Tag Archive | ego

Count Your Blessing

Assalamu alaykum and welcome.

Let me begin by indulging in an an anecdote. When I was younger and still a Christian I would go to church every Sunday. There was another church we would pass on the way that had a scrolling marquee. It would often list events going on, bible verses, and give inspirational messages. One time while driving by the sign was scrolling along and then stopped on the phrase “Count your blessing.” Singular. My mother and I had a good laugh about this. “Count your blessing?” we would say, “okay. One.” Of course the expression is “count your blessings” but the limitations of the marquee or perhaps the mistake of the programmer created this humorous alternative.

In trying times it’s easy to forget all our blessings or to take them for granted. It’s in our nature to always want more.

“If the son of Ādam had a valley full of gold, he would love to have two valleys, for nothing fills his mouth except dust. And Allāh forgives him who repents.” [Sahih Bukhāri, Volume 8 Book 76 Number 447]

So lets take a step back and take a look at all the blessing that we do have and remember to be grateful for those blessings.

Firstly, lets remind ourselves that we are blessed with more blessings than we realize. We are blessed with more blessings than we can count!

And He gave you whatever you asked for. If you (try to) count the bounties of Allah, you cannot count them all. Indeed, man is highly unjust, very ungrateful.” (14:34)

If you count the bounties of Allah, you cannot count them all. Surely, Allah is Most-Forgiving, Very-Merciful.” (16:18)

If you’re still a little stuck, Allah reminds us of some of these blessings.

And among His signs is that He sends winds giving good news (of rain), and so that He gives you a taste of His mercy, and that the ships may sail with His command, and that you may search for His grace, and you may be grateful.” (30:46)

O you who believe, eat of the good things We have provided to you and be grateful to Allah, if it is He whom you worship (in real terms).” (2:172)

And this leads me into my next point. When we are reminded of these blessings we should also remember to be grateful. We cannot spend all day in prostration out of gratitude for all our blessings and thankfully we do not have to do this – yet another thing to be grateful for! So how do we show our gratitude? Firstly, we acknowledge where our blessings have come from:

Whatever blessing you have is from Allah. Then, once you are touched by distress, to Him alone you cry for help. Then, as soon as He removes the distress from you, a group from among you starts ascribing partners to their Lord. Thus, they deny what We have given to them. Well, enjoy yourself (for some time), and soon you will come to know (the fate of your misdeeds).” (16: 53-55)

We save ourselves from punishment by remembering where our blessings have come from and we do not try to claim those blessing have come from any other than Allah.

We should also strive to act in accordance with Allah’s will to show our gratitude.

Narrated Aisha: The Prophet used to offer prayer at night (for such a long time) that his feet used to crack. I said, “O Allah’s Apostle! Why do you do it since Allah has forgiven you your faults of the past and those to follow?” He said, “Shouldn’t I love to be a thankful slave (of Allah)?’ [Sahih Bukhāri, Volume 6 Book 60 Number 361]

While many of us may not be able to emulate the prophet (SAW) and stand in prayer all night out of gratitude until our legs and feet are swollen, we can do our best to use our bodies for good. If you can speak you can speak with good words and make dawah. If you are healthy enough and have the means, you can do hajj. A more articulate explanation of how to show our gratitude for our blessings can be found here

 

Of course we all know what happens when we act in accordance to Allah’s will (hint: paradise) so it’s always in our best interest to take a minute and remind ourselves of our blessing to help us along. So the next time you’re feeling down, take in a deep breath and thank Allah for that breath you just took by exhaling “ALLAH AKBAR!”

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.

What about JIHAD?!?!

Assalamu alaykum to all my Muslim sisters and brothers; Welcome to all non-Muslims!

 

Well here I have this provocative title for my blog and yet have said barely a word on Jihad. Let’s get to it then. What is jihad? What does it mean? Perhaps a quick Google search could shed some light on this topic?

 

The first result when searching “jihad” is a Wikipedia entry (of course.) While it does provide some general information there’s no real depth to it. Next in the results is Jihad Watch. Yikes!…. Then we have Daniel Pipes…. oh dear….. Then a very brief definition form Merriam-Webster. FINALLY, the fifth result has a somewhat of an actual answer from About.com’s section on Islam, not just glossing over the fact there are non-violent jihads like the Wikipedia article does but actually explaining it a little bit. But this is just anecdotal.

 

There are many many articles and even entire books on the subject and I’m not about to make any breakthroughs here. As you may have noticed I have been giving information in chunks. It’s not that I can’t see the forest through the trees. It’s more that I know which forest I’m in so I’m taking my time to look at all the trees. So I’ll be taking my time to analyze and define the term over the course of many entries. And let’s not forget I’m not specifically here to define Jihad. This is my jihad after all and while part of that jihad is to define jihad in the first place, this is largely chronicling my struggle to better myself as a Muslim. So, let’s start with that definition; the definition of the personal jihad.

 

I’m using excerpts from this fatwa from Islam Q&A for my definition this time. Feel free to click the link and read the full fatwa on your own. I’ll be returning to it later as well as researching other sources and presenting them at later dates, as the opportunities present themselves.

Ibn al-Qayyim (may Allaah have mercy on him) said: Once this is understood, then jihad is of four kinds: Jihad al-nafs (jihad against one’s self), jihad al-Shaytaan (jihad against the Shaytaan), jihad against the kaafirs and jihad against the hypocrites.

He goes on to say

Jihad al-nafs (jihad against one’s self) is of four kinds: 1 – Striving to learn the teachings of Islam… 2 – Striving to make oneself act in accordance with what one has learned… 3 – Striving to call others to Islam; teaching those who do not know about it… 4 – Striving to bear patiently the difficulties involved in calling people to Allaah and the insults of people; bearing all that for the sake of Allaah.

Interestingly enough, in what seems to be an unavoidable meta way, my studying about jihad is actually part of my jihad!

 

With that, here is what you can expect from me for this part of my jihad. I’ll be posting what I’m learning about Islam. I’ll also set goals for myself which I’ll be more likely to strive to accomplish knowing others are watching me. While I should strive to accomplish these goal knowing Allah is watching me, this is a weakness in me. I know Allah is watching me but it’s not enough to motivate me to action sometimes. It’s not at all that I want to do these things simply to be seen by others. I want to do things only to please Allah and sometimes that means I need other people keeping an eye on me. I’ll also post about how I’m trying to apply what I learn to my everyday life. I’m going to strive to remember Allah in all my actions. Hopefully posting what I learn will help me with my dawah efforts in the community and perhaps be good dawah for anyone who may stumble on this blog. I may also post about those dawah efforts or any difficulties I face from others (though I have suffered very little injustice so far, alhamdulillah.)

 

But this is just me talking about what I’m going to do. Starting tomorrow insha Allah (or the day after tomorrow, I may have to skip the update tomorrow) you’ll finally see my jihad in action over the next several days!