Category Archives: Tazkiyyah

How to improve yourself and make your life better, from an Islamic perspective. Tazkiyyatul-nafs. Self Devleopment.

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]


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]


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]


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

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

Tafsir Ibn Kathir


Four Practical Steps to Taqwa, Step 1: Muhasabah

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.


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.


To Do List After Ramadan

Image credit: Wikipedia

Ramadan ended. (May Allah accept all our prayer, fasting, du’a, and good deeds during this blessed month — ameen!) How should we, as Muslims, act now?

We graduated from the school of Ramadan; can life simply return to normal?

Our scholars mention a few points about this:

  • Allah says, in surah Baqarah, that Ramadan was prescribed on us in the hope that we gain taqwa. Did we achieve that goal of the school of Ramadan? Or did we simply fast because of our parents, our friends, our spouse, or our culture?
  • The continuation of our deeds shows the acceptance of our deeds (even if we continue them at a smaller scale than during Ramadan).
  • We live life for a purpose, not haphazardly; just like we create dunya goals (get a degree, get a job, get a spouse, get a house, etc.) we must create deen goals, and work towards improving ourselves. Ramadan puts us through an obligatory one-month “boot camp” of self-improvement every year.

Did you pass the test of Ramadan? Did you benefit from Ramadan? The litmus test is: are you better after Ramadan than you were before Ramadan?

You can’t compare to yourself to in-Ramadan, because it’s not sustainable. At the same time, scholars say, if you live your life like you did in Ramadan, the Day of Repayment will be your Eid. That’s what this is all about. That is a goal worthy of setting.

Now, the game plan: the secret sauce of what to do after Ramadan comes from one key hadith of rasulullah (ﷺ):

أَخْبَرَنَا قُتَيْبَةُ، قَالَ حَدَّثَنَا اللَّيْثُ، عَنِ ابْنِ عَجْلاَنَ، عَنْ سَعِيدٍ الْمَقْبُرِيِّ، عَنْ أَبِي سَلَمَةَ، عَنْ عَائِشَةَ، قَالَتْ كَانَ لِرَسُولِ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم حَصِيرَةٌ يَبْسُطُهَا بِالنَّهَارِ وَيَحْتَجِرُهَا بِاللَّيْلِ فَيُصَلِّي فِيهَا فَفَطِنَ لَهُ النَّاسُ فَصَلَّوْا بِصَلاَتِهِ وَبَيْنَهُ وَبَيْنَهُمُ الْحَصِيرَةُ فَقَالَ ‏ “‏ اكْلَفُوا مِنَ الْعَمَلِ مَا تُطِيقُونَ فَإِنَّ اللَّهَ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ لاَ يَمَلُّ حَتَّى تَمَلُّوا وَإِنَّ أَحَبَّ الأَعْمَالِ إِلَى اللَّهِ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ أَدْوَمُهُ وَإِنْ قَلَّ ‏”‏ ‏.‏ ثُمَّ تَرَكَ مُصَلاَّهُ ذَلِكَ فَمَا عَادَ لَهُ حَتَّى قَبَضَهُ اللَّهُ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ وَكَانَ إِذَا عَمِلَ عَمَلاً أَثْبَتَهُ ‏.‏
It was narrated that ‘Aishah said: “The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: ‘Do as much of good deeds as you can, for Allah does not get tired (of giving reward) until you get tired. And the most beloved of deeds to Allah are those that are continuous, even if they are few.‘ Then he stopped that prayer and did not return to it until Allah took him (in death), and if he started to do something he would persist in it.” (Sunan An-Nasaai, 9/21)

(You can click the link to read the full English translation, instead of just this excerpt.)

In Ramadan, think about the actions we performed. We:

  • Prayed a lot.
  • Prayed in jama’ah/congregation
  • Prayed Qiyaam Al-Layl
  • Fasted. Every day.
  • Gave charity. Lots of it.
  • Reached out to our family.

We can continue all these deeds after Ramadan:

  • Don’t pray 5x a day yet? Start. Improve yourself. Add just one prayer to what you pray now.
  • Don’t pray qiyaam? Start. Pray two short rakahs right after Isha, and gradually make it longer and later and larger in quantity.
  • Don’t fast any extra fasts? Start. Aim for three times a month (the White Days), or every Monday, or every Monday and Thursday.
  • Don’t give sadaqah outside of Ramadan? Start. Give sadaqah, even if only a dollar once a week.
  • Don’t have a good relationship with some of your relatives? Fix it. Talk to your family, especially distant relatives.
  • Don’t read the Qur’an regularly? Start. Read something every day. Start with just one page a day, but read it with tafseer.

And a final warning: aim for slow, steady improvement over time. One trick Shaytaan capitalizes on is to encourage us to do everything and anything, all at once. Just like you can’t quit smoking today and run a marathon tomorrow, you can’t change full-force in a short amount of time.

Don’t even try. This may appear to work — for a day or two, or a week — until you burn out, and give up completely. Don’t fall for it. Start slow, and improve yourself until you become a much better person than you are.

May Allah allow us to seek the true, long-term benefits of Ramadan and better ourselves as people.

Source: Friday Khutbah at ISNA by shaykh Alaa Elsayed, August 7, 2015.


Pray as if This is your Last Prayer


You often hear the khatheeb or imam, right before the salah starts, saying “pray as if this is your last prayer.” Sure, but what does it mean, and how do we do it?

As one of the righteous people of the past said:

Pray as if Jannah is on your right side, Hellfire is on your left side, the siraat (bridge over Hellfire) is under you, the angel of death is behind you (waiting to take your soul any minute), your sins are above you (waiting to crush and destroy you), and this is the last deed, the one that decides if you go to Jannah or Jahannam forever.

Imagine that these are the last few moments of your life, of your last salah. Imagine the green, lush gardens on your right. Imagine the heat, the smoke, on your left. Imagine a bridge under you, thinner than a hair and sharper than a sword.

Imagine the angel of death, like the head of a team, waiting behind you; waiting to take your soul at any instant.

Imagine your sins, the ones people know about and the ones they don’t, the ones you make excuses for and the ones you justify, the things you know you should do but don’t, all hovering above you like a giant black mountain, waiting to crush you from their collective weight.

This is it; this is your last chance, your last moment, your last deed, before your books are closed, your story is over. Life is upon the ending; will your ending be good, or evil?

It’s your choice, to decide right now, in these last moments as you pray your final farewell prayer to dunya.

How would you pray in those moments? Nobody knows when they will be; they may very well be right now.

That is the feeling you want to capture in your heart and mind as you pray. Everything else in this life will fade away compared to that.

Try it. You will feel the difference for yourself.

Source: Friday Khutbah at ISNA by shaykh Alaa Elsayed, August 22, 2014.


Follow the Sunnah – Week 2

Last week, we started a new series. The goal of the series is to learn and implement the sunnah in our lives. We started with the sunnah of our beloved Prophet (May Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him) on waking up. I hope all of you have been practicing that sunnah. Here is the sunnah for this week:

Entering the Washroom:

  • Enter with slippers/shoes
  • Make the dua
  • Enter with Left foot

After Entering the Washroom:

  • Remove your clothes(trouser, pants) after sitting down or when near to the floor
  • Use left hand for washing private part
  • Avoid the urine drops
  • After finishing, sit for a while and then stand up

Tip of the Week:

Try to get someone else involved with you (friend, family member etc), so that you can remind, compete and check up on each other.  It’s easy for shaitan to distract us when we are working alone but harder when we work as group.

Action Item:

  1. Make a plan on how will you implement and work on this week’s sunnah item.


Booklet: Sunnah Checklist – published by Alhuda International

Previous Post in this Series:


Beacons of Light

The following is a guest post from I Got it Covered, a blog about hijab, Islam, and life. You can find the original article here.

In the time of ‘Umar ibn Al-Khattab, radiAllahu anhu, the second Khalifah, it was mandatory upon all the young girls to learn Surat an-Noor.

From the beauty of this Surah is that it begins with, “[This is] a surah which We have sent down and made [that within it] obligatory and revealed therein verses of clear evidence that you might remember” [Surat an-Noor: 1]. Although the whole Qur’an is obligatory upon us, this Surah begins with that commandment, as a special reminder. And then, later on in the Surah, comes the commandment of hijab [see Surat an-Noor: 31].

The commandment of hijab is in a Surah that begins by reminding the reader that its contents are obligatory! And yet we find some people today trying to deny the command of hijab.

It should be noted that it was not mandatory for young girls at the time of Umar to wear hijab. Rather, it was mandatory upon them to learn this Surah, specifically at that age. Once these girls were immersed in the Qur’an, learning the beauty of its words, understanding its true meaning, hearing the tafseer – that is when understanding and conviction entered their hearts. They understood and become people who said “Sami’na wa ata’ana” – “We hear and we Obey.” [Surah Noor: 51]

Every day, it seems, we come across Muslims calling for certain commandments in Islam to be ignored, or others to be added. These people claim they’ve “experienced” the command or “read” the Qur’an. With this knowledge bulging like a pea in their back pocket, they are now free to hand over fatwas to the Mass Media. Whereas anyone with just a little bit of actual Islamic knowledge would know these claims were wrong.

It reminds me of how scholars of the likes of Imam Maalik, rahimahuAllah, would say “La ‘adree” or “I don’t know” when asked a question. They were not ashamed to admit when they didn’t know something, and were much more fearful of saying anything incorrect, of lying against Allah with incorrect knowledge. These scholars were the ones who had spent years learning under thousands of other scholars, and still felt uncomfortable giving fatwas out like there’s no tomorrow.

It seems that nowadays, thanks to having “Shaykh” Google in our cellphones and lattes in our hands, we can answer any question on Islam without any prior knowledge. We can condemn things and make other things permissible, because who are we going to answer to? I mean, all the knowledge you need is with “Shaykh” Google and that latte – it just proves how far we have come over the years. You need energy whilst giving fatwas, right?

SubhanAllah. Have we forgotten? “Shaykh” Google isn’t going to have our backs on the Day when there will be no shade except Allah’s. Only Allah will. He gave us the Qur’an, a guidance to mankind, out of His mercy; and yet some of us deny it, saying our intellect gives us better solutions to life’s dilemmas.

If we took out 1 hour each week, just 1 hour, studying the Arabic of the Qur’an – the meaning, the depth, the beauty, the hikmah (wisdom) – behind the commands, we would not be condemning our own religion. An ignorant, precursory glance over a (usually) mistaken translation often leads people to saying the incorrect things they do. But the understanding gained from regular study would allow us, when we hear this phrase (often repeated in the Qur’an) “Afala ta’qiloonDo they not then use their intellect?” [2:44, 2:76, 11:51 and others], to properly utilize our minds – a blessing given to us by Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala Himself.

Of course there are others, who, may Allah protect us, have had their hearts hardened and sealed, and so they speak out of ignorance and arrogance, not caring or admitting that they might be wrong; but mostly, I believe, these mistakes come from ignorance.

Even those who lived in “jahiliyyah,” or “ignorance” at the time of the Prophet, salla Allahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, did not deny the beauty or truth of the Qur’an. Recitations of the Qur’an (because they also understood it) hit them like a brick wall – they stopped, frozen in their places, thinking of the words of Allah, even though they denied the message.

It seems 1400 years and countless scientific discoveries and advancements haven’t softened our hearts or opened our understanding. We’ve become a mass of people with tunnel vision.

With that being said, we need to make it a priority for ourselves to constantly be increasing in our ‘ilm, our knowledge. With the amount of ignorance of our deen among Muslims and non-Muslims, we need to become beacons of light, beautifully showing the Commandments of Allah in action. We cannot afford to speak out of ignorance, for the harm it brings to us, to others, and to Islam. Hikmah (wisdom) and ‘Ilm (knowledge) with proper implementation will allow us to become those beacons of light in this darkness of ignorance, insha’Allah.

The Arabian peninsula… and later the surrounding Arabian countries… then the Orient… and parts of Europe… they did not just come under Muslim rule because of a war. They came under Muslim rule because of the people – the beacons of light they saw coming to their cities – the well-mannered, merciful, polite ambassadors of Islam, who implemented what was commanded of them from their Lord. It is now our turn to follow their footsteps and to shine that light on our world.

If you want to understand Allah’s commandment for hijab – if you want to internalize it and have it enter your heart – go to the Qur’an. Go to Surat an-Noor, especially, with a clean heart and pure intentions, and read it. Open up Allah’s Book, open up the tafseer and the books of hadith, and insha’Allah, Allah will open up your heart and intellect to the truth.

For more posts like this, visit I Got it Covered at


Tafseer Surah Tariq: You Will Be Recreated

This is post #37 in our series on Tafseer of Juz ‘Amma (click the link to see all posts in this series).

Allah says, in Surah Tariq:

وَالسَّمَاءِ وَالطَّارِقِ
وَمَا أَدْرَاكَ مَا الطَّارِقُ
النَّجْمُ الثَّاقِبُ

Translation: By the sky and the night comer (At-Tariq), And what can make you know what is the night comer? It is the piercing star. [Surah At-Taariq, verses 1-3]

As we mentioned before, one of the characteristics of early and Mecci surahs, like this one, is that they begin with a qasam — an oath, a testification. And this shows the greatness of that thing, that Allah (‘azza wa jal) is testifying by it.

As we mentioned before, we should always ask yourself — why is Allah testifying? Of all books, this book is the Qur’an, the most important book; and of all speakers, the speaker is Allah, the Rabb of creation. AND on top, Allah is testifying.


Allah continues (skipping a verse):

فَلْيَنظُرِ الْإِنسَانُ مِمَّ خُلِقَ
خُلِقَ مِن مَّاءٍ دَافِقٍ
يَخْرُجُ مِن بَيْنِ الصُّلْبِ وَالتَّرَائِبِ
إِنَّهُ عَلَىٰ رَجْعِهِ لَقَادِرٌ

Translation: So let man observe from what he was created. He was created from a fluid, ejected, Emerging from between the backbone and the ribs. Indeed, Allah , to return him [to life], is Able. [Surah Tariq, verses 5-8]

Allah then talks about the creation of man, and how man was created from virtually nothing; from this, a full, functional human being emerges. And then Allah (‘azza wa jal) mentions–as was mentioned in many other verses–that He is able to bring them back to life.

This is an aspect that the mushrik Arabs had a very hard time grasping; they would be resurrected, after becoming bones and then dust? And not only that, Allah mentions elsewhere, that He will recreate us down to our fingertips–every detail, perfectly recreated, as it was originally created.

And we intuitively understand this. If you think about manufacturing, what’s the hardest part? Coming up with a product or idea the first time! Once it’s been done, it’s usually much less effort to recreate and redo it over and over–and in bulk!

And then, Allah says:

يَوْمَ تُبْلَى السَّرَائِرُ
فَمَا لَهُ مِن قُوَّةٍ وَلَا نَاصِرٍ

Translation: The Day when secrets will be put on trial, Then man will have no power or any helper. [Verses 9-10]

That’s where we are going — resurrection on a day when all the secrets will be exposed publicly, on a day when we will have no strength, no power, and nobody to help us.

Everyone stands alone on that day.

We discussed prior verses about the day when graves will be dumped open, and that hearts will be peeled; here, we see another aspect — secrets will be exposed publicly.

Ibn Katheer mentions in his tafseer a hadith from Bukhari and Muslim regarding this verse:

Narrated Ibn ‘Umar: The Prophet said, “For every betrayer (perfidious person), a flag will be raised on the Day of Resurrection, and it will be announced (publicly) ‘This is the betrayal (perfidy) of so-and-so, the son of so-and-so.'” [Recorded in Bukhari here, here, here, and here with slight variations.]

Imagine that! That person who you betrayed secretly, whom nobody saw you plan against … that day, not only will it be publicly announced in front of the entire human race that you did so, but to make sure that people know who’s being mentioned, you’ll have a big flag pointing you out.

That’s Allah–the one who sees everything, hears everything, and knows everything, down to the most minute, unimaginably small level. And that is the day that we should prepare for, a day that has no doubt in it.

Thus, tafseer of Surah Tariq.



Reminder Series: Seeking His Love 3

Bismillah walhamdolilah wasalatu wassalam ‘ala rasool Allah

Continuing in the ten ways to achieve the love of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala, here are the last five points as per ibn al-Qayyim rahimuhallauh:

Sixth, observing Allaah’s kindness, goodness and bounties, both hidden and open.

It is to be aware of the vast amounts of Mercy Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala has engulfed His slaves with. It is to recognize and accept the blessings of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala and to show thanks for it. As Allah says: “Then which of the Blessings of your Lord will you both (jinns and men) deny?” [Surah Rehman V.13]

Seventh, and this is the most wonderful, the heart being soft, subdued and meek before Allaah.

Eighth, being alone with Allaah during the time when the Lord descends during the last portion of the night while reading His Book and ending that by asking for forgiveness and repenting.

Allah says in the Qur’an, the meaning of which is: “And in some parts of the night (also) offer the Salat (prayer) with it (i.e. recite the Quran in the prayer), as an additional prayer (Tahajjud optional prayer Nawafil) for you (O Muhammad SAW). It may be that your Lord will raise you to Maqaman Mahmuda (a station of praise and glory, i.e. the highest degree in Paradise!)” [17:79]

Imam as-Suyooti rahimuhallah says in his tafsir of this verse: “It may be that your Lord will raise you to, establish you, in the Hereafter in a praiseworthy station, one for which the first and last [of mankind] will praise you — and this is the station of intercession [which will take place] during [the passing of] the Final Judgement”

Much can be said about the blessings of the night prayer. It is sufficient though for our purpose to quote the hadith narrated by Abu Hurairah radhiAllah anhu in which the Prophet sallalahu alayhi wasalam said (the meaning of which is): “Our Lord descends to the lowest heaven during the last third of the night, inquiring: ‘Who will call on Me so that I may respond to him? Who is asking something of Me so I may give it to him? Who is asking for My forgiveness so I may forgive him?'”

Truly, those who regularily commit to praying in the last third of the night, they are the successful ones. We ask Allah to make us amongst the blessed people who can reach that status.

Ninth, sitting with the beloved and sincere, benefitting from the most fruitful of their speech. And not to speak unless speaking is more beneficial and you know that it will improve your state and be beneficial to others.

Tenth, remaining away from every cause that comes between the heart and Allaah

In a hadith collected  by Imam Bukhari rahimuhallah and narrated by Nu’man ibn Bashir radhiAllah anhu, the Prophet sallalahu alayhi wasalam said: “…Beware, in the body there is a flesh; if it is sound, the whole body is sound, and if it is corrupt, the whole body is corrupt, and behold, it is the heart.”

The purity of this heart is directly linked to the actions of the heart, the limbs, and the statements of the tongues because these are the three means of sinning. With every sin the Son of Adam commits his eman diminishes and his heart gets dirtier.

In regards to the heart, some of the salaf used to say: “The heart is the king of the limbs and the rest of the limbs are its soldiers; they always obey him by implementing his instructions and they never disobey him in any regard.  (Remember) when the king is pious, his soldiers will also be pious.  Similarly, when the king is sinful, his soldiers will also be sinful.”

May Allah shower us with a blessed journey towards attaining His Love. Ameen.


Reminder Series: Seeking His Love 2

Bismillah walhamdolilah wassalatu wassalam ‘ala rasool Allah

Here are ten ways to attain the love of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala, as per Ibn al-Qayyim rahimuhallah:

First, reciting the Qur’an while pondering over its meanings and what is meant by it.

Allah says, the meaning of which is: “Then do they not reflect upon the Qur’an? If it had been from [any] other than Allah , they would have found within it much contradiction” [4:82]

Allah rebukes those who do not ponder and reflect over the Qur’an. Thus, this verse is a means to motivate the believing men and women to reflect and ponder over the book of Allah so that they are not considered among that rebuked category of people.

In the tafsir of the above verse, Ibn Kathir rahimuhallah mentions:

Allah commands them to contemplate about the Qur’an and forbids them from ignoring it, or ignoring its wise meanings and eloquent words. Allah states that there are no inconsistencies, contradictions, conflicting statements or discrepancies in the Qur’an, because it is a revelation from the Most-Wise, Worthy of all praise. Therefore, the Qur’an is the truth coming from the Truth, Allah. This is why Allah said in another Ayah, “Do they not then think deeply in the Qur’an, or are their hearts locked up (from understanding it.”

Second, getting closer to Allaah by performing voluntary deeds after completing obligatory deeds. This is as is stated in a Hadith Qudsi: “…My slave continues getting closer to Me by performing voluntary deeds until I love him.”

The love of Allah will come after we take the steps in coming closer to Him, starting with what He has made an obligation upon us. This isn’t to say that its easy. It’s difficult job to struggle in worship and struggle to achieve His love. Initially, we may be weak and find it difficult and quit. However, if we stick with it,we will find our love for those deeds to grow within our hearts. And with the love of those deeds comes the love of the Most Loving, Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala.

Third, continual remembrance of Allaah under all circumstances, with one’s tongue, heart and actions. The extent of one’s love of Allaah is determined by this.

Allah says, the meaning of which is: “O you who believe! Remember Allah with much remembrance” [33:41]

Fourth, giving precedence to what He loves over what you love when you are overtaken by your desires.

Truly, this is a sign of a believer and one who has submitted to Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala. The lover will always put his lovers desires over his own. Then who is more worthy of loving than Allah?

Fifth, the heart being avid of Allaah’s Names, and Attributes and the heart roaming in that garden of knowledge.

Indeed, knowledge brings about awareness and awareness bring about understanding and understanding brings about love. The one who loves seeks out the ways to love and ways to attain his lover’s love. In the same manner, the love of Allah is in knowing the deen, and implementing it in our lives. And of the greatest forms of knowledge is to have the knowledge of His beautiful Names and Attributes. By knowing His Names and Attributes, you begin to understand Allah, the Lord of the Heavens and the Earth. And I ask you, who doesn’t want to know His Lord?

Allah says, the meaning of which is: “And to Allah belong the best names, so invoke Him by them” [7:180]

Stay tuned for the last five…