Praising Allah: the Power of “SubhanAllah wa bihamdihi”

Palm tree in a blue sky

By Wael Abdelgawad for IslamicSunrays.com

There are many hadith of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) about the power of this phrase, SubhanAllah wa bihamdihi, which means, “Glory to Allah and praise Him.”

1. Whoever says “SubhanAllah wa bihamdihi” a hundred times during the day, his sins are wiped away, even if they are like the foam of the sea. [Sahih al-Bukhari; #7:168, Sahih Muslim; #4:2071]

2. Abu Dharr reported that the Prophet (sws) said, “Shall I tell you the words that Allah loves the most?” I said: “Yes, tell me, O Messenger of Allah.” He said: “The words dearest to Allah are: subhanAllah wa bihamdihi.

3. A palm tree is planted for the reciter [of the above] in Paradise. [at-Tirmidhi; 5:511, al-Hakim]

4. The Prophet Muhammad (sws) said: “Two words (subhanAllah wa bihamdihi) are light on the tongue, weigh heavily in the balance, and are loved by the Most Merciful One.”

Allah is so forgiving and gives us countless avenues to earn our forgiveness. Today, let’s have this phrase – subhanAllah wa bihamdihi – on our tongues, and let’s earn our forgiveness, and have entire groves of palm trees planted for us in Jannah, Insha’Allah.

Praise going up, blessings coming down

Of course there are many types of dhikr. Dhikr means praising Allah, remembering Allah. SubhanAllah wa bihamdihi is a good one, but even something as simple as saying, “Thank you, Allah” when you finish a meal is a type of dhikr.

When we have dhikr always on our tongues, we have this constant connection with God, even as we go about our daily routines. When things are going well, or when things are hard, we have this lifeline to Allah, this constant stream of praise going up, and blessings coming down. Our spirits are lighter, our hearts happier. We are grateful for everything we have, because we remember that every single little blessing – good health, the comfortable beds we sleep in, the orange juice we had for breakfast, even our beating hearts and the breath in our lungs – comes from Allah.

Dhikr is a guide to excellent character, and a light that keeps us on the path to Paradise.

We covet what we think about

Here’s another important point. I am the editor of IslamicAnswers.com, which is a common-sense advice website for marriage and family issues. One type of common question I get is from a young person who is madly in love with someone who is unavailable. Maybe the unavailable person is already married, or is not interested, or the parents do not approve, but it’s clear that the match is impossible.

One thing I tell such a young person is, stop thinking about the object of your desire. When the thoughts come, push them away. Absolutely do not spend your time gazing at photographs of him/her, reading old emails, dwelling on what-ifs, and fantasizing, because that will only reinforce your obsession, and keep the unavailable person in your mind.

What we think about, we come to desire.

With dhikr, we are using this principle for good. By constantly praising Allah, we keep Him in our minds and hearts. The more we do so, the more we come to desire His love, His forgiveness, and His presence. The more we think about Allah, the more we want to please Him. It becomes a beautiful cycle of remembrance and blessings, reinforcing each other.

That’s why Allah described the believers as,

“Who remember Allaah while standing or sitting or [lying] on their sides.” [3:191]

“…and the men who remember Allaah often and the women who do so – for them Allaah has prepared forgiveness and a great reward.” [33:35]

“O you who have believed, remember Allaah with much remembrance. And exalt Him morning and afternoon.” [33:41-42]

The living and the dead

There is a very powerful hadith of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) in which he said,

“The example of the one who remembers his Lord (God) in comparison with the one who does not remember his Lord is that of the living and the dead.” [Sahih al-Bukhari; 11:208, Muslim; 1:539]

I could write an entire essay about that one hadith, but I’ll just say that the essence of life is our need for Allah. Without Him, our hearts would not beat, the rain would not fall, there would be no food on our tables, and no joy in our hearts. When we remember Allah we prove that we are spiritually alive. We acknowledge our need for the One God, and we acknowledge His favors upon us.

Conversely, if we do not remember Him, it’s as if we are spiritually dead. That’s why the famous classical scholar Shaykhul Islam ibn Taymiyyah said, “The example of dhikr to the heart is that of fish to water.”

Remembering a Friend Who Died Badly, and Moving Beyond Blame

South San Francisco the Industrial City

By Wael Abdelgawad for IslamicSunrays.com

I had a good friend who died badly. I would like to remember him fondly, to remember the good times we had together, but I cannot think of him without hating myself for not trying to save him. Let me tell you about him, so that you can know what a good man he was, and how he helped me.

I arrived in San Francisco on an afternoon flight from DFW on July 27, 1992. I was twenty seven years old, and I’d been away for many years.

Coming up Highway 101 in the back of a Yellow Cab, I saw the fog flowing down the face of Mt. San Bruno. I saw the big sign etched on the jutting mountain: “South San Francisco: The Industrial City.” Home, I was home after so long. The joy in my heart was like a shout and I couldn’t contain it. I laughed out loud, right there in the back seat of the cab. I saw the driver looking at me in the rear view mirror like I was a crazy man. I just looked out the window and smiled.

I hadn’t walked San Francisco’s boulevards in a long time. There seemed to be more trash than I remembered, and many more homeless people and panhandlers. I no longer had friends in the Bay Area, so after a short stretch at a halfway house I went to the YMCA on Golden Gate, in the heart of the Tenderloin, and rented a room for $100 a week. It was a tiny space, so small I could stretch my arms out and almost touch both walls.

I wasn’t sure what kind of work I would do, maybe something with computers, as I had picked up assorted computer skills over the years. I really wanted to work with homeless and runaway youth, and I made the rounds of all the shelters and special schools in the city. I’d bought a new bicycle so I could get around, and I rode to youth shelters in every part of town, from the Richmond to Bayview. But Reagan’s “trickle-down”, steal-from-the-poor-and-give-to-the-rich idiocy had done its dirty work. No one was hiring, no one had any funds, and in fact many of them were cutting staff.

My friend Joe

My friend Joe "Zippy" Strauss - San Francisco. Born April 16, 1964, died November 4, 1996 of a heroin overdose. Joe worked for Crosstown (a messenger company) and previously worked at ProMess, Pete's, and Shotgun. Survived by parents, his wife Tara, and his son Shane.

I had met a young man by the name of Joe, a thin but handsome fellow with happy eyes and a burst of (dyed) blond hair. We had become good friends. He was in a halfway house on Taylor Street, in the sleaziest part of the Tenderloin, where he’d been sentenced for a few months for drunk driving. He was a gentle man, quiet, with a good heart and a good mind, but he had a problem with booze. His driver’s license had been suspended, but he got around pretty well on a big yellow mountain bike. The halfway house staff would Breathalyze him every day, so he wasn’t drinking.

In the evenings I’d meet Joe for dinner, and we’d talk. I’d tell him about my years as a wanderer, and about my current job search. He would listen attentively, occasionally making a comment or sympathetic remark. He was genuinely interested in everything I had to say.

Finding a friend who truly listens and cares is, I think, like finding a 24-carat gold nugget on the sidewalk.

Joe suggested that I take a job as a bike messenger until I found something better. I didn’t know anything about it, but Joe was a dispatcher for a messenger company, so he knew the business inside and out. It sounded like fun. Joe told me exactly where to go to get hired, and before a week was out I was grunting and sweating as I hauled packages up every hill in San Francisco. The wages were paltry, and I kept getting hurt, but Joe gave me a lot of valuable tips, and I persevered, and eventually I came to love it more than any job I’d ever done.

In those first several months in the City I experienced a lot of ups and downs, and I’m not only talking about the hills of San Francisco. Joe was a wonderful friend. He comforted me through the bad times, and shared the pleasure of my successes. Until one day when he failed his Breathalyzer test and was put in jail and extradited to Baltimore, his home town, as a parole violator.

Joe would often call me collect from the Baltimore jail, and I was always happy to talk to him. I realize, writing this, that he probably sounds like a terrible guy, a real loser, but that wasn’t how I saw him at all. He had a kind soul.

Joe’s Return and New Family

He was released a year later, and it was a great day for me. We’d both changed. I had developed from a struggling rookie to one of the best messengers in San Francisco, and then to a dispatcher, and I helped Joe get a job at the company I worked for, Professional Messenger. The irony wasn’t lost on me.

I had rented a small studio apartment on Market Street, and was trying to save money to start my own business. Twice a week I volunteered with a local center for homeless youth, doing outreach to the street kids, trying to get them into the center and back with their families when appropriate.

Joe had gained a little weight, and when I mentioned it he told me it was a result of quitting heroin. I was shocked. I had no idea. How naive I was. Joe told me that heroin had been his lifelong nemesis. He said that the bliss that he had experienced from heroin dwarfed every other pleasure in his life, and that it would always haunt him. He still thought about it every day and always would, like a lover he could never forget. But he’d been clean for a while, and like a fool I trusted that he had “beat” it. Or maybe I didn’t know how to talk to him about it.

As a Muslim, I was doing my salat (my prayers), but I was at a weak point. I had few Muslim friends in S.F. The masjid was far from my house, a 40 minute bike ride uphill to the Outer Mission. It was difficult being on my own in that way. I’d work hard all day long, blazing up and down the city streets, covering tens of miles in one day, and I’d do my salat on my breaks, on any sidewalk or parking lot where I happened to be. Then I’d go home to my tiny studio apartment and write, write, write. I’d pour out my heart in short stories and poetry.

Joe and his son, a few days before Joe died

Joe and his son at the Pumpkin Festival, a few days before Joe died

Joe settled in. He had a girlfriend who loved him, and before long they had a baby boy. They rented a nice loft South of Market. They were making a life for themselves.

Drug use is common in the messenger subculture, and I’d occasionally see Joe hanging in front of Harvey’s Liquors with a bad crowd. I worried, but I’ve never been one to pry. If a friend wants to share, great, but if not then I mind my own business.

And I tended to see Joe in an artificially smooth light, I think. He’d always been so compassionate and wise with me, that it was hard for me to switch our roles and be his advisor. Now I look back and I think that I was such a rotten friend. He gave me so much, and when it counted I gave him nothing in return.

Maybe I should have shared the deen (the Islamic way of life) with Joe. I should have reached out to him. Isn’t that the true meaning of friendship, to care not only for a person’s physical well being, but for his wounded, immortal soul?

But I needed help myself. Although I was prospering in my work, I was in a lot of pain internally, struggling to come to terms with traumatic experiences from my past. I needed someone to reach an arm to me, and in my state I didn’t perceive Joe’s inner needs.

The Last Time I Saw Him

In 1996 I ran into Joe at the Pumpkin Festival on Polk Street. His girlfriend and son were there, and I took pictures of all three. His little boy was just beautiful, a very happy and handsome kid with blue eyes and willowy blonde hair.

Joe’s mother, who I had never met before, was there too, and I told her how much I respected and admired Joe, and how good he’d always been to me. I bought an Australian cowboy hat, and Joe told me it looked very hip. He insisted that I should come see their new apartment on Folsom Street, that it was very cool.

A week later a friend approached me as I was sitting on the Wall downtown, where all the messengers stand by between runs. He told me that Joe had overdosed on heroin, and was dead.

You know how people say, “If you could do it over again, what would you differently?” I’ve made some awful mistakes in my life, and if I could turn the clock back I could save myself a lot of hardship.

But I don’t care about that. There’s only one thing I want to change. I want to wind the clock back to October 1996, to a sunny autumn day at a street fair on Polk Street, where my friend Joe is still alive and is watching his son ride the little train in the kiddy carnival. I want to say, “Hey, Joe, what’s going on with you? You know I love you. If there’s anything wrong in your life I want you to tell me about it. You’ve been so good to me, and now I want to give a little back. Look around you, Joe. You’ve got so much to live for.”

I’m not naive enough to think that I could have solved Joe’s problem when his own beautiful family couldn’t. But maybe if I could go back just long enough to say those words, then I could live with what came after, and I could stop hating myself for failing my friend in the worst way, and I could take my Australian cowboy hat out of the closet, put it on my head, and remember the good times I had with Joe.

Wael Abdelgawad, February 1999
Oakland, California

Postscript: Moving Beyond Blame

I wrote the piece above over ten years ago. It has taken me almost these entire ten years to learn to forgive myself. I still sometimes see someone on the street who looks like Joe, and I have a moment of excitement, then I remember that he is gone. But I don’t blame myself anymore. I made a mistake, but I’m not responsible for Joe putting a needle in his arm. With everything he had to live for, he had no excuse. If having a family, friends and freedom wasn’t enough of a joy for him, then it’s unlikely that anything I said would have made a difference.

I don’t want to blame Joe either. He lost the battle against his internal demons, and that’s enough for me to say. I still love him. I guess I’ve gotten beyond blame, to a place of understanding or acceptance. I’m able to think of Joe with gratitude, and with no bitterness or regret to color it. I originally titled this piece, “Trying to Remember the Good Times”, but if I had written it today I might call it, “Remembering a Kind Soul.”

That’s the miracle and glory of the human heart. That is one of the countless blessings of Allah. He gives us hearts that heal, and spirits that forgive, and Time, our dear friend, who carries away all wounds in the gentle sweep of its current.

“Allah said: ‘Sons of Adam inveigh against [the vicissitudes of] Time, but I am Time, in My hand is the night and the day.’” (hadith qudsi, agreed upon)

If Allah is Time, and Allah is Ar-Rahman ir-Raheem (The Merciful and Mercy-Giving), then time is  a mercy and a blessing. The passage of time is a balm and a cure.

I try to do better now in reaching out to anyone I care about who might be in pain. I try to express something about the deen to the non-Muslims in my life. I don’t preach, but I share my enthusiasm for Islam in small ways, and I offer a perspective that includes Allah.

If I could go back, what would I do differently? I have come to realize that the question serves no purpose. The Polk Street festival is a memory, a day in history, an image on a fading photo. Agonizing over it does not help.

A better question is, what will I do differently today? What will I do differently tomorrow, when the California sun comes up blazing, and the world is new again, and I am blessed beyond belief with another opportunity to redeem my soul, and to love my family and friends, and to prostrate to Allah, and to change the world? What will I do differently then?

That’s all that matters.

“And put your trust in Him Who lives and dies not; and celebrate His praise; and enough is He to be acquainted with the faults of His servants.” – Quran, 25:58

Wael Abdelgawad, June 15, 2010
Fresno, California

Door of Mercy is Open at Dawn

Early dawn, Venus in the sky

Early dawn and Venus in the sky


On the authority of Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him), who said that the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said:

Our Lord (glorified and exalted be He) descends each night to the earth’s sky when there remains the final third of the night, and He says: Who is saying a prayer to Me that I may answer it? Who is asking something of Me that I may give it him? Who is asking forgiveness of Me that I may forgive him?

It was related by al-Bukhari (also by Muslim, Malik, at-Tirmidhi and Abu Dawud).

In a version by Muslim the Hadith ends with the words:

And thus He continues till [the light of] dawn shines.

***

A poet wrote about this with the following couplet:

At every early dawn I hear this call:

the door of mercy is open, come one, come all.

The Hidden Blessings of Illness and Hardship

Huge sunrays in a blue sky

By Wael Abdelgawad for IslamicSunrays.com

I’m glad and grateful that I am ill right now, and that times are hard. Does that sound crazy?

Aisha (may Allah be pleased with her) reported that the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said, “For any adversity a Muslim suffers, Allah erases some of his sins, even though it may be no more than a thorn pricking him.” (Related by Al-Bukhari).

Another version of this Hadith is also related by Al-Bukhari on the authority of two of the Prophet’s (pbuh) companions, namely, Abu Saeed Al-Khudri and Abu Hurairah who quote him as saying: “Whatever befalls a Muslim of exhaustion, illness, worry, grief, nuisance or trouble, even though it may be no more than a prick of a thorn, earns him forgiveness by Allah of some of his sins.”

My father recently suffered a fall and broke his leg badly, and is now in a rehab center. In my personal life, two moves and one divorce in the last five years have made it hard to retain friendships, and I find myself feeling isolated. I’ve been through some painful personal experiences. And these are hard times economically as well. So there’s a lot of stress in the household.

I do my best to love my daughter more than ever, to play with her, hug and kiss her, and always remind her of Allah’s barakah. I try to make her world full of happiness, learning, and talks about Allah. I try to never let her see me sweat, as they say. But once she’s sound asleep in bed, I feel the weight of responsibility on my shoulders like a sack of stones.

So if by patiently enduring this illness and these hard times in general, I will earn Allah’s forgiveness for my sins, and maybe will be blessed in ways that I do not see, then I am grateful.

One more hadith: Jabir ibn Abdullah narrated that Allah’s Messenger salallahu alayhi wasallam said, “On the Day of Resurrection, when people who have suffered affliction are given their reward, those who are healthy will wish their skins had been cut to pieces with scissors when they were in the world.” (Al-Tirmidhi, 1570)

In other words, when people see how much reward is given to those who suffered in life, they will wish that they had suffered terribly, in the worst possible ways, so that it might become a cause of forgiveness for them in the Hereafter.

SubhanAllah, whatever pain we suffer in this life is not in vain. It is not wasted. We may cry and wince and groan over small pains, but Allah sees our suffering and will compensate us more than we can imagine, as long as we are patient and keep faith in Him. Allah the Most High has a plan for us, and He is the best of planners. We must have faith in Him and His plan for us.

Seeing the Good

Also, let us not be blind to the good things that have happened. I think this is very important. All too often we get caught up in our losses and dismiss some of Allah’s quiet gifts and blessings that have budded and opened up when we were hardly looking.

For example, I have always thought of myself as a writer at heart and have been happiest when I was pursuing that calling. When I was single I was obsessive about it. Even after a long day at work I would sit down in front of the computer in my little San Francisco loft, and write. After I got married and the responsibilities of family life fell on my shoulders I neglected my writing. Lately, however, I find myself writing daily and expressing ideas that have been growing in my heart for decades. The words flow as if they have been bottled under pressure, waiting for release. What a blessing!

In my teens I studied martial arts for some years. Life carried me in different directions and I stopped practicing but I still thought of myself as a martial artist, and kept meaning to get back into it. Finally in my late thirties I realized that my dream was passing me by. I got back into it and made a do-or-die commitment. Since then, with the moves from the Bay Area to Panama City to El Valle to Fresno, it’s been a struggle to find teachers and training partners, but I have persisted, in some cases creating my own training group out of scratch. For the last year and a half, partly as a way of dealing with loneliness and stress, I plunged myself into an intensive study of the arts.

Now I suddenly find myself entering this phase when my understanding of the arts is expanding like a tidal wave. I seem to have moved beyond rote memorization of techniques and I am able to spontaneously create combinations and visualize new possibilities. My balance is solid, my form is good. Basically, I have grasped the underlying principles of the arts and have moved beyond the 1-2-3 stage. I can finally call myself a martial artist.

That’s something I dreamed of all my life. And it came about because I was stressed!

What other secret blessings await me? What other lifelong dreams are quietly budding, getting ready to bloom?

Only Gratitude

That’s why the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said, “How amazing is the case of the believer; there is good for him in everything, and this is only so for the believer. If he experiences something pleasant, he is thankful, and that is good for him; and if he comes across adversity, he is patient, and that is good for him.” [Muslim]

How amazing indeed! What a treasure trove of strength and mercy there is in this deen! Who can say that this is not a religion of hope?

Allah rewards the believer even for the pricking of a thorn. Who can deny that this is the attitude of a Compassionate God, One who understand us, sees our pain, cares about our suffering, and wants only good for us?

And what does Allah want in return? Only gratitude, and that our actions manifest that gratitude. Nothing more.

Allah says, “And [remember] when your Lord proclaimed, ‘If you are grateful, I will surely increase you [in favor]; but if you deny, indeed, My punishment is severe.’ “ [Surat Ibrahim 14:7]

Which brings us back to my opening statement. I am grateful and glad even for the hardships. I am aware of all of Allah’s favors, and when He says, “Then which of the favors of your Lord will you deny?” my response is, “I deny none of them, O Lord!”

Ask forgiveness and find relief

Clouds over Lake Ponchartrain Louisiana

The Messenger of Allah (peace bu upon him) said, “If anyone continually asks forgiveness, Allah will appoint for him a way out of every distress, relief from anxiety, and will provide for him from where he never realized. – Abu Dawood, Hadith 599

Surely in Allah’s remembrance do the hearts find peace

Showers of sunshine on a green landscape

True peace comes with remembering Allah and growing closer to Him

When we remember God, we also realize that we are constantly in His presence, and thus we are liberated from the self-destructive habits that consume us.

So often in life we are wronged by others, and the temptation to respond in a demeaning and un-Islamic manner is very strong. Fortunately, we can avoid wrong responses in the case of mistreatment by relying on Allah and knowing that He is the All-Knowing. When we take part in wrong responses, we fall victim to disobediences that lead the soul away from righteousness, and into the pits of retaliation and cruelty.

“Surely in Allah’s remembrance do the hearts find peace.” (13:28)

Those who seek God and remember Him will find contentment and joy in their lives with the knowledge that they are under the protection of Allah. When we utter praise to the Almighty and thank Him for his countless bounties, our hearts are filled with inner peace and reflection. How happy and blessed are those who seek refuge in their Lord, the Most Beneficent and Most Merciful Allah.

– written by Renik

Let go of anger and replace it with forgiveness

Beautiful sunshine in a blue sky

Let go of anger today, and replace it with forgiveness

By Wael Abdelgawad for IslamicSunrays.com

A man said to the Messenger of Allah, (sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam – peace be upon him): “Advise me! “The Prophet said, “Do not become angry and furious.” The man asked (the same) again and again, and the Prophet said in each case, “Do not become angry and furious.” [Al-Bukhari; Vol. 8 No. 137]

Resolve to give up anger, even if only for today. Whatever anger you are harboring against others, let it go. Whatever anger you have against yourself for mistakes you have made, or for wrongs you have done, let it go. It’s not helping you, it is only damaging your own spirit.

Remember that we are human; we are all imperfect. From the very beginning, starting with Adam and Hawaa (Adam and Eve) we humans made mistakes.

Other people have made mistakes and harmed you in the past because they are human; forgive them. You have made mistakes because you are human; forgive yourself, and turn to Allah in tawbah (repentance).

The Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) has taught us some strategies for dealing with anger. For example, he said:

“I know a word, the saying of which will cause him to relax, if he does say it. If he says: ‘I seek Refuge with Allah from Satan’ then all his anger will go away.” [Al-Bukhari; Vol. 4, No. 502]

And he said,

“Anger comes from the devil, the devil was created of fire, and fire is extinguished only with water; so when one of you becomes angry, he should perform ablution.” [Abu Daud; Book 41, No. 4766]

Abu Dharr narrated: The Apostle of Allah, sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam, said to us: “When one of you becomes angry while standing, he should sit down. If the anger leaves him, well and good; otherwise he should lie down.” [Abu Daud; Book 41, No. 4764]

In another hadith, the Prophet, sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam, said:

“If one of you becomes angry then he should be silent.”

Narrated ‘Abdur Rahman bin Abi Bakra: Abu Bakr wrote to his son who was in Sijistan: Do not judge between two persons when you are angry, for I heard the Prophet, sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam, saying: “A judge should not judge between two persons while he is in an angry mood.” [Al-Bukhari; Vol. 9, No. 272]

So the Messenger of Allah sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam, has given us several strategies to deal with anger:

  1. Seek refuge with Allah from Shaytan. This reminds us that fury and rage are not good things; they are evil forces that we need to get rid of before they take us over. Seeking refuge with Allah reminds us that Allah is near, watching us; also it reminds us to turn the matter over to Allah, so that we can let go of our anger.
  2. Perform wudu’ (ritual washing for purity). SubhanAllah, what a beautiful thing. The wudu’ is a source of blessings and barakah for us. It also has a powerful symbolic value, washing away our anger and making us peaceful and pure.
  3. Sit down, or even lie down. Modern science has learned that the body influences the emotions as well as the other way around. So assuming a peaceful posture leads to peaceful emotions. Sitting down or lying down are non-threatening positions. This helps to defuse any conflict before it escalates.
  4. Stay silent. This is very important. All too often spouses or family members say things to each other in anger, and later they deeply regret their words. By then it’s too late:  the words have been uttered and the damage is done. When you are most angry is precisely the time to remain silent. Seek refuge with Allah, make wudu, pray, go for a walk, go to the masjid… allow yourself time to calm down and reflect.
  5. Do not judge between people (in other words make important decisions). Obviously making important decisions out of anger is a formula for disaster.

These are all wonderful points for dealing with anger in the moment. However, in todays “Islamic Sunray” I am also speaking about past anger. We all have old emotional wounds that we carry around like scars. We have old resentments and hurts.

If you hold on to these hurts, they will destroy your marriage, or at least make it an unhappy, chafing relationship. Holding on to resentments and grudges will destroy your friendships, leaving you isolated. These persistent negative emotions will eat into your own soul, leaving you bitter and unhappy.

Let them go. Modern medicine tells us that carrying around these old resentments and anger is bad for the health.

Steven Stosny, PhD, and author of “The Powerful Self: A Workbook of Theraputic Self Empowerment”, says,

“Consistent, prolonged levels of anger give a person a five times greater chance of dying before age 50. Anger elevates blood pressure, increases threat of stroke, heart disease, cancer, depression, anxiety disorders, and, in general, depresses the immune system (angry people have lots of little aches and pains or get a lot of colds and bouts of flu or headaches or upset stomachs). To make matters worse, angry people tend to seek relief from the ill-moods caused by anger through other health-endangering habits, such as smoking and drinking, or through compulsive behavior such as workaholism and perfectionism.

Laboratory experiments have shown that even subtle forms of anger impair problem-solving abilities and general performance competence. In addition to increasing error rates, anger narrows and makes rigid mental focus, tending to obscure alternative perspectives. The angry person has one “right way” of doing things, which, if selected in anger, is seldom the best way.”

Anger hurts our spirits. It makes us brittle and cynical. We become impatient, closed off and quick to judge.

Hurt, anger and resentment tighten your chest and narrow your vision. They make your world smaller.

Forgiveness, on the other hand, opens your lungs and lets you breathe. It releases your heart to beat freely, it removes the shackles from your mind, and lets all the weight drop off your back.

I know that this is easy to say and hard to do, but we must begin to forgive.

Start with forgiving yourself. Ask Allah for forgiveness for anything you’ve done that you regret, and then forgive yourself. Let it go. Breathe in deeply, breathe out, and let that anger escape with your breath. Do this as often as you need.

Brothers and sisters, be gentle with yourselves and with others. The world is already so full of anger, hatred, racism, divisions, and suffering. The world is torn by war and conflict. Let’s change this by starting with ourselves. Go into the world today and be gentle, and forgive.

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