Allah made us in a state He loves
By Amy Estrada for IslamicSunrays.com
Ibrahim has just graduated and started a good job, and is ready to marry. He and his family meet several prospective spouses, but more than one of them is a suitable match. Ibrahim is confused. He wants to make a wise choice, but the choice isn’t clear. Of the few that seem like good candidates, none rises above the others. Who should he choose?
He prays istikhara and consults family and friends. He makes dua’, but the uncertainty remains. The only thought going through his mind is which person is the “right” one. The idea that he may choose the “wrong” one, thereby making a mistake and perhaps creating a future of pain for himself, becomes crippling.
We all make mistakes. When I say mistakes, I don’t mean moral errors, or temptations to which we succumb. I mean honest mistakes in judgment and in choice.
It’s part of the human condition to hold ourselves to high standards. We want to never make a wrong choice, or create regrets. Regrets are painful, and we are programmed to get away from pain. In fact, most of us spend our lives trying to avoid pains of all kinds. Avoiding regrets is a logical part of that endeavor.
But is that really the type of life Allah expects or even wants us to live?
It’s clear Allah wants us to avoid sinful actions and habits. He clearly outlines the consequences of errors not only in the way we live our lives apart from His laws, but even errors in our belief and understanding. The Quran warns against waywardness over and over. Yet I think sometimes we take these admonitions and use them to create an expectation of perfection for ourselves.
Fatima has been offered a job ninety minutes from her home. She’s not excited about spending a total of three hours commuting each day, not to mention the cost of gas and bridge tolls, but the job is a good one in her field. A week before she is to begin the new job, she is offered another job only ten minutes from home. It’s not quite as good as the other, but she could do so much with those extra three hours. Pray, read, spend time with family and friends… What to do? The wrong choice could affect her entire career. For days she racks her brain trying to decide, until she becomes physically ill.
These scenario can also play out when someone is deciding which university to attend, thinking about moving, or even taking a vacation. We have programmed ourselves to think there is only one “right” way to do things, and every other way is wrong. We stress ourselves out trying to figure out what that one “right” way is when it’s not readily clear.
The Prophet SAWS said:
“The believer is not required to humiliate himself.” He was asked, “How does one humiliate himself, O Messenger of Allah?” He replied, “He takes on tests that he cannot bear.”
This hadith can be applied to many different situations, but the takeaway is that we shouldn’t put undue stress on ourselves. Essentially, we shouldn’t make life harder on ourselves than it already is. To do so is a form of self-humiliation.
When we try to be perfectionists, striving to make choices that are flawless and regretless, we put a standard on ourselves that we as humans were not meant to bear. In trying to get it “exactly right”, we create more pain – perhaps even greater pain than the one we’re running from.
In the Quran, Allah describes the people of Paradise as those “who avoid great sins and shameful deeds, only (falling into) lesser faults; truly your Lord is ample in forgiveness. He knows you well when He brings you out of the earth and when you are hidden in your mother’s wombs. Therefore do not ascribe (claim) purity to yourselves. He knows best who the God-conscious ones are.”
It seems here we are told to avoid sins and shameful deeds, but we are allowed to have ‘lesser faults’. We are allowed to make mistakes and still have a fair chance of achieving Jannah. We aren’t supposed to live such a life that we could “ascribe purity to ourselves”. A life of perfection. It’s not meant for us.
Let’s give ourselves permission to be human. Allah made us in a state He loves and cherishes, so why try to make ourselves something we’re not? It’s okay to make mistakes. It’s okay to make a choice and it not be ‘right’ or ‘wrong’. It’s just a choice, and in shaa Allah we will learn from it either way. It’s okay to start on a path, take a risk, or even make an investment, and fail. No one intends to fail, but failure is one of the best ways to gain wisdom and valuable experience.
There’s an uplifting movie I recommend to anyone struggling with this issue. It’s Disney’s Meet the Robinsons. As Aunt Billie said in that movie: “From failing, you learn. From success, not so much.”
Misty rainbow in Waialu Valley, Hawaii
By Wael Abdelgawad | IslamicSunrays.com
You may turn away from Allah (God), but He does not turn away from You. He is the Most Forgiving and the Most Merciful. He waits. When you make the smallest motion to return, Allah carries you the rest of the way.
In a famous Hadith Qudsi, the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said that Allah said:
“I am as My servant thinks (expects) I am. I am with him when he mentions Me. If he mentions Me to himself, I mention him to Myself; and if he mentions Me in an assembly, I mention him in an assembly greater than it. If he draws near to Me a hand’s length, I draw near to him an arm’s length. And if he comes to Me walking, I go to him at speed.” – (Sahih Bukhari)
You may turn away from Allah, but He does not turn away from You.
There have been times when I turned my back on Allah – or you could say I turned my side, since I still believed. But I was not practicing well. I walked in a different direction, getting far away from the Muslim I should have been and wanted to be. I knew in my heart that I had to get back to the deen, but I felt powerless to change.
The amazing thing, the glorious thing, is that Allah NEVER turned away from me. He kept on guiding me. He preserved that small flame of faith in my heart.
When I lived in SF and I felt ostracized from the community because they all had a certain ethnic background and I didn’t seem to fit in, I ended up moving across the bay to Oakland and discovered a masjid nearby with an active, multi-racial congregation that inspired me. That was Allah, taking me where I needed to go.
Ramadan is a tool that Allah gives us to bring us back to the faith. The constant flow of excessive food and drink burdens the spirit and buries it beneath a layer of sugar, salt, fat and processed junk. When we abandon all that, the spirit revives and emerges like a flower in spring. And when we turn back to Allah, we find that He was there all along, waiting for us.
Reprinted from Al-Jumuah Magazine
In a recent Khutbah, I heard Allah’s divine name, Al-Afoo, The Pardoner, and a very touching qudsi hadeeth that exemplified it:
“A servant [of Allah’s] committed a sin and said: “O Allah! Forgive me my sin.” Allah said: “My servant has committed a sin and acknowledged he has a Lord who forgives sins and punishes them.” Then the man sinned again and said: “O Lord! Forgive me my sin.’ And Allah said: “My servant has committed a sin and acknowledged he has a Lord who forgives sins and punishes them.” Then the man sinned again and said: “O Lord! Forgive me my sin.” And Allah said: “My servant has committed a sin and acknowledged he has a Lord who forgives sins and punishes them. [My slave!] Do what you wish, for I have forgiven you!” (Bukhari and Muslim)
This is no free ticket to sin as you please. But it did make me realize we should always have hope that Allah will forgive our sins and guide us to become better Muslims.
How many times have we sat down to count our mistakes and recognized we have sinned so much we can’t even keep track anymore? We think that there’s no way Allah can forgive us now. To our minds, we don’t even deserve forgiveness.
This hadith shows the extent of Allah’s mercy, which no human mind can even imagine.
“And do not despair of Allah’s mercy. For, most surely, none despairs of Allah’s mercy except the disbelieving people.” [Quran 12:87]
Take note. Hope is no luxury to make our lives better. It is a Muslim obligation, part and parcel of faith.
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.
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.
By Wael Abdelgawad | IslamicSunrays.com
For every setback, Allah has a comeback. For every trouble, He helps you double. Every day He shows you the way. Alhamdulillah.
Allah does not get tired of you. He does not write you off, or forget about you, or give up on you. In fact, when you need Him and call on Him, He comes to you quickly, at speed, rushing to help you:
The Prophet (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) said, “Allah the Most High said, ‘I am as My servant thinks (expects) I am. I am with him when he mentions Me. If he mentions Me to himself, I mention him to Myself; and if he mentions Me in an assembly, I mention him in an assembly greater than it. If he draws near to Me a hand’s length, I draw near to him an arm’s length. And if he comes to Me walking, I go to him at speed.’” [Sahih Al-Bukhari]
What an amazing, benevolent, merciful God is Allah. He is Master of all: He could have been capricious, selfish, or destructive, and we would have been helpless pawns, unable to help ourselves or be helped. But that is not His nature. In hundreds of verses of the Quran, Allah Almighty describes Himself as “Ghafurun Rahim”, that is One Who forgives and has mercy.
Inspirational Islamic sayings by Wael Abdelgawad, Hanan Bilal, Imam Zaid Shakir and Others
By Wael Abdelgawad, Hanan Bilal, Imam Zaid Shakir and Others
The Prophet Muhammad (s) said: “Be kind, for whenever kindness becomes part of something, it beautifies it. Whenever it is taken from something, it leaves it tarnished.” – Imam Bukhari’s Book of Muslim Manners.
Abdullah bin Al-Haarith said, “I didn’t see anyone who smiled more than the Messenger of Allah (s).” – (At-Tirmithee, 3641).
“Allah. It all starts with Him – the universe, humanity, and our own conception – and it all comes back to Him in the end. There’s no victory without Him, no progress, no peace. Strengthen your relationship with Him in the easy times, and you will find Him beside you in the hard times.” – Wael Abdelgawad
“Allah (God) is an exponential word.” – Imam Zaid Shakir
“Keep your head up, forge forward fee-sabeel-illah, keep praying, learning, thinking, following your dreams, and loving the people in your life. It’s all worth it, it all matters and makes a difference. Every single thing you do is meaningful, even when you don’t see it. You are my brothers, my sisters, my heroes.” – Wael Abdelgawad
“When you’re out of ideas, that’s when faith comes in. Let Allah show you the way.” – Wael Abdelgawad
“No one should ever be depressed by his or her worldly situation as long as he or she is walking on the path leading to Paradise. Attaining Paradise is the great objective of this life, and the person who gains it is victorious, regardless of what he achieved in the world.” – Imam Zaid Shakir
Allah has a beautiful plan
for every woman and man.
Trust Allah and pray
and He will light the way.
– Wael Abdelgawad
“When I am feeling low and downtrodden I just find a quiet place and sit alone with my favorite book (the Quran)! When I turn each of its miraculous pages my heart begins to feel lighter and the world around me brighter! The love, warmth and security of each word sets in and it is in these very moments that I know for sure in my heart how much Allah really loves me! Alhamdulillah! Subhanallah! Allahu Akbar!” – Asmaa Deanna-Dee
“‘Oh, but what’s the use of trying to be a good Muslim when I end up sinning again and again?’… Well, what’s the use of bathing when you get dirty again and again? Salat (prayer) is a purifier. Though you sin again and again, keep returning to Allah for purification. Fasting is a purifier, Zakat is a purifier, Hajj is a purifier… We can use the same analogy for hope and motivation. We have to keep finding them again and again. That’s the nature of life.” – Wael Abdelgawad
“Try to become an embodiment of compassion and mercy in your daily life. Do not wait for a situation to occur that will call out these virtues in you. Rather, seek out opportunities where you can manifest them along with all of the other prophetic virtues. Do not live your life passively waiting to be used, roused or stimulated into action by events. Live an active life wherein you become the one who is initiating acts of goodness and kindness in all that you do. Be an embodiment of the truth you represent. Let your words and comportment convey the dignity of the believer to all that you meet.” – Imam Zaid Shakir
“Wash your heart every morning with salat, then warm it up with dhikr. Approach life with hope and faith. Every day do your best, Allah will do the rest.” – Wael Abdelgawad
“God is truly AWESOME! I see the POWER of GOD moving in MY LIFE, in my families’ lives, in the world….GOD has GREAT things in store for us. All we have to do is submit and accept GOD’s direction for our lives. I accept!” – Hanan K. Bilal
“I believe in Allah because He believes in me… and in you too. He made us Muslim, didn’t He? That is a gift and a blessing. So believe in His plan for you, because He believes in you, He has faith in you, He has a purpose for you.” – Wael Abdelgawad
“Is not the help of God close by? Certainly it is. God says “Call upon Me and I will respond.” Don’t tire on calling on Him. Don’t despair from receiving His Mercy. Despair is a sign of disbelief.” – Imam Zaid Shakir
“It’s okay to feel sad, anxious, lonely, frustrated, and confused. Feeling these emotions doesn’t make you less of a believer. The difference between the believer and non-believer is that the believer remains patient and turns to Allah for help.” – Wael Abdelgawad
“Sharpen the mind, harden the body, soften the heart, and be of service to others.” – a motto for the believer, by AbdelMalik Ali.
“When we’re out of ideas, surrounded by problems, and feeling totally alone… we’re not alone. Allah is with us. If we pray sincerely and strive to the best of our capacity, He will put light in our minds and hearts and help us from directions we did not expect.” – Wael Abdelgawad
“We come to love not by finding a perfect person, but by learning to see an imperfect person perfectly. Let’s all practice having a lot more love for self and others… LOVE is a verb… it’s an action in constant motion…. we are either loving or unloving… love starts at home with our family.” – Hanan Bilal
“If Allah brings you to it, He will bring you through it.” – Unknown author
“If we let Taqwa – Allah-consciousness – become our guide then it leads us to self-awareness and sincerity. A person who cultivates Taqwa can never be a terrorist, an oppressor, or a hypocrite. A person with true Taqwa must shed compassion as the sun sheds light.” – Wael Abdelgawad
“You will not believe until you are merciful to each other. Your faith is not complete until you are merciful to each other.” – Imam Zaid Shakir
“Even when we think we have nothing, we have Allah, and Allah is everything.” – Wael Abdelgawad
Let love be selfless
and truth fearless;
Let our breasts be flooded with light –
Make our hearts clear as crystal.
– Muhammad Iqbal
“One of Allah’s names is Al-Wadood, The Most Loving, and this is appropriate because a Creator must have love in order to create works of beauty and power. Allah created you out of love. He created you with intent. He created you to succeed, not to fail, and He gave you all the tools that you need to thrive. Open your eyes and see what a miracle you are, what a thing of beauty, what a gift to the world. I see that in every person I know. Do you see it in yourself?” – Wael Abdelgawad
“True religion shines from the face of the believer and impresses itself on others without words. It is subsequently followed by words that are uplifting and beneficial.” – Imam Zaid Shakir
It’s okay if you’re not free from sin;
Allah will forgive you, and let you in.
Just turn to Him, and from your soul
ask forgiveness, and make Him your goal.
– Wael Abdelgawad
“I asked Allah for strength and Allah gave me difficulties to make me strong. I asked Allah for wisdom and Allah gave me problems to solve. I asked Allah for courage and Allah gave me obstacles to overcome. I asked Allah for love and Allah gave me troubled people to help. I asked Allah for favors and Allah gave me opportunities. Maybe I received nothing I wanted, but I received everything I needed – Alhamdulillah.” – Anonymous
“Forgiveness is not for the weak. Being able to forgive those who have wronged you is a mark of spiritual strength and confidence. When you forgive, you grow, your heart begins to heal, your back straightens up, your eyes clear so that you can see the road ahead. Anger is a spiritual sickness; but when you forgive you live.” – Wael Abdelgawad
“You are all my family. I know that you are human and imperfect. Some are confused, some struggling, some tired, needing a moment’s rest. Tired of the rain and needing the rainbow. I love you all fee-sabeel-illah. Have no fear. Allah is with you and will not abandon you for a single heartbeat. The rainbow is coming, or maybe it’s already here and all you need to do is look up. ” – Wael Abdelgawad
By Wael Abdelgawad | IslamicSunrays.com
Each of us is a walking miracle.
“Among His Signs in this, that He created you from dust; and then,- behold, you are human beings scattered (far and wide)!” – Quran, 30:20.
Our existence is a miracle. That we are here, on this tiny planet revolving in space, thinking our thoughts, sailing the ocean, growing crops, loving, worshiping, forgiving, living and dying, is a miracle.
Our aspirations, hopes and bravery are miracles and gifts.
Beyond that, each of us has the potential to be a miracle worker, not in the sense of walking on water or splitting the sea, but in changing the world, spreading peace, and being examples of love and faith in action.
My fellow editors at IslamicAnswers.com – SisterZ, Leila, Sara, Amy, Muhammad, Abdul Wali, Maria and the others – are miracle workers. They save lives and help desperate people.
One editor took in two foster children and raised them with love. He and his wife are miracle workers.
Anyone who speaks out for truth, who dedicates themselves to helping others, who plants trees and protects endangered species, who raises good children in this turbulent world, any such person is a miracle worker.
Think of it: to be a miracle and a miracle worker. What a thing.
What an amazing creature the child of Adam can become if he (and she) turns away from hatred, bigotry and revenge, and turns to compassion and fellowship instead.
By Wael Abdelgawad | IslamicSunrays.com
We can get so caught up in trying to fix other people’s problems, that we forget to fix ourselves. We can spend all our time helping family members, running around, “sacrificing”, while our own souls are weary, discouraged and approaching despair. We can champion important causes, or do vital work in our jobs, while we cover up or ignore wounds from our past, until we cannot even look at ourselves with respect or love.
I suppose we all have our coping mechanisms. For me, it’s martial arts. When I’m troubled or unhappy, I tend to immerse myself in my martial arts practice. It occupies my mind, allows me to forget my problems, and wears out my body so I can sleep.
Others may plunge themselves into their work, or distract themselves with books, music or television, or busy themselves with other people’s problems. But you can only keep this up for so long. If you don’t face what’s going on internally, the darkness will eventually spread and blot everything else out.
We have to come to terms with ourselves, or happiness will elude us forever.
How can we love and cherish others if we do not love ourselves? How can we extend ourselves to create something good in the world, if what we have inside is not sound and peaceful? How can we raise happy children if we are not happy? Children are very perceptive; if you are troubled and hurt inside, they will pick up on that, and it will affect them. If you really want to love your children properly, you need to make peace with your own soul.
Sometimes there are so many distractions in our lives, so much external noise, that we can’t hear our own hearts anymore. We need to quiet our minds and get back in touch with our fitrah, that pure nature given to us by Allah. We need to ask Allah’s forgiveness, then forgive ourselves, so that we can get rid of the baggage of shame. Only then can we then forgive others, and let go of anger or resentment.
We must listen to our intuition, and hear our hearts speaking, and open ourselves to the clear light of Allah’s huda (guidance).
By Wael Abdelgawad | IslamicSunrays.com
People often wish for a return to the good old days. First of all, when we look at them objectively, they weren’t really so good. Sure, I have funny and pleasant memories from my youth, but I also remember the confusion and loneliness.
I personally would not trade my life at this moment for my life at any time in the past. Among other things, I now have a beautiful daughter who I love more than life itself; my writing, which has evolved to allow me to express my deepest convictions; and many small blessings that add up to a pot of gold.
Secondly, the old days are called “old” for a reason. That’s the past. We can’t go back.
What we can do is focus on the journey forward.
“Be quick in the race for forgiveness from your Lord, and for a Garden whose width is that (of the whole) of the heavens and of the earth, prepared for the righteous; – Those who spend (freely), whether in prosperity, or in adversity; who restrain anger, and pardon people;- for Allah loves those who do good; – And those who, having done something to be ashamed of, or wronged their own souls, earnestly bring Allah to mind, and ask for forgiveness for their sins,- and who can forgive sins except Allah….” – Quran, Surat Aal Imran, 3:133-135
This is how we make a better future for ourselves and our families, Insha’Allah. Letting go of anger, forgiving, asking forgiveness, giving to the poor and needy, and racing to Allah. The Almighty has given us the formula. This is how, instead of yearning for the good old days, we create good new days! Our future can be as good as the past ever was; it can be better, brighter and happier.
Let’s build the good new days.