Aleppo Is Burning



#AleppoIsBurning – A Genocide, a Watchful Lord and an Appointed Time

Over 200 Syrian civilians were murdered in the span of 48 hours in the latest escalating onslaught on Aleppo. So it continues, bolstered in part by an active coalition of Russian military and sectarian mercenaries, and more a passive multi-national league of connivers within what is now a de facto, Russo-American understanding on Syria.[1]

Dr Muhammad Waseem Maaz, the city’s most qualified paediatrician, was killed among other medical personnel and civilians.[2] Another strike obliterated a clinic in al-Marja province, which provided dental services and treatment for chronic illnesses. More than 50 civilians were killed, including two doctors, in the strike that targeted the ‘Doctors without Borders’ (MSF) facility,[3] and scores of women and children in barrel-bomb attacks that followed in Aleppo, Northern Homs, al-Rastan, Hama, Idlib and the suburbs of Damascus. Responding to this unprecedented aerial escalation, Aleppo’s Shari’ah Council issued a Fatwa suspending the obligation of performing Jumu’ah Salāh, urging it to be carried out in people’s homes.[4]

All of this barbarism on behalf of the Syrian Regime—which is yet to be formally classified by a single regional power a terrorist regime, or one that supports terror—comes amidst a cleverly crafted facade of a supposed cessation of hostilities at Geneva. This cessation never actually happened, but maliciously exempted what the Syrian Regime and its Russian counterpart managed to exploit for the purposes of their genocide; those mysterious “other terrorist organisations”. The 22nd of February agreement by the ‘International Syria Support Group’ (ISSG) in Geneva, stated:

Consistent with UN Security Council Resolution 2254 and the statements of the ISSG, the cessation of hostilities does not apply to “Daesh”, “Jabhat al-Nusra”, or other terrorist organizations designated by the UN Security Council. The Russian Federation and United States will also work together… to delineate the territory held by “Daesh,” “Jabhat al-Nusra” and other terrorist organizations designated by the UN Security Council, which are excluded from the cessation of hostilities.[6]

“Other terrorist organisations” apparently fill Aleppo’s neighbourhoods, according to the despot himself, “millions of the Syrian population nestle tens of thousands of terrorists.”[7] That is everyone. While for the Russians, all opposition forces fall under this exemption, including delegates of the Syrian opposition to Geneva, and key negotiators with whom the Sergey Lavrov is negotiating.[8] And as such, we call it genocide, “the deliberate killing of a large group of people, especially of a particular nation or ethnic group.”[9] Aleppo is burning and the world is watching.

Such never escaped the wit of the US or its ‘Friends of Syria’ counterparts. In fact, it is through the dubious terminology that most negotiating parties have stakes in the current genocide on Aleppo. Or more explicitly, Aleppo’s unfolding genocide is part and parcel of what the US Secretary of State termed a ‘better understanding with Russia’.[10] A comfortable, much better US understanding with the military responsible for the death of 6000 civilians in six months and 1,500 opposition troops other than ISIS,[11] entire districts and internationally run hospitals,[12] the most ardent of Bashar’s allies. Countless killed and maimed and a Diaspora of incalculable scale. Syria is “being emptied”[13]and gas attacks are now customary, but,

“Today I think it is fair to say that we reached a better understanding of the decisions that President Putin has made of late and also of the path forward in Syria.”[14]

A Better Understanding

Alongside the US Secretary of State, we Muslims too are enjoying a better understanding: a better understanding of how to truly forsake dependence on anyone other than Allāh. A realisation that victory comes after adversity, with a state of mind satisfied with patience and propped by an impenetrable attachment to One in the heavens Who is never overpowered. Today in Syria, the only desperate cry, sung in marches, resonating from Mosques, raised over the heaps of grey rubble is: ‘Yā Allāh, malnā ghayrak yā Allāh,’—we have none but You O Allāh! Much like the eternal reply, related by Allāh on the tongue of the Prophet’s (sallAllāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) companions:

“Those to whom people said, ‘The people have gathered against you, so fear them.’ But that merely increased their īmān and they said, ‘Allāh is enough for us and the Best of Guardians.’”[15]

And then the result,

“So they returned with blessings and bounty from Allāh and no evil touched them. They pursued the pleasure of Allāh. Allāh’s favour is indeed immense.”[16]

A better understanding of the world’s partial dynamics of sympathy, and its emotional detachment from genocide in the right of Muslims, callous and inhumane enough to shun even those fleeing it,[17] to unfasten our closed eyes from seeing the Door of Allāh, readying us to flee to Him, displaying our need to none but Him:

“Is Allāh not enough for His slave? Yet they try to scare you with others apart from Him. If Allāh misguides someone, he has no guide.”[18]

A better understand of our capabilities as an Ummah, revealed after decades of helplessness. Immense feats on the battlefield, only comparable to the opening of Tustur, Hittīn or al-Qādisiyah, fearless selflessness, momentous, īmān-inspired patience on part the mothers and sisters, earnest aid, education and humanitarian work, writing, speaking, campaigning, shoe-box initiatives and convoys and reigniting of unity between us.

But above all tearful, sincere supplication to Allāh. A better understanding of He, ever-Watchful, Who can confer victory in an instant. Allāh, the Establisher of Kingdoms and the One Who overpowers them.

“He destroyed ‘Ād, the earlier people, Thamūd as well, sparing none of them, the people of Nūh before – they were most unjust and exorbitant, and the Overturned City which He turned upside down.”[19]

“Your Lord’s Assault is very fierce indeed.”[20]

“You (Allāh) give sovereignty to whoever You will. You take sovereignty from whoever You will. You exalt whoever You will. You abase whoever You will. All good is in Your hands. You have power over all things.”[21]

What are pathetic Russian Mig 29s or US Su-35s or jittery British Harriers when Allāh turns the tides and avenges His slaves for five years of accumulated oppression? Thus, and with Ramadān approaching, the situation intensifying and war one of make or break, whose supplication for the people of Syria will be the one answered? Which one will take them to victory and turn the chapter in the blessed land of Shām? Maybe yours.

Aleppo is burning. Allāh will not ask you and I why we did not overthrow Bashar al-Assad or anything else equally outside our power. He will, however, ask us as to what we did which was in our ability.Over the next seven days there will be worldwide protests in support of the people of Aleppo.[22] Where will you be when it comes to a city near you?

In a Facebook post, on the 29th of April, 2016, Sheikh Saleh al-Maghamsi, posting from a Da’wahevent in Spain, reiterated that nothing is occupying his mind but the massacre against the Syrians, before pleading,

“O Allāh, if I have a single prayer that is answered, then destroy Bashar al-Assad and his helpers.”

















[15] Qur’an 3:173

[16] Qur’an 3:174


[18] Qur’an 39:36

[19] Qur’an 53:50-53

[20] Qur’an 86:12

[21] Qur’an 3:26


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– المصباح المنير  على  متشابهات القرآن المجيد –  The Illuminating Lamp concerning the Resembling Verses of the Magnificent Qur’an –   –  الْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِي…

Source: Mutashabihat

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Your Jannah To-Do List: 6 Tasks to Inherit Al-Firdaus (The Highest Paradise)



Author: Dina Mohamed Basiony

We all have our eyes on the ultimate goal, the biggest prize…Al-Firdaus, right? It’s the highest level of Jannah (paradise) – in it what no eyes have seen, no ears have heard and no human has ever imagined. But what exactly do we have to do to attain this lofty and honourable level?

Jannah: a short reminder

Let’s refresh. What does paradise hold for Allah’s subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) believing slaves? When talking about Jannah, Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) promises,

“They will have whatever they wish therein, and with Us is more.” [Qur’an: Chapter 50, Verse 35],

and He subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) says,

”And no soul knows what is kept hidden for them, of joy as a reward for what they used to do.” [Qur’an: Chapter 32, Verse 17]

Imagine anything you wish for or desire… multiplied by infinity! Whatever we get here in this life is temporary; everything ends, and there is always something better than what we chase after or desire. But Jannah… SubhanAllah! When Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) spoke about His rewards, He says:

“And whatever thing you [people] have been given – it is [only for] the enjoyment of worldly life and its adornment. And what is with Allah is better and more lasting; so will you not use reason?” [Qur’an: Chapter 28: Verse 60]2

Better and more lasting, subhanAllah! Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) really knows how to penetrate the hearts that He has created, as Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) says,

“Does He who created not know, while He is the Subtle, the Acquainted?” [Qur’an: Chapter 67: Verse 14]


Now, Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said that if we were to ask for paradise, we should ask for its highest level: Al-Firdaus Al-A’la.

But, why?

He ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said:
Paradise has one hundred grades, each of which is as big as the distance between heaven and earth. The highest of t1hem is Firdaus and the best of them is Firdaus. The Throne is above Firdaus and from it spring forth the rivers of Paradise. If you ask of Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He), ask Him for Firdaus.” [Sunan Ibn Majah]

And he ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) also said:

“Al-Firdaus is the highest of Paradise and its most expansive, and above that is the Throne of Ar-Rahman (the Most Merciful), and from it the rivers of Paradise are made to flow forth. So when you ask Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He), ask Him for Al-Firdaus.” [At-Tirmidhi]

You know how we always want the best ‘view’ or the best ‘seat’ when we’re in a beautiful, exciting place? Well, Al-Firdaus is the Closest to Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) and Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) is The Source of Beauty. He is The Creator and The Fashioner of all beauty we’ve ever seen and experienced in this world. Imagine everything that ever impressed you: if this is a creation for a temporary worldly life, imagine its Eternal Source, its Creator.

Also, Allah is The King of all kings. His Throne extends over the heavens and the earth [Quran: Chapter 2, Verse 255] (what a kingdom!) Imagine those who are the closest to The King… the prestige of those first ranks… the honour! Even more beautiful yet, the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) particularly said that above Al Firdaus is the Throne of “Ar-Rahman” (The Continuously Merciful, The Source of Mercy), particularly highlighting this name of Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He).

The beauty in the Prophet’s ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) description is that he mentioned how we’ll be the closest to The Source of Mercy and He takes care of you, He takes all the pain away, He removes any suffering or discomfort. He is Al Kareem, The Most Generous, so He knows how to generously take care of those in His protection, those under His Direct Shade.

So, not only beauty, but security, ease, peace and comfort.

In a nutshell, it’s the best of the best, the most honorable, the best view to The Source of Beauty and the closest to The Source of Mercy.

How do we get there?

Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) doesn’t discriminate between people. He extends His gifts to literally anybody who seeks. This is not limited to men or women, black or white, or the rich or poor. Al-Firdaus is open to all those who seek, if they work on the six tasks on the To-Do list required to attain it.

So, what are those six tasks?

Well, Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) told us exactly that at the beginning of Surat Al Mu’minoon. Let’s go over these six actions and discuss how to accomplish them.

[If you can’t read the whole article in one go, don’t give up on it yet! Try to bookmark it and come back to it later, in sha Allah?]

Now, let’s start with the verses.

Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) says:

“Most certainly those Believers have attained true success:

They who are during their prayer humbly submissive

And they who turn away from ill speech.

And they who are observant of zakah.

And they who guard their private parts. Except from their wives or those their right hands possess, for indeed, they will not be blamed – But whoever seeks beyond that, then those are the transgressors –

And they who are to their trusts and their promises attentive.

And they who carefully maintain their prayers –2

Those are the inheritors. Who will inherit al-Firdaus. They will abide therein eternally.” [Qur’an: Chapter 23: Verses 1-11]

Next, we will discuss what Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) says is required to attain Al-Firdaus in detail.

1. Achieving khushu’ (concentration and humility) in our prayer

“They who are during their prayer humbly submissive”

Having khushu’ means to be present in the prayer, enjoy the prayer, realise you’re speaking to Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He). This is about the quality of the conversation we’re having with Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He).

How would you feel if you’re having a conversation with someone, and they’re not listening or focusing or being attentive and are distracted? Is this conversation deepening the bond between the two of you? Of course not.

Well, Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) wants us to have a quality conversation with Him.

In conversations, we listen then we speak. That’s what we’re meant to do in the salah. We listen to the words of Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) that we’re reciting, then we speak to Him and make dua asking for everything and anything that we need.

How to achieve khushu’?

1. Listen to and internalize the words you’re uttering in prayer

Be present with Allah by truly sensing and experiencing the words you’re reciting in prayer.

2. Make sure you are reciting Surat Al Fatihah correctly

If we recite and reflect on the Fatiha properly, it will transform the prayer experience completely. The Fatiha truly unlocks the hearts and reflects the genuine needs of every human being. It reminds us of our destination, our needs and our fears. All in the seven verses.

It makes all the difference if we’re truly present while saying to Allah “It is You alone we worship and You alone we ask for help. Guide us to the straight path” [Qur’an: Chapter 1, Verses 5-6]

We’re always making choices and decisions in life. Always. Everyday. In prayer, when we remember that we come from Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He), and our final destination is to Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He), and then when we tell Him to guide us to the most perfect way (which is the best choice, and the best decision), we then truly put matters in perspective and learn how to rely and bond with our Creator.

I was once going to a faraway location to attend an event. I didn’t know the direction, but my brother did. So, he kept calling me every five minutes to tell me where to go, which road to take, which turn etc. At first, I thought this was really too much and unnecessary. However, when he stopped calling for 20 minutes, I got distracted in a conversation with another passenger. Hence, I completely missed the road that I was supposed to take. It wasted a lot of time, and I really then appreciated those calls that he was making.

Five times a day we do that with Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He)! Five times a day we tell Him “guide us”, to show us which way to go.

But if we’re not really listening, if we’re not paying attention and if we’re distracted, then we’ll miss the point, and we’ll miss the destination.

3. Always, always, always make dua during/after your prayer

It is a dialogue between you and Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He). It is not a monologue. Needing Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) and asking Him for what we need truly helps with achieving concentration. If you’re in a lecture or a meeting with someone important, for example, and you need to ask for a favour at the end of that meeting, you will really try to listen and be attentive to show that you’re worthy of receiving that which you’re about to ask for.

Now, Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) tells us to ask Him for everything. One hadith mentions:

“‘Let one of you ask his Lord for his every need, even until he asks Him for the strap of his sandal when it breaks.’” [At-Tirmidhi]

This is also a very important hadith, where the Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) says:

“Verily supplication is worship.” [At-Tirmidhi]

So dua itself is worship. We’re supposed to ask of Allah – all the time, every day, for every thing – not only when we need something ‘big’. We never really stop needing Allah, and dua is a reminder of that. It deepens the bond and connection between us and Him.

Remember the precious words of advice that the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) gave Ibn Abbas raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him):

“Be mindful of Allah and you shall find Him with you. When you ask (for anything), ask it from Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He), and if you seek help, seek help from Allah.” [At-Tirmidhi]

4. Diversify the surahs you use in prayer

Each of the surahs is a world of its own. We need to enter into the world of the Qur’an. This will help us be present and enter into the mood of the prayer. The feeling that we get when we recite Surat Ad-Duhaa, is not the same feeling we get when we recite Surat At-Takwir and not the same feeling we get when we recite Surat Al-A’la, for example.

I remember one particular prayer that truly affected me the most. There were certain circumstances that were happening around me, and at the beginning of the prayer, for some reason, a particular surah came to mind. As I began to recite that surah, I realised how each ayah was describing the circumstances we were living in, and it hit me so much, as if Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) was Listening, Seeing and Responding directly to what’s happening. I was reciting words that explained my inner feelings as well as what I was witnessing externally. It felt so real, so heavy, yet reassuring at the same time.

So let us memorise more of the short surahs, at least, with their tafseer so we can understand fully what we’re saying and experience it. There are many initiatives that help with that. You can use Bayyinah podcast for tafseer of Juz‘ Amma, for example, which is a really beneficial resource.

The more we know from the Qur’an, the more we’ll allow Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) to speak to us. He speaks to us through those words. We need to know them by heart, to allow Him and His presence to enter into our hearts and manifest in our prayers.

5. Confide to Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) like you confide to your best friend

I have a friend who told me that whenever anything (good or bad) happens, she rushes to prayer to tell Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He), to complain, cry, ask for help and guidance. She says Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) is the only One who was there during the entire situation and knows it fully, inside out. She says, “I don’t need to call a friend and explain everything from the beginning. She may or may not get me. But Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) already gets what I mean and He saw everything.”

So, let us rush to prayer like we rush to tell a friend about our day and about our problems.

The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) used to say about prayer:

“O Bilal, call iqamah for prayer: give us comfort by it.” [Sunun Abi Dawud]

We get comfort when we pour our hearts out and tell everything to a close friend. It is like a great conversation that you don’t want to end. That’s what we need to do with Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He).

“Allah is the ally of those who believe. He brings them out from darknesses into the light.” [Qur’an: Chapter 2, Verse 257]

Let us enter into the prayer so that Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) would bring us out of the darknesses of our lives and our problems into His Light, because Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) is The Light.

2. Turning away from useless speech and activities

“And they who turn away from ill speech”

This ayah talks about staying away from ill and useless speech and activities – anything that is meaningless, unproductive and doesn’t help in achieving our purpose in life, including slandering, backbiting, lying, cursing and swearing and inappropriate deeds.

Why? Because ‘laghw’ is major corruption and harm to the self, others and the society at large. It is a waste of time and a huge distraction from one’s ultimate goal.

Remember the example I gave earlier about getting lost from my destination after being distracted by some vain talk? This is exactly why this type of activity is harmful: we lose sight of our destination, get absorbed in useless matters – and eventually get lost.

An example of a useless scenario is this: “Was the dress white and gold or black and blue?” Well, who cares! Really?! How would that benefit me in my deen and dunya? (P.S: if you don’t know what this is about, good for you! Don’t look it up!)

The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said: “A sign of man’s good observance of Islam (his piety) is to keep away from that which does not concern him.” [At-Tirmidhi]2

And Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) says about the believers:

“…And when they pass near ill speech, they pass by with dignity.” [Qur’an: Chapter 25: Verse 72]

And about those who completely lost their way, that they:

“… used to enter into vain discourse with those who engaged [in it],” [Qur’an: Chapter 74: Verse 45]

Bottom line: try not to engage, dwell and get absorbed in that which is meaningless and useless. If someone is training for a high goal, a big test or a big presentation, and they don’t train well and keep wasting their time here and there… will they achieve their goal? Probably not.

So, how can we stay away from useless talk?

1. Always ask: is this conversation or activity going to benefit me in my deen and dunya?

If not, simply cut it short, keep going, and stay away from it as much as you can. Remember we have a more important goal to achieve.

2. Have the intention to make your activities more meaningful

The correct intention can make any deed (that is not a sin) into a reward! For example, if you’re spending a lot of time learning about beauty and make-up, then at least have the intention that this is to beautify yourself for your husband and increase the bond between the spouses – which is a great a2ct of worship. If you can’t help but spend time playing games (ones which are pure, not any that involve immorality or anything inappropriate) or in the gym, then at least take the niyyah that you’re refreshing so you can focus on more important tasks, or that you’re working on your health so you can be strong enough for your worship and your duties towards your family.

Basically, put mind into action. Put some thinking and mindfulness to be in control of what you engage in and not let it control and swallow you and your life away.

3. Engaging in purification of the self and wealth

“And they who are observant of zakah”

Zakah (almsgiving) is prescribed to us to purify our wealth, but this ayah refers to self-purification as well. We all have flaws in our character and our personalities – anger, bad temper, narcissism, jealousy, the need to lower the gaze, gossiping etc. We all know ourselves.

How to actively purify the self?

1. Pick one or two aspects about yourself that you want to change. Write them down or even make a mental note, then start working on them as they occur.

Catch yourself when you’re committing those bad habits, take a deep breath, and then leave it for the sake of Allah, for the sake of your destination, Al-Firdaus! Keep reminding yourself of this: “I’m leaving this for Him subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He). I’m leaving this for Al-Firdaus.” The reward is definitely better and more lasting than the momentary satisfaction you experience.

Do check out the many Productive Muslim articles that help with improving many aspects of one’s character.

2. Unfollow social media pages that don’t help you purify yourself and/or trigger your bad habits

Whatever you see and follow will have an impact on your character and your heart. Unfollow those pages that trigger your bad habits.This might be difficult, but you can do it.

Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) says:

“And do not pursue that of which you have no knowledge. Indeed, the hearing, the sight and the heart – about all those [one] will be questioned.” [Qur’an: Chapter 17: Verse 36]

There are many social media pages and platforms that involve a lot of immorality. Let’s be honest, they might be ‘funny’ or ‘inspiring’, but deep down you know that they have some corrupt content as well:  immoral or indecent images, language or insinuations… etc.

If we continue to expose our eyes, minds and hearts to impure materials, how then are we supposed to purify ourselves?

Cut this out. You won’t lose anything. Instead, you’ll notice so much purity, light, serenity and peace entering your mind, heart and life instead. Try this at least for a week, and you will see the results.

4. Guarding our chastity

“And they who guard their private parts”

I want to mention one observation here.

The need for this action is obvious – it is to basically avoid engaging in sexual activities outside the marital relationship, because marriage provides full rights, and a sense of settlement and security to both partners. It goes without saying that anything less than marriage is truly not befitting for men or women. For anyone to dedicate themselves, their precious emotions, time, thinking and physical being to someone who is not committed and can leave at any point… THIS is not fair or right.

But there is something else, beyond the major act, that is worth our attention.

I was listening to a lecture by Sheikh Omar Suleiman about Angel Jibreel 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) I was deeply touched by something he mentioned about Mary (Maryam 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) ).

You see, when Angel Jibreel 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) was revealed to Maryam 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him), she was a young lady in her teens. Now, we know from the seerah that when Angel Jibreel 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) used to appear in human form, he used to come in the shape of a very handsome man. It was said that he resembled a sahabi known to be the “Yusuf” of his time, meaning he was a good-looking man. Now, the striking aspect is that when Angel Jibreel 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) appeared in such a form to Maryam 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) she immediately said:

“Indeed, I seek refuge in the Most Merciful from you, [so leave me], if you should be fearing of Allah.” [Qur’an: Chapter 19, Verses 18]

The minute she saw him, she immediately told him to leave her because she didn’t want to allow even a second of an impure thought to enter his or her mind. The narration relates that after she said that, Angel Jibreel 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) turned into his angelic form, the form that is made of light. Her purity brought out the light in him, the angel in him, subhanAllah.

I was moved by her reaction and then remembered, that some of our sisters who, not only not lower their gazes, but are obsessed with boy bands and male celebrities! It reminded me of the sisters who post images of celebrities on social media, with the hashtag “goals”, “relationship goals” or “future husband”. And there are those who do that even with male Islamic speakers and scholars!

Really, the character of Maryam 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) IS the real goal here.

How can we guard ourselves in this regard?

1. Remember Maryam 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) and follow her character

Think about the story I have mentioned above. Maryam 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) was so conscious of her purity that she took action against anything that would jeopardize it. Now, reflect on what we do. When a sister speaks to a brother, or a brother speaks to a sister, what is our intention? Do we bring out the light, the taqwa and consciousness of Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He)in them, or do we provoke the desires, the animalistic nature and launch the footsteps of the shaytan with them?

Think about that.

2. Guarding the chastity starts by guarding the gaze.

Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) says in Surat An Noor:

“Tell the believing men to reduce [some] of their vision and guard their private parts. That is purer for them. Indeed, Allah is Acquainted with what they do. And tell the believing women to reduce [some] of their vision and guard their private parts…” [Qur’an: Chapter 24: 30-31]

So, it starts with a look that isn’t guarded properly and ends up as an act of impurity.

Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) has given us instructions to find deep pleasure in the relationship between a husband and wife. The more we purify our gaze, the more we will enjoy our spouses, because there will hardly be any comparisons – our eyes, hearts and minds will be filled with our own spouses. The ‘look’ is something sacred and precious, and if it’s put in the right place, it will bring fulfillment to the heart and even count as an act of worship. And vice versa; if it’s put in the wrong place, it will increase the sense of emptiness and deprivation in the heart, and increase the sins.

5. Honouring our words, trusts and promises

“And they who are to their trusts and their promises attentive”

How many times do we hear: “the event will start at 6pm”, only for it to end up starting at 9:30pm? How many times do we say we’ll be there at a certain time, and show up late? How many times do we break our words, our trusts and our promises?

What we don’t realise is: the word is extremely sacred in Islam and to Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He).

For example, we enter this religion with a kalimah! The words of the shahada, “la ilaha illa Allah, Muhammad rasool Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He)” is one of the heaviest matters on the scale on the Day of Judgement, as Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) advised,

“Nothing is heavier than the Name of Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He).” [At-Tirmidhi]

This shows us how important our words are. Establishing honesty, trustworthiness and keeping our word are fundamental to our path and our relationship with the Creator and His creation. Remember, the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) was known as “al-amin”, “the honest, the trustworthy” before he was known as The Messenger of Allah ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him).

How can we be honest and trustworthy people?

1. Make the intention 

Set your intention firmly and have the mindset to work on being the one person (at home, in class, at work etc) that everybody can confidently trust and rely on.

2. Simply think before giving your word

Just think twice before you make a promise. If you know you can’t keep it, or if there is a chance you won’t be able to commit to it, then inform the people involved immediately – they will appreciate your honesty. Don’t let them count on you, then break your trust. Be truthful when you make a promise, and be truthful if you can’t keep it.

6. Maintaining our prayers on time

“And they who carefully maintain their prayers”

Have you noticed that the list started with prayer and ended with prayer?

It started with the quality of each prayer, and ended with instructions on maintaining all prayers carefully as well.

Praying all prayers on time and avoiding delay is one of the most beloved deeds to Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He); Abdullah ibn Mas’ud raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) asked Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) what one of the best deeds to Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) was, and he ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) replied:

“Establishing prayer on time…” [Sunan an Nasa’i]

Making the conscious effort to pray on time and with concentration, will inevitably help with all the other tasks on our To-Do List. It will aid us in leaving useless talk; in purifying our souls and our wealth; in guarding our chastity; and keeping our promises and our words to people.

For example, one would feel rather hypocritical to respond to the call of prayer on time, but show up late to other appointments. It also won’t feel natural to carefully recite the words of Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) that put life in perspective, then engage in absolutely useless activities.

Getting the prayer right will inevitably make everything right.

Remember that the last words which the Messenger of Allah ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) spoke were: “Prayer, prayer; fear Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) about those whom your right hands possess.” [Sunan Abi Dawud]

He ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) warned us to guard our prayer, and if we do so and we’re conscious of Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He), then we won’t abuse anything or anyone whom we’re entrusted with. So, remember your Creator, and then you will be merciful towards His creation.

Let us also remember that the salah is the first thing we will be asked about on the Day of Judgement. The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said:

“The first of man’s deeds for which he will be called to account on the Day of Resurrection will be Salat. If it is found to be perfect, he will be safe and successful; but if it is incomplete, he will be unfortunate and a loser. If any shortcoming is found in the obligatory Salat, the Glorious and Exalted Rubb will command to see whether His slave has offered any voluntary Salat so that the obligatory Salat may be made up by it. Then the rest of his actions will be treated in the same manner.” [At-Tirmidhi]

So, how to help perfect our salah?

1. Maintain the sunnah prayers

The sunnan prayers (sunnah before and/or after fardh prayers and nawafil prayers) complement any shortcomings in our obligatory prayers.

The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said:

“Whoever persists in performing twelve rak’ah from the Sunnah, a house will be built for him in Paradise: four before the Zuhr, two Rak’ah after Zuhr, two Rak’ah after Maghrib, two Rak’ah after the ‘Isha’ and two Rak’ah before Fajr.” [Sunan Ibn Majah]

It is as though you get 70% in your final exam, but you have bonuses that could top your grade to 100%. This bonus is the voluntary prayers, and we want to maintain them to ensure we’re aiming for the top grade – the A+ that gets us to Al-Firdaus!

2. Pray in the first hour

‘The Messenger of Allah ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) was asked: “Which of the actions is best?” He replied: “Observing prayer early in its period.” ‘ [Sunan Abi Dawud]

Final reflections

1. You may look at this list and think “I can never do that. I can never be that person.” However, the very first ayah that Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) mentioned after this list is:

“And certainly did We create man from an extract of clay.” [Qur’an: Chapter 23, Verse 12]

He mentioned that we were created from clay (or mud). What is that? It is something that can be shaped and moulded. It isn’t a rock. It is flexible. We can’t be defeatist and think that we can never purify ourselves, because it is simply not true. Of course you can, we all can. It’s our very own nature to mould, shape and develop our characters.

2. There is another very important observation in the way Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) has used the Arabic language in these verses. The first ayah started with a past tense – “qad aflaha/ most certainly those Believers have attained true success”. The list then present the tasks we need to do in present continuous tense: “faa’iloon/working on purification”; “yuhafithoon/maintaining the prayers”; “mu’ridoon/staying away from useless activities”.

This shows that if we are working on what is instructed in these verses, if we are sincerely and persistently engaged in this process, then we have already succeeded in the Sight of Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He)!

It is as if you are running, and the coach is looking at you and saying “You have already won”! You’re still running, but He is so encouraging and appreciative of your efforts that to Him, the effort itself is the true success.

This is very generous of Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He).

Imagine instead working for months on a mock-up to present to your boss/client, for example. After finalizing the entire mock-up, it somehow gets lost or damaged. Will the boss/client judge you on your effort over the past months, or on the fact that they haven’t received the final result they asked for?

Imagine also studying all semester, then on the night of the exam you get very sick. You achieve very badly as a result. Thus, your effort goes to waste.

But, with Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He), there is no effort that goes to waste!

“Indeed Allah does not allow to be lost the reward of those who do good.” [Qur’an: Chapter 12: Verse 90]

So, we should never give up as Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) is Guarding and Recording every effort.

“And Allah is the best Guardian, and He is the most merciful of the merciful.” [Qur’an: Chapter 12: Verse 64]

3. Remember that this To-Do list is not limited to black or white, men or women, the rich or poor… It is not limited to any particular race, gender, social status or lineage. Any human being can work and achieve the best.

You may be superior to someone else by worldly standards, but they in fact, may be much more successful than you in the Sight of Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He). This is a path that eliminates sexism, racism, classism and any ‘ism’. There is no superiority in Islam of one person over the other except by righteousness (taqwa/God Consciousness):

“O mankind, indeed We have created you from male and female and made you peoples and tribes that you may know one another. Indeed, the most noble of you in the sight of Allah is the most righteous of you. Indeed, Allah is Knowing and Acquainted.” [Qur’an: Chapter 49: Verse 13]

That’s simply beautiful!

Finally, note how earning the highest paradise involves deep connection with Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He), bettering oneself and benefiting others. This is not a path of selfishness or isolation. This is a path of self-purification, benefit of people and deep bonding with The Creator. They are all connected; Allah, the self and others. It’s a well-rounded human experience.

“So what yet causes you to deny the deen? Is not Allah the most just of judges?” [Qur’an: Chapter 95: Verses 7-8]

Indeed He is!

Now, don’t forget to print out your To-Do List, consider it #lifegoals! Share with others if you have benefited and let us know your thoughts in the comments section.

 Your Jannah To-Do List: 6 Tasks to Inherit Al-Firdaus (The Highest Paradise) | ProductiveMuslim

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Ramadan – A Time For Reflection


Author: Abu Muawiyah Ismail Kamdar

Too often when we think about Ramadan, we only think about taraweh, suhur and iftar. Many Muslims spend the day sleeping or watching television to “pass the time” and many rush to complete as many Qur’ans as possible.

How many of us though, use this extra free time for reflection. Ramadan is supposed to be the time of the year in which we recharge our iman and prepare for the challenges facing us over the next eleven months. This can not be done unless we stop to contemplate our own faults and reflect upon the solutions during this important month.

A question arises though as to what should we reflect on during Ramadan and the following is a list of what I feel we all should reflect on, of course every individual will have specific issues that need more attention:

1) Your relationship with Allah: Is your life pleasing to Allah? Are you close to Allah? Do you understand His Book? Do you recite it outside of Ramadan?

2) Your relationship with your family: Does your family love you? Are you a burden or blessing to those around you? Will you be missed if you die today? Are you fulfilling the rights of your family? Are you a role model Muslim to your family?

3) Your relationship with people: Have you contributed to society? Do you have a legacy? Does your presence help others love Islam or does it chase them away from it?

4) The creation of Allah: pondering over the beauty of Allah’s creation helps one increase in piety and closeness to Allah.

5) The problems in society and what you can do to solve any of them.

Some people might say that Ramadan is a busy time for them and they do not have time to do this, so here is a list of the best times during Ramadan to set aside for reflection:

1) After asr: I understand that most women are in the kitchen during this time but most of the men are either finding ways to pass the time or sleeping. Instead this could be a great time for reflection.

2) Before Iftar: Everybody is seated at the table waiting to sink their teeth into the variety of dates and savories in front of them. Instead of looking at our watches every few seconds, let us make du’a or ponder during this time.

3) Qiyamul Layl: It is late, all the distractions are gone, you are alone praying to your Lord, this is the best time to contemplate on your own faults and ask Allah for help in solving them.

4) After Suhur or Fajr: Either you are sitting and waiting for fajr prayer or trying to fall asleep after the prayer, take this time to reflect and contemplate instead of revising theiftar menu for today.

I hope this article assists you in making this a Ramadan of change. As for myself, I hope to experience a Ramadan of reflection and growth. If I do not become a better Muslim this Ramadan, then I will have wasted this blessed month.

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Did I Take The Wrong Path in Life? Tips to Overcome The Dilemma


Author: Chereen

Is success fixed, or is it something you can develop? This is the question that might be running through your mind as you anxiously stand on the doorsteps of your future and give your mind the permission to wander ten steps ahead. Anxiety and stress begin to cloud your mind, as uncertainty makes its way through the doors. For one second, you think about giving up, but something or someone tells you it will be okay. Despite the fears that tug at your sleeves, you hold on.

This could be you. It could be that you are a university student. Maybe you are a struggling parent. You could also be a fresh graduate attempting to get your startup business up-and-running. In addition to the inner pressure, obstacles are found in multiple corners throughout your path. These hurdles have the potential to dim your journey, forcing you to forget that faith is one of the most important components that light your way.

Overcome the ‘fixed’ mindset

There are two types of people. There are those who have a fixed mindset and those with a growth mindset.

People with the fixed mindset tend to give up quickly, lose faith when circumstances do not go as they please and they become discouraged if they are not immediately successful at something. Their mindset tends to be limited and, as a result, it also becomes easy for them to blame their lack of happiness and success on a lack of love from their Creator. People with a fixed mindset forget that obstacles are not meant to prevent success, they are meant to be conquered in order to make the bigger picture even more satisfying when achieved.

Develop a ‘growth’ mindset

The people who have a growth mindset view the glass as half full. These are the people that take failure as a lesson, embrace challenges, have faith in the best of times, and they know how to acquire faith from their adversities. Even when life gets difficult, they constantly work hard to become successful. People with a growth mindset know that intelligence is something that you can always achieve and develop, because it is unlimited.

To put it into perspective, imagine the pressure that comes with being a university student. On top of taking a full course load, there is the requirement to attend all classes, study for all classes, and then it is equally important to do well in these classes. Aside from this, it is mandatory to impress your family by getting high grades so that they can tell all of your extended family what you’re doing and compare you to your siblings and your cousins. Not to mention the need to get into a good graduate program, and find a stable job, whilst struggling with questions like: did I choose the wrong course, wrong university or even the wrong path?

If you do that, bear in mind that this is only one aspect of your life. It can be so easy to succumb to the stress and simply give up. Sometimes all it takes to lose inspiration is one bad grade or the inability to understand what the professor is saying. Failure to do well becomes an excuse to become helpless, allowing you to be blinded by the lesson you were meant to learn. Eventually, you begin to lose faith in God.

However, this is not the route you have to take. A lot of the stress and unhappiness is not from the circumstances you are put in, but from how you choose to deal with them.3

The road can be much easier, and here are some tips to help you along the way:

Do not neglect “yourself”

When life gets difficult, it becomes easy to lose your sense of self. If you are a university student, you trade self-care for extra last minute studying. If your career or parenting becomes hectic, you also forget that your wellness matters. The solution to this is a fixed-commitment calendar for some “me time”. Taking time out to do something that relaxes you and frees your mind of stress is important, whether it’s reading a book, exercising, baking or just having a meal with friends.

Make the most out of your prayers

With all the chaos that takes place, your prayer can be the one constant that allows you to relax and breathe. This is your opportunity to get away from the hectic atmosphere and obtain the positive energy you are in need of. You immediately feel refreshed, and you are able to acquire a sense of calmness that cannot be found anywhere else. Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) says so eloquently

 “Unquestionably, by the remembrance of Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) hearts are assured.” [Qur’an: Chapter 13, Verse 28]

Remain ‘in the present’

If you want to be stress resistant, it is important to remain present. Be in the here and now by giving yourself reminders. Do you happen to feel as if you are drifting far off into the future? Create sticky notes that remind you to stay present. While it is good to think ahead, it is not good to live ahead. These reminders help you focus on what needs to be accomplished right now, rather than the unwanted stress of false predictions over the future.

Remember that change takes time

Having a fixed mindset is the easiest way to prevent yourself from having a growing relationship with Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He). It might be that you fail a test or much worse, lose a family member. Instantly, you stop thinking positively. You lose faith in Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He), rather than appreciate the lesson as an opportunity to get closer to Him. When you take the perspective of a growth mindset, you realize that these lessons are meant to benefit you. It becomes essential for you to focus on having trust in Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He), because then you find no need to become dependent upon anyone else. This does not happen overnight, but the beauty of the growth mindset is that the best of results happen over time.

Invest in yourself

Focus on your strengths, rather than your weaknesses. Tap into your inner strengths. Try to push yourself one step further and see what happens next. Chances are you are more than capable of taking even more steps towards your goal. Think what skills/talents Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) has blessed you with and work on honing those. Whatever your weaknesses are: whether they’re a trait pertaining to your character or a skill that you’re lacking, work on bettering that whist remembering that knowledge can be acquired and it is unlimited. Just because someone else is good at something doesn’t mean you can’t be too. Remember every expert started off as a beginner.

Know how and when to make dua

Try not to feel helpless. Feeling helpless is the first sign of quitting. When you do feel this way, simply ask yourself: “Why do I feel helpless?” Then, think of what it is you can do to resolve your problem. One method is consistent dua in tahajjud prayers. Remember, if you really want something, then you should be praying for it, and this is something that Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) said,

“And your Lord says call upon me, I will answer you”. [Qur’an: Chapter 40, Verse 60].

If you do not see the results you want, then it could be that you either have or will be given something better or you should renew your intentions and pray for what will bring you closer to your Creator. What brings you closer to Him is also what will offer you permanent happiness. In the darkness of the night, you can find the solace and comfort in knowing you are having a private meeting with your Creator with no distractions. As Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) says in the Qur’an

“And from [part of] the night, pray with it as additional [worship] for you; it is expected that your Lord will resurrect you to a praised station.” [Qur’an: Chapter 17, Verse 79]  

Sometimes our hearts can be so fixated on something; whether it’s a job, a university, a house or even a future husband/wife, and we start questioning. We wonder: Why didn’t Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) give me what I want, I made so much dua, I have been so steadfast in my actions, couldn’t Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) give me this one thing? Don’t I deserve it? That’s when we need to remember

“Perhaps you hate a thing, and it is good for you, and perhaps you love a thing and it is bad for you” [Qur’an: Chapter 2, Verse 2161].

Sometimes your life takes an unexpected route that completely throws you off, but we don’t know the future, only Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) does. So rather than make dua for material desires, why don’t we put our trust in our Master and make dua to be guided to what is best for our dunya and akhira?

Be grateful

Finally, write down the reasons why you should be grateful. It could be that your mind is so full that you have no room to remember the good in your life. It helps to jot the good in your life down and put the note in the place you sit the most. Having the opportunity to look up at this simple reminder makes it easier for you to focus on the good, instead of the temporary bad. Remember that the good is meant to lift you higher each time you take a look at that note. I once was sent a reminder that had a simple question on it. “If one day all of your blessings were to disappear except for the ones that you said ‘alhamdulillah’ for, how many blessings would remain?”8

It was the right and most needed message.

It is the quality of your hard work that leads to permanent results. The best of outcomes always take time to achieve. It is easy to go into anything with the mindset of “I have to be successful,” and it is just as easy to say “I was not successful, I give up.” However, it is so much better to go in with the mindset of “I will become successful, insha’Allah.” Every synonym of “struggle” is a part of the journey towards success6; you will discover obstacles, struggles, difficulties and even hardships. This does not mean it is impossible to get through them all. Everything becomes that much easier when you remember that throughout this all, the support of Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) is always with you. The future might be uncertain, but the present is as certain as you allow for it to be. You know quite well by now that Rome was not built in a day, which is why your relationship with Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) will take time and dedication to become as beautiful and rewarding as you dream for it to be. This is also why you cannot stop here and you cannot give up on yourself. Take a look at the complete picture you are aiming for. Your struggles are meant to one day blossom into accomplishments.

Lets us know your thoughts and reflections in the comments below!

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