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Acting Upon the Future

March 30, 2012 1 comment

Listen Here: “Acting Upon the Future” by Shaykh Husain Abdul Sattar

One of the best parts of Shaykh Husain’s talks is his detailed and relevant metaphors, I don’t know how to describe them except to say that they’re profound. They tend to highlight the idea that if we had the same concern and dedication for our afterlife as we do this life, then we would be truly on the path to success. These metaphors are important because we don’t always realize the ways in which we give preference to our transient worldly existence as opposed to our eternal hereafter, and it’s only when Shaykh Husain spells it out for me that I even notice.

In “Acting Upon the Future,” Shaykh Husain discusses how everyone has expectations for the future and they invest time and money to make their expectations a reality when they have no guarantee for any return. This idea is often satirized in movies and books when a character finds out what will happen tomorrow. Once they have a guarantee and know for sure what will happen, they don’t go to work, they go to the lottery or invest in stocks, and they stay away from anything bad that was going to happen. They completely alter today’s behavior because they’re certain about tomorrow.

Let’s apply this principle to something greater: “You want to read tomorrow’s paper? I’ll tell you tomorrow’s paper, it says there’s a Jannah and Jahannum and we’re all going to our graves”

The Muslim has no doubt about tomorrow’s reality, Allah  سبحانه و تعالى is true and there will be consequences for our behavior. This place is a deception, we came with nothing and we’ll go back with nothing except our deeds. We know our endgame. Just as a person would change their behavior knowing tomorrow, we too as Muslims, have to act accordingly.

This doesn’t mean we abandon this life. Rasullalah صلی اللہ علیہ وسلم was sent to give warnings of hell and glad tidings of paradise, and he outlined the exact deeds that take a person into either abode.

  • We have to make our decisions according to Islam
  • The reality of tomorrow should change how we spend our time and wealth, how we keep our relationships, and what our dreams and aspirations are.
  • Just as we prepare our children for this life, we prepare them for the aakhirah
  • Just as we invest for the comforts of this life, we have to invest for the comfort of our families in the next.

With everything else in life, we prepare and prepare, but with the ultimate truth, we assume it will all work out fine.

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Plugging the Drain

March 13, 2012 2 comments

Listen Here: “Plugging the Drain” by Shaykh Husain Abdul Sattar

Shaykh Husain makes an extremely applicable metaphor in this lecture that I’m sure I’ll always remember.

He starts by discussing the importance of avoiding sin, because the deen can be simplified into two categories: “the doing of good and the avoiding of bad.” He explained that most Islamic talks are concerned with the avoidance of sin more than earning good deeds because sin is what holds people back.

The metaphor in this lecture is of the heart to a tub or bucket. The heart is a bucket that needs to be filled with good deeds. This is easier to do than avoiding sin because there are many “multipliers” in the deen. For example:

  • 1 prayer in the masjid= 27 times the reward
  • Waiting until sunrise to pray 2 rakat after Fajr= 1 Hajj+Umrah
  • Finding Laylatul-Qadr in Ramadan= reward of 1000 months
  • Running late to class + missing homework, praying that it’s cancelled and it is=Priceless
  • Finding out forgetful eating doesn’t break a fast= Priceless
  • Calculating how much sawaab 10 days in Mecca gets you= Priceless [Sorry, couldn’t help myself, this is NOT part of the lecture]

You cannot find these multipliers in this world. They are a mercy of Allah سبحانه و تعالى‎ that greatly aid our scale of good deeds, and you don’t want to lose them. The metaphor is:

“If you have a bathtub and its empty and I tell you need to fill the bathtub you have to first turn on the faucet. If you turn the faucet on and let the water run, but you don’t close the drain, the water can run and run, but it will not accumulate because the drain is not closed. The drain has to be closed at the same time the water is running. So in the same way, we have all these faucets running, we have salah filling our hearts, zakah filling our hearts, sawm filling our hearts, and hajj and umrah filling our hearts, and yet we don’t close the drain. And what’s the drain? Sin.”

We don’t let our good deeds “build their effect” because we haven’t closed the drain of sin. If you don’t feel like you’re progressing in the deen, the problem is that your heart is leaky and needs to be sealed. Look through your day with a “fine tooth comb” and add to the good deeds and leave the sin. People have massive holes in their hearts because of their sins. Look at every single sin, the ones you commit in public and in private.

You don’t get to put Tahajjud on a to do list and it gets done unless you’re very pious. Praying Tahajjud is the result of avoiding sin and doing good works, after which Allah bestows the gift of Tahajjud upon you.

Good deeds are essentially the foundation, but if we constantly rattle that foundation with backbiting, interest, greed envy, and misuse of the tongue etc., we’re creating cracks in the foundation. With all these cracks you cannot expect to build anything there, this is why we read Tahajjud for a couple of days and fall asleep on the floor the third day. You can’t make something from nothing.

My Thoughts: This was masha’Allah an amazing lecture as usual, I didn’t get to take notes on all of it because literally every single thing was worth writing down. If you actually picture all of your hard-earned good deeds just leaking through the drain, it might be a useful technique that makes you stop and think before committing a sin. Also try to assess how big the drain is in your heart, mine’s looking pretty colossal.

On a side note, in case Shaykh Husain ever reads this by accident and notices how my notes are lacking, I feel I should meagerly justify that I have listened to every one of his lectures (they have shaped my personality in more ways than I know), and the lack of thorough notes can only be attributed to my personal deficiencies and not the passion with which I write them, nor the attention that they quite clearly deserve.

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Backbiting and Ungratefulness

March 9, 2012 Leave a comment

New lecture, reader(s)!

Listen Here: “Backbiting and Ungratefulness” by Shaykh Zulfiqar Ahmad

I love Shaykh Zulfiqar’s talks, he delivers them with such passion, love, and empathy that only a dead heart would dislike them. I’m sorry to those who do not speak Urdu because there’s no way I do justice to the meaning of his talks in my translations. Aside from the spiritual meaning, it’s also interesting to hear his criticisms of the Pakistani culture. Hearing these I’m usually glad to be living in America (this doesn’t mean I don’t love Pakistan!) where there are less social constraints and an entire sub culture of people who pride themselves on not caring what others think. It’s usually the preoccupation with what others think that creates bad character within us. This sort of thinking is why we like to put ourselves above others, Shaykh Zulfiqar explained in this talk how we like to hear our compliments and not those of others.

He often referred to the infamous mother-in-law and daughter-in-law feud that exists in Pakistani culture and around the world, as a d-i-l the woman claims her m-i-l is evil and when she becomes a m-i-l, her d-i-l is evil (the beauty of Urdu is that I can say these relationships in one word rather than three.) This indignant ungratefulness to the people around you lends itself easily to backbiting, and whoever isn’t appreciative and grateful to the people isn’t thankful to Allah سبحانه و تعالى‎ either.

The people of  Prophet Musa عليه السلام asked him, “How do we know if Allah is disconcerted or content with us?” Prophet Musa عليه السلام was told by Allah to tell his people, “Look into your own hearts, if you are content with me, I am content with you, if you have complaints against me, I have complaints against you.” Look at our hearts, we are always dissatisfied with our circumstances, we always wonder and complain why we didn’t get this or that. If you are happy even when Allah gives you little, then Allah will be happy with you on the Day of Judgement when you present Him with few good deeds (Amazing!).

On that day, the people we spoke ill of will get a chance to take whatever they want from our nam-e-amal (list of our deeds). And the poorest of people on that day won’t be those who did no good in the world, but those who earned many virtues and lost them all because they didn’t respect people and couldn’t control their tongues.

May Allah help us to develop our character and may we always be grateful to Him, in times of both hardship and happiness. Ameen.