating

Scientist have recently discovered that the dung beetle navigates the night using the stars. The same map that seafarers and travelers in the desert use is used by this tiny beetles that roll around balls of dung. The sea turtle is famous for returning to its original nesting grounds it was born in. It does so by using the Earth’s magnetic field. Because of the Earth’s Iron core, Sea Turtles  are able to navigate through oceans back to the place it hatched.

This in essence, is one of the meaning of Alhamdu lillahi rabbi alAAalameen (1:1). All praise and thanks is due to God, the Lord of the Worlds. The Rabb, the Master that takes care of the affairs of those under Him, is the Rabb who ornamented the sky with stars. “Indeed, We have adorned the nearest heaven with an adornment of stars” (37:6). This the Rabb of the world of Dung Beetles and Sea turtles. The Rabb who sent down Iron from the heavens, and created this Earth with an Iron core. “We have already sent Our messengers with clear evidences and sent down with them the Scripture and the balance that the people may maintain [their affairs] in justice. And We sent down iron, wherein is great military might and benefits for the people, and so that Allah may make evident those who support Him and His messengers unseen. Indeed, Allah is Powerful and Exalted in Might.” (57:25) With Iron humans build shields, swords, weapons and skyscrapers. Because of Iron, the Earth has a magnetic field that protects the Earth from harmful radiation and solar wind that could easily wipe life off this planet. The same Iron that had to originate from an exploding star in a Supernova to be created in the first place. Alhamdu lillahi rabbi alAAalameen

There is this saying that when navigating the desert you could use landmarks, but the map from the heavens is more accurate. This has its obvious meaning in which using the stars to navigate is more accurate, but also that Divine revelation that descends from the Heavens is always going to be more accurate than any guidance we can derive on the ground here on Earth. We call them ayat in the Quran for a reason. Ayat meaning a sign. Signs made to point us in a certain direction, so we don’t have to feel lost and walk around aimlessly.The human too was given a map to navigate with through this world. The sea turtle is able to make it back to its origin and so is mankind if they use the map given to them by Allah, the Quran.

Look at your map as much as you can. Inna Lillahi wa inna ilaihi raji’un. To Him we Belong and to Him is our Return. What’s beautiful is that the Quran has Ayat, signs pointing us back home and helping us navigate, for different groups of people. The Mutaqqeen, people of Taqwa, the Mumineen, the believers and most interestingly, An Nas, the Mankind. Even if you don’’t accept the Quran as revelation from God, God still speaks to you and offers you guidance.

O mankind, indeed We have created you from male and female and made you peoples and tribes that you may know one another. Indeed, the most noble of you in the sight of Allah is the most righteous of you. Indeed, Allah is Knowing and Acquainted.” (49:13). Allah calls on every single one of us, and lets us know that we are from one family and that we were made to know each other. Imagine if people throughout history would know this. Colonization, Genocide and Racism wouldn’t need historical navigating to arrive at a conclusion of their immorality and their destructiveness, God already let us know those things are unacceptable and outside our purpose to exist.

What a wonderful road map we as a human race and we as a Umma (religious community of Muslims) have received. I have discovered that in this time of darkness, it is not because we do not have light to navigate our way that we are currently lost, but it is because we stop trusting our map and tried to navigate on our own. Umar ibn Al Khattab (may Allah be pleased with Him) said “We were the most humiliated people on earth and Allah gave us honor through Islam. If we ever seek honor through anything else, Allah will humiliate us again.” I for one prefer the map given to me by the One that created the worlds and everything in it. Allah even informed His Messenger, salallahu alayhi wasalam, of the ending of this plot with knowledge about the end of times, so we would stop wasting time focusing on how this story of Humankind ends. Instead we are meant to be people who just plant those trees regardless of how much time we have left, because we are people who spread goodness for His sake. The scholars of our community are the experienced astronomers and navigators of the sacred text, they translate things down to our understanding so that we may too find direction.  I hope we listen to them carefully, internalized their wisdom and take that road map and start living the way we were meant to live.

Alhamdu lillahi rabbi alAAalameen. All Praise and Thanks is due to the Lord of the Worlds.

Be Like the Trees

We came from a similar birth

both started as seeds and your womb was the Earth.

But the wind blows I lose my place, forget my origins become lost

But you hold your ground, remember roots and revel at the sound

Set in the Earth as a proof of God’s love, compassion and grace

I find that trees do not complain of their place.

But instead she glorifies her Lord for His grace.

For being honored to briefly taste, the gift of life

To feel that crisp breeze in the night, to bathe in that warm glow

of sunlight,

in delight

following the bright,

opening itself to rain from the sky

honoring the sustaining ground

Worshiping the most high

Oh tree how much can I learn from you

You never forget

Al Razzaq nurtures you

What an honor it is to be a slave

To be a servant to the one who gives and has gave

What else for was this all made

except to love such a Merciful and Loving Lord

You were once just a seed hidden in dirt

He nurtured you in the calmness of Earth

and caused you to see the sun

Who too is the slave of the One

Nurturing and giving and so you were raised too

To give was the least you could do,

When Al Razzaq gives life, sublime, glorious The Truth

He placed you on Earth to serve as a proof

There is only one Rabb

One Illah

Al Hayyu al Qayoom

So do not complain of your place

For your Lord is most knowing and wise

Be like the tree, glorify

Praise and rise

Rise to the obedience of the One who creates all

Our God, our Lord, our creator, Allah

When The Sky Was Covered

My mom handed me a Quran with the translation. I was only a kid, but she told me to read the translation of Surah Al Fil. She said it was powerful in its meaning. I read it not knowing what it was about. I couldn’t comprehend why I was reading about Elephants and birds.

“Have you not considered, [O Muhammad], how your Lord dealt with the companions of the elephant? Did He not make their plan into misguidance? And He sent against them birds in flocks, Striking them with stones of hard clay, And He made them like eaten straw.” (Surah Al Fil 105:1-5)

Then I grew up, and I came into my own in Islam. Most people have those Shahada moments, moments in your life where you reevaluate your life and you have to conclude and make the decision to submit on your own. No parents telling you to pray, or read Quran, but you choosing that Islam is the life that you want to live, Allah is Allah and the Prophet Muhammad sallallahu alayhi wasalam is your guide.  Like in Surah Az Zumar “And return [in repentance] to your Lord and submit to Him before the punishment comes upon you; then you will not be helped.” (39:54). The word for submit here is Asleemoo. Some commentaries point out that this is for people who are already Muslim, meaning they have already submitted, but its about submitting further. I went through various Shahada moments or Submission moments in my life that shaped my whole being. We cherish those moments because in those moments we increase in certainty in Allah and we look out into the Heavens and the Earth and know this is it, Allah is real and Islam is the way I choose to live. Radheetu billahi rabban, wa bil islaami deenan, wa bi Muhammadin (sallallahu aleyhi wa sallam) nabbiyan. I am pleased with Allah as my Lord, Islam as my way of life and with Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) as my Prophet.

Now after over a decade, some of Surah Al Fil’s light and opening unravels itself into my life. I go back to that memory and realize how far I’ve come since I was that kid not having a clue as to why my mother wanted me to read about a Surah about Elephants and Birds. Surah Al Fil is like epic film where you have to imagine the context and the visuals that occured. Imagine that frightening army raised by Abraha, with War Elephants (Fil) marching to Mecca. The ground shakes and quivers along with your hearts. This is the end. We’re going to be destroyed in this sacred city we call home. Abraha, conjured something unimaginable with him. This is a desert town, where people make a sacred pilgrimage because of a cube. He despised the Kaaba and his hatred translated into him funding and gathering an army larger than anyone had ever seen in this desert. Creatures I had only heard about in stories. He seems invincible, he’s right outside the city ready to destroy the Kaaba. The cities inhabitants are helpless. But then something much more spectacular occurs. Suddenly the sky was covered and blacks out. An army of birds cover the sun and the sky. The sky goes black and suddenly the encroaching Army falls to ground. Small baked stones are dropped from their feet and the invincible army falls to their feet. Allahu Akbar, Allah is greater. A moment of pure amazement and awe, where there is no doubt that there is no God but Allah.

Surah Al Fil type of moments occur in our lives all of the time. But we have to keep our eyes and ears open because “life is not a journey to finding God, it is a journey of realization that He was with us all along.”

When my mom handed me that Quran over a decade ago, I didn’t have my eyes and ears open yet, but she gave it regardless hoping some good would come from her efforts. She handed me the same Quran later in my life, as I went back to college. Alhamdulillah, All praise and Thanks is due to God. So when the next Surah Al Fil moments occurred in my life, I was ready for them and my eyes were wide open ready to receive the beautiful gift that they were.

Keeping my eyes and ears open, and most importantly my heart. I hope you do too.

May Allah give my mother the reward for bringing me into this life and raising me, and May she also receive the reward for pointing me towards the gates of Jannat. May Allah grant her and our family the highest jannah, Jannat al Firdous, near our Beloved Prophet sallallahu alayhi wasalam. Ameen.

You’re Beautiful

You’re beautiful.

Not because some guy says you are, or you get 100 likes on facebook

But You’re beautiful
Because from that crinkle in your face,

or that slight slant in your eyes
Or those rounds cheeks when you smile

Wasn’t by coincidence or mistake

God chose you

He created and knows you

You look in that mirror worried what others will think

But settle down and recite the Quran
let it sink

The One who creates and fashions, and who decrees and guides

That you think those eyebrows are a little too thick

Or your complexion too dark in this summer heat

But its on purpose

You are perfectly imperfect

Perfect in imperfection
This is why you are perfect

Selected and fashioned by the same One who spread across the stars in the sky

Who colored the crimson horizon of sunset
Carries the birds while they fly
Casted the subtle yellow of dusk

Who gave a scent to the deers producing musk

He chose you, every gene and phenotype

running through your ancestors to finally arrive
At you, you are alive
Not by mistake
Don’t take his signs as play
or forsake
You are certainly selected and fashioned
the way that you are

He chose you,

and perhaps you’ll obey, and hear what he says

This is perfectly imperfect

1 single egg, 1 single sperm. Once you were two.
Then he chose you. Miraculous.
You are a miracle, a sign

And he placed that mysterious soul and heart inside

7 billion miracles walking on Earth!

And then the person still asks, show me a miracle!

He never looked at himself or the world

How can I show you anything when you don’t look!

Hold your heart, listen to it beat
And realize it doesn’t beat for no reason
And don’t tell me it beats so that some guy can come along
and take your heart away!
Don’t give away that part of you
So no, its beats, persists,
Waiting for you to finally submit
To its creator, the vessel from which you know Allah
Its Lord the most High
Sisters, don’t let some man come along and take your heart away
Because it wasn’t created for men, but the Creator of all men
The vessel of knowing God

We Are Satisfied with Our Lot and Share

Bismillahir Rahmanir Rahim

In the Name of God, the Most Merciful the Most Gracious

Ibn Hashim and Bukhari narrate a story in which the Ansar are angry with the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasalam). During the disbursement of Booty at Al-Ji’ranah, the largest shares were given to people who recently embraced Islam, including the nobles of Quraysh. The Ansar however were given nothing. Sa’d bin ‘Ubadah speaks for his people and says:

“O Messenger of Allâh, this group of the Ansar are furious at you about the distribution of the booty that you had won. You have allotted shares to your own kinsmen and forwarded lots of gifts to the Arab tribes. But this group has obtained nothing.” The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) asked Sa‘d exclaiming: “Sa‘d, what do you think of all that?” Sa‘d replied: “O Messenger of Allâh. You know that I am nothing but a member of this group.” “Call out on your people and bring them forth to me into this shed.” Said the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace).

Once gathered the Prophet sallallahu alayhi wasalam said “I have been told that you are angry with me. Didn’t I come to you when you were astray and Allâh guided you? You were poor and Allâh gave you wealth. Weren’t you foes and Allâh made you love one another.” “Yes,” they said, “Allâh and His Messenger are better and more gracious.” Then he said: “What prevents you from replying to the Messenger of Allâh, O tribe of Ansar?” They said, “What should be the reply, O Messenger of Allâh, while to the Lord and to his Messenger belong all benevolence and grace.”

The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) again said:

“But by Allâh, you might have answered and answered truly, for I would have testified to its truth myself: ‘You came to us belied and rejected and we accepted you; you came to us as helpless and we helped you; a fugitive, and we took you in; poor and we comforted you’.

You Ansar, do you feel anxious for the things of this world, wherewith I have sought to incline these people unto the Faith in which you are already established?

Are you not satisfied, O group of Ansar that the people go with ewes and camels while you go along with the Messenger of Allâh  to your dwellings. By Him in Whose Hand is my life, had there been no migration, I would have been one of the Ansar. If the people would go through a valley and passage, and the Ansar go through another valley and passage, I would go through the valley and passage of the Ansar. Allâh! Have mercy on the Ansar, their children and their children’s children.”

The audience wept until tears rolled down their beards as they said:

“Yes, we are satisfied, O Prophet of Allah with our lot and share.”

In this life many of us get jealous of the people around us. They are given so much of this world, but aren’t we like the Ansar in this world? Your bosses and executives go home with their big houses, expensive cars and what do you go home with? Allah gave you Islam and the Prophet (salallahu alayhi wasalam).  Allah gave you the greatest blessing any person could receive, guidance. Are we not satisfied with our share?

I was told about two different families from my friend about his stay in Utah. One was a young man who was named Ahmed. My friend asked Ahmed to come to Masjid with  him. Ahmed said he couldn’t and explained that his family had been Mormon now for 8 years.  He explained that the Mormons bought them a house and took care of their needs so that they would convert to Mormonism.  May Allah protect us from the fear of poverty and losing our faith. Ameen.

He met another family who was impoverished to where they could barely cloth their children. The patriarch was 75 and strong, and named Ibrahim. Ibrahim told him about how the Mormon churched offered to buy them a house, their food, clothing and even pay for their college tuition, but he responded to them by saying La illaha ilallah. There is no God, but Allah.

They are living in poverty, but that man understands the value of the share in life that Allah subhana wata alaa gave him. When you wake up for fajr and pray the two rakat of Sunnah, realize that its worth more than the world and everything in it, meaning you already have something more valuable than the bank account of Bill Gates.

Even if you can’t step out of yourself and realize what a blessing it is to have the Prophet (salallallahu alayhi wasalam), who responds to our salawat on him, realize no matter where your love for him is now, 1400 years ago, he loved you and was concerned for you.
In the Musnad of Imam Ahmad, Anas bin Malik (radiAllahu anhu) narrates that the Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه وسلم) said:

” I wish that I could meet my brothers.” The Sahaabah asked: “Aren’t we your brothers?” He replied: “You are my Companions, but my brothers are those who will believe in me without having seen me.”

Does it not please you to know that the Prophet (salallahu alayhi wasalam) mentioned you to his beloved Sahaba, and yearned to see you before you were even an idea in the minds of your great great grandparents. 1400 years ago, before Islam even spread to the part of the world that we came from and before our ancestors even heard about a man named Muhammad, he thought about you and yearned to meet you.

Who am I? This lowly slave who constantly sins, who learns about the Beloveds way, but struggles to follow it. This slave who has very little light, and very little character and has achieved very little in this life and has done so little for the next. And the Best of Creation wish that he could meet me? He has more love for me than I could even have for me. A blessed man, who stayed up at night praying to His Lord out of thankfulness and I struggle to even think about the words I say when I pray. SubhanAllah. As if it wasn’t enough for Allah to create me and cause me to exist, but for Him, subhana wata alaa to then further bless me by knowing His name, Allah and knowing the name of His beloved, the Prophet Muhammad (sallallahu alayhi wasalam).

I’m reminded by this other narration from our beloved mother, A’ishah (radi Allahu anha) who narrated

“Once, when I saw the Prophet in a good mood, I said to him: “O Messenger of Allāh! Supplicate to Allāh for me!” So, he said: “O Allāh! Forgive ‘A’ishah her past and future sins, what she has hidden, as well as what she has made apparent.” So, I began smiling, to the point that my head fell into the lap of the Messenger of Allāh sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam out of joy. The Messenger of Allāh said to me: “Does my supplication make you happy?” I replied: “And how can your supplication not make me happy?” He then said: “By Allāh, it is the supplication that I make for my Ummah in every prayer.”  (Al Bazzaar)

If our love is deficient for the Prophet Muhammad sallallahu alayhi wasalam, it is probably for two reasons. The first being we don’t know him enough. We don’t know enough about his life, his character and about how much he gave for every single one of us. And the second being that no matter how much you can increase in your love, you will find that it will always be deficient because of who were are and how deserving of our love he is. Salallahu alayhi wa salam. For example a son or daughter will never love his or her mother sufficiently, so how could one love someone who has done even more for you than your mother?

I end with this poem that sums it up best, translated by Shaykh Hamza Yusuf and it was written by Ibn Juzayy al Kalbi:

I desired to praise the Chosen One and was hindered

By my own inability to grasp the extent of his glory.

How can one such as I measure an ocean, when the ocean is vast?

And how can one such as I count the stones and the stars?

If all of my limbs were to become tongues, even then –

Even then I could not begin to praise him as I desired.

And if all of creation gathered together in an attempt

To praise him, even then they would stint in his due.

I have altogether ceased trying – awestruck, clinging to courtesy,

Tempered by timidity, glorifying his most exalted rank.

Indeed, sometimes silence holds within it the essence of eloquence,

And often speech merely fodder for the faultfinder.

Intentions

Bismillahir Rahmanir Rahim,
In the Name of God, the Most Merciful the Most Gracious

Umar Ibn Al Khattab narrates I heard the Messenger of Allah, sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam, say: “Actions are (judged) by motives (niyyah), so each man will have what he intended. Thus, he whose migration (hijrah) was to Allah and His Messenger, his migration is to Allah and His Messenger; but he whose migration was for some worldly thing he might gain, or for a wife he might marry, his migration is to that for which he migrated.” [Al-Bukhari & Muslim]

To start I just simply want to state my intentions out loud to remind myself first and foremost and to be able to look back and renew it easily. My intention for this blog is to please Allah subhana wata alaa (God, Perfect and Most High).  I intend to share things that are good and beneficial if He permits. Any good that I share is from Him and anything bad is from myself. I created this blog in hopes that I may benefit myself, that it serves to purify my heart and be a means of pleasing my Lord. I also hope to benefit others by His will and His grace.  May Allah make this blog a source of guidance and light.

Allaahumma ‘innee ‘as’aluka ‘ilman naafi’an, wa rizqan tayyiban, wa ‘amalan mutaqabbalan. 

“O Allah, I ask You for knowledge that is of benefit, a good provision, and deeds that will be accepted.”

O Allah, I ask for your help in my endeavor.

“Rabbi Ishrah Li Sadry, Wayassir Li Amry, Wahlul ‘Uqdatan Min Lisany, yafqahu Qawly.”

“My Lord, I ask you to expand my breast, make my task easy, undo the knot in my tongue so that my speech will become comprehensible” (Prayer of Moses, Dua of Musa)

Ameen