Experiencing Jahannam

Hell – the punishment of Allah – has been mentioned in the Quran and Sunnah many times. It is the eternal abode of those who commit shirk with Allah, and the temporary abode of the sinning Muslims whom Allah chose to purify through the fire of Hell. We all read about it from time to time, but how often do we say to ourselves: “What if I was in Jahannam?” Let’s take a look at what experiencing jahannam would be like, may Allah protect us from ever experiencing it.

The root word for Jahannam (جهنم) is jeem haa meem, and its meaning is to frown, glower, scowl, to regard with displeasure. The word Jahm (from the same root) means sullen, glum, morose, gloomy. From these meanings, we can see that Jahannam is an extremely depressing place, full of darkness. It just doesn’t burn and torture, it frowns at its inhabitants while doing so!

Entry into Jahannam

We are told about the entry of the disbelievers into Jahannam in Surah Zumar:

And those who disbelieved will be driven to Hell in groups, till, when they reach it, the gates thereof will be opened (suddenly like a prison at the arrival of the prisoners). And its keepers will say, “Did not the Messengers come to you from yourselves, reciting to you the Verses of your Lord, and warning you of the Meeting of this Day of yours?” They will say: “Yes, but the Word of torment has been justified against the disbelievers!

It will be said (to them): “Enter you the gates of Hell, to abide therein. And (indeed) what an evil abode of the arrogant!”

[39:71-72]

Regarding حَتَّى إِذَا جَآءُوهَا فُتِحَتْ أَبْوَبُهَا “when they reach it the gates thereof will be opened (suddenly)”, Al Hafidh ibn Kathir [RA] explains in his tafsir, “this means, as soon as they arrive, the gates will be opened quickly, in order to hasten on their punishment”. So, the entry into Jahannam will be a shock entry for the disbelievers. They are quickly and humiliatingly pushed into the Fire.

This misery is further compounded by the presence of the angels at the gate who will mock those who are entering Jahannam and remind them of the Messengers that Allah sent to them and the numerous ayaat (proofs, signs) that Allah sent their way while they were in the dunya. Thus, the physical pain and torment of Jahannam is increased by psychological pain and torment by the mockery of the angels at the inhabitants of Jahannam.

Feeling Jahannam

Some of the things a person in Jahannam will feel are:

  • Taste a boiling fluid (hameem) and dirty wound discharges (gassaq) [38:57]
  • Eat poisonous thorny plant (daree’), which will be given as food [88:6]
  • Pain (at the non-stop torture), regret and sorrow. The regret and sorrow stems from their desire to leave the Fire, “They will long to leave the Fire, but never will they leave there from; and theirs will be a lasting torment.” [5:37]

Hearing Jahannam

Some of the things a person in Jahannam will hear are:

  • Arguments and pleas from the inhabitants of the Fire. The inhabitants of Jahannam will plea and plead with the angels who are guardians over the Fire. Two of these encounters are mentioned in the Quran:
    • “And those in the Fire will say to the Guards of Hell, ‘Call upon your Lord to lighten for us the torment for a day!’” [40:49]
    • “And they will cry: ‘O Malik! Let your Lord make an end of us’ He will say: ‘Surely, you shall abide forever.’ Indeed We have brought the truth to you, but most of you have a hatred for the truth” [43:74-78]
  • The furious and raging flames of Jahannam, “It almost bursts up with fury.” [67:8]

Seeing Jahannam

The size of Jahannam is massive. It’s beyond human comprehension. A hadith of the Prophet [SAWS] states,

If a stone as big as seven pregnant camels was thrown from the edge of Hell, it would fly through it for seventy years, and yet it would not reach the bottom.

[Sahih Al-Jami]

This massive place – frowning and torturing those who live in it non-stop – will be witnessed by the inhabitants of Jahannam.

Of the things that the people of Jahannam will see are their clothes. Not just any clothes, but clothes of fire! They are given food that is thorny and does not satisfy the hunger, and they are given a boiling fluid and blood discharges to drink. By clothing them with clothes of fire – clothes that torment the person, instead of protecting him/her! – Allah increases their punishment and humiliation.

The shuddering description of these garments and their effect on its wearer is given in Surah Hajj:

Then as for those who disbelieve, garments of fire will be cut out for them, boiling water will be poured down over their heads.

With it will melt or vanish away what is within their bellies, as well as (their) skins.

And for them are hooked rods of iron (to punish them).

Every time they seek to get away therefrom, from anguish, they will be driven back therein, and (it will be) said to them: “Taste the torment of burning!”

[22:19-22]

Truly, Jahannam is the worst abode. It’s miseries, shuddering. It’s sufferings, relentless.

In the dunya, even the worst-off human being finds pleasures: the pleasure of the meal whenever they get one, the pleasure of sleeping and rest. In Jahannam, there is NO pleasure! No food, no rest.

May Allah protect us all, ameen!

References:
1. Wehr, Hans. The Hans Wehr Dictionary of Modern Written Arabic. Spoken Language Services; 4th edition.

  1. ibn Kathir. Tafsir ibn Kathir. <http://www.tafsir.com.>

  2. Muhammad Alshareef. Lecture. AlMaghrib. Breach of Covenant. Ryerson University, Toronto. Nov. 2007.

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Fear Allah’s Punishment but Hope for His Mercy

Ibn Al-Qayyim Al-Jawzi (in Madarij As-Salikeen) said:

The heart in its journey towards Allah (سبحانه وتعالى) is like a bird; its head is love, and its two wings are hope and fear. When the head and the two wings are sound and healthy, then the bird will fly well. If the head of the bird is cut off, it immediately dies, and when either or both wings are deficient, the bird cannot fly properly and it may become the victim of a hunter that passes by.

From this analogy we learn that without love of Allah we cannot successfully “journey towards Him,” and without hope in Allah’s mercy or fear from His punishment, we may be easy victims for Shaytaan (أعوذ بالله من الشيطان الرجيم).

So the Muslim, then, with resolute love for Allah [1] (سبحانه وتعالى), lives between hope and fear. He “call[s] upon Allah out of fear and hope,” [2] and he “forsake[s] [his] bed, to invoke [his] Lord in fear and hope, and [he] spend[s] (charity in Allah’s Cause) out of what We have bestowed on them.” [3]

Fear

Imam Ahmad recorded from ‘A’ishah (رضي الله عنها‏): I said: “O Messenger of Allah, ‘And those who give that which they give with their hearts full of fear, because they are sure to return to their Lord,’ [4] are these the ones who steal and commit zina and drink alcohol while fearing Allah?” Ibn Abi Hatim recorded that the Prophet (صلي الله عليه وسلم) said: “No, O daughter of As-Siddiq, they are the ones who pray and fast and give in charity, while fearing that it will not be accepted from them,” (i.e. it is these who hasten in the good deeds.) At-Tirmidhi recorded something similar.

‘Umar ibn Al-Khattab (رضي الله عنه‏) said: If an angel had come down and announced that everyone would enter paradise except one person, I would fear that I would be that person. This is ‘Umar ibn Al-Khattab, the second khalifa, and one of the ten promised paradise! Subhanallah!

And how do we increase our fear of Allah’s punishment?

Ibn Mas’ood (رضي الله عنه‏) said: “If a person has knowledge, he will fear Allah.” So we should increase our knowledge. And The Prophet (صلي الله عليه وسلم) said, as narrated by Anas (رضي الله عنه‏): “I swear by The One in Whose Hand my soul is, if you saw what I saw you would laugh little, and cry excessively.” The people said, “O Prophet of Allah! What did you see?” He (صلي الله عليه وسلم) replied, “I saw Paradise and Hell.” [Saheeh Muslim]. So we should reflect on the punishment of “him who ‘tagha’ (transgressed all bounds, in disbelief, oppression and evil deeds of disobedience to Allah), and preferred the life of this world. Verily, his abode will be Hellfire,” [5], the “Fire whose fuel is men and stones.” [6]

Hope

Anas reported that the Prophet (صلي الله عليه وسلم) entered upon a young boy who was dying. The Prophet (صلي الله عليه وسلم) asked: “How are you?” The boy replied: “O Messenger of Allah, I am in-between hoping in Allah and fearing for my sins.” The Prophet (صلي الله عليه وسلم) said: “The like of these two qualities do not unite in the heart of a servant except that Allah gives him what he hopes for and protects him from what he feared.” [a hasan hadith – Collected by at-Tirmidhee and Ibn Maajah, and authenticated by Al-Albaanee in Ahkaamul-Janaa’iz (no. 2).]

‘Umar ibn Al-Khattab (رضي الله عنه‏) also said: and if the angel had come down and announced that everyone will enter Hellfire except for one person, I would hope to be that person.

And Allah (سبحانه وتعالى) says:

وَلاَ تَيْأَسُواْ مِن رَّوْحِ اللّهِ إِنَّهُ لاَ يَيْأَسُ مِن رَّوْحِ اللّهِ إِلاَّ الْقَوْمُ الْكَافِرُونَ

Translation: and never give up hope of Allah’s Mercy. Certainly, no one despairs of Allah’s Mercy, except the people who disbelieve.” [Surah Yusuf, verse 87]

And so “to your Lord (Alone) turn (all your intentions and hopes and) your invocations.” [7] And ask yourself:

مَّا لَكُمْ لَا تَرْجُونَ لِلَّهِ وَقَارًا

Translation: What is the matter with you, [that you don’t fear Allah (His punishment), and] you don’t hope for reward (from Allah, or you believe not in His Oneness)? [8]


[قُل لاَّ يَسْتَوِي الْخَبِيثُ وَالطَّيِّبُ وَلَوْ أَعْجَبَكَ كَثْرَةُ الْخَبِيثِ فَاتَّقُواْ اللّهَ يَا أُوْلِي الأَلْبَابِ لَعَلَّكُمْ تُفْلِحُون [1
Translation: Say (O Muhammad): “Not equal are the filthy things with the wholesome, even though the abundance of evil filth may please you.” So fear Allah much [(abstain from all kinds of sins and evil deeds which He has forbidden) and love Allah much (perform all kinds of good deeds which He has ordained)], O men of understanding in order that you may be successful. [Suratul Ma’idah, verse 100]
[2] وَادْعُوهُ خَوْفًا وَطَمَعًا [Suratul-A’raaf, verse 56]
[3] تَتَجَافَى جُنُوبُهُمْ عَنِ الْمَضَاجِعِ يَدْعُونَ رَبَّهُمْ خَوْفًا وَطَمَعًا وَمِمَّا رَزَقْنَاهُمْ يُنفِقُونَ [Suratus-Sajdah, verse 16]
[4] وَالَّذِينَ يُؤْتُونَ مَا آتَوا وَّقُلُوبُهُمْ وَجِلَةٌ أَنَّهُمْ إِلَى رَبِّهِمْ رَاجِعُونَ [Suratul-Mu’minuun, verse 60]
[5] فَأَمَّا مَن طَغَى وَآثَرَ الْحَيَاةَ الدُّنْيَا فَإِنَّ الْجَحِيمَ هِيَ الْمَأْوَى [Suratun-Nazi’at, verses 37-39]
[6] فَاتَّقُواْ النَّارَ الَّتِي وَقُودُهَا النَّاسُ وَالْحِجَارَةُ [Suratul-Baqarah, verse 24]
[7] وَإِلَى رَبِّكَ فَارْغَبْ [Surat-Ash-Sharh, verse 8]
[8] مَّا لَكُمْ لَا تَرْجُونَ لِلَّهِ وَقَارًا [Surat-Nuh, verse 13]

References

Abdul-Bary Yahya. Lecture. AlMaghrib. Purification of the Heart: Love, Fear & Tears. Part 2: The Two Wings of the Believer.

Abu Iyaad As-Salafi. Salafipublications.com. On Eeman, Ibaadah and Tawheed: Their Link and Interrelation. Lesson 3: Love, Hope and Fear.

Tafsir Ibn Kathir

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join-together-help

Why We Should Join Together and Help One Another

join-together-help

Helping the people around us is an important part of our faith. In Islam, it is our duty to raise awareness of our faith, spread the word and share our own good fortune both with those close to us in our own local communities and with less fortunate people across the world.

In today’s world, it is more important than ever to support one another and display a united front. We must join together to overcome adversity and work towards creating a brighter, more positive world for everyone to inhabit as equals. Our faith teaches us the importance of generosity as we understand that we are all equally important in the eyes of Allah (SWT) which is why we must do all that we can to help each other overcome our own issues and become stronger and more resilient.

Personal Reflection

Of course, sometimes it can be easy to become caught up in all the trappings of modern life as we focus on ourselves as individuals – our families, our careers, our personal hobbies and interests. However, it is also important to take some time out for self-reflection, thinking about how we can overcome our own personal struggles and remove the barriers that stand in the way of allowing us to become better people.

Even just a small amount of time alone can bring huge rewards, providing us with the knowledge we need to improve both our own lives and the lives of the people around us. After all, once we become aware of which areas need attention, it is much easier to then divert our care to the improvement of these areas.

Similarly, our faith teaches us the importance of sharing our own good fortune by supporting those around us. When everyone makes a conscious effort to contribute, our communities become far more positive, as people young and old are able to bring a whole host of varying skills and benefits to the whole. When we join together, we have the ability to create a better environment and a brighter future for everyone as we follow the guidance of our faith and Allah (SWT).

join-together-compassion

Kindness and Generosity

There are many different ways in which you can go about committing to do some good through your deeds and actions. From small everyday acts of kindness to grand gestures of generosity, once you start to welcome positivity into your daily routine, it will quickly become a valuable new part of your life.

As well as charity and kindness, generosity also plays a significant role in many key festivals and events as part of our faith. From the generous donation of Qurbani to donating your Zakat, it is clear that we must do our bit to help others in accordance with our faith.

Visit here for more information about donating your Zakat to a worthwhile cause: https://www.islamichelp.org.uk/zakat/

Although an equal, harmonious future is the goal, sadly for many of us this is not yet a reality. However, if we all commit to follow our faith and recognise the wishes of Allah (SWT), it should become a much easier task. With so many vastly different people in the world, we should celebrate our diversity and recognise the power that these differences can bring once united.

Welcome care and compassion into your daily life and help us to work towards a better future by opening yourself up to the benefits that a joined community can bring. After all, we are all brothers and sisters in the eyes of our faith, a fact which only serves to further affirm the reason to act accordingly.

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5 Interesting Scientific Facts from Quran

5 Interesting Scientific Facts from Quran

Islam as a religion brings an answer to every single question that exists; this is why it is considered as the complete code of life. You can find the impressions of Islam in each part of a Muslim life, regardless of whether it is some financial issue, social, personal or any other thing related to life.

Among the different variables, something which makes Islam the top religion in the case of the contemporary existence of today’s reality is the way that it is in total reverberation with the modern science that is a primitive instrument for the general population nowadays to judge anything.

There are many verses that are written in the Quran are proven facts of the modern science. The best part of it is that Quran came into the world thousands of years ago and it contains all the practical realities of today’s world. Here are the five interest scientific facts that you can find in the Quran:

  1. Use of water in life

Quran: “We made every living thing from water. Will they not believe?” (21:30)

This verse indicates that water is the primary element used in the construction of everything. Science has now proved that every single living thing is made of water, cells and cell bodies and not to forget that they contain more than 80% water.

  1. Iron as another important existing thing

As the general population nowadays we know that iron is one of the metals that can be found on this planet. Be that as it may, the researchers have come to locate the first wellspring of iron according to which iron is basically originated from the space, and it is not an ordinary metal of the earth. In this regard, you will find written in the Holy Quran:

Quran: “We sent down Iron, in which is (material for) mighty war, as well as many benefits for mankind.” (57:25)

This verse shows us that iron is that one metal which is sent by Allah so clearly it does not belong to this planet.

  1. Sky is a protection for us

Quran: “We made the sky a protective ceiling. And yet they are turning away from Our signs!” (21:32)

In the above-written verse, Allah notices the sky as a defensive roof for individuals. It wasn’t clear to the general population of that time; notwithstanding, individuals of today’s world who have admittance to the modern science can concur with the way that the sky really serves as a defensive shield for life that exists on the earth.

And in today’s date, the science proofs the fact that the sky actually protects the planet from all those substances that are considered harmful to life on earth.

  1. Mountains as mentioned in the Quran

Quran: “Did We not make the earth a resting place? And the mountains as stakes?” (78:6-7)

In this verse, it is stated in a very obvious way that mountains are very similar to the stakes which are not just on the surface of the earth but are fixed in the real depth. And this is now proven by the modern science as well.

  1. Creation of the universe

Quran: “And it is We who have built the Universe with (Our creative) power and keep expanding it.” (51:47)

This verse clearly states the fact that universe is all created by Allah the Almighty and you can see written in the verse that the universe keeps growing as the time is passing, it is not what is was when it was created so yes, it is constantly changing with the time. And the modern science has now proved this fact that the universe is something really not stagnant, it is expanding and growing with time.

All these verses are from the Quran and are now scientific facts as well!

About the Author:

Maham Rizwan is a writer and copywriter who has worked with New York Times bestselling authors and personal development organizations such as Productive Muslim and Mindvalley. She regularly blogs at http://quranacademy.io/

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Our Children, Our Test – Advice to Parents

There he stood. A grown man, towering to the sky. Broad shoulders, and so much pain in his eyes. I know it’s impossible, yet I could hear his heart sobbing. In reality though it was just the sound of my own pumping away. I stopped, asked, and what I was about to hear would break my heart in pieces. It’s a painful encounter I’ve heard over and over again of parents who’ve ‘lost’ their children for one reason or another to drugs, alcohol, fame, money, friends, etc.

As a father of two, Alhamdulillah, I can’t help but reflect on the idea that I may be in a similar situation one day. If the Prophets ‘alayhum salaam were tested with trials regarding their children, how can I feel secure? Why should I feel I won’t be tested with something similar?

Allah tells us in vivid detail the story of Nuh ‘alayhi salaam and his incident with the ark. When you read through the set of verses in Surah Hud, you can almost depict the entire scene in your mind…

Scary. Heart-wrenching. Emotional.

Zooming in on one part of the story. After Nuh ‘alayhi salaam built the ark and set sail, after calling out to his son and advising him to come on board, after his son defies the advice, and after his own son is perished in this matter decreed by Allah, you can almost sense the anguish of Nuh ‘alayhi salaam in his response:

وَنَادَىٰ نُوحٌ رَّبَّهُ فَقَالَ رَبِّ إِنَّ ابْنِي مِنْ أَهْلِي وَإِنَّ وَعْدَكَ الْحَقُّ وَأَنتَ أَحْكَمُ الْحَاكِمِينَ
And Noah called to his Lord and said, “My Lord, indeed my son is of my family; and indeed, Your promise is true; and You are the most just of judges!”

قَالَ يَا نُوحُ إِنَّهُ لَيْسَ مِنْ أَهْلِكَ ۖ إِنَّهُ عَمَلٌ غَيْرُ صَالِحٍ ۖ فَلَا تَسْأَلْنِ مَا لَيْسَ لَكَ بِهِ عِلْمٌ ۖ إِنِّي أَعِظُكَ أَن تَكُونَ مِنَ الْجَاهِلِينَ
He said, “O Noah, indeed he is not of your family; indeed, he is [one whose] work was other than righteous, so ask Me not for that about which you have no knowledge. Indeed, I advise you, lest you be among the ignorant.”

قَالَ رَبِّ إِنِّي أَعُوذُ بِكَ أَنْ أَسْأَلَكَ مَا لَيْسَ لِي بِهِ عِلْمٌ ۖ وَإِلَّا تَغْفِرْ لِي وَتَرْحَمْنِي أَكُن مِّنَ الْخَاسِرِينَ
[Noah] said, “My Lord, I seek refuge in You from asking that of which I have no knowledge. And unless You forgive me and have mercy upon me, I will be among the losers.”

Subhanallah, even the Prophets were tested with the loss and defiance of their children. Yet, through all of it you find Prophet Nuh’s trust and overall submission to Allah and His plan to be strong as ever.

I don’t know what tomorrow holds for me or my children, however I do expect some shades of Prophet Nuh’s trials in my own life.   It may not be in the exact way or even the extent to what Nuh ‘alayhi salaam was tested with, however at some level, I do expect it. Given this reality, I wanted to share a few pieces of advice to my fellow parents and to-be parents.

My Naseeha

Firstly, the world we grew up in yesterday is not the world our children are growing up in today; nor will it be the world they’ll grow up in tomorrow. The world is less friendly, less vigilant to uphold good morals and ethics, and overall less safe. Our children will grow up in a hyper social and sexual society that encourages and even demands a ‘look-at-me-me-me’ life-style. They will enter puberty at younger ages. They will be exposed to differing thoughts and ideas more abundantly and at younger ages then we were. So please, step up to the plate and be parents. Put less reliance upon the Imam, the Masjid, the school, the teachers, etc. in raising your children. Stop outsourcing the job because more than anyone in the world, through all the trails they’ll face, your children need you. They need you to to listen to them, to play with them, to educate them… to parent them. 

Secondly, instill within them ultimate dependence upon Allah. Children need to understand early on that more than themselves, more than their parents, family, friends, etc. that it is Allah who is in control and it is He who provides them with everything they need and want. The less we attribute blessings to Allah, the less our children will realize the true source of everything they have and the less they will seek it from Him. The less they seek it from Him, the more dependent they will become upon themselves. So what happens next? When they depend on themselves, their desires and limited knowledge become ilahs i.e. gods superior to the one and only ilah i.e. Allah.  Look at what Prophet Nuh’s son says after Nuh ‘alayhi salaam tells him to embark on the ark in Allah’s name: “I will take refuge on a mountain to protect me from the water.” His dependency upon himself and his ways eventually destroyed him.

Lastly, Never give up on your children. Never. Undoubtedly you will face tough times with your children – some of you will face incredible amounts of difficulty. However through all the pain, the heart ache, the abandonment, you don’t get to give up on them. You don’t get to throw them to the wolves and have them left for dead. You keep protecting them and supporting them. There are many examples of children who were set aright only because of the love, prayers and constant reminders of their parents. You may face a few months of backlash, maybe a few years, maybe decades, but your constant loving reminders and prayers will help them when the time is right. You don’t guide anyone, not even your own children. However, the job at hand is still to convey, and to continue conveying until your last breath. The rest we leave to Allah. Even in the story of Nuh ‘alayhi salaam, you find him pleading with Allah until the last moments, even until after the death of his son. Subhanallah.

These are just a few pieces of advice from one father’s perspective. There is much more wisdom out there with you, the readers, who likely have your own set of experiences and pieces of advice that we can all benefit from. We’d love to hear it. Leave a comment below and if you found benefit in this article, please share. JazakumAllahu Khairan.

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[Khutbah] Allah’s Beloved Month

As we enter into the middle portion of the month of Ramadan, many of us will find that our resolve has started to get weaker. A completely normal occurrence with a very simple solution, by the permission of Allah.

This khutbah details the abundant blessings awaiting us in Allah’s beloved month, the month of Ramadan, with hopes to motivate and energize the listener to overcome this slump and attain the massive treasure that is waiting to be taken.

 
icon for podpress  Allah's Beloved Month - Khutbah by Yasin Ahmed: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download (531)

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Four Practical Steps to Taqwa, Step 1: Muhasabah

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Photo Credit: Pienw (Flickr)

The first practical step to gaining taqwa is accountability, known as muhasabah in Arabic; taking account of your actions. We see this concept from the beginning of Islamic history.:

In the Qur’an

In Surah Al-Hashr, Allah says:

يا ايها الذين امنوا اتقوا الله ولتنظر نفس ما قدمت لغد واتقوا الله ان الله خبير بما تعملون

Translation: O you who have believed, fear Allah . And let every soul look to what it has put forth for tomorrow – and fear Allah . Indeed, Allah is Acquainted with what you do. (Surah Hashr, verse 18)

This ayah unequivocally states that we need to take ourselves to account before the Day of Repayment. It mentions taqwa, then mentions we need to take ourselves to account, then mentions taqwa again.

From the Sahaba

From the generation of the sahaba, we find a saying of ‘Umar ibn Al-Khattab (radiallahu ‘anhu):

Bring yourself to account before you are taken to account. Weigh your deeds before your deeds are weighed. (One source)

Applying Muhasabah In Your Life

‘Umar (radiallhu anhu) also praised a man who kept a bag of stones with him; in the bag, the man placed one white stone for each good deed he did, and one black stone for each bad did he did. At the end of the day,
he would recount and account how beneficially his day passed.

Other scholars performed other, similar acts of accounting. Some modern day shuyookh advocate keeping a journal and noting down your deeds appropriately.

From this, we find the two key points to take away:

  • Keep track of your deeds in some way that works for you — whether in your memory, or in a book, online document, etc.
  • Recount and review your deeds consistently at a time that works for you.

The key is to consistently review your deeds. If you can, perform a daily review. If not, use whatever schedule works for you — perhaps every two or three days, or once a week.

Also, find a time that works for you. For some, this may be in the shower, or while commuting, or while standing in line for something.

Recommended Order of Accountability

From the Qur’an and Sunnah, we find a suggested order of accountability:

#1: Prohibitions

In order to progress, you need to take one step forward, and not slide two steps backward. Scholars use this hadith:

مَا نَهَيْتُكُمْ عَنْهُ فَاجْتَنِبُوهُ، وَمَا أَمَرْتُكُمْ بِهِ فَأْتُوا مِنْهُ مَا اسْتَطَعْتُمْ، فَإِنَّمَا أَهْلَكَ الَّذِينَ مِنْ قَبْلِكُمْ كَثْرَةُ مَسَائِلِهِمْ وَاخْتِلَافُهُمْ عَلَى أَنْبِيَائِهِمْ

Translation: What I have forbidden for you, avoid. What I have ordered you [to do], do as much of it as you can. For verily, it was only the excessive questioning and their disagreeing with their Prophets that destroyed [the nations] who were before you. (Bukhari, Muslim, and Imam Nawawi’s 40 ahadith, #9)

Note the order and wording of this hadith:

  • First, stay away from whatever rasulullah (salallahu alayhi wa sallam) forbade us from. I.e., prohibitions first.
  • Then, do what rasulullah (salallahu alayhi wa sallam) commanded us to do, as much as we are able (whatever is within our ability).

If you make a mistake or slip up, if you violate a prohibition, what then? Make tawbah. This means three things:

  • Regret the action you performed
  • Stop doing it.
  • Replace the bad deed with something better.

Action: These are all critical steps to integrate in your early muhasabah process: focus on proihibitons (things you need to stop doing).

#2: Obligations

After prohibitions, we focus next on obligations. Another interesting, supporting hadith:

إِنَّ أَوَّلَ مَا يُحَاسَبُ بِهِ الْعَبْدُ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ مِنْ عَمَلِهِ صَلاَتُهُ فَإِنْ صَلُحَتْ فَقَدْ أَفْلَحَ وَأَنْجَحَ وَإِنْ فَسَدَتْ فَقَدْ خَابَ وَخَسِرَ فَإِنِ انْتَقَصَ مِنْ فَرِيضَتِهِ شَيْءٌ قَالَ الرَّبُّ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ انْظُرُوا هَلْ لِعَبْدِي مِنْ تَطَوُّعٍ فَيُكَمَّلَ بِهَا مَا انْتَقَصَ مِنَ الْفَرِيضَةِ ثُمَّ يَكُونُ سَائِرُ عَمَلِهِ عَلَى ذَلِكَ

Translation: Indeed the first deed by which a servant will be called to account on the Day of Resurrection is his Salat. If it is complete, he is successful and saved, but if it is defective, he has failed and lost. So if something is deficient in his obligatory (prayers) then the Lord, Mighty and Sublime says: ‘Look! Are there any voluntary (prayers) for my worshipper?’ So with them, what was deficient in his obligatory (prayers) will be completed. Then the rest of his deeds will be treated like that.” (Jami’ At-Tirmidhi)

This hadith indicates that we will be asked about our obligations first, and if those contain any issues, they will be fixed based on our extra (nafl/sunnah) deeds.

Action: In your muhasabah, ask yourself about your obligations. Did you meet all of them? Did you fall short any where? Can you fix those with extra (non-obligatory) actions?

#3: The Tongues, Hands, and Feet

Out of these three, the tongue overshadows the other two by far. Rasulullah (salallahu alayhi wa sallam) said:

مَنْ يَضْمَنْ لِي مَا بَيْنَ لَحْيَيْهِ وَمَا بَيْنَ رِجْلَيْهِ أَضْمَنْ لَهُ الْجَنَّةَ

Translation: Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) said, “Whoever can guarantee (the chastity of) what is between his two jaw-bones and what is between his two legs (i.e. his tongue and his private parts), I guarantee Paradise for him.” (Saheeh Bukhari)

In your muhasabah, ask yourself: Did I lie? Did I cheat? Did I steal? Do I frequently backbite? You may find that certain circumstances (eg. places you go, or people you spend time with) lead you into sins of the tongue.

Action: Make a “tongue” calendar. Count how many days your tongue is sin-free. Whenever you fall into a sin of the tongue, mark down the day, and start counting from zero. If you can survive 30-40 days without mistakes, you’ve mastered your tongue.

#4: Moments of Distraction

If you ever feel that you’re too busy, or that you consume entertainment too much (eg. music, television, videos, perhaps non-beneficial books), make a note of it. That’s a candidate to replace with dhikr.

Action: There is (literally) a dhikr for every occasion. Grab a copy (digital/app or physical) of Hisnul Muslim and other books of adhkar, and memorize appropriate du’as for your situation.

In Conclusion

If you can master muhasabah, you can consciously and continuously work towards a stronger hereafter. Every day that passes sees a better you (either a day with more good than bad, or a day with enough lessons learned to make you stronger).

For additional reading material, consider reading “Agenda to Change our Condition.” Ibn Tammiyah, Ibn Al-Qayyim, Imam Ghazali, and others also wrote extensively about taqwa and muhasabah.

Source: Four Steps to Taqwa. Presented by Arssal Shahabuddin on February 22, 2016.

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Ar-Rahman and Ar-Raheem Together

Allah introduces himself in Surah Fatiha as Ar-Rahman and Ar-Raheem, both. Both of these names derive their meaning from the word mercy (rahmah).

In classical Arabic, rahmah represents the mercy of a mother for her child. As the child grows, it causes the mother to be sick and weak; it eats nutrition from the mother; in the later trimesters, the child even stretches, punches, or kicks the mother’s ribs! But still, the mother cares for, takes care of, and protects the child.

Similarly, both of these names mean something merciful. They have a difference through.

The name Ar-Rahman means:
– Allah is extremely merciful
– Allah is not just merciful, but is being very merciful right now.
– Allah’s mercy is not permanent; it can leave you if you do wrong.

In contrast, the name Ar-Raheem means:
– Allah’s mercy is permanent
– Allah’s mercy is not necessarily happening right now
– Allah’s mercy is not the same level of extremely merciful

Ibn Abbas used to say that Ar-Raheem is only for believers, while Ar-Rahman is for all the creatures and everything on earth — because permanent mercy is what you need for Jannah, and that’s only for believers.

By combining these two names together, we get the total meaning of Allah being extremely and permanently merciful, both immediately (right now) and in the future!

And this is why we start with “Bismillahi Ar-Rahmaani Ar-Raheem” when we do something good; because we want Allah’s mercy and blessings (barakah) both immediately and in the future.

And this is how Allah introduces himself in Surah Fatiha, as Ar-Rahman Ar-Raheem. (But too much mercy can also lead people astray — they’ll do whatever they want — so Allah adds “Maalik al-yawm ad-deen” to keep us balanced between hope and fear.)

As a corollary of this, whenever Allah mentions only one of these names (eg. Ar-Rahman), He’s intentionally highlighting a very specific type of mercy — such as in Surat Ar-Rahmaan (Allah revealed the Qur’an right now to us).

May Allah allow us to understand and actualize His great names (ameen).

Source: Bayyinah – Qur’an: Cover to Cover, by ustadh Nouman Ali Khan. Videos for Surah Fatiha, parts 1d and 2. Retrieved February 18, 2016.

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I’m Drowning and I Don’t Know Why

Have you ever felt like you were drowning? Submerged in the depths of the world? With darkness encompassing you everywhere you went?

I have.

And what makes the situation even more difficult to swim through is when you don’t know why. Everything seems to be on point; you’re praying, going to the masjid, giving charity, etc. yet that feeling of drowning is ever-so-present.

What’s going on? 

I want you to imagine an empty jar with dirt in it (or just look below).

Imagine pouring water into that jar until it reaches the top. Close the jar. Shake it up a little if you want and voila! What do you see? Likely a very dirty jar. Now, take that same jar and empty out the dirt. Imagine pouring water into the jar. Close the lid. Give it a shake. What do you see now? Likely a cleaner jar full of water.

In this small example is a solution for anyone who feels like they’re drowning.

That jar is our hearts, the dirt is our sins and the water is our good deeds. We can’t expect our hearts to become pure by only doing good deeds. Rather, we have to make a concentrated effort to remove sins and diseases firstly while increasing our good deeds for maximum results.

This doesn’t mean we leave off good deeds all together. It just means that after the obligatory actions, we should put most of our energy into removing the bad qualities and sins first. The reality is our subtle sins, the ones that go unnoticed, those are the anchors that keep us submerged in the depths of the water.

It’s no wonder Allah says so emphatically in Surah ash-Shams:

وَالشَّمْسِ وَضُحَاهَا وَالْقَمَرِ إِذَا تَلَاهَا وَالنَّهَارِ إِذَا جَلَّاهَا وَاللَّيْلِ إِذَا يَغْشَاهَا وَالسَّمَاءِ وَمَا بَنَاهَا وَالْأَرْضِ وَمَا طَحَاهَا وَنَفْسٍ وَمَا سَوَّاهَا فَأَلْهَمَهَا فُجُورَهَا وَتَقْوَاهَا قَدْ أَفْلَحَ مَن زَكَّاهَا وَقَدْ خَابَ مَن دَسَّاهَا
By the sun and its brightness. And [by] the moon when it follows it. And [by] the day when it displays it. And [by] the night when it covers it. And [by] the sky and He who constructed it. And [by] the earth and He who spread it. And [by] the soul and He who proportioned it and inspired it [with discernment of] its wickedness and its righteousness. He has succeeded who purifies it and he has failed who instills it [with corruption].

Subhanallah. Look at the number of oaths our Creator, Sustainer, and Protector took just to make a simple point: He has succeeded who purifies it.

If you can escape from those anchors and constantly purify your hearts of the dirt, you’ll have a chance at breathing again; you’ll have a chance at rising from the depths of the world, above the water, and have light encompass you wherever you go. No more drowning. No more darkness. 

So what are some of the common sins that may be holding us down and possibly creating a barrier between us and reaching Allah with a pure heart? Here’s a few to watch out for, all of which will be expounded upon in later posts insha’llah.

  • Acts of hypocrisy: breaking trusts, lying, acting treacherously, arguing in an insulting manner, standing lazily and being absent minded in prayer
  • Acts of the tongue: unnecessarily talking, backbiting, gossiping, slandering
  • Acts of the heart: jealousy, envy, excessive love for the duniya, showing off

وَلَا تُخْزِنِي يَوْمَ يُبْعَثُونَ يَوْمَ لَا يَنفَعُ مَالٌ وَلَا بَنُونَ إِلَّا مَنْ أَتَى اللَّهَ بِقَلْبٍ سَلِيمٍ
And do not disgrace me on the Day they are [all] resurrected – The Day when there will not benefit [anyone] wealth or children, but only one who comes to Allah with a sound heart. [Shu’ara’ 87-89]

May Allah make us of those who reach Him with a pure heart. Ameen.

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Our Children, Our Test – Naseeha to Parents

There he stood. A grown man, towering to the sky. Broad shoulders, and so much pain in his eyes. I know it’s impossible, yet I could hear his heart sobbing. In reality though it was just the sound of my own pumping away. I stopped, asked, and what I was about to hear would break my heart in pieces. It’s a painful encounter I’ve heard over and over again of parents who’ve ‘lost’ their children for one reason or another to drugs, alcohol, fame, money, friends, etc.

As a father of two, Alhamdulillah, I can’t help but reflect on the idea that I may be in a similar situation one day. If the Prophets ‘alayhum salaam were tested with trials regarding their children, how can I feel secure? Why should I feel I won’t be tested with something similar?

Allah tells us in vivid detail the story of Nuh ‘alayhi salaam and his incident with the ark. When you read through the set of verses in Surah Hud, you can almost depict the entire scene in your mind…

Scary. Heart-wrenching. Emotional.

Zooming in on one part of the story. After Nuh ‘alayhi salaam built the ark and set sail, after calling out to his son and advising him to come on board, after his son defies the advice, and after his own son is perished in this matter decreed by Allah, you can almost sense the anguish of Nuh ‘alayhi salaam in his response:

وَنَادَىٰ نُوحٌ رَّبَّهُ فَقَالَ رَبِّ إِنَّ ابْنِي مِنْ أَهْلِي وَإِنَّ وَعْدَكَ الْحَقُّ وَأَنتَ أَحْكَمُ الْحَاكِمِينَ
And Noah called to his Lord and said, “My Lord, indeed my son is of my family; and indeed, Your promise is true; and You are the most just of judges!”

قَالَ يَا نُوحُ إِنَّهُ لَيْسَ مِنْ أَهْلِكَ ۖ إِنَّهُ عَمَلٌ غَيْرُ صَالِحٍ ۖ فَلَا تَسْأَلْنِ مَا لَيْسَ لَكَ بِهِ عِلْمٌ ۖ إِنِّي أَعِظُكَ أَن تَكُونَ مِنَ الْجَاهِلِينَ
He said, “O Noah, indeed he is not of your family; indeed, he is [one whose] work was other than righteous, so ask Me not for that about which you have no knowledge. Indeed, I advise you, lest you be among the ignorant.”

قَالَ رَبِّ إِنِّي أَعُوذُ بِكَ أَنْ أَسْأَلَكَ مَا لَيْسَ لِي بِهِ عِلْمٌ ۖ وَإِلَّا تَغْفِرْ لِي وَتَرْحَمْنِي أَكُن مِّنَ الْخَاسِرِينَ
[Noah] said, “My Lord, I seek refuge in You from asking that of which I have no knowledge. And unless You forgive me and have mercy upon me, I will be among the losers.”

Subhanallah, even the Prophets were tested with the loss and defiance of their children. Yet, through all of it you find Prophet Nuh’s trust and overall submission to Allah and His plan to be strong as ever.

I don’t know what tomorrow holds for me or my children, however I do expect some shades of Prophet Nuh’s trials in my own life.   It may not be in the exact way or even the extent to what Nuh ‘alayhi salaam was tested with, however at some level, I do expect it. Given this reality, I wanted to share a few pieces of advice to my fellow parents and to-be parents.

My Naseeha

Firstly, the world we grew up in yesterday is not the world our children are growing up in today; nor will it be the world they’ll grow up in tomorrow. The world is less friendly, less vigilant to uphold good morals and ethics, and overall less safe. Our children will grow up in a hyper social and sexual society that encourages and even demands a ‘look-at-me-me-me’ life-style. They will enter puberty at younger ages. They will be exposed to differing thoughts and ideas more abundantly and at younger ages then we were. So please, step up to the plate and be parents. Put less reliance upon the Imam, the Masjid, the school, the teachers, etc. in raising your children. Stop outsourcing the job because more than anyone in the world, through all the trails they’ll face, your children need you. They need you to to listen to them, to play with them, to educate them… to parent them. 

Secondly, instill within them ultimate dependence upon Allah. Children need to understand early on that more than themselves, more than their parents, family, friends, etc. that it is Allah who is in control and it is He who provides them with everything they need and want. The less we attribute blessings to Allah, the less our children will realize the true source of everything they have and the less they will seek it from Him. The less they seek it from Him, the more dependent they will become upon themselves. So what happens next? When they depend on themselves, their desires and limited knowledge become ilahs i.e. gods superior to the one and only ilah i.e. Allah.  Look at what Prophet Nuh’s son says after Nuh ‘alayhi salaam tells him to embark on the ark in Allah’s name: “I will take refuge on a mountain to protect me from the water.” His dependency upon himself and his ways eventually destroyed him.

Lastly, Never give up on your children. Never. Undoubtedly you will face tough times with your children – some of you will face incredible amounts of difficulty. However through all the pain, the heart ache, the abandonment, you don’t get to give up on them. You don’t get to throw them to the wolves and have them left for dead. You keep protecting them and supporting them. There are many examples of children who were set aright only because of the love, prayers and constant reminders of their parents. You may face a few months of backlash, maybe a few years, maybe decades, but your constant loving reminders and prayers will help them when the time is right. You don’t guide anyone, not even your own children. However, the job at hand is still to convey, and to continue conveying until your last breath. The rest we leave to Allah. Even in the story of Nuh ‘alayhi salaam, you find him pleading with Allah until the last moments, even until after the death of his son. Subhanallah.

These are just a few pieces of advice from one father’s perspective. There is much more wisdom out there with you, the readers, who likely have your own set of experiences and pieces of advice that we can all benefit from. We’d love to hear it. Leave a comment below and if you found benefit in this article, please share. JazakumAllahu Khairan.

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