By Wael Abdelgawad | IslamicSunrays.com
Allah had a plan for you before you were born, and He still has a plan for you. Allah’s plan for you is necessary and glorious. His plan is vital to your success, and important to the world. If that sounds grandiose, bear with me.
Some people are fatalistic, believing that everything that we do is set in stone, as if we were robots pre-programmed in the factory. Such a reality would strip us of free will and deny our natures. Rather, I believe that Allah has a flexible plan for each human being: a plan that allows that person to benefit the world with his/her unique talents.
This is in fact the Islamic view of al-Qadar, or predestination. There is no doubt that Allah has decreed everything that happens in the universe from the beginning of time to the end, and that Allah has written it all in al-Lawh al-Mahfooz (the Book of Decrees).
“Know you not that Allah knows all that is in the heaven and on the earth? Verily, it is (all) in the Book (Al?Lawh Al?Mahfooz). Verily, that is easy for Allah” (Quran, al-Hajj 22:70)
However, as Sheikh Muhammad Saalih Al-Munajjid explains,
Belief in al-qadar does not contradict the idea that a person has free will with regard to actions in which he has free choice. Sharee’ah and real life both indicate that people have this will.
Allaah says concerning man’s will (interpretation of the meaning):
“That is (without doubt) the True Day. So, whosoever wills, let him seek a place with (or a way to) His Lord (by obeying Him in this worldly life)!” [al-Naba’ 78:39]
(and other similar ayaat)
These verses confirm that man has a will and the ability to do what he wants and not to do what he does not want.
With regard to real life, everyone knows that he has a will and the ability to do what he wants and not to do what he does not want. And he can distinguish between the things that happen when he wants them to, such as walking, and those that happen without him wanting them to, such as shivering. But the will and ability of man are subject to the will and decree of Allaah.
Sheikh Al-Munajjid’s last paragraph is the key to understanding Al-Qadar: walking (voluntary) versus shivering (involuntary). Other scholars have explained it as two types of Qadar, fixed and flexible. The fixed Qadar is that which happens to us from beyond our control. For example the time and place of our birth, any illnesses and natural disasters that befall us, etc. The flexible Qadar is that which is within the realm of our free will. That includes our choice to do good or evil, what we choose to believe and how we choose to live.
Sheikh-ul-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah wrote:
There are two types of provision and lifespan: the first type has already been decreed and is written in Umm al-kitaab, and cannot be changed or altered. The next type of qadar, Allah has informed His angels of His decrees. This is the type where provisions and lifespan may increase or decrease. Hence Allah the Almighty says what may be translated as, “Allah blots out what he wills and confirms [what He wills]. And with Him is the Mother of the book.” (Surat Ar-Ra’ad, verse 39)
The mother of the Book (Umm al-Kitaab) is Al-Lawh al-Mahfoodh, in which Allah has decreed all things as they will always be without change.
However, the decrees contained in the books of the angels, such as lifespan and provisions, may increase or decrease according to various circumstances; thereafter, the angels will re-write a person’s provision and lifespan. If a person upholds the ties of kinship, his provisions and lifespan will be extended, otherwise they will decrease.” [See Majmoo'al-Fataawa 8/540]
So Allah has a plan for you, but fulfillment of that plan is up to you: the choices you make, as well as your degree of faith, persistence and determination will determine the outcome.
I said that Allah’s plan for you is important to the world. The proof of this is simply that Allah created nothing in vain. Look at His creation. Everything has a purpose, from the sun that heats our world, to the bacteria that consume waste. Everything in creation has a purpose that is necessary to the functioning of its ecosystem.
You are the same. You have a purpose. You are necessary to the world. If your presence were not vital in some way, then you would not have been made.
Discovering Allah’s Plan
How do we discover Allah’s plan for us? Where do we find it? How do we realize it in our lives?
It’s not as difficult as we might think. It wouldn’t make sense for Allah to have a plan for us and then leave us stumbling in the dark. Allah’s plan doesn’t have to be a mystery. If we trust Him, do what He asks, and follow our hearts, His plan will unfold in our lives like a brightly lit path.
If you are trying to follow Allah’s guidance, but you find yourself confronted by obstacles and hardship, don’t despair. The hardship is probably a sign that you are on the right path. Consider our Prophets (may Allah bless them all) who faced tremendous obstacles:
* The Prophet Ibrahim (alayhis-salam, peace be upon him) was disowned by his family and thrown by his people into a blazing fire; Allah rescued him from that, and made him the father of two nations.
* Allah inspired the mother of the baby Musa (as) and told her to place her infant into a chest and send it floating down the Nile. That must have been an enormously difficult plan to follow, but she trusted her Lord, with the result that an entire people were eventually freed from bondage.
* The young Yusuf (as) was thrown by his brothers into a well and left for dead; later he was sold into slavery, then imprisoned for years; but in the end he became an important minister, and was reunited with his father.
* Maryam (as) the mother of Isa (as), delivered her child alone under a palm tree, far from her people as she feared their reaction; but Allah helped her through miracles, until she became the honored mother of a great Prophet.
* The Prophet Yunus (as) gave up on his mission to the people of Nineveh, ventured onto a ship and was then cast into the sea, where he was swallowed by a whale. At the point of despair, he called upon Allah with all his heart and was rescued. He returned to his mission, and achieved success.
* A’ishah (ra), the wife of the Prophet (sws), was slandered; but Allah brought the truth to light, and Aishah became a leader and scholar in her own right.
* The companion Umm Salamah (ra) lost her beloved husband Abu Salamah in the battle of Uhud; she thought that no husband could ever replace him, yet she ended up marrying the Prophet himself (sws).
Things are not always what they seem. Be patient. Allah has a plan for you.
Following Allah’s Plan
This is the hard part. Allah’s plan for us is true to who we are at our core, in our very essence. It will not correlate to an artificial persona we have adopted, or our desire to be seen and recognized. Allah’s plan may not bring us fame, fortune, or physical pleasure. It might mean giving up material comfort. So Allah’s plan for us may not be what we would wish it to be.
- Allah’s plan for us is not always what we would wish it to be.
Abu Hurayra (ra), the companion of the Messenger of Allah (sws), was asked about Taqwa (God-consciousness). He said, “It is a road full of thorns. One who walks it must have extreme patience.”
In fact, Allah’s plan may be so challenging that we may perceive it but decline to follow. I have known all my life that I was a writer. I’ve been talking for years about writing certain books. And yet it took me until the age of 44 to begin writing about the things that really mattered to me, and I still have not published a book (look for it soon, Insha’Allah!). Why did it take me so long to do what I was meant to do?
I have a friend who says that Africa has been calling her all her life. She believes that her destiny is to go there and help the African people in some way. But she has not done it. Why?
I have another friend who believes that da’wah is his mission in life. He spent ten years studying Japanese at the university level, and he dreams of living in Japan and doing da’wah there. But he has no concrete plan to do so. Why?
I asked several brothers and sisters if they know what their mission in life might be. Some said yes. I asked them if they were carrying out their mission. Most said no, and gave these reasons:
- I feel that others are more qualified than me.
- It seems like a fantasy.
- It feels like a dream.
- I tried once and it didn’t go my way.
- Right now I need to focus on financial security.
- I’m not ready yet.
Brothers and sisters, no one is more qualified than you to fulfill the plan that Allah has for you! Allah’s plan is not a fantasy or a dream. It may not go your way the first time, or the second, or the third. It may not make you rich, but there is no true financial security in this life – that’s an illusion. No one expects you to let your family go hungry. Work hard and provide for them, but don’t get caught in the trap of thinking that the accumulation of wealth will save you, because the only true security is with Allah. And last of all, no one is ever ready to walk fee-sabeel-illah (in the path of Allah). It is a road full of thorns. But it is also the road to fulfillment, happiness, barakah (blessings) and tawfiq (success).
Fulfilling Allah’s plan for us requires that we silence the voice of our own desire, open ourselves to Allah, and look within with total sincerity. It takes courage, patience and determination. It is the path to Jannah (Paradise), Insha’Allah.
On May 16, 1975, then 35-year-old Junko Tabei became the first woman to reach the summit of Mt. Everest.
By Wael Abdelgawad | IslamicSunrays.com
It is your Lord who drives the ship for you through the sea that you may seek of His bounty. Indeed, He is ever, to you, Merciful. – Quran 17:66
To be human is to move. To learn and improve ourselves. To evolve. To fall, take our bruises and stand again, wiser for the experience. To use our bodies, minds and spirits to do good in the world, for ourselves and others.
Mountains and statues stand still. And the dead – the dead do not move. They lie in one spot, powerless, no longer able to say, “I love you,” or, “I seek forgiveness.” No longer able to pray. No longer able to walk, run, play, visit friends. Unable to move.
But to be human – and alive – is to move: move on, move forward, move upward! To be human is to speak your heart, pray to the Creator, and strive to do better each day, so that when our time comes, and we join our ancestors in the grave, we have something good to carry with us to the next life.
“I prayed for freedom for twenty years, but received no answer until I prayed with my legs.” ~Frederick Douglass
By Wael Abdelgawad | IslamicSunrays.com
Life is a heavyweight bout. The other guy – let’s call him Mr. World – hits hard and doesn’t let up. There’s no standing eight count. If you lose this particular bout you don’t die, you just go to your corner and sit on a stool. Everyone’s gone and the arena is dark. You sit there nursing your wounds and wondering what might have been.
The good news is that anytime you want a rematch, it’s yours. The lights come up and the crowd roars, and Mr. World is there again, dancing in his blue-green robe, throwing combinations you’ve never seen. You don’t have to be big to win this fight. You just have to want it, and believe, and move your feet, and not take no for an answer.
“And when My servants ask you concerning Me, then surely I am very near; I answer the prayer of the suppliant when he calls on Me, so they should answer My call and believe in Me that they may walk in the right way.” – Quran 2:186
By Muhammad Islam
For The Guardian, as told to Shaista Gohir, September 2005
I hated all foreigners but feared Muslims the most. I grew up in the 1960s in Gateshead, in a predominantly white area; I can’t remember seeing an Asian face there. As a family we were not religious. We only went to weddings, funerals and christenings. I was not interested in school, either. You didn’t need to stay on because you were more or less guaranteed a job in the mines, steelworks or shipyards.
When I was 16, all my friends were British National Party activists. It was a cool thing to do, and I joined in, too. I wanted to shock, to rebel. We would get together, drink, listen to music, chase girls and go out Paki-bashing. That wasn’t a phrase we considered bad or wrong.
I remember my first time; it was a Saturday night and we had been drinking. We went into an Asian area and came across a lad of about 17. We started chanting – the usual thing, “Go back to your own country” – and then went after him. There were about 10 of us, and we kicked and punched him. When we ran away, I remember, we were laughing. I don’t know what happened to him, and at the time I wouldn’t have cared: I was in a group and we had camaraderie.
By the time I was 19 I was growing out of the BNP. I moved to London for work and stopped going to meetings. But I still hated all foreigners, especially Muslims. Over the next few years I became involved with people who went to Muslim meetings in Hyde Park, mainly to cause trouble.
Then, one day in 1989, I was walking past a secondhand book stall by the Royal Festival Hall when a cover caught my eye: it was the most beautiful picture, in the most gorgeous colours, of a building. I didn’t know what the book was, but it was only 20p so I bought it. I thought I’d buy a cheap frame and have a nice picture for my wall. I had no idea until I got home that I had bought the Qur’an.
I was horrified when I found out. My initial reaction was to throw it away. But then I got curious. I started reading it, thinking I would find things to use against Muslims; I thought it would be filled with contradictions. When I was young, my mum always made her views known and from her I acquired a love of debating. Now, I would regularly go and debate with Muslims at Speakers’ Corner in Hyde Park. As I did so, I started to get a very different picture of Islam. Seeing people pray in unison was such a powerful image.
A few years later, I returned to the north-east – I’d got a job as a chef. When I saw a group of Muslims at an Islamic book stall in Newcastle, I thought, “Here’s another group I can wind up; I probably know more about Islam than they do.” But I was shocked when I approached them; they were very knowledgeable. I kept going back because I enjoyed debating with them, and after four weeks they challenged me.
They wanted me to try to disprove the Qur’an and convince them my way of life was better. They said if I succeeded they would become Christians, but if I failed I should become a Muslim. I accepted the challenge. But after months of returning to the stall and debating, I realised I was losing and panicked. I stopped going to the stall.
Three years had passed when I bumped into one of the guys from the stall. As I thought about what I wanted to do, I felt as if a big rock were crushing me, but when I told him I wanted to convert, I had a total sense of peace. I made my final decision on Wednesday November 17 1996 and converted the following day. I have been close to the Hizb ut-Tahrir group ever since: I became a Muslim because of them; they were the guys at the stall.
When I told my family, my sister stopped talking to me. My father was horrified but didn’t want to discuss it. My mother thought it was a phase I was going through and was more worried about what the neighbours would think. She now lets me pray in the house, but refuses to call me Muhammad (I was born John Ord).
I met my wife, who is Pakistani, after converting. We live in Birmingham, where she works as a primary school teacher. I have just started a degree in social work. When I look back, I can’t believe the things I did; it feels like a different person and a different life. Ironically, because of the backlash from the London bombings, I now fear attack, and have started going out in my English clothes. In them I look like a bearded, middle-aged white guy.
By Wael Abdelgawad | IslamicSunrays.com
Picture a blind man, standing in the middle of a desert. Sometimes he thinks he knows which way to go, so he wanders with his hands outstretched, but he finds no help. Other times he gives up, and stands in despair beneath the burning sun…
That blind man is us, wandering in this material desert that is the dunya…
Now imagine that someone comes and takes the blind man’s hand, and shows him the way to a place of peace and fulfillment. That is the Messenger of Allah Muhammad (sws), who showed us the way to Allah SWT; and the way to Jannah.
What would that blind man feel? How deeply grateful would he be? How much would he love the helper who saved him, and the One who sent the helper?
Perhaps that is why, when ‘Umar ibn Al-Khattab (RA) said to the Prophet (sws), “You are more beloved to me than everything except myself,” the Prophet replied: “No O ‘Umar! I swear by Him in whose hand my soul is, (you will not truly believe) until I become more beloved to you than yourself.” Thereupon, ‘Umar said: “I swear by Allah that you are now more beloved to me than myself.” The Prophet replied: “Now! O ‘Umar.” (i.e., now your faith is complete). (Bukhaari).
‘Umar could not guide himself nor save his own soul from the spiritual destitution of jahiliyyah (the time of ignorance). He needed the guidance of the Messenger of Allah (sws) for that, and therefore his love, fealty and commitment to the Messenger had to be greater than even to himself.
By Wael Abdelgawad | IslamicSunrays.com
“Say: ‘My Lord has commanded justice…’” – Quran, Surat al-A‘raf, 29
Some people speak of love as it if it is the answer to all the world’s ills:
“All you need is love”… “God is love”… “Jesus loves you.” And so on.
But Islam chooses instead to focus on justice, because when people perceive that they are being treated fairly and justly, everything else becomes possible. The Quran does speak of love, but it emphasizes justice more strongly.
“You who believe! be upholders of justice, bearing witness for Allah alone, even against yourselves or your parents and relatives. Whether they are rich or poor, Allah is well able to look after them. Do not follow your own desires and deviate from the truth. If you twist or turn away, Allah is aware of what you do.” – Quran, Surat an-Nisa’, 135
What does it mean to speak of love while at the same time oppressing people? What does it mean to speak of love while harboring racial prejudice, or while supporting the occupation of another country, or engaging in oppressive labor practices? On a personal level, what does it mean to speak of love while abusing one’s spouse or children?
No. Be just and give people their rights. Harm no one, cheat no one, and oppress no one. Be kind and compassionate to friends and strangers alike. Do that, and everything will follow: peace, harmony, love, and progress. That’s the Islamic way.
If we do not see justice being practiced in the Muslim world today – and we do not, for the most part – it’s because many Muslims are not living Islam. They are infected with un-Islamic ideologies and behaviors such as tribalism, sectarian hatred, and misogyny. We have lost our way as an Ummah. The last few centuries have reduced us from kings of the earth to squabbling children, and now we have to grow up all over again.
Read that verse again. Be upholders of justice even against yourselves. Carry the torch of truth. Judge yourselves before others. Be fair, be kind, and help the ones sitting in the dust, crying for a morsel of food, or for safety from the guns. Think of your spouse’s needs before your own. Fulfill your duties to your children: not only financially, but the duties of time, care, playing, hugging, and always being honest.
And here’s something you may have realized: justice practiced at this deep level begins to look a lot like love. The difference is the starting point: not flowery words, but the practical expression of justice on a societal and personal level.
Justice and kindness are the rich soil from which loves grows. Be just.
By Wael Abdelgawad | IslamicSunrays.com
Let’s say you ask Allah (God) to purify your soul, and guide you on the true path, and forgive your mistakes. Then you find yourself facing obstacles in life. You’re struggling and wondering why.
Has it occurred to you that Allah is in fact answering your prayers? That He knows exactly what needs to happen in your life in order for you to find the Way and be purified?
The Messenger of Allah (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) said: “If Allah has decreed a rank for one of his servants to reach, but his deeds will not suffice him to reach this rank, then Allah afflicts him with hardship with respect to his body, wealth and children. Then he perseveres through this until he reaches the high rank that Allah has decreed for him to reach.” [Ahmad]
The good news is that guidance and forgiveness are worth the hardship. They are precious, and far outweigh whatever struggles we must experience along the way. After all, guidance and forgiveness are components of happiness and tranquility of the heart, and that’s what everyone is seeking in this life, whether they know it or not.
Be patient with what Allah gives you. He knows what He is doing. Keep on praying, and keep on walking the path.
Big Wet Meadow in Cloud Canyon, Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park, California.
Thoughts on Prayer, Faith, Gratitude and the Soul
By Sarah Saghir
1. Make wudu, not war.
2. You can’t love God, without Him letting you. He must have loved you first.
3. It’s the dua at the Iftar table that tells us what we really want. It’s the ability to suppress the nafs and hush the stomach for a few extra minutes, all to let the heart speak what it wishes.
4. The only mirror we should obsessively check is that which reflects the soul. You cannot purchase such a mirror, but you can find it within you. *Ponder* over the condition of your soul. Sit with yourself and reflect. But for such reflections to surface, you need blessed light from God and a pair of open eyes – nay, an open heart. Because sometimes, “It is not the eyes that are blind, but the hearts.” (Qur’an 22:46)
Ya Allah put the light of the Quran in our hearts. Make it a means for us to clearly see. Ya Wahhab
5. There is absolutely no need, my friend – no need for you to wipe the rain off my face after the prayer. I know your intentions are well, as it may seem like there are dark clouds hovering over my head, but I am harboring rainbows on the inside, with colors of love, fear, hope, guilt, peace, shame and calmness. And sometimes these tears mean i’m desperately looking for the rays of sincerity that bring this prism to life, under the rain.
6. I know you cannot measure the magnitude of your blessings; but please tell me you noticed one thing: the difference between the guided and the heedless. You — whom God addresses, while causally sitting on a bus, reading His speech, surrounded by passengers full of hunger & vacancy — must be so lucky. Tell me you recognize this debt; tell me you found in its depth, gratitude.
7. When you finally decide to practice your faith, know that God is 100% behind you. He’s the one to give you that initial push. And at first, it will be easy breezy; you will feel ‘the rush’ and experience that ‘spiritual high.’
But then He will test you (only because He loves you) And now you’ve got to start swinging yourself, using your core, feet, arms, your will – against the wind, gravity, the hardships, people, your sins..
You need to keep pushing to the rhythm of faith that swings high, low, beautiful. Keep pushing to get higher, closer to Him. Keep pushing.
8. O Allah whoever wishes khair (good) for me in the secrecy of the night or in the openness of daylight, grant them double what they’ve wished for me. And whoever wishes sharr (harm) to touch me, pardon them and stretch distance and forgiveness between us. Ya Karim,
9. I want to live a life of simplicity, not an easy life.
10. If you only pray when you’re in trouble, you’re in trouble.
Sunrise over the Great Smoky Mountains, USA
Question from a reader:
Assalam u Alaikum,
I have been reading things on your website for about a year and it has helped me tremendously in a very dark time in my life.
Recently, after making mistakes over and over again, I have this question: do you think Allah ever gives up on us?
I know the answer is “No He does not”, but what about when we made a mistake and repented but then did it again, repented and did it again, but then stopped and asked for forgiveness? Do you think at this point He has given up on us and punishes for the rest of our lives?
I know we must learn our lesson, and I know my sadness now is to reaffirm my faith and to learn my lesson, and is hopefully temporary. I just don’t want Him to give up on me. Do you think its possible that He will be happy with me if I keep praying and making my faith stronger and stronger? I know you have another website for people to post questions but for some reason I feel more comfortable asking you here.
- Sister F.
Dear Sister F., wa alaykum as-salamu wa rahmatullah,
I’m happy to hear that my articles have helped you, Alhamdulillah. My first response to your question of whether Allah gives up on us: “I sure hope not.”
Seriously though, the real answer is that Allah does not give up on us, nor does He get tired of forgiving us as long as we keep turning to Him sincerely. We must not despair of Allah’s pardon. Allah says in the Quran,
“O those of My servants who have transgressed against your own selves, despair not of Allah’s mercy. Allah does forgive all sins, for surely He is the Most Forgiving, Most Merciful One.” (Quran 39:53)
The key is sincerity. Allah says,
“O you who believe! Turn to Allah with sincere repentance!” (Quran, al-Tahreem 66:8)
Allah – Glorifed and Exalted – loves to forgive our sins. In fact, the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said,
“If you did not commit sins, Allah would dispose of you and replace you with people who commit sins and then ask for forgiveness so that He forgives them.” [Muslim]
That is a shocking statement on its face. However, it’s not that Allah loves for us to commit sins; rather, he knows that a tendency to commit sins is part of our human nature. What Allah loves therefore is when we realize our mistakes and return to Him in repentance.
Also on this theme, the Messenger of Allah (sws) said: “Allah rejoices more over the repentance of His servant than any one of you who finds his camel after having lost it in a desolate land.” (Agreed upon). This is quite touching if you think about it. Imagine a man is making a journey through the desert on his camel. All his food and water are packed into bags carried by the camel. He sleeps one night, and wakes to find the camel gone. He is hundreds of miles from the nearest oasis, in a trackless wasteland. He knows that without the camel’s transportation and the supplies it carries, he will die in this barren land. He is crushed. He will never see his wife again, never hug his child, never even taste food again. Everything he has worked for has come to an end, and he will die of thirst in the blazing heat – a terrible way to die.
Suddenly the camel comes trotting back over the horizon, and returns to him! The man will live! Imagine the joy he feels.
Allah’s joy at our return to Him is greater than that. Glory to Him.
We humans hold grudges. If a friend or spouse betrays us we might be able to forgive him once or even twice, but if it happens repeatedly we will eventually stop trusting him and refuse to forgive him again. I’ve certainly wrestled with this. There are people from my past who I haven’t spoken to in years. Even if I’ve forgiven them with my tongue, it’s such a struggle to cleanse my heart of all resentment.
But SubhanAllah, Allah is not like that. He is Al-Ghafir (The Forgiver of Sins), Al-Ghaffaar (The Oft-Forgiving) and Al-Ghafoor
His forgiveness and mercy are farther beyond ours than the stars are beyond the earth. Abu Bakr (ra) heard Allah’s Messenger (sws) say: “No man will commit a sin, then get up and purify himself, then pray, then ask Allah’s forgiveness, without Allah forgiving him.”
There’s a very good article about tawbah in Islam on one of my other websites, IslamicAnswers.com. Here’s the link:
It’s not over until the trumpet blows; Tawbah and repentance inn Islam
So dear sister, keep on praying and working on your faith, as you said. It’s the only way. We are not angels. We are human beings who make mistakes and stumble. As long as we keep getting up and turning to Allah, we are on the right path, Insha’Allah.
Pull over – time to pray.
By Imam Zaid Shakir
One of the signs of true faith is that it leads its possessor to manifest piety wherever he or she may be, because of the awareness that God has the ability to see, hear and witness us at all times.
Hence, for the righteous there is no difference in their public and private behavior. One of the great tribulations befalling many people in our time is that they appear as saints in public, but in the privacy of their homes they are tyrants and oppressors.
Such behavior is totally unacceptable and one behaving thus will be taken to task by God. The Prophet, peace upon him, has admonished us to be mindful of God, both publicly and privately.
One of his prayers was the following:
“O God! I ask you to grant me reverence of You, privately and publicly.”
Imam al-Shafi’i mentioned, “The three most precious things are giving charity during times of need; being impeccably mindful of God in private; and speaking the truth in the face of one you hope to benefit from, or one you fear.”
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