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Your lease on life

Assalamu alaykum and welcome.

 

I just want to say that I HATE cleaning the bathroom. But don’t worry, I’ve already cleaned the bathroom before making this post. I think most people don’t really enjoy cleaning the bathroom. The only time I did it willingly was when I was paid to do it a a janitor. Being paid made me willing to clean up messes much worse than anything I have to deal with here at home. Yet I still find myself resistant, crying out “I don’t want to!”

 

There are two things that still get me to do it. Firstly, I don’t want to be lazy. It’s too easy to be lazy. Complacency is one the worst things that can happen to a person. But the big helper in making sure the cleaning gets done is the fact that it’s not mine. We rent our house. While the house may not belong to us, while we’re here it’s our responsibility.

 

While contemplating this the other day I realized the same can be said of our bodies and lives here in the dunya. This body is not mine but in fact belongs to Allah. My body, and the life that comes with it, is merely a gift that has been granted to me. I must take care of it as best I can. I may even be rewarded for not leaving any blemishes behind.

If you have ever rented an apartment or house or anything, you’ve likely signed a lease or some sort of terms of agreement. At the very least you’ve reached a verbal agreement with the owner. While living in your rented house or using your rented item you may want to do something with it that you’re not sure it you are allowed to do. So you would of course look back on your lease agreement to see if you are allowed to do what you want to do. If you violate any of the terms of the agreement you can be punished by a fine or eviction. If the landlord is just, you will first be warned, then maybe even warned again before more severe action is taken. Or, once you move out, you may even be rewarded with your deposit being returned to you if you have taken good care of the borrowed item.

 

Similarly, we entered into our “terms of agreement” long ago:

And (remember) when your Lord brought forth from the Children of Adam, from their loins, their seed (or from Adam’s loin his offspring) and made them testify as to themselves (saying): “Am I not your Lord?” They said: “Yes! We testify,” lest you should say on the Day of Resurrection: “Verily, we have been unaware of this.” (07:172 Dr. Mohsin)

This is  why the prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said, “No babe is born but upon Fitra (as a Muslim). It is his parents who make him a Jew or a Christian or a Polytheist.” (Muslim; 33; 6426) This is also why many people who “convert” to Islam will more often refer to it as “reverting” to Islam. They are going back to the state they were in before. Maybe more on that later but back to my main point for today.

 

The Qur’an details how we should live our lives in obedience to Allah. Muhammad (pbuh) came and warned us against our transgressions that we had fallen into after our initial agreement. This life that we live is a gift and we need to treat this gift with all the respect we can. In this way we are also showing our gratitude to the One who has so generously given us this gift. And if we don’t know what’s the best way to go about doing something, we always have our “terms of agreement” the Qur’an to consult. We must never become lazy in taking care of what isn’t ours lest we be punished for it.

Now I lay me down to sleep

Assalamu alaykum and welcome.

Many of you may have heard this bedtime prayer before.

“Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep. If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take.”

It’s a staple of the bedtime routine of many a Christian family. When I learned it as a child I could scarcely understand it’s meaning. I thought “nowilayme” was one word and I had no idea what “ifishoulddie” meant! That’s probably why I didn’t realize what I was talking about for a while. Now it’s quite easy to understand what the meaning of the prayer is. And as a Muslim now, I realize even more how important such a prayer is. It’s quite simple so I won’t spend time explaining it here, I simply want to express my personal understanding of this type of prayer and it’s importance as part of the bedtime routine.

In the Qur’an Allah says what means:

It is He Who takes your souls by night (when you are asleep), and has knowledge of all that you have done by day, then He raises (wakes) you up again that a term appointed (your life period) be fulfilled, then (in the end) unto Him will be your return. Then He will inform you of that which you used to do. (6:60 – Dr.Mohsin translation)

And in another passage He says what means:

It is Allâh Who takes away the souls at the time of their death, and those that die not during their sleep. He keeps those (souls) for which He has ordained death and sends the rest for a term appointed. Verily, in this are signs for a people who think deeply. (39:42 – Dr.Mohsin translation)

Our souls belong to God. He does with them as He wills. Our souls are in His possession by night and it is by His will that they are returned to us each morning. That’s not to say that we die each night. Anyone hooked up to a machine that measure vital signs will prove our bodies continue to function as we sleep. But one cannot live his/her life without a soul. What kind of life are we living when asleep? So our lives continue only if our souls are returned to us.

 

My understanding of this prayer now through the eyes of Islam is that it’s much like the 5 daily prayers. The 5 daily prayers are not prayers asking for something to be given to us (that’s usually done after we have completed the prayer) they are prayers done to remind us of Allah’s glory and our subservience to him. Similarly, the “now I lay me” prayer is not a prayer requesting that God take and keep our souls since He already does that, it’s a prayer that serves as a reminder that this is what He does. A reminder that your final resting place is with Allah. A reminder to start, live, and end each day in worship of Allah.

 

There are many supplications one may make before going to bed to serve as a reminder. And the best part is: these reminders allow one to die upon the firtah if he or she should then die while sleeping.

Al-Bara’ b. ‘Azib reported that Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) commanded a person (in these words): When you go to bed during night, you should say: Oh Allaah, I submit my soul unto You, and I entrust my affair unto You, and I turn my face towards You, and I totally rely on You, in hope and fear of You. Verily there is no refuge nor safe haven from You except with You. I believe in Your Book which You have revealed and in Your Prophet whom You have sent.” Make this as the last word of yours (when you go to sleep) and in case you die during that night, you would die upon Fitra. (Muslim; Book 35; Hadith 6544)