A People of Hope

Cloud and birds

We (Muslims) are not a people of despair. We are a people of hope and redemption and transformation. The wind will always come. Fall in prostration during the storm and you will be safe. Like all things of this world, it will pass. Healing will come. Change will come. Victory will come.
It always does.

– Yasmin Mogahed, January 30, 2017

Give It To Allah

Sun shining on a river in the wilderness

Beautiful post by Imam Zaid Shakir:

As-Salaam Alaikum Beloveds,

Sometimes, when the situation seems too big, too complicated, too unbearable, give it to Allah. His capabilities are boundless. When you find yourself at a loss for words, you just don’t know what to say; ask Allah to guide your tongue, His words are inexhaustible.

When you find your courage challenged, your strength waning and don’t even know if you will be able to get out of bed to face another day in a seemingly dirty, dark, death-wishing dunya, ask Allah to lift you up, His strength will more than suffice you.

If you are feeling that the menacing clouds of tribulation gathering over the Sea of Despair are harbingers of yet another gut-wrenching storm, take time to pray. You will find that the light of truth will shine its life-giving rays through those clouds, caressing your heart, quickening it and allowing you to live, love and laugh for another day. Who could ask for more?

Keep up your good work

Sunrise behind a hill, Sun and tree

Sunrise

By Wael Abdelgawad | IslamicSunrays.com

Keep up all your good work. Don’t give up on yourself.

I am 100% sure that there are people who admire you and look up to you.

Recite Surat al-Asr often and contemplate the meaning. Imam Shafi’ famously said that if Allah had revealed only Surat-al-Asr, it would have been enough for the guidance of humanity.

By the time!
Surely, humankind is in loss –
Except for those who believe and perform righteous deeds, and strive together for truth, and strive together for patience. – Quran 103

Those who do as Surat al-Asr advises are not in loss. Where are they? In success, peacefulness, gratitude, and progress.

If you are still struggling on the path to your dream, then believe in yourself and know that you have a bright future in your work and in love, Insha’Allah. Problems never last, but patient people do. Your day will come, don’t worry.

Make dua’ (pray) immediately when you wake up, and last thing before you sleep. Be peaceful and trust Allah. The road unfolds ahead of you each day. Keep your head up.

Allah’s Plan for You and Me

Morning Sun

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.

Road up a mountain
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.

To Be Human is to Move

Woman climbing Mt. Everest

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

Move Your Feet

Blue and white earth

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.

The Blind Man and the Helper

Desert oasis

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.

***

http://www.alminbar.com/khutbaheng/ltp.htm

10 Islamic quotations by Sarah Saghir

Big Wet Meadow in Cloud Canyon, Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park.

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.

Don’t You Fall Now

Langston Hughes

Langston Hughes

“Well, son, I’ll tell you:
Life for me ain’t been no crystal stair.
It’s had tacks in it,
And splinters,
And boards torn up,
And places with no carpet on the floor —
Bare.
But all the time
I’se been a-climbin’ on,
And reachin’ landin’s,
And turnin’ corners,
And sometimes goin’ in the dark
Where there ain’t been no light.
So boy, don’t you turn back.
Don’t you set down on the steps
‘Cause you finds it’s kinder hard.
Don’t you fall now —
For I’se still goin’, honey,
I’se still climbin’,
And life for me ain’t been no crystal stair.”

– Langston Hughes

For Every Trouble, Allah Helps You Double

Road through the grass, sunlight on the grass

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.

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