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Imagine if you were born into an extremely oppressed tribe. In your early youth, you saw two people fighting and one of them asked you for your help. As you tried to separate the two, your blow killed the other man. This really was the last straw. Now you are wanted for murder. You run away at the advice of a well-wisher. But you have nowhere to go.
You probably know who I’m talking about. But before I reveal the identity, let me continue the story.
Tired, dejected and with no personal belongings you arrive at an unknown place and rest under a tree. You make a supplication to Allah (swt)- Oh Lord, truly I am in need of whatever good you give me.
This is the point where things begin to change for you, for the better. It was a small gesture of yours, helping two young women fill their bucket with water, that led on to to beautiful things in life, but of course, many challenges as well.
Many years later you are married and wish to return to your homeland. Your journey is rather eventful.
Musa (as) feared that the Egyptians would kill him, because he had killed one of them. This was his biggest fear as he was travelling back. He asked his Lord to let his brother go with him and talk to them, since he was more eloquent in speech. Musa (as) was extremely worried and he tried to come up with excuses to simplify his dilemma. He was given two Clear Signs and was completely new to his mission of delivering Allah’s message. At that point, he was feeling very low. Even though Allah (swt) forgave him, he knew he had taken someone’s life, and he was extremely remorseful. He was in no position of power. Plus, he had a family to take care of, and if something were to happen to him, what would they do in a foreign land? His fears were dark and his situation was extremely bleak. [This story is mentioned in Surah Qasas.]
And at this point, as he made dua, Allah (swt) responded saying, “We are with you, and will listen (to your call).” [As Shu’ara: 15]
Now, this is profound because it is Allah (swt) speaking directly to Musa (as), and telling him that He, the Almighty is with him. Musa (as) was a Prophet (pbuh) and hence he had the privelege of Allah’s conversations with him.
But we are also Allah’s creations, His slaves whom He loves and showers with mercy and forgives. He is forever watching over us. It is for us to know that Allah (swt) is with us when we are feeling low.
I try so hard not to get distracted by other sisters talking away during the breaks in taraweeh, but no matter what I do, I find it extremely difficult to concentrate. Here I am, trying to learn from the speaker who is giving a talk, and some women are so disrespectful by talking away! So I’ve come up with this list in order to help minimise the chatting inshallah.
Discipline and organisation are so important in our lives as Muslims. Taraweeh is all about discipline. Everyone in straight rows, with utmost attention. It’s a great test for mothers when their children are running around or crying. In fact, taraweeh makes you very alert. You have to be early if you want to be in the first row. Yet, if your mother requires assistance, then you have to forgo your space in the first row and make your mother comfortable first. It’s discipline because it doesn’t happen once. It’s not one set of “Allahu Akbar”, but many times over, that you have to raise your hands to.
And when someone leaves a row, others are automatically conscious of the gap, and hasten to fill it. Let not there be shaitan between us…
And once you’re done, it’s about connecting with those on either side of you. Sometimes, it’s a Philipino or a Somali sister. Other times, it’s someone’s beautiful grandmother. Say salam to all, and spread the sunnah of the Prophet (pbuh).
Ramadan will help you get organised. Try Seinfield’s productivity secret.
I’m not sure if this is in a hadith or a story of a Sahaba (I also read a similar story in Like The Flowing River by Paulo Coelho):
There was a devout man who once missed fajr prayer because shaitan made him sleep until late into the morning. When he woke up and realised he missed the salah, he cried his heart out and Allah (swt) forgave him and increased him in his rank. Shaitan came to know of this and the next day, he woke up the man up for fajr in time so that Allah (swt) would not reward him all that extra reward again.
Yesterday was not so good, I mostly ended up sleeping all day, and missed out on precious time that I had set aside for important tasks. After I woke up, I thought about the above story that my mother had told me. How much do I regret missing a salah? And how do I repent for it? And when my iman goes down before it comes back up again, it’s never because of my own measly efforts, but truly the blessing of Allah (swt).
Hadrat Fazal Ali Quraishi (May the mercy of Allah be upon him) would plough, sow, and reap his own fields. He would bring the harvest home where both he and his wife would prepare the wheat to be cooked and made into bread. The bread would then be served to the students in Hadrat’s madrasa.
Hadrat Quraishi had a strong work ethic and insisted on doing everything himself. As part of his noble habit, he was constantly in a state of ablution, as was his household. One day, Hadrat served the meal as usual in the madrasa and the seekers sat down to eat. Hadrat used to address his seekers as faqir, and so he said, “Oh Faqirs, for the bread that is before you, a field had to be ploughed and this was done in a state of wudu (ritual purity). Next, a seed was sown and cultivated, all in a state of wudu. The wheat was then reaped, cleaned and cooked, all in a state of wudu. Now that it is before you, my only hope is that you eat it in a state of wudu.”
How pure must that meal have been, Subhanallah! Just like fasting, ablution (wudhu) also has an inner dimension. “No worshipper perfects his ablution except that his past and future sins are forgiven.” [Hasan, al-Bazzaar. Al-Haythami and al-Mundhiri agreed.] When a person gets angry, the Prophet (pbuh) recommends that he performs wudhu. Over the years, I have seen my grandmother and mother always go to bed in a state of wudhu. I think I often undermine it’s importance, despite knowing so much about it.
However, an important point about doing wudhu is that water should be used discretely. We’re only in this dunya to adopt the Sunnah, not exceed it. The Prophet (pbuh) performed ablution using one mudd, a measure equal to a handful of water and took a shower using one sa` (four handfuls). Some translations say 1 litre and 4 litres respectively. [I think we use gallons of water for showering!]
So, if you want your sins forgiven before you even make them, always be in a state of wudhu.
I love reciting the Qur’an. It’s one of the very few aspects of my religion I feel I have a good grasp over. For a very long time, I had been looking for a teacher to help me memorise and correct my tajweed. I have studied and restudied the rules of tajweed over the years, but I’ve always felt something was missing. Alhamdulillah with my new teacher, I’ve already learnt so much on day 1. I’m eagerly waiting to go back to her again.
This made me realise that I have a long way to go! And even more than that, having a one-on-one interaction is priceless!
From my understanding, the knowledge of scholars has spread through one-on-one teachings more than other ways. If you have never had a private teacher to study from, then perhaps you may not appreciate it as much.
But here’s what I want you to do-Identify a person around you from whom you can learn something, whether it’s tajweed, salah, hadith, tafseer, and see if both of you can book off some private time. I know you will grow and learn in a very different light inshallah!