Remembering Death | Al-Hayat Ad-Dunya

Al-Hayat Ad-Dunya

“Know that the worldly life [al-hayat ad-dunya] is but
[la’ibun] and [lahwun], [zinatun] and [tafaakhurun] among you,
and [takaatsurun] in respect of wealth and children…”
[Al-Hadid 57:20]

Allah SWT gives us the definition of [al-hayat ad-dunya]. Look at the 5 key words mentioned in the ayah and the meaning of their root words:

[La’ibun] = engaging in idle activity without meaning or purpose
[Lahwun] = becoming diverted and neglectful
[Zinatun] = pomp / to beautify
[Tafaakhurun] = self-glorification
[Takaatsurun] = to surpass in quantity.

Notice that all of the keywords do not refer to something physical, but the characteristic / lifestyle to that effect:

A person’s lifestyle that constantly engages in unmeaningful activities is al-hayat ad-dunya.

A person’s lifestyle that neglects one’s obligations that are due upon him is al-hayat ad-dunya.

A person’s lifestyle that is all about vain and pomp is al-hayat ad-dunya.

A person’s lifestyle that boasts and self-glorifies oneself is al-hayat ad-dunya.

A person’s lifestyle that revolves around rivalry in terms of wealth and children is al-hayat ad-dunya.

Al-hayat ad-dunya is, in a nutshell:
a lifestyle that is purely oriented to the now, to the present.

You live a wealthy lifestyle in the present at the cost of being bankrupt in the Hereafter. You chase after people’s praises and admiration at the cost of being forgotten and tormented in the Hereafter. You want to be super successful in each and every aspect in your life, even if it means sacrificing everything in the Hereafter.
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Al-hayat ad-dunya is not wealth, lots of cars and mansions, etc rather our behavior towards these things. The tools for la’ibun, lahwun, zinatun, tafaakhurun, takaatsurun are all neutral. Your wealth is not haram. Your status is not haram. Your beauty is not haram. In fact, our Deen advocates us to work hard, to be successful, to wear nice! What is important is our behaviour / lifestyle towards these things that will determine whether we’re sinning or not. And Allah SWT warns us at the end of the ayah:

“…And al-hayat ad-dunya is only a deceiving enjoyment.”
[Al-Hadid 57:20]

If that game preoccupies most of your time, leave it. If that friend / gathering constantly makes you neglect your obligations to the Deen and family, leave. It’s difficult, I know. But we need to look at our daily routine, interactions and the intentions behind them all.

Don’t chase the present at the cost of the Hereafter.

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Remembering Death | Carry On Doing Good Deeds

Rasulallah ﷺ said:

“Carry on doing (good) deeds,
for everybody will find easy to do deeds
that will lead him to his destined place for which he has been created.

So he who is destined to be among the happy (in the Hereafter),
will find it easy to do the deeds characteristic of such people,

while he who is destined to be among the miserable ones,
will find it easy to do the deeds characteristic of such people.”
[Sahih Bukhari]

It’s difficult to abandon a deed / habit that we like. Look at the Prophets. Look at the sahabah who were promised Jannah. They were constantly in love with doing good deeds – they were made easy, beloved, and light for them. Then look at their enemies, the likes of Abu Jahal and Abu Lahab, they loved opposing Rasulallah ﷺ in any way whatsoever – those things were made easy and paramount to them until they met their end.

Now we look at ourselves. What is it that occupies our time the most? It is good, evil, or something that does not bring any benefit at all? Do I have to abandon those deeds? If we truly understand the magnitude of the hadith above, then we know the answer.

To the ones who indulge in khayr – be constant. Be constant so much to a point that you feel a sense of overwhelming loss if the opportunity of doing that khayr was missed.

And when we fall into sins, HOLD ON TO THAT ABILITY TO FEEL GUILTY. Be grateful to Allah SWT when we still have a sense of remorse after sinning. Being desensitized to sins and laghw is a huge indicator of the state of one’s heart and iman.

May Allah SWT make it easy for us to abandon our bad habits. And may we all be written to be among the joyful ones in the Hereafter.

Remembering Death | The Deeds We Carry To Our Graves

Ta-Ha 20 : 75

My teacher once taught us: our compensation in al-Barzakh (alam barzakh), whether they be good or bad, DOES NOT depend on the deeds we did while still living, rather it depends on the deeds that we carry after our death.

Take an example: A did 100 good deeds when he was alive, so will he be rewarded for those 100 good deeds after his death? Not necessarily so! Because our good deeds can still be nullified – through shirk, bid’ah, riya’, etc. So A, even though he might had seem pious to his community, actually only brought 5 good deeds after his death.

In contrast, B had done so many sins – remember the hadith that talks about the man who killed 100 people, or the magicians who practiced sorcery and opposed Nabi Musa AS? They were all committing major sins throughout their lives! But because they came back to Allah SWT in humility, regretted what they had done, repented sincerely to Allah which He SWT accepted – then they do not carry those sins and their consequences (i.e. punishment) to their graves.

So here is the lesson for me and you: When we see we’ve achieved to do what Allah has commanded, do not be so full of ourselves. Because what is important are the deeds we carry after our death, not deeds that we thought we have but are actually nullified due to our sins. Similarly, when we fall into sins – no matter how big or small they are – never ever stop making tawbah, never ever despair of His Mercy. Whatever prevents us from coming closer to Allah, make the decision to leave it for His sake. Because all that will be left in the end with us are our deeds – and their consequences.

May Allah SWT accept our deeds.
May Allah SWT protect us from anything that will nullify our deeds.
And may we return to Him SWT free of sins.

Al-Asma Al-Husna | Related Ahadeeth

Al-Asma Al-Husna2

Memorizing Al-Asma Al-Husna Shortcut to Jannah?

There is a well known hadith where Rasulallah ﷺ said:

إِنَّ لِلَّهِ تِسْعَةً وَتِسْعِينَ اسْمًا مِائَةً إِلاَّ وَاحِدًا، مَنْ أَحْصَاهَا دَخَلَ الْجَنَّةَ
“Indeed Allah has ninety-nine Names, one hundred less one,
whoever counts [ahsaa] them shall enter Jannah.”
[Sahih Bukhari]

We were taught since we were young to memorize Al-Asma Al-Husna because it is a means to gain entry to Jannah. Sounds simple, sounds like a shortcut even right?

And I will tell you that there is no shortcut to Jannah.

Yes, the hadith is sahih, but there is a misconception that we will immediately gain Jannah simply by memorizing Al-Asma Al-Husna. Sheikh ibn Salih al-‘Uthaymeen said, “What is meant by memorising them is not merely writing them on a piece of paper, then repeating them until you have memorised them…” Rasulallah ﷺ used the word أَحْصَا in this hadith, and its meaning comprises of:

1. Memorizing
2. Understanding
3. Worshipping Allah by acting upon the meanings of Al-Asma Al-Husna
4. Worshipping Allah by calling upon Him by Al-Asma Al-Husna (i.e. tawassul).

Here’s an easy example: I believe that As-Samii’ (The All-Hearing) is one of Al-Asma Al-Husna, and from that Name, I believe that Allah SWT has the attribute of All-Hearing. But these are merely the minimum aspects in learning Al-Asma Al-Husna. On top of all that, I must have a FIRM CONVICTION that every word that I utter, either in public or in private, are 100% heard by As-Sami’. And because of this conviction, I will only speak words that are pleasing to Him SWT.

Similarly, I believe that Allah SWT is Al-Basir (The All-Seeing). I have a general understanding what the Name means. But I must also have full conviction that nothing that I do is ever hidden from Al-Basir, no matter how big or small that action is, no matter how public or secretive that deed is. And because of that conviction, I will only do deeds that are pleasing to Him SWT.

What is the point if I have memorized As-Sami’, but continue backbiting and slandering people? What is the meaning of memorizing Al-Basir, but I continue sinning behind closed doors? A Muslim who has this firm conviction of Al-Asma Al-Husna will truly exert in doing good deeds, and will be ashamed and afraid to sin. He / She will be one of the beloved slaves of Allah SWT, one whom Rasulallah ﷺ said will be assured entrance to Jannah. That is the true meaning of أَحْصَا.

In a nutshell, it is absolutely mandatory for everyone to have knowledge of Al-Asma Al-Husna, believe in all of them, and worship Allah SWT in accordance with the meaning of the Names through our intention, speech and action.

Allah SWT Has More Than 99 Names

Rasulallah ﷺ said:

“There is no one who is afflicted by distress and grief, and says:
{Allahumma, I am Your slave, son of Your slave, son of Your maidservant;
my forelock is in Your hand,
Your command over me is forever executed and Your decree over me is just.
I ask You by every name belonging to You which You have named Yourself with,
or revealed in Your Book, or You taught to any of Your creation,
or You have preserved in the knowledge of the Unseen with You,
that You make the Qur’an the life of my heart and the light of my chest,
and a departure for my sorrow and a release for my anxiety.}
but Allah will take away his distress and grief, and replace it with joy.”
[Musnad Ahmad]

We learn from this hadith that the Names of Allah SWT is more than 99 Names. But out of His Rahmah, Allah SWT has informed us through Rasulallah ﷺ that it is sufficient to أَحْصَا only His 99 Names. Subhanallah, truly Allah SWT is Ar-Rahman, Ar-Rahim.

May we become one of those who are granted Jannah.

Insya Allah in the next post, we will discuss on the rulings in learning Al-Asma Al-Husna so that we can reach as per the same understanding as our previous pious predecessors.

Al-Asma Al-Husna : Introduction

Al-Asma Al-Husna

Tawheed / Aqidah is one of the most essential knowledge that all Muslims must have, for without learning it, or even learning it through incorrect sources, will inevitably deviate a Muslim from the straight path. Tawheed means believing in Allah alone as God, and attributing to Him alone all the attributes of:

  • Lordship (rububiyyah) i.e. believing in Allah as One and Unique with regard to His actions such as creation, sovereignty, giving life and death, and so on;
  • Divinity (uluhiyyah) i.e. devoting all acts of worship to Allah Alone, and not worshipping anything else other than Allah; and
  • Names and Attributes (al-asma wal-sifat) i.e. affirming the Names and Attributes of Allah, and believing that there is none like unto Allah in His Names and Attributes.

Ibn Al-Qayyim Al-Jawziyyah rahimahullah said that the knowledge of Al-Asma Al-Husna is the foundation / basis of all other knowledge. Meaning that whatever ‘ilm we are learning – be it regarding the Deen, the worldly affairs, and everything that is contained in the cosmic universes – they must all be based upon the knowledge of Al-Asma Al-Husna, otherwise that ‘ilm may bring harm than good. For how many have studied science, yet is convinced that there is no Creator (Al-Khaliq)?

This is why one of THE most important ‘ilm that a Muslim must have is ma’rifatullah (i.e. knowing Allah SWT), and one of the best ways in trying to achieve this is through learning Al-Asma Al-Husna.

I mentioned the word ‘trying’ in this context because we will never be able to achieve a 100% full completion in learning Al-Asma Al-Husna; because we will never be able to comprehend the majestic and perfection of Allah SWT. And how could we, for He SWT is beyond our limited intellectual ability. Subhanallah.

With the importance of Aqidah in mind, insya Allah we will begin a new series on this website regarding the most beautiful Names and Attributes of Allah SWT, i.e. Al-Asma Al-Husna.

Adab In Learning Al-Asma Al-Husna
Since we will never be able to comprehend the majestic and perfection of Allah SWT, my teacher always reminds us to make tasbih (subhanallah) and istighfar (astaghfirullah) when learning Al-Asma Al-Husna, because there will always be shortcomings on our part in this endeavour. Even Rasulallah ﷺ, the man who is the most beloved to Allah SWT, would still recite the following:

“…I cannot praise You (Allah) enough, You are as You have praised yourself.”
[Sunan An-Nasa’i]

So who are we to think that our understanding, expectations, praises and glorification of Allah SWT are sufficient and perfect for Him SWT? May Allah SWT forgive our shortcomings.

The Importance of Learning Al-Asma Al-Husna
1. It is a knowledge that stems from the branch of Aqidah / Tawheed, and basis of all knowledge as mentioned earlier.

2. It is the best way to learn about Allah SWT as much as humanly possible based on daleel from the Qur’an and sahih ahadith.

When we were young, we were probably mostly taught to be afraid of Allah SWT; that He is The Most Severe in Punishment, that we will receive His Wrath and be thrown into the Hellfire when we did something wrong. We were mostly focused on that one aspect – fear. Then growing up, we began to focus on another one aspect – (false) hope, such as “It’s okay if I drink alcohol / don’t wear hijab / etc, I’ll make tawbah later, Allah is The Most Forgiving, He will forgive me.”

So we grew up either having misunderstood fear about Allah SWT – and life will certainly be full of despair! – or false hope in Allah SWT.

This is why it is important to learn Al-Asma Al-Husna, because it is mandatory upon every Muslim to both fear AND love Allah SWT. It was reported that Abu Bakr RA said:

“Allah’s worshippers should always be in a state of hope and fear,
they shouldn’t wish flimsy wishes about Allah
and neither should they despair of Allah’s mercy.”
[Refs: Abu Nu’aym, Hilyah Al-Awliya’ Vol.1 p18; Ibn Al-Jawzi, Sifah Al-Safwah]

It was also narrated that Rasulallah ﷺ entered upon a young man who was dying and asked: “How do you feel?” He said: “I have hope in Allah, O Rasulallah, but I fear my sins.” Rasulallah ﷺ said:

“These two things (hope and fear)
do not coexist in the heart of a person in a situation like this
except that Allah will give him that which he hopes for
and keep him safe from that which he fears.”
[Sunan Ibn Majah]

Instilling both love and fear of Allah SWT are achievable through learning Al-Asma Al-Husna, insya Allah.

3. So that we may be as those whom Allah SWT calls those who have knowledge that fear Allah. Allah SWT says in the Qur’an:

“…It is only those who have knowledge among His slaves that fear Allah…”
[Fatir 35:28]

Ibn Kathir rahimahullah wrote that it means “only those who have knowledge truly fear Him as He should be feared, because the more they know about the Almighty, All-Powerful, All-Knowing, Who has the most perfect attributes and is described with the most beautiful Names, the more they will fear Him.”

Thus whoever truly learns and knows Al-Asma Al-Husna will surely fear Allah SWT.

4. So that we may instill good characters through learning Al-Asma Al-Husna. Rasulallah ﷺ said,

“The Compassionate One has mercy on those who are merciful.
If you show mercy to those who are on the earth,
He Who is in the heaven will show mercy to you.”
[Sunan Abu Dawud]

Allah SWT is Ar-Rahman, The Most Merciful. He is Al-Ghafur, The Most Forgiving. These are some beautiful characteristics that we should try to emulate in our own human capacity, seeking and hoping for reward from Allah SWT.

5. So that we may correctly utilize Al-Asma Al-Husna as tawassul for our supplications. Tawassul refers to something that one mentions in his supplication that he hopes will be a reason for the supplication to be answered. One of the prescribed ways for tawassul in our Deen is through Al-Asma Al-Husna, for Allah SWT says:

وَلِلَّهِ ٱلۡأَسۡمَآءُ ٱلۡحُسۡنَىٰ فَٱدۡعُوهُ بِہَا‌ۖ
“And (all) the Most Beautiful Names belong to Allah, so call on Him by them…”
[Al-A’raaf 7:180]

Allah SWT Himself has commanded us to call Him by His Al-Asma Al-Husna. It is not merely about whether we can or we should do, but rather we must! From the adab of this method is using the suitable Name for the specific supplication one is asking. One example is the following supplication of Rasulallah ﷺ:

“Allahumma, You are The Most Forgiving, and You love to forgive;
so forgive me.”
[At-Tirmidhi]

We will continue with the series in the next post, insya Allah.

First 10 of Dhul-Hijjah or Last 10 of Ramadhan?

Which are more virtuous,  the first 10 of Dhul-Hijjah, or the last 10 of Ramadhan? Sheikh al-Islam ibn Taymiyah said:

“The DAYS of the first 10 of Dhul-Hijjah are more virtuous
than the days of the last 10 of Ramadan,

while the NIGHTS of the last 10 of Ramadhan are more virtuous
than the nights of the first 10 of Dhul-Hijjah.”

[Majmoo’ al-Fataawa 25/154]