“My Lord, build for me near You a house in Paradise and save me from Pharaoh and his deeds and save me from the wrongdoing people.”
– Dua of Asiya found in Surah At Tahrim
Asiya, peace be upon her, is one of the four greatest women to ever live. She makes this dua while she is being tortured by the Pharoah, her husband because she believes in Allah. Its so beautiful because she says indaka “near You” before she says baytan “a house”. Meaning she placed being near Allah above everything else. The priority of her dua was to be near Allah, as if being in a house in Jannah wouldn’t be meaningful to her unless she got to be near Allah. If she was given a house in jannah, but didn’t get to be near Allah, that would be like hell for her.
She begins the dua by saying “Rabbee” meaning my Lord. Rabbee signifying the name of Allah that describes how He takes care of those under Him. Rabbee a name that signifies closeness. She doesn’t call out by beginning the dua with Ya, but by saying the name of her Lord who cares for her in every moment “Rabbee”. She mentions being “near You (Allah)” before she even mentions her current circumstance of needing to be saved from Pharaoh.
This is a woman who truly loves Allah. There’s this story of Rabia of Basra, in which she was asked about what made a person a great. She was asked about a person who is patient in hardship and thankful when given blessings and she said no. She was also asked if it was a person who in hardship was thankful and when given blessings was patient and again she said no. Eventually they lamented and asked her what a great person was and she replied the one who whether they are given blessings or hardship they don’t lose sight of Allah.
The one who doesn’t lose focus on their Love; Allah. This is the kind of woman Asiya is. She does make dua to be saved from Pharaoh and his deeds and to be saved from the wrongdoers, but her priority and her focus is always the same: Allah. “indaka, near You”
She is a person who drew close to Allah in the life of the dunya, but also a person who wouldn’t be able to be satisfied with anything in the next life except with closeness to Allah.
“My Lord, build for me near You a house in Paradise” Ameen.
This morning my mom told me how the life of this world exhausts her. It reminded me of the hadith “The world is a prison for a believer and Paradise for a non-believer.” (Muslim). It really is her prison. When it comes to us, her kids she celebrates our successes, but always reminds us that only our good deeds will come with us to our graves and past this life. She lives in this world, raised us and worked miracles as we grew up, but she simply is not a person seeking this world. Like a palm tree that produces beautiful fruits, but has almost no roots in the soil. She is simply one of the most inspiring people that I know mashaAllah, not just because she is my mother, but because she is also a believer and I forget that this world is her prison. This life has been mostly hardship for her. Allah subhana wata alaa blessed her with people she loves, but who also often make her life difficult, but it never interferes with her love for Allah. On the contrary it is love that stems from her love for Allah. Nothing pleases my mother more than us turning to Islam and taking it on and nothing troubles her more than us turning away from Islam and preferring our way of life over the way she taught us, Islam.
I have heard her speak most proudly and endearingly about her father who at his old age still walks to every prayer at the Masjid even though his legs grow tired and sore from it. She’s excited for her trip this fall inshaAllah where she plans to see her father in Vietnam and the opening of their new masjid at that time, around Eid al Adha, the Festival of Sacrifice. I pray that Allah accepts her life as sacrifice for His sake and her Eid will be the Day of Standing before Him where He will be pleased with her and she will be pleased. Ameen. I realize it was probably her father who taught her devotion to Allah. Its difficult on my heart knowing how difficult life has been for my parents, but my mom constantly reminds me that she is not a person that lives for this life, she is simply working to please God, hoping her record speaks in her favor and not against her. She is the woman that gave birth to me twice, she gave me life in this world and gave me life in Islam. She is my blessed example of a Believing Woman. May Allah preserve her, increase her, ease her, have mercy on her, bestow blessings upon her, grant her a beautiful seal, guide her family and her, love her, forgive her and grant her Jannatul Firdaus with the Beloved Messenger salallahu alayhi wasalam. May He do the same for my whole family, especially my maternal grandfather. Ameen. She is the woman I love most in this life, the woman who taught me to love God, Islam and the Prophet. I could never pay you back for even one contraction of child labor or for even a morsel of food you gave me, but I pray to God, Al Kareem, the Most Generous to give you much more than you could ever imagine. Ameen.
There is this frightening narration in al-Adab al-Mufrad, a collection by Imam Al Bukhari about this woman who outwardly appeared to be very pious, but because of her bad treatment to her neighbors she was among the people of Hell. Her deeds were no good to her. She would spend her night in prayer, fast during the day and gave in charity. If we were to see this woman we would probably praise her for her vigorous worship.
Maulana Rumi said whenever you read Pharaoh in the Quran don’t think that he is some character that lived in the past, but seek him out in your own heart. I heard this story and I thought, am I this person? I am a person who people think does a good amount of worship, but maybe because of my bad character I too will be a person of the hellfire. Or maybe I lack sincerity in my actions. Its scary because people think so highly of me. By the mercy of God people have a good opinion of me. But none of them really know the worse parts of me. I am very flawed. I have many shortcomings. I’m not as pious as people think I am.
Umar ibn Al Khattab, when he was the head of state of the Muslims he used to visit Hudhaifa (May God be pleased with both of them). Hudhaifa was told the list of all the hypocrites by the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) and he used to asked Hudhaifa if he was on that list. Umar ibn Al Khattab was one of the best men of faith and still feared hypocrisy, how much more fearful of hypocrisy should I feel in my heart.
How many of us outwardly appear so pious? We grow beards, wear thobes, or put on the headscarf and wear abayas and we pray and do good works, but our reality is that that person everyone looks down on and is struggling actually has a better standing before Allah than we do. Remember that one of the first people in the hell fire on the day of Judgement is the Scholar who internally only did it for the praise of people and recall that the prostitute who because she went down into the well to retrieve water for that dog was given paradise.
There’s wisdom in not seeing the acceptance or not of our deeds. It reminds us that worship is not a goal, but only a means towards becoming a better person of good character and sincerity before God. Our Goal is His pleasure, good deeds is hopefully the vehicle we take. “O God! Make my inward better than my outward, and make my outward virtuous.”
I say that a name is linked to an intention. It reveals the hopes and dreams of parents for their children. We often name children after those that we already love, perhaps hoping that they too will carry a trait of that person that was the fuel to that love. Sometimes we name them after good meanings hoping they will grow into those meanings.
I was named, Asnavy. In my native tongue, it means the light of the sun. Although almost no native names exist anymore in my culture, my name remains used. All my brothers are named after Prophets for example. My mother says that naming your son that will mean that he will be knowledgeable and intelligent. Its considered a good name.
Today I learned that my dad says he actually chose it, even though my uncle, my mom’s brother is also named that. She loved the name also. My dad said he chose my name because of the attribute it carries with someone being intelligent and that he knew someone growing up that he looked up to. The man was knowledgeable in Islam and went to Malaysia and won this large Quran recitation competition.
After learning this, reading the Quran and learning Islamic knowledge has become different for me. I truly was the prayer of my parents in more ways than one and I hope I can fulfill that intention of theirs.
اللهم إني أسألك علماً نافعاً، ورزقاً طيباً، وعملاً متقبلاً
‘Allaahumma innee assaluka ilman nafia, wa rizzqan tayyeebun, wa amalan mutaqabilan,.’
‘O Allaah indeed I ask You for beneficial knowledge, and a good provision, and actions which are accepted.’
Winter is when the storm of my spirit rages inside. My spirit comes alive in these long nights. Winter four years, I went through my hardest difficulties and honestly became a new person on a completely trajectory.
Winter one year ago, I was sitting at a childhood friend’s wedding and a love song came on. I Love You So by Maher Zain. I started to reflect on how the song was actually a love song about God. Then suddenly my heart was speaking with God, Allah.
Whatever You think is best, I am happy about, alhamdulillah, all praise and thanks is due to God. You are the best of planners. I’ll keep doing the work, but even if your plan includes things I wouldn’t prefer for myself, You are sufficient for me. What more could I ask more than having You in my life? Nothing. I am the most blessed man on the Earth because I know You! Because I can feel your presence with me, and Your plan is greater than any plans I can make.
Its been a year now, and I feel invigorated and I feel like a much better man than I was before, alhamdulillah, all praise and thanks is due to God. These winters have a secret in them, I pray that I will transform even further this winter. One of my favorite things I’ve learned that sums up the sentiment of that conversation I had is with a Prophetic saying that we are recommended to repeat every morning seven times:
Hasbi-allahu la ilaha illa Huwa ‘alaihi tawakkaltu wa Huwa Rab-bal ‘arshil ‘atheem
حَسْبِ اللهُ لا إله إلا هو، عليه توكلت
و هو ربَ العرش العظيم.
Allah is sufficient for me. There is no God but He.
I have placed my trust in Him, He is Lord of the Majestic Throne.