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Detriment to the Eyes

June 14, 2011 Leave a comment

I don’t know where I heard this story but its worth hearing (/reading). There were two teenage type boys and they wanted to go see a movie. They went to their father to seek permission and the father inquired about the movie, the boys said that the movie was just a regular movie, it may have one or two inappropriate scenes but it will be over quick and they will just look away. So the father replied no. The boys actually kept asking until one time the father didn’t give a response. The boys figured that this was a good sign since he said no before. The boys went to their room and soon the father bought brownies for them, they smelled good and they looked good. The boys were surprised and started to take some, then the father said, “Before you eat these brownies, know that I added a miniscule amount of feces to them.” The boys were shocked and asked why. The father replied,”These brownies are much like your movie, even a small amount of impurity in them will ruin everything.”

Subhan’Allah just like these brownies would be a detriment to the taste buds, so too are movies/tv a detriment to the eyes. There are practically no movies/tv shows that are appropriate to watch for the respectable Muslim. And even if there is such a program, how then can we rationalize staring at the opposite gender for hours?

Even if you cancel your cable service, the internet is really the main issue these days. It poses a constant temptation as everything is free and easily accessible. I’ve heard Shaykh Husain tell us to seriously watch our internet usage in multiple lectures, and he did it very sternly. His reasons definitely included watching things, but also because we tend to waste great amounts of time on it. He recommended very minimal usage or leaving it altogether.

I’ve learned that breaking a habit is a lot harder than starting one. So instead of trying to break a habit of watching television, it’s best to implement different habits in place of it. Try knitting? No seriously. It’s so hard that attempting it will likely send you into a deep depression that will kill your desire to watch anything.

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Connection

June 9, 2011 Leave a comment

I just recently heard a little talk by Junaid Jamshed (I think it was on his naat CD), and he made a really good point. He was supposed to go on this show and his friends/people he knew told him to talk about Islamic manners. They said that most people are already doing their worship/praying/fasting etc. but not everyone is exhibiting Islamic character. People don’t care when they backbite, or when they lie, when they get angry, when they don’t give other people their rights, when they cause family problems, etc.

Junaid Jamshed started off by saying that these things are really hard to change in a person. These are not small problems. We love to think of ourselves as better than others, we love to judge them and say something bad about them, so we can put ourselves higher. But then what he said was, if we have a true connection with Allah سبحانه و تعالى‎ then these things will be nothing. The person who recognizes that there is an Allah and He’s there watching me, that one day I will have to answer for the things I did, then that person will always stop himself before he engages in these sins. It is all about making that connection, that true connection, where your aware of Him.

Whenever some difficulty arises in life, the person who hasn’t made that connection with Allah سبحانه و تعالى‎ will always engage in sinfulness, when he’s in a tight spot the first thing he’ll do is lie, when something doesn’t go his way, he won’t hesitate to yell at and blame others. The qualities of true character won’t manifest in a person that doesn’t recognize the reality of Allah سبحانه و تعالى‎, the reality of paradise, the reality of hell. The issues of Islamic character are a much later thing, an individual first has to make that connection.

I was thinking that being the humans we are, we sometimes forget that Allah سبحانه و تعالى‎ is watching‎. Once we truly recognize this fact, we have to always be working on it.

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Appreciating Simplicity

June 7, 2011 Leave a comment

Listen Here:Appreciating Simplicity” by Shaykh Husain Abdul Sattar

There are certain things to which the soul is naturally attracted. For example, after a harsh winter, when the weather becomes nice everybody is happy and goes outside. They naturally like the change in scenery. One of the things human beings in their nature are attracted to is simplicity. We don’t appreciate the power of simplicity in this day in age but it is something that brings peace to our souls. The simpler your life is, the happier you will be. This is even true for things outside of the deen (religion).

The more open a space is the more comfortable you will feel in it. One of the reasons we feel so at peace at the masjid is because its open, we sit on the floor there is no furniture, or grand decorations. This applies to many things. It’s even true in advertising, “Just do it,” advertisers try to keep their slogans and images simple so people can easily remember and identify their brand.

The Prophet صلی اللہ علیہ وسلم was exceedingly simple in the way he dealt with life no matter how complex it became.

  • He had a minimal number of clothes that he wore, they had patches on them. Even though he was ruling all of Arabia, he maintained the same wardrobe from the moment of revelation to his death. The simplicity about him made people feel comfortable around him. He was very straight to the point and simple in his talk. His sayings are so simple yet so filled with depth and power (Ex: Verily deeds are according to niyyah [intention]).
  • His food was incredibly simple, just ungrounded wheat or barley bread. Some people came to ask about the Prophet’s صلی اللہ علیہ وسلم food after his death and it was told to them they wouldn’t be able to digest it. Just think about the way we expect our food to be, (It has to be hot, delicious etc.) we think that because we work all day, we deserve a good meal. The Prophet was carrying the load of the message on his shoulders, but when there was no food, he’d simply say “I’m fasting.” He never cared what the food was or how it was served.
  • His house was simple, it was small and had small rooms. It could have been that the Prophet صلی اللہ علیہ وسلم would have had a huge castle built, being king of Arabia, yet he kept it so simple. Even though his house was a simple thing, after hundreds of years and thousands of miles, we are still so attracted to it. Every minute, there are thousands of people visiting his house. People are pushing and shoving to simply get a look.
  • The interactions he had were very simple and based on love, he said what he had to say and people understood what he said. Nothing about him was artificial, you never had to wonder if what he said was really what he meant (unlike today). He was incredibly straightforward, and at the same time very loving in his speech. It comes in hadith (Prophet’s tradition/saying) that when he sat with the people he talked with them exactly like he was one of them. People felt like they were a part of him.
  • The financial transactions of the Prophet صلی اللہ علیہ وسلم were very simple, if he had money he spent it, if he didn’t have it he didn’t spend it.

People create headaches upon themselves, they get into debt, work all hours of the day, get so stressed out that they need a vacation. This is the deception of humanity, shaytaan creates this mindset that life needs to be complicated otherwise you won’t be happy. People constantly make complex decisions, they know they should come to the masjid but they move half hour away and then they get frustrated, why? Move 2 minutes away. The human being needs to keep things simple.

When the Prophet صلی اللہ علیہ وسلم gave his salaam (greeting of peace) to someone , he shook their hand, looked at their eyes, and smiled. He properly greeted everyone, he never acted like he didn’t have the time for it. He let people say whatever they had to say, when they were done he would ask them if they had anything more to say, and then he would speak. Who does this today? Most people rush other people’s talk and tell them to get to the point.

His clothes, his food, his house, his masjid, his house, his financial transactions everything about him was simple.

So why is this simplicity so important? When you keep these things simple you’ll keep your entire life simple. This life is passing and the goal is Jannah (paradise). We have a very simple paradigm, we’re travelers and we’re trying to get somewhere. When the sahabah (companions) spoke, they spoke for Jannah, when they acted, they acted for Jannah. When you’re at the airport, you don’t sit there and think about the airport, you think about your destination, there is no purpose at the airport.

Once a man narrated a dream to the Prophet صلی اللہ علیہ وسلم, he said he saw a straight path with a beautiful garden on both sides. One group of people came and they passed it without engaging it and went straight ahead to the end. The second group of people came and said, look at this beautiful garden, they enjoyed it for a while and then went ahead to the end. The third group of people were so entranced by the garden that they forgot they were even following a path. The Prophet صلی اللہ علیہ وسلم said that the path was sirat-ul-mustiqeen (the straight path) and that the first group of people are my sahabah (companions). The second group is the subsequent generation. The third group of people are people of the latter time who think they’ll be here forever although knowing in their heart they won’t.

You could give the body every luxury in this life, but the soul will never be happy. This doesn’t mean that we don’t partake in the world, we have to use this world to get to Paradise. Islam means to cause peace, when someone accepts Islam they cause peace within themselves. When you take on any burden, when you struggle and toil, do it not because it will do something for you in this world, do it because it’ll help your hereafter. Use up every moment to help your hereafter.

There is even simplicity in wudhu (ablution), the Prophet صلی اللہ علیہ وسلم said to only use what you need even from the Earth, do not waste water for doing wudhu. Modern life is filled with constant noise, constant interactions (email, cell phone, texting, internet), we don’t even have the time to reflect on our lives and existence, we never ask, who am I? The deen will never come instantly, it always requires struggle, sacrifice, prayer, dedication, study, sajood upon sajood (prostration). If everything in your life is instant, and the deen is not then you will move towards the things that are instantly gratifying. If you want deen then it requires simplicity and depth in your interactions.

May Allah سبحانه و تعالى‎ make us among those who are able to maintain the sunnah and see the passing nature of this life and the permanence of the next.

My Thoughts: The manifestation of simplicity in our being and living represents the fact that we recognize the reality of this life. If we’re constantly going from one place to the next, if we’re always stressed out, if our houses are filled with junk we never use, if we have so many clothes that we can’t figure out what to wear, if we’re unhappy with the slightest bad taste in food, then these things prove that we’ve made our lives to complex. This doesn’t mean we should just sit around in an empty house, it means we should struggle, work, accomplish, but in the beautiful manner of the Prophet صلی اللہ علیہ وسلم. Simplicity is one of the most beautiful aspects of Islam, people naturally gravitate towards a person of simplicity.

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Quotes on Hayaa (Modesty)

June 4, 2011 1 comment

Quotes from the Retreat:

  • Abdullah bin Umar (ra) narrates that the Prophet ﷺ said: “Modesty and Imaan are intertwined with each other. If one leaves, the other leaves by itself” (Haakim)
  • “Hayaa only produces goodness”
  • “From the words of the previous Prophets that people still find are: If you feel no shame, then do as you wish”
  • Umar bin Khattaab (ra) said: “Whosoever loses Hayaa loses Taqwa (Essentially fearing God, more complexly it means to struggle to avoid sin), whosoever loses Taqwa, his heart dies”
  • Salman Al-Farsi (ra) said: “When Allah intends the destruction of a slave, he strips him of Hayaa”
  • Ali bin Abi Talib (ra) said: “The one who clothes himself with Hayaa, the people will not see his faults”
  • “Hayaa is part of Imaan and Imaan is Paradise. Lewdness is part of hardness of the heart and hardness of the heart is in the Fire”
  • “Lewdness does not appear in anything except that it blemishes it. And Hayaa does not appear in anything except that it beautifies it”
  • Abdullah bin Masood (ra) said: Imaan is bare, its adornment is Taqwa, and its garment is Hayaa”

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Pearls Behind Veils (Final Part of Retreat Lectures)

June 4, 2011 Leave a comment

“Pearls Behind Veils” By Shaykh Irfan Kabiruddin

In this lecture, the Shaykh detailed the concept of a woman’s hijab (hijab is the outer veil of a woman but also has a more complex and versatile meaning). He started by telling us to be careful where we get our knowledge from. Knowledge of the deen is precious and you can’t afford to be confused on any subject. Although the issue of hijab is very clear, many Muslims are confused on the subject. At the very least, every knows what happens to a society when no one practices hijab.

The verses for hijab were revealed slowly, it was first revealed that men and women should interact through a curtain in Surah Ahzab. Then the deeper rulings came in Surah Nuur.

A woman’s awrah (private areas) includes her entire body except the face and hands. These are the parts that should be covered all the time even in the home. In public women should cover everything except that which appears naturally (like what becomes apparent when she is doing some work or walking). The face should also be covered in public, no one can deny the face is what holds the beauty. They should go out in a manner that does not attract, in a manner of hayaa (modesty). It is an obligation of both men and women to guard their gaze.

My Thoughts: I apologize for these incomplete notes, I think I was getting tired by then. I once heard of tight clothing being compared to latex gloves, although they cover everything, they also leave nothing to the imagination. Subhan’Allah there is so much wisdom behind the hijab, for the individual and society in general. Maybe I’ll write a list of the benefits insha’Allah (by the will of Allah).

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That which is Purer for your Hearts (Part 4 of Retreat Lectures)

June 4, 2011 Leave a comment

“That which is Purer for your Hearts” By Shaykh Mikaeel Abdur Rahman

Shaykh Rahman started the lecture by telling us the importance of our environments. If we don’t admit that our environments impact us then there will be no room for change or betterment. It is the very core of the Quran, Surah Fatiha, where we beg Allah سبحانه و تعالى‎ to show us the path of the blessed people, the people who have earned the pleasure of Allahسبحانه و تعالى‎ and to keep away from those who have earned His wrath. In a hadith (saying) the Prophet صلی اللہ علیہ وسلم says that a good companion is like the perfume seller, even if he doesn’t give you the perfume, sitting around him will make you smell good. The bad companion is like a blacksmith, even if he doesn’t burn your clothes you will go home with a bad smell. In another hadith, the Prophet صلی اللہ علیہ وسلم said that a person is with the religion of his friend, so be careful who you befriend.

There is no “half deen” in Islam, you have to enter it completely. During the time of the Prophet صلی اللہ علیہ وسلم some Jews wanted to mix Islam and Judaism (in an innocent way, like keeping the holiness of Sunday). But it was revealed by Allah, “O people who believe, come into the deen completely.” The mind frame of the Muslim should be to suppress his desires and to practice sabr (patience). How can we expect to be successful if we never push ourselves or try to control our nafs (inner desires)? There is always a “little mufti” (great term!) in your heart that knows when you are doing something wrong, you can just look in your heart and you’ll know.

Shaykh Rahman then got into a great discussion about the intermingling of the sexes (in Islam men and women can only interact on the basis of necessity for the purpose of modesty and purity). Many people argue that their intermingling won’t lead to anything but in Islam even the purest of personalities were not allowed to intermingle freely. If ever there was a place where people would have the least danger from intermingling, it would be the masjid. Even then the Prophet صلی اللہ علیہ وسلم created a separate place for the women, a separate entrance. He even told the men to wait until the women had left to leave. Anyone who says intermingling is okay must consider that it would have first been okay for the Prophet صلی اللہ علیہ وسلم and his people because they were the purest, there was no fear of them committing any unlawful acts, so who are we?

The first effect of intermingling is that our heart dies, this sins is such that it overpowers the heart. A slow rust develops in the heart of someone who intermingles. When someone’s heart dies, he doesn’t feel sin (meaning that he won’t understand its wrongness or feel the guilt).

The Shaytaan (Satan) flows through man the same way blood flows in the body (i.e you never feel the blood flowing but it’s there). No intermingling can be harmless because the Shaytaan can easily turn it into something greater. The Shaykh related a story from the Bani-Israel of a man named Barsee, who was considered a very pious and trustworthy person. Once three brothers left their sister with him because they had to fight in a battle. Barsee’s initial reaction was to say no because he lived alone, but he allowed her to stay in a separate place by his house. In the beginning, he would leave the food out and she would just get it herself. Then (through the Shaytaan’s whisperings) he thought this arrangement might be rude, so he dropped off the food himself. Soon it occurred to him that the girl might be lonely so he started to talk to her. Eventually through these small steps, Barsee engaged in unlawfulness with her and she became pregnant. Since he was known to be so pious, Barsee didn’t want to ruin his image or answer to the girl’s brothers. This led him to murder her. (There was another part to the story I am forgetting, but eventually the brothers found out what happened and Barsee was brought to justice.)

Never think of yourself as safe from dangers like wealth or the opposite gender. Environment is everything and since we live in a non-Muslim environment, we have to bring Islam into it. The Shaykh suggested that we be the ones who people come to with questions about Islam, that we let it be known we’re Muslims. If people can walk around freely with blue hair, full body piercings and tattoos, why can’t we have the slightest bit of pride? Here in America, it’s okay to be weird.

The best thing is to leave environments of temptation, but if we have to engage, the first make sincere dua (prayer) to Allah سبحانه و تعالى‎ that He make those environments safe and good for us.

My Thoughts: Masha’Allah Shaykh Rahman is such an excellent speaker, I highly recommend listening to this lecture (link is in part 1). This topic is so relevant to every single Muslim. So many of us will freely intermingle with the opposite gender without any modesty, and who can deny the intense beauty of modesty? It’s just simply a beautiful thing to possess, its something that when someone has it, it overtakes their personality and makes everything about them beautiful.

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Protecting the Gaze (Part 3 of Retreat Lectures)

June 3, 2011 Leave a comment

“Protecting the Gaze” By Shaykh Mohammed Hafiz Abdullah

In today’s society, hayaa (modesty) is discredited instead of being praised, it is even looked upon as a negative trait. Allah سبحانه و تعالى‎ says in the Quran, “Tell the believing men to lower their gaze and protect their private parts, that is purer for them. And tell the believing women to lower their gaze and protect their private parts.” This quote means to restrain our eyes from the unlawful things, and from looking at the opposite gender. It also means to restrain our eyes from other people’s properties (like looking at people’s houses and wealth with admiring eyes). It is zina (unlawful intercourse) of the eyes to look at the opposite gender with lust. The Prophet صلی اللہ علیہ وسلم even cursed those who go out in public dressed in a manner to attract the opposite gender.

The Shaykh also talked about how much sweeter your ibadat (prayer) will become if you could restrain your eyes from the unlawful. Whenever someone restrains the eyes from the unlawful out of fear of Allah سبحانه و تعالى‎, Allah changes that effort into Imaan (true belief). It is no wonder that today it is so hard for us to obey and act upon the rulings of the deen. Our hearts have not tasted that sweetness. When a person truly starts to taste the sweetness of Imaan, it’ll never leave his heart.

Our hearts are connected to our eyes, when we look at something, we start to admire it and think more and more about it. If that thing is good then alhamdulilah, but if that thing is bad then it could have catastrophic effects on the heart. If we protect our gaze then our hearts become stable, it’ll be easier for us to follow Allah’s commandments. And the more we let our eyes wonder, the darker our hearts will be.

Next time you consider letting your eyes wonder, think about how Allah is watching me, how disliked this thing is by the Prophet of Allah صلی اللہ علیہ وسلم. Consider the effect it will have on your heart.

My Thoughts: This is truly an important topic especially in our time, where modesty is practically unheard of. I heard in another lecture by Shaykh Khalid Abdul Sattar I think, that we should definitely avail of these 24/7 stores, and go grocery shopping after Fajr when there are fewer people (that might be tough but I try not to go mall-type shopping at nights/weekends/holidays etc). This is the importance of our environment. Even if you regularly protect your gaze, just consider the television, when else do you blankly stare at people of the opposite gender for one hour straight? Especially people who are made to look attractive. Just the TV in itself is killing our hearts. May Allah سبحانه و تعالى‎ purify our darkened hearts.

P.S. Protecting the gaze is proactive endeavor, we have to walk in a way that we’re not looking around everywhere (not stop ourselves after we’ve already looked).