Peace be upon you!
With the holy month of Ramadan fast approaching, I thought what better way to come back to my happy place, my blog, than to write the special post I share annually around the same time? Sadly, I wasn’t able to do so last year, and the fact that I couldn’t, took its toll on me for quite a while back then. The previous year, my post was about forgiveness. It is the most highly viewed and shared post on my blog thus far! It came from the bottom of my heart and helped me realize how important forgiveness is in our lives! Whether it be forgiving ourselves, those who wronged us in the past, those who wrong us now, those who will wrong us in the future or those who, indirectly, led others to wrong us. I also reflected on the fact that we all must seek forgiveness ourselves, whether from those we wronged or from God, the Almighty! There is no greater peace of mind than laying your head on your pillow at night knowing that you did your best to make amends with others and that you don’t carry as much as a grain of salt of bitterness towards anyone! It’s something I remind myself of every day and strive to attain even on the toughest of days. May God grant us all peace of mind, pureness of heart and the capacity to forgive others so that He may forgive us when we most need it! Ameen.
This year I would like to reflect on Prophet Muhammad’s authentic hadith:
Anas (RA) relates that the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم (peace be upon him) said: “None of you truly believes until he loves for his brother what he loves for himself.” [Sahîh al-Bukhârî and Sahîh Muslim]
By no means am I a scholar, and so I am not referring to the above mentioned hadith from a scholarly perspective. But rather, how someone like me, a regular person who continues to strive to better herself and attain further knowledge of her own religion, can benefit from it!
This hadith is so concise yet exceptionally profound! It is not saying that a person is deemed a non-believer for failing to hold in his heart the aforementioned love for others. It rather states that their belief is somewhat deficient. It guides us as to how people are supposed to relate to each other in this life. It also negates ugly emotions such as envy, wishing ill upon others and hatred while establishing the vision of a society based on mutual love, care and respect! It incorporates so many deep meanings in one sentence! Sobhan Allah (Glory be to God).
Over the past few years, as well as this year in particular, I have come to notice that many people do not take this precious advice to heart! Although growing up I would hear my parents’ generation speaking about how different people are “now”, how inconsiderate those around us have become, how the ties that used to bind people back in the day no longer do so, I don’t think I have truly witnessed all that in essence till fairly recently! See, back then they’d be referring to someone who didn’t call for a few days after knowing that someone is ill. Or someone who, although they knew that X’s children had finals, they still so inconsiderately chose to host a dinner party the preceding weekend. Or someone who couldn’t even bother to fake a smile at Y’s wedding just because they had wished that their own daughter got married first! Not to minimize how detrimental such actions can be on a relationship, particularly one of kinship, but all those ghastly things fade in comparison to what I have witnessed in, say, the past decade!
It’s almost like people have seeds of bitterness, envy and hatred slowly but surely growing in their hearts with each passing generation! The saddest part? The recipients of all this negativity are more often than not really good people, arguably the best amongst the bunch, often times! We’re talking people wishing that someone would fall ill with a more severe illness than theirs just because they couldn’t bother to call and check on them. Someone feeling so bitter about someone’s promotion or raise that they’d try to sabotage their image at work to make themselves feel and look better amongst their peers. Someone knowing that they can help a friend in need of assistance by making a simple phone call or helping them research a solution to their problem but cannot find it in their hearts to do so. Someone being able to lend a shoulder to someone in turmoil but feeling like they are not obliged to do so, therefore why go “the extra mile”? Someone breaking marriages and friendships just to prove a point, which may or may not be substantial. Someone being outright mean to a child just because they are jealous of their parent. It has become ridiculous! I witness such actions first hand at least several times a week (sometimes several times a day) and it breaks my heart for our ummah! Why? Why put yourself and others through so much? For what? So what if someone has a higher salary than you? I’m sure they deserve it! So what if X is more healthy than you? Maybe you’re happier! So what if Y’s child got married before yours? Maybe your child’s marriage will be a better one! So what if Z shines at work? Let that motivate you to work harder! You see, we do not have to bring each other down, wish ill upon each other nor ruin each other to attain what we want in this life. If anything, the only thing we should be trying to strive for and accumulate in this life is good deeds! That’s it. None of us are taking anything else with us to our grave! Focus on the ultimate goal, raise your children to be pious and humble, make a difference in this life by helping others and your message will be complete. It’s really as simple as that!
So, what are some things we can do to remind ourselves to act in accordance with our Prophet’s cherished words? Well, first and foremost, we need to void our hearts of any ill feelings towards others. This may prove to be challenging at times, but even if you feel like the person you are baring ill feelings towards doesn’t deserve it, think about yourself! Would you rather follow God’s and the Prophet’s teachings or hold on to a grudge or envy that could poison your life from the inside out? It’s OK to be upset about something or from someone, but we all need to figure out a way to deal with and disperse those feelings and channel them in a positive manner. One thing that I discovered, perhaps a year or two ago, works beautifully for me is that when I am feeling upset or angry and I decide to fast, I usually feel remarkably calmer and better afterwards! No matter how enraged, hurt or betrayed I feel waking up, all those feelings melt away from my heart as well as my mind as the day passes by. It’s like a full-body cleanse, sobhan Allah (Glory be to God)!
Another important point is that in loving for our brother what we love for ourselves, the one thing that should be at the very top of our priority list is to wish for everyone to be guided to the righteous path! It’s a simple yet fundamental thought. You see, we all have the same ultimate goal, yet we often lose sight of that in the middle of all what life puts us through on a daily basis! Making du’a (supplication) for others is an action that would take no more than a few seconds of your time, yet can completely change both your life and theirs! How so?
The Messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه وسلم (peace be upon him) said, “The supplication of a Muslim for his brother in his absence will certainly be answered. Every time he makes a supplication for good for his brother, the angel appointed for this particular task says: `Ameen! May it be for you, too’.” [Sahîh Muslim].
So, that person that gives you a hard time at work? Make du’a for them rather than thinking of ways to get back at them. That person who didn’t help you when they were the only ones you thought could? Make du’a for them and sit back and watch how God will extend you the best of helping hands! That person who forgets everything you’ve done for them when no one else did? Make du’a for them and watch as God plants seeds of love for you in huge masses of people’s hearts! And if you can’t bring yourself to do any of that? Say no more than “hasby Allah wa ne’ma al wakeel” (Allah is Sufficient for Me, and He is the Best Trustee) … that’s it! By saying that, you declare that you are leaving the matter in God’s hands and are entrusting Him to solve it with his infinite wisdom. Is there anything better than that? Don’t bring yourself down to the level of making du’a against someone, targeting their children, health, wealth, relationship with his/her spouse, etc. It’s not worth it! Wallahi, it’s not worth it!
What else can you do to put the first hadith in practice? How about treating others the way you wish to be treated? Does that show love for them? I’m pretty sure that no one wants others to treat them badly, so, yes!
The Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم (peace be upon him) said: “Whoever wishes to be kept away from the Fire and admitted to Paradise should have death overtake him while he believes in Allah and the Last Day and should treat people the way he wants them to treat him.” [Sahîh Muslim]
You see, Islam is a just and peaceful religion. You want justice for yourself? Grant it to others first. You want forgiveness? Forgive before you seek it for yourself. You want good health? Do not wish illness upon anyone. You want authentic friends? Be authentic and sincere towards them first. Give before you take. Sow before you reap. You cannot have the fruits of a tree before first planting it, can you? Well, the same goes for everything in this life. If we all follow the precious teaching of our phenomenal Prophet, wallahi there will be no ummah out there better than ours! Sobhan Allah (Glory be to Allah).
One important point, is the fact that sometimes we put our brothers and sisters last preceded by so many things that shouldn’t really take precedence. Part of our duty towards God, our beloved Prophet and our ummah at large is to ALWAYS help a brother or sister in need, always. If you run a business and you are placed in a position of having to choose between doing the right thing for an employee of yours while incurring miniscule loss or making a “business decision” and lose a good employee’s faith in your establishment, go for the first choice. If you have the chance to either help out a neighbor and perhaps have to cancel a trip that you planned for quite some time or go on the trip but leave your neighbor in distress with no one to help them, go for the first choice. If you have to make a choice between siding with a colleague who is only asking for their rights or siding with your boss who is being unreasonable, go for the first choice. If you have the choice between turning your cheek to someone who wronged you or retaliating, go for the first choice. And always remember, whatever you do, you are doing for Allah. And whatever you do, you’re doing according to who you really are on the inside and not what the person in front of you actually deserves. And whatever you do, you do out of love … love for God, love for goodness, love for the ummah, love for yourself and love for our lovely religion!
My final thought involves seeing one’s faults and imperfections and focusing on them rather than those of others! More often than not I wonder whether people are truly oblivious to their faults or are they faking that? If you do not extend a helping hand to someone, why be mesmerized when others behave the same way towards you? You comment about other people backbiting you yet you spy on others or cheat them. You love to criticize how X raises her children while your own children have clearly not been raised well. You love to put others down yet wonder why others may want to call you out on such behavior. Your friends love you and always want to help you but you only befriend them when you need something, otherwise they are useless to you. You criticize someone else’s hijab (veil) while you wear yours well but lie all the time. You criticize how someone doesn’t pray sunnah while you pray, fast and memorize the Qur’an yet you are full of bitterness towards those around you and you constantly hurt them. You are in a position of responsibility yet don’t do the right thing because it’s often the harder choice, however, when you have an issue you want others to immediately come to your aide! It’s truly baffling! Al hamdulillah, I am blessed to know my flaws well and am thankful that Allah gives me the chance day after day to work on them. I am humbled by the experience gained from the never-ending journey of self-improvement.
May Allah aide and guide us all. May He expel all envy, bitterness and hatred from our hearts and replace them with love, compassion, positivity and humility. May He help us see our own faults before we see those of others and give us the courage, means and opportunity to work on them so that we may attain the ultimate goal, in sha’ Allah (God willing). May He help us help others always, even when we’re at our lowest point. And may our ummah wake up and go back to basics of religion before sweating the small stuff.
To everyone out there who did not wish me or my loved ones what they wish for themselves over the years, I forgive you! To everyone who did not come through for me or my loved ones, particularly this year, I forgive you! To everyone who could’ve made the right decision but chose the wrong one because it was easier, I forgive you! To everyone who could’ve made a true difference but chose not to, I forgive you! To everyone who envied, backbit, carried bitterness in their hearts or hurt me or my loved ones, I forgive you! I forgive you for my own sake more than anything. Those who acknowledged their mistakes, whether or not they made up for them, I forgive and respect you. Most importantly of all, I am making du’a for each and every one of you, myself included. May Allah help us to uphold and truly live by His teachings as well as those of Prophet Muhammad. May He guide us all to the straight path and ease our journey to the hereafter. May He surround us with brothers and sisters who help us to become the best version possible of ourselves and take our hands and guide us to Jannah (paradise). May He help us learn from our negative experiences in life, including the ones we put ourselves in, and enjoy the positive ones. May He help us remain silent when others wrong us, not out of weakness or fear, but out of respect for oneself and in following the true teachings of our religion. May Allah always be there for us and may we be deserving of His protection and love. Ameen.
Ramadan mubarak, may Allah accept all our fasts, prayers, recitations and good deeds, ameen 🙂