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Ramadan: The Treasure of Mercy and Absolution

July 14, 2013 3 comments

First of all, Ramadan Mubarak! Is it just me or have the last 4 days of Ramadan actually superseded the normal passage of time thereby damaging our innate time-sensing abilities and forcing us to fall into the dizzying black hole of questioning time and existence to ultimately end up sitting in a corner trying to quell the horror of knowing that this life is fleeting, but always acting as if it isn’t? It’s just me?

Perhaps we can actually avail of some of these moments and derive motivation from the awesome Ramadan lectures that have been going on.

Aalimah Humera Ahmad (student of Shaykh Zulfiqar) has been doing an amazing Tafseer of Quran in Urdu everyday which can be listened to at 424-203-8000 code 147551# (for women only). Also taught in English with the same number except with code 762992#.

Another great talk is called “Maximizing Ramadan” by Shaykh Kamaluddin Ahmed.

Today I have some notes on Shaykh Zulfiqar’s recent talk called Ramadan: The Treasure of Mercy and Absolution (translated).

Listen Here: “Ramadan: Rahmat or Maghfirat ka Khazeena” 

When Allah سبحانه و تعالى‎ told his angels to prostrate to Adam عليه السلام‎, everyone did except Iblees. When Allah asked him why he wouldn’t submit, he replied that “I am better than Adam.” He was told to leave but he asked to have time until the Day of Judgment. When he received it, he vowed to tempt humankind until the last day. Allah responded by saying that, in your competition with my people, those who manage to save themselves will be my elect people. Shaytaan (Iblees) asked Allah for provisions in his battle, and he was given the ability to be unseen by humans and have a progeny such that there will be multiple shaytaans for every human. Hazrat Adam عليه السلام‎ also asked for provisions. Allah سبحانه و تعالى said, whenever you commit a sin and repent, I will forgive you. This is our greatest might, to be able to wipe our slates clean of any sin.

Please take a moment to consider the existence of Shaytaan. Just like a mother never likes to place blame on her child, she’ll just say “He is a good kid, his friends misguided him,” similarly through His divine love, Allah سبحانه و تعالى also does not like to place blame on his people. On that Day, He will say that Shaytaan misguided His people. If there were no Shaytaan, then wouldn’t we be solely responsible for all of our sins? The Shaytaan is an excuse for His forgiveness.

In this month of Ramadan, not only are all the temptations of Shaytaan eliminated, but the rewards for our good deeds are multiplied (Nafl=Fard, Itikaf= 2 Hajj and Umrah, etc.). Additionally there are great moments of acceptance, like during sahoor and before iftar. Allah سبحانه و تعالى is sending down blank checks in these great moments and we should fill them as much as we can.

The worship done in the blessed night of Laylatul Qadr is equivalent to 1000 months of worship (meaning 83 years). Everyone receives forgiveness in this night except four:

  • the one who drinks
  • the one who is disobedient to parents
  • the one who breaks familial relations
  • And the one who harbors malice for others

It is our fasting and our Quran that will be our saviors on the last day. Just how the citizens of a country can enter it easily, one door of Paradise called “Bab-e-Rayyaan” will be the easy access for the diligent in fasting. Allah سبحانه و تعالى has said that “Fasting is for me, so its reward is with me.” Let us immerse ourselves in worship during Allah’s month. Let us do such good deeds that we become absolved of all our past misdeeds.

Ramadan-Kareem-Wallpaper

Repentance and Laylatul Qadr

August 15, 2012 Leave a comment

Listen Here:Repentance and Laylatul Qadr” by Shaykh Zulfiqar Ahmad

Ramadan is going by so fast, tonight is already the 27th! It is the second to last night odd night, so it might be Laylatul Qadr (The Night of Power). Accordingly, here are some quick notes on a talk about Laylatul Qadr by Shaykh Zulfiqar Ahmad. It actually goes well (yes, certain talks go well together like biryani and raitha) with a recent talk by Shaykh Omar Hussaini called The Importance of Working Hard and Keeping Busy because he energizes you and motivates you to work hard, which is especially key in the last couple of days of Ramadan.

In the first half of this lecture, Shaykh Zulfiqar highlights the parts of the Quran in which Allah سبحانه و تعالى‎ establishes himself as forgiving. Allah سبحانه و تعالى‎ is the Most Forgiving, he loves to forgive. We should spend the nights of Laylatul Qadr in deep repentance. However, achieving forgiveness has conditions:

  • The person should be ashamed and regret his sin.
  • The person should not engage in that sin again even though he his capable of it.
  • The person rids himself of that sin for the sake of Allah سبحانه و تعالى‎ (someone may seek forgiveness for gambling after losing a ton of money, but his aim is not Allah, he is just afraid of losing wealth)
  • If the person has done something against another, he should first seek forgiveness from that person (if you engaged in backbiting, it is not proper to tell the person what you said about him, rather ask forgiveness in generalities: “Please forgive me for my mistakes”).
  • The person should perform good deeds similar to the sins he committed (If he used to drink alcohol, he should spend extra time providing water to the thirsty. If he used to hurt others, he should spend time making them happy).

The Importance of Ramadan

August 1, 2012 Leave a comment

Listen Here:Ehmiyat-e-Ramadan” by Shaykh Zulfiqar Ahmad

Ok, so I haven’t attained consistency. It’s a work in progress. But I will be putting up notes on different Ramadan related talks this month insha’Allah. This is a talk by Shaykh Zulfiqar Ahmad in which he discusses Ramadan and the Quran.

Someone recites a wonderful nasheed in the beginning of the talk, here are some lines (poorly translated):

Sari dunya mein asa nazara nahin,                        There is nothing in the world like this,

Asa manzar zamanay mein dekha nahin,               The ages haven’t seen anything,

Jaisay manzar Madinay main moujud hai.               Like the scene in Madinah.

Hai nazar main jamal-e-habib-e-Khuda,                 The beloved of Allah is in sight,

Jiski tasveer seenay main moujud hai.                   The one whose picture is within my heart.

Ramadan is the month of patience, the month of forgiveness, and it is also the month of Quran. It is the month in which the Quran was revealed. Our fasts and the Quran have a strong connection; both will stand as intercessors on our behalf on the Day of Judgment. The Quran should be recited as much as possible throughout this month.

It was normal for the pious predecessors to read at least one full Quran (usually more) e v e r y d a y. It might sound unusual to us because we have never interacted with such people but they existed. It was easy for them because of their righteousness. The person who has loads of sins on his head will find it very hard to even read one page of Quran. The similitude of this person is like one who has an illness. A person with a fever will not be able to walk around, do work, or even eat. If that same person is healthy, then everything will be easy for him. In the same way, a person who is spiritually ill will find it hard to do spiritual works.

“Salah is heavy for those who lack khushu (presence of heart)”.  

We should pray to Allah to be among those who love the Quran, who love to read the Quran, who love to hear the Quran, who are impacted and changed by the Quran. The pious predecessors would fall in prostration crying upon hearing the Quran. When have we last fallen in prostration from the words of the Quran, much less in tears? Aisha رضي الله عنه reported that she saw the tears of the Prophet صلی اللہ علیہ وسلم fall to the floor while reciting the Quran. We have made our hearts so hard that hearing Allah’s words doesn’t induce tears. We have to sincerely request Allah سبحانه و تعالى to soften our hearts, we have to repent for our sins, and consistently do Istaghfar, do good works, and seek His mercy.

We should aim to make the Quran very close to our hearts this Ramadan, so much so that its recitation is the joy of our day.

“If someone wants to know how close he is to his Lord, let him find out how close he is to the Quran.”

My thoughts: Need to learn Arabic. It is essential in developing a lasting relationship with the Quran.

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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.

Signs and Effects of Our Sins

December 18, 2011 1 comment

Listen Here: “Signs and Effects of Our Sins” by Shaykh Zulfiqar Ahmad

This was truly a great lecture that benefited me the way most talks on sins do: It scared me, made me analyze myself, and motivated me to be better.

Shaykh Zulfiqar started the talk by discussing the first sin ever committed by the infamous Iblees, or Satan. He refused to prostrate to Adamعليه السلام  justifying it by claiming his own superiority. In doing so he committed the following sins:

  • Went against the direct command of Allah
  • He tried to present justifications for his sin
  • He did not seek forgiveness from Allah and shut himself completely from His mercy
The person who commits a sin and seeks forgiveness is forgiven by the All Merciful. The worst thing Iblees did was to make justifications and not seek forgiveness. The person with true ilm (knowledge) is he who can refrain himself from sin. There are no small or big sins, “Don’t look at the sin but look at who you are disobeying.”

3 Effects of Sins:

  1. If a person doesn’t seek forgiveness right away, he will experience immediate retribution for his sin in this life. The punishment will be enough so the person comes back to Allah.
  2. The effect of the sin will not be apparent. Allah will let the person keep committing sins and opens the door to every blessing. The person starts believing he is right and then there will be sudden and swift recompense, in this life or the next.
  3. The punishment is delivered but the person does not realize there is any punishment. For example, a person did a sin and Allah keeps him from praying tahajjud prayer. The person will think it’s his own fault that he is not praying, but it’s really because Allah does not want to see his face. Only those closest to Allah get to reap the blessings of tahajjud and Allah prevents that person from being close to Him.
3 Signs of Sinful Heart: 
  1. The person no longer hesitates before committing the sin. He has no worries, no modesty, no qualms. There is nothing in his heart that tries to stop him
  2. He doesn’t have the desire to do good. Allah takes away his love and desire to perform good deeds (like the times when you have high energy and read every prayer in the mosque and recite Quran throughout the day)
  3. He hates getting advice. If a father tells his son he shouldn’t be doing something, the son doesn’t even consider the advice at all but rather worries about who told the father. He is more concerned with how the news was spread or why it was discussed.

If you cannot stop yourself from committing a sin, then beg Allah to stop you. Turn yourself over to Him and constantly seek forgiveness. NEVER make justifications for your sins! It’s common for us to reason our way out of a sin (“I don’t really need that much, but I have have a wife and kids to feed so I had no choice but to do it).

My thoughts: Effect #3 is scary, if Allah punishes you by preventing you from being close to Him, then I cannot fathom a worse consequence. In this scenario, you don’t even realize what’s going on and you’ve lost the greatest pleasure of this world while thinking you still have it. I was listening to this lecture on my way home and I thought to myself that if Allah ever had to punish me in some way, let it happen immediately in this life so I can go back to being close to Allah. And readers, I kid you not, my CAR BROKE DOWN. If I had a bed at that point, I would hide under it. [Update: I was told not to think this way, and I never do, it was just an odd passing thought. But we should always pray for forgiveness and pardon rather than retribution from the All-Merciful and Ever-Forgiving]

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Earning Virtues (Part 1)

October 18, 2011 Leave a comment

Listen Here:Earning Virtues” by Shaykh Zulfiqar Ahmad

This is a lecture by Shaykh Zulfiqar Ahmad, and it’s in Urdu so certain things will be lost in translation. He started by discussing an interesting story about Prophet Ibrahim that I hadn’t heard before. When he was a young boy he saw the stars and thought that his prayers should be for something as beautiful as the stars and deemed them his lord. Then, he noticed the moon and saw that it was bigger, brighter and more beautiful. He then claimed the moon to be lord. When the moon set and the sun rose, he saw that the sun was even greater and brighter. After trying to make these things the object of his worship, he realized that he couldn’t pray to something or love it when it wasn’t always there. Neither the sun or the moon is visible the whole day. This was the start of his realization of Allah, a powerful ever present creator.

In the same way, we shouldn’t love the fleeting things of this world: youth, beauty, wealth, status, fashion. They are passing and not worth our true love. When we have love for Allah سبحانه و تعالى‎ we are creating a bond of loyalty, something we can always rely on and will never disappoint us.

Our love for our Creator should motivate us to continually do good deeds for Him. We should always worry ourselves with doing good deeds, earning virtues. It should be so that our bodies are exhausted from the good works we do. We should be competing in doing good with others out of our deep love for Allah سبحانه و تعالى‎. Allah سبحانه و تعالى‎ loves it when we sacrifice to please Him (give up some sleep to pray tahajjud).

Once we make Allahسبحانه و تعالى‎ ours, the entire world will be ours. Once we love Him, all the people of the world will love us. Allah سبحانه و تعالى‎  places respect in the eyes of the people for those that He loves. Instead of sharing it with others, tell Him all your stories, your pain, your happiness. You have to keep Him in your mind at all times and create a deep connection, when you always think of Him, you’ll find that He’s ever close to YOU.

Imagine if someone wanted the reward of doing something without actually doing it, you would say that’s ridiculous right? But that’s the nature of Allah’s سبحانه و تعالى‎ mercy, the person who restrains himself from sin throughout the day will receive the reward of tahajjud while he’s in his sleep. If we protect our tongues, we get the reward of fasting the day. The one who has no wealth but wants his name between the sadaqa-givers should spread his knowledge to others.

The idea of doing good should always be on our minds, when we entertain bad thoughts they develop into something more and begin to take seed in our hearts. We have to recognize the desires of our nafs and see it as an enemy. We have to know when the enemy is attacking.

Ultimately there’s no great endeavor we have to undertake in order to be wali (friend) of Allah. The one who wants to be a wali of Allah should love for his fellow human what he loves for himself. Just as you wouldn’t want others to blame you or backbite you, you shouldn’t do it to others.

According to a hadith by the Prophet صلی اللہ علیہ وسلم this saying will weigh heavy on our nam-e-amal (list of deeds):

Subhan-Allahi wa bihamdihi Subhan-Allahil-azeem:

  • Abu Hurairah (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: The Messenger of Allah صلی اللہ علیہ وسلم said, “There are two statements that are light for the tongue to remember, heavy in the Scales and are dear to the Merciful: `Subhan-Allahi wa bihamdihi, Subhan-Allahil-Azim [Glory be to Allah and His is the praise, (and) Allah, the Greatest is free from imperfection)’.” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim].

To be continued…