O believers! Patiently endure, persevere, stand on guard, and be mindful of Allah, so you may be successful.
[Surah Ali ‘Imran, Ayah 200]
You are at war and you have a clear enemy. An enemy that studies you, that watches you from places unseen. This enemy has had a very long time to work on their craft. A craft built on deception, illusions and lies. While your sole purpose is to adhere to the path of Allah, the sole purpose of your enemy is to take you off that path. By whatever means necessary, and through whatever doors and cracks you ignorantly, heedlessly and blindly leave unattended in your heart.
An-Nu’man ibn Bashir, may Allah be pleased with him, was heard saying on the minbar: “Shaytan has snares and traps. The snares and traps of Shaytan are to exult ungratefully in the blessings of Allah, to boast about the gifts of Allah, to have pride at the expense of the slaves of Allah, and to follow passion for other than the sake of Allah.”
Shaytan works to trip you and to trap you. He aims to lower the honourable station you’ve been granted as a believer. He wishes that your heart, a heart that has recognized faith and one that has come to love it, should turn away from it. He targets your heart by his whispers, sowing seeds of confusion within it. He seeks to tempt you with the world, cause you to despair in your circumstances, and push you to slowly but consistently weaken in your efforts on the path to Allah.
Narrated Abu Huraira:
The Prophet, may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, offered a prayer, and (after finishing) he said, “Shaytan came in front of me trying persistently to divert my attention from the prayer, but Allah gave me the strength to over-power him.”
Allah invites us to seek help in Him through patience and prayer. Shaytan comes to divert us from that effort, which through it can lighten and lift our burdens. When we are touched by even a thorn prick of pain, Allah expiates our sins. But Shaytan wishes for us to lament, to moan, and exaggerate that pain so we lose out on the rewards of it. But with Allah, what was our pain, becomes our salvation and our source of strength. It is pain itself that is the path to strength. Allah makes what may appear to be difficulty our means towards ease.
Narrated Abu Huraira:
The Prophet, may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said, “Religion is very easy and whoever overburdens himself in his religion will not be able to continue in that way. So you should not be extremists, but try to be near to perfection and receive the good tidings that you will be rewarded; and gain strength by worshipping in the mornings, the afternoons, and during the last hours of the nights.”
Shaytan calls us to look at what pains us and to make it the largest image in front of us. When a pebble is brought right in front of our eyes, it is in our ignorance that we mistake it for a mountain. In comparison to the Mercy of Allah, our pain is just a pebble. But Allah calls us to look away from what does not benefit us and to witness His Mercy, to see how it encompasses everything in the heavens and the earth. To rise in the morning, the afternoon and the night and to recognize the Might, Glory and Majesty of Allah. How He has been Gentle with us, Kind with us and utterly Generous with us. It is by knowing Him and choosing to see how His Perfect and Most Noble attributes are manifestly clear that we gain strength.
It was narrated that Abu Musa said:
“The Prophet, may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, heard me saying: ‘La hawla wa la quwwata illa billah (there is no power and no strength except with Allah).’ He said: ‘O ‘Abdullah bin Qais! Shall I not tell you of a word which is one of the treasures of Paradise?’ I said: ‘Yes, O Messenger of Allah.’ He said: ‘Say: There is no power and no strength except with Allah.'”
[Sunan Ibn Majah]
Our beloved Prophet, may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, lovingly advised his daughter Fatima to remember Allah for strength. He imparted to her a priceless gift, just from emphasizing the blessings within the declarations of SubhanAllah, Alhamdulillah and Allahu Akbar. Declarations of faith from the heart and expressed by the tongue, through which Allah allowed that strength of faith to become evident on the limbs. Statements which we have been gifted with too. Ones that plant trees with rich and deep shade in paradise. Statements that are causes for strength in this life and treasures in the next life. These statements bring us light when we are lost in the darkness of sin and the fog of heedlessness, mend our spirits when they are broken and strengthen us when we are weak.
And We strengthened their hearts when they stood up and declared, “Our Lord is the Lord of the heavens and the earth. We will never call upon any god besides Him, or we would truly be uttering an outrageous lie.”
[Surah Kahf, Ayah 14]
Statements of faith, statements of worship and statements of praise are our cries for help. They are handholds for us to rise with, ropes for us to hold onto, ships that lead us to salvation. Our tongues are a reflection of our hearts. We must never slack in our testimonies of faith, for a good word may forever bless us with the Pleasure of Allah. A good word may causes us to reach the fullness of clarity, of strength and of faith. We strive to be strong and to cling to the remembrance of Allah to give us that strength. So that we may have knowledge, to the degree that Allah wills, of what is it we are tried by, and that we may be wise enough to do good in the face of our tests.
When he reached his full strength and maturity, We gave him wisdom and knowledge. This is how We reward those who do good.
[Surah Qasas, Ayah 14]
I ask that Allah make us strong believers, ones with the fullness of faith firmly implanted into our hearts. Ameen.
Ibn Abbas once said “ the one I respect the most is the one sitting before me- he who stepped over people’s necks until he sat before me. If I were capable of preventing a single fly from landing on his face, I would have done so”
The greatest practitioners of Tarbiyah impart their own wisdom and learned experiences, thus giving tools to deal with certain situations to those under their care. Whether they are Quran teachers, parents, caregivers or older siblings, they have mastered the art of delivering criticism without breaking confidence, sharing experiences in a way to send a message and modelling self-respect for themselves and others.
Seeing as the home is the first place where someone receives their education about their place in the world, it is here where we must confront pathologies that disenfranchise and oppress children. As the role of parents is sanctified in our faith we have a responsibility to exercise the honour that Allah gave parents judiciously, and be careful to not use this position to harm our children. For example, instead of listening to our young ones, we may quickly label their complaints as disrespect and ingratitude, and then use the ayat of Allah سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَى to silence them. What we don’t think about is how this firstly shapes the perception that children have of Allah سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَى and His religion, and they may think that their thoughts and opinions cannot be expressed because parents are always right. This can create confusion and conflict in the child’s mind and this behaviour can make the child question the very meaning of Islam. It can also build resentment in the child towards their caregiver, and frustrate the parental influence in the child’s life. Tarbiyah is about acknowledging the humanity of all groups, including those that we don’t belong to. When we respect the one’s in our care, we acknowledge their rights, and their worthiness of respect. But in order to pass that lesson on, we must begin with ourselves and walk in our own autonomy and dignity. If we don’t govern ourselves by principles of justice, accountability, how can we morally educate our children to work towards peace and faith outside? True Tarbiyah begins with people confronting themselves and as teachers to the new generation we have to model what that looks like in our lives if we hope to reap the fruits of our work in the afterlife.
Verily the merchandise of Allah is valuable; surely the merchandise of Allah is paradise
sunan al Tirmidhi
adab al Mufrad 1145-46
It’s 4:30 in the afternoon and the adhan on your phone goes off. Collecting your books and laptop you make your way to the washroom where you will perform a quick absent-minded wudu, forgetting mid-way if you washed your arm 3 times or was it twice? You pull your sleeves over your damp arms, and re pin your hijab, sighing as you watch the wetness of your hair begin to seep through your chiffon headscarf. Momentarily forgetting that these same spots, which are a cause of annoyance to you, will be illuminated on yawmul Qiyama.
“They (my followers) will come with bright faces and white limbs because of Wudu and I will arrive at the Haud (Al-Kauthar) ahead of them.”
You stand and raise hands to ears professing God’s greatness and recite the opening chapter as you slip into another world. Isn’t it funny that the Prophet ﷺ did not receive the legislation for salah with the angels around him, but rather when he was alone with his Lord. What can we learn from this?
Al Isra’ wal Miraj, illustrates that when you and I are in prayer, this is a time to enjoy seclusion with Allah. A slave is closest to her Lord when she is in sujuud. While the person beside you, can barely make out your muffled dua in prostration, Allah above the seven heavens hears you clearly.
One of Allah’s name is Al Hayy the living One, our prayer is not to some abstract concept, but rather to One who is Alive, Hearing and Seeing. The Prophet ﷺ tells us that “ you will be able to see your Lord as you see the full moon on a clear night.” A full moon has no clouds in front of it. It’s fully visible and shines lustrously against the darkness. So when we pray we should know that Allah is no less real than our surroundings, no less real than your hands, the carpet on which you rest your forehead on, no less real than the person whose feet you align with as you straighten the rows.
One of the reasons that the soundness and quality of our prayers will be examined, is because the ability of an individual to train his soul for khushu is a testament of painstaking devotion by a slave yearning to be connected to a Lord he does not see. The supreme challenge of our lives is obtaining khushu, which like every skill, is something acquired through apprenticeship, and eventually graced to us by Allah. The mastery of khushu in salah is delicate and difficult, as it demands that we train ourselves to hush the inner critic and re-root ourselves to see each moment as a chance to start anew.
If there was a river at the door of anyone of you and he took a bath in it five times a day would you notice any dirt on him?” They said, “Not a trace of dirt would be left.” The Prophet (ﷺ) added, “That is the example of the five prayers with which Allah obliterates evil deeds.”
Riyad as-Salihin 1029
Sahih al-Bukhari 7434
Sahih al-Bukhari 528
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