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Posts tagged ‘Ramadan’

“None of you truly believes until he loves for his brother what he loves for himself.”

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!

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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 🙂

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It’s Phenomenal To Be Back!

Peace be upon you, my faithful followers!

It’s been almost 2 years since my last post, I cannot believe it! I really can’t. So much has happened during that time, including some major changes in my life. We’ll get to that later on down the road, in sha’ Allah (God willing), but all is good, al hamdulillah (thank God).

First and foremost, I’d like to offer my sincere gratitude to all those who continued to follow my blog and share my posts. Back in June 2013, I had a little over 6,000 hits and now I was overly delighted to see that I have over 13,000 hits! My last post dating back to Ramadan of 2013 is the most often visited and shared, yielding 35 views and hour for the past few weeks, ma sha’ Allah! That really warms my heart solely because it’s precisely what I asked of you in that very post, to share it and help me spread its message across the world. Please continue to do so and may all those who do be rewarded immensely for their deed and intentions.

I would also like to ask everyone to forgive me for not posting any new entries the past couple of years. Time flew by and it took way longer than expected for me to find the time my blog and followers so rightfully and respectfully deserve! I never allow myself to be sloppy when it comes to anything I do, and that wasn’t about to change. So, please forgive me and, in sha’ Allah (God willing), I will do my best to continue to contribute to the blog as best as I can.

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Finally, I’d like to wish everyone a Ramadan Mubarak! In less than a week, we’ll be fasting and enjoying the tremendous blessings Allah bestows upon us during the fabulous month of Ramadan. May Allah accept all our fasts, good deeds and intentions and forgive us for our transgressions. Ameen!

Ramadan Karim :)

In sha’ Allah (God willing) there are 12 days left to the Holy Month of Ramadan. It is the month of the Islamic calendar when the Holy Quran was revealed to our prophet Muhammad (peace and mercy be upon him) through angel Gabriel (peace be upon him) over 1400 years ago. Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset in an effort to abstain from worldly and material matters and focus on our spiritual growth and well-being. It’s the month of mercy, where we are asked to be even more charitable, generous, kind, loving and spread joy than on other days. It’s the month of less is more when it comes to worldly things and more is better when it comes to spiritual things! To me, it’s the most beautiful, festive, peaceful month of the entire year! If you, my dear followers, are interested in learning about this beautiful month, please check out this amazing resource. Later this week I will be posting pictures of our decorations and post more about how we celebrate the holy month in our family.

Ramadan Karim (Happy Ramadan) :)

Ramadan Karim (Happy Ramadan) 🙂

Today’s post is really an email message that I sent out last week to all my Muslim friends and acquaintances. I am accustomed to sending out season’s greetings every year and I usually keep the email nice and short. This year, however, I decided to send out a word of advice and a plea, hoping that everyone I sent the email out to will be on board and both, them and I, can benefit from the outcome. I got such wonderful feedback, al hamdulillah (Thank God), and so I decided to share it with you since it carries a message that ALL religions agree upon!

Al Salam Aleikom Everyone,

Our little family wishes you all a blessed and prosperous Ramadan, in sha’ Allah 🙂

May the holy month of the revelation of the Quran usher upon you and your loved ones peace, happiness and prosperity. May you be granted peace of heart and mind, forgiveness and guidance.

This year, please allow me to emphasize two points. The first concerns preparing for Ramadan and the second is more of a personal appeal …

Preparing for the Holy Month of Ramadan is not about getting your 30-day meal plan together, looking up “new” recipes nor stockpiling the ingredients you’ll most likely need! It’s not about counting how many hours remain till iftar (breaking our fast) nor thinking about what you will be having for dessert that night. Preparing for the Holy Month of Ramadan is more of a spiritual preparation. You need to have the right mindset, have your heart in the right place and your priorities straight before the Holy Month arrives. It’s about making sure you pray on time, spend time with your kids no matter how drained you feel, read as much Quran as you can and spend your time wisely. It’s about lending those less fortunate than you a helping hand, making du’a (prayers) for those who are having hardships and forgiving those you never thought you will be able to forgive. It’s about spreading joy, being kind and becoming generous. It’s about you and Allah (God), your connection, your relationship and your exchange of dua’ for peace, forgiveness and mercy. It’s about being the best Muslim you can be, even if it’s for a single month! If you are able to achieve all that, you will come out of Ramadan feeling like a completely new person and will be able to carry whatever you started on for the rest of the year and every year until it’s your time to leave. Let us all try to make this Ramadan different, don’t let it slip away like those before it. Set goals and stick to them, no matter how small 🙂

The personal appeal I’d like to make, and in which I hope you will participate, is to make one of your goals for this Ramadan to forgive all those who ever did you wrong! I know it may be a random thing to ask of you but I truly believe it is one of the BEST things I have ever done for myself in all my years in this life. I used to take that step on an individual basis but last April I made a pact with myself to forgive every single soul that has ever hurt or wronged me, regardless who the person is or why they did what they did … regardless even whether they deserve my forgiveness or not (I believe everyone deserves our forgiveness, it’s our ego that prevents us from forgiving others at times). On the day I made that decision I published this post on my blog, I sincerely hope you will find time to read it. This excerpt, in particular, is one I would like to share with you:

“I have decided to start with something that will bring me more peace than I probably ever had. It’s also one of the most beautiful lessons that my wonderful religion, Islam, teaches us but is shared by all religions as well. Forgive whenever you get the chance so that Allah (God) forgives you too. Over the past few months, I’ve received several correspondences from people who have wronged me gravely in the past. I am highly intrigued by the timing, since not all those people know each other, but I believe that it’s the timing chosen by God and I am grateful for it. Some wronged me through actions, some through backbiting and others through rumors. I, generally, forgave most of those people long ago, primarily to find peace within myself and be able to move on. Today, in appreciation for them having the courage and humility to reach out to me, admit their shortcomings, accept full responsibility for them and ask for my forgiveness, I would like to renew my forgiveness and assure everyone, whether they apologized or not, whether they are still in my life or not, whether I know of their wrongdoings or not, that I fully and wholeheartedly forgive them! I published the following statement on my Facebook page last night and I mean every single word, God is my witness:

I bear witness that I, wholeheartedly, forgive every single person who has ever wronged me whether knowingly or unknowingly! I forgive every backbite, every lie, every rumor, every heartache, every imposition and every other wrongful emotion, thought or action against me. Those sorts of actions served as lessons more than anything, teaching me about myself as well as others. So, thank you to all who wronged me, you helped me become a better person and helped me appreciate the good people I have in my life … a special thank you goes to those who had it in them to apologize for their shortcomings. I hope everyone I’ve ever come across can find it in their hearts to forgive me for anything intentional or unintentional I may have committed against them as well. May Allah forgive all of our transgressions. — Hebatallah Azmy

I also asked all my friends to forward/share my message so that it may reach as many people as possible. As a result, it reached people I had fallen out of touch with and now, I forgive them and they forgive me as well! Today, I ask you to do the same thing please. Forward/share this message, even if it’s to people I do not know, and then know you forgive them, have them forgive you … and, if by any chance, they do happen to know me then the same applies to me.

“Just as it is important to believe in the mercy and forgiveness of Allah, it is also necessary to base human relations on forgiveness. We cannot expect Allah’s forgiveness unless we also forgive those who do wrong to us. Forgiving each other, even forgiving one’s enemies is one of the most important Islamic teaching. In the Qur’an Allah has described the Believers as “those who avoid major sins and acts of indecencies and when they are angry they forgive.” (al-Shura 42:37) Later in the same Surah Allah says, “The reward of the evil is the evil thereof, but whosoever forgives and makes amends, his reward is upon Allah.” (al-Shura 42:40) In another place the Qur’an says, “If you punish, then punish with the like of that wherewith you were afflicted. But if you endure patiently, indeed it is better for the patient. Endure you patiently. Your patience is not except through the help of Allah (al-Nahl 16:126-127)

In one Hadith the Prophet -peace be upon him- said that Allah has commanded him about nine things. One of them he mentioned was “that I forgive those who do wrong to me.”” (source: http://islamawareness.net/Salvation/forgiveness.html)

Finally, I encourage each and every one of you to read this short but beautiful, beautiful article … it is truly life-changing!

I’d also like to remind everyone not to hurt others on purpose. Be it with a phrase, look or even a thought. You do not know what the other person is going through in the their life, no matter how close you are to them, you do not know as much as you think you do! It’s really simple, if you break a vase and then manage to glue the pieces back together as best as you could, the vase will still never really be the same … it’ll be different to the sight and touch and may possibly never be usable as a vase again because it’ll be too fragile. You do not want to be the cause of the equivalent of those cracks to another human being … so please, be kind to one another, give each other the benefit of the doubt, don’t jump to conclusions based on hearsay and don’t let your prejudices and ego cloud your judgment. If you have negative feelings towards someone, simply walk away … do it gently and kindly but do not do something you will regret in this life and even more in the next one. It really isn’t worth it.

May Allah forgive us all and turn our saye2at (bad deeds) into 7asanat (good deeds). May Allah fill our hearts and minds with nothing but love for Him, his prophet and all others. May we fall under Allah’s mercy and grace rather than his anger and reprimand. May we be granted clear vision and  help guide each other to the right path 🙂

Ameen (Amen)

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