[Al-Hashr 59:18] Ayatul-Muhasabah

Al-Hashr 59:18

We often find people praise us for a quality or a good deed that we did, but then there are certain characters and certain habits that we do not want people to know about. And it is out of the mercy of Allah SWT that He hides these from the eyes of the public. Still, there is a discrepancy that exists within us and therefore there is a need for us to reflect on who we truly are. This is why Allah SWT says:

O you who believe!
Fear Allah and keep your duty to Him.
And let every person look to what he has sent forth for tomorrow,
and fear Allah.
Verily, Allah is All-Aware of what you do.
[Al-Hashr 59:18]

Self-Evaluation and Taqwa must come together.
This ayah is called Ayatul-Muhasabah by scholars of tafseer, because within it is a commandment for every one of us to evaluate ourselves. “…let every person look to what he has sent forth for tomorrow.” To what extent have we prepared for the meeting with our Creator?

And notice that the commandment is sandwiched between two commandments to have taqwa of Allah, indicating that THE BEST form of self-evaluation is by having taqwa – how much have we obeyed what He SWT has ordered, and how much have we stayed away from what He SWT forbid? So it’s important to remember that the measuring stick when we do self-critique is in accordance to the Akhirah, not the Dunya, not the amount of praises we receive from people around us, nor the amount of likes and followers we gain on the social media. It’s super easy to be deluded by praises and number of ‘likes’. It’s super easy to forget our flaws when people attest our good qualities.

Don’t be deluded by Fame and Praises.
When we look at the example of the companions of Rasulallah ﷺ, we see that they had this immense level of humility – that even though Rasulallah ﷺ PRAISED and ATTESTED their good character in front of everyone in the community, even though he ﷺ said that Allah SWT has guaranteed Jannah for some of them – they still remained self-critical. They never stopped engaging in self-reflection. They never felt that they were completely safe from falling into hypocrisy, or safe from falling into sins.

And one of those companions was none other than Umar Al-Khattab RA. Everything about the life of Umar RA speaks about his ability to take himself to account. He was a person who had that beautiful equilibrium, where he was critical towards the mistakes of others, but he was even more so critical on himself. Umar RA was the enforcer, the one who distinguished between truth and falsehood right smack in public, yet people accepted his critiques because they knew that it wasn’t mean-spirited, that it came from a place of humility and for the sake of Allah SWT. One of the beautiful things that was said about Umar RA was that people used to accept his critiques because they knew that he was harder on himself than he was on them. This was a man, who if you were to tell him ‘Fear Allah’ – doesn’t matter who you are, man or woman, child or adult, what race you belong to, your economic status, whether Muslim or non-Muslim – if he heard that from you, everything for him froze, and he would immediately go into self-reflection. It was he who said:

“Hold yourself accountable before you are held accountable,
weigh yourselves before you are weighed,
and be prepared for the biggest gathering
before He Whose Knowledge encompasses your deeds.”

Now when you think of Umar RA – this strong, bold, courageous enforcer – how do you think his supplications to Allah SWT sounded like? Shidad ibn Aws reported that Umar RA said:

للَّهُمَّ إنِّي ضَعِيفٌ فَقَوِّنِي وَإِنِّي شَدِيدٌ فَلَيِّنِي وَإِنِّي بَخِيلٌ فَسَخِّنِي

“O Allah, I am weak, so make me strong,
and I am harsh, so make me more lenient / gentle,
and I am stingy, so make me generous.”

Despite the strength and the sheer size of Umar RA, did we ever find Umar RA wronging people? Despite him being the tough enforcer in public, didn’t the people still want to be around him, asked his opinions, listened to his critiques, admired him? And have we ever associate stinginess with the character of Umar RA, a man who almost DIED when his people suffered in the year of the plague, because he refused to eat while his people were incapable of eating? A man that always lived in difficult circumstances, who feared that his children had more entitlement than other children of the ummah. A man who refused to be in a situation better off than the people. Yet he still said: O Allah, I am stingy…

Subhanallah, look at Umar’s RA level of self-critique!

The things that we don’t take ourselves to account are often the things that we are praised for. Umar’s RA strength, direct critiques, and generosity were all praiseworthy, he was praised by Rasulallah ﷺ himself, and by everyone else, yet he still called himself to account for those exact things that he was praised for. Subhanallah.

Allah sees your struggles.
That’s an example that we should follow, and one of things about the entire process of self-critique is that it has to start off with YOU YOURSELF – YOU want to purify yourself, YOU want to be pleasing in the sight of your Rabb, no matter what others say about you. What that means is that, if you know that what you’re doing is right in the sight of your Rabb, then it should not matter to you if other people think otherwise. And if you are developing good qualities that people might not recognize, it should not matter either. And Allah SWT emphasizes that by saying at the end of the ayah:

“…Verily, Allah is All-Aware of what you do.”
[Al-Hashr 59:18]

He SWT is All-Aware of every single thing that you do. Meaning for all the good deeds that you do privately, for all the inner struggles and personal endeavours you have exerted in becoming a better person – even if nobody in this entire world will ever see or understand it – then know that Allah does, and He will reward you for it, so keep on going.

If people praise us, telling us that we have certain good qualities that we know we have not yet acquired, we STILL should not be swayed or deluded from our actual pursuit to develop those qualities. And even if we do have those qualities, we should still keep on aspiring and asking Allah SWT for it, because the ceiling of having husnul khuluq (beautiful manners) is of Rasulallah ﷺ – and we’re not going to get there in our lifetime. The standard that we should set for ourselves is the one that was set for us by the Divine, not by people.

We are on a one-way journey to our Creator.
Remember that when we stand before our Rabb on the Day of Judgment, we are free from both praises and criticisms of people. We are free of our titles. We will stand before Allah SWT alone, and He knows who we truly are. When we stand in front of Him, it will all be laid bare.

“If I continue to remain as I am right now, and if I were to die today,
then would I be pleased with my condition when I meet my Creator?”

All of us must undergo an honest self-evaluation pertaining to our journey back to Allah. When we think about it, we’re really just made of number of days. And when an hour passes by, we lose our capital. We lose an hour from our asset. As the day passes, we’re one day closer to our destination – our death, and our standing before Allah.

May Allah allow us to engage in a self-criticism that would purify us, and not one that would cause us to despair of His mercy. May Allah forgive us and protect us from hypocrisy, from arrogance and self-righteousness, but instill in us husnul khuluq. May Allah SWT make our private lives better than our public lives. May He SWT help us to become more pleasing in His sight than we are in the sight of the people. Allahumma ameen.

Advertisements

Allah is More Pleased With the Repentance of His Slave

Allah Is More Pleased With The Repentance Of His Slave

Imagine you’re driving alone to somewhere remote and unfamiliar. It’s time for salah, so you stop at the next, yet abandoned petrol station, lock your car, and go inside for salah. When you step outside…

Your car is gone. All your belongings – your wallet, mobile phone, laptop – are inside that car, and now they’re all gone. There is no one else around, and the next town is too far to travel by foot.

How would you react? Most of us would probably go into panic-mode as that sense of fear and hopelessness sink in.

With that in mind:

“Verily, Allah is more pleased with the repentance of His slave
than a person who has lost his camel in a waterless desert,
carrying his provision of food and drink and it is lost.
He, having lost all hopes, lies down in shade and is disappointed about his camel;
when all of a sudden he finds that camel standing before him.
He takes hold of its reins, and then out of boundless joy blurts out:
‘O Allah, You are my slave and I am Your Rabb’.
He commits this mistake out of extreme joy”.
[Sahih Muslim]

This hadith shows an imagery of a man, who having traveled in the desert on his camel, finds a shade and falls asleep. When he wakes up, his camel – on which are all of his sustenance and livelihood – is gone. In comparison to the scenario mentioned earlier before the hadith, this man is in a barren desert! There is no one around as the eyes can see, nor shops to stop by to rest and drink. There is no shelter whatsoever from the intense weather and other dangerous threats.

Imagine this man trying so hard looking for his camel in that scorching, empty desert, until he reaches to a point where he completely loses all hope. He returns to his shade, overcome by tiredness, thinking that he is going to die there, and closes his eyes. When he wakes up, he sees his camel standing just near him.

How would he feel now? Just a moment ago, he thought that he was going to die! If we want to comprehend the depth of this hadith, we need to understand how extremely relieved this man must have felt.

The hadith mentioned that the man was soooooooooooo deliriously happy that he shouted: Ya Allah! You are my slave and I am your Rabb! He was extremely joyful that he didn’t even realize what he uttered.

And yet – and here is the gem – Allah s.w.t. is MORE PLEASED with the repentance of His slave than this man! This is absolutely mind-blowing because we know that Allah s.w.t. does not need us. Does not need every single one of us. AT ALL.

Subhanallah. Allah s.w.t. is At-Tawwab, the Granter of Repentance, the Acceptor of Repentance. Allah s.w.t. loves to forgive, and loves those who make tawbah. This is why we see the Name At-Tawwab is often mentioned alongside Ar-Rahim in the Qur’an.

This hadith is meant to motivate us into action, to start abandoning our bad habits and bad lifestyle because after knowing this hadith, we should WANT to please Allah s.w.t.! There is nothing that should be more desirable for a believer than this! There is nothing more relieved, more joyful than to find that the Rabb of the heavens and the earth, and everything in between, is pleased with us.

And indeed, Allah s.w.t. says:

Truly, Allah loves those who oft-repent (at-tawwabin)
and loves those who oft-purify themselves (al-mutatohhirin).
[Al-Baqarah 2:222]

May we all return to Allah s.w.t. sincerely, out of fear of Him, and out of immense love for Him.

The Strong Believer Is Better Than The Weak Believer

Poster-TheStrongBelievercompressed

Rasulallah ﷺ said:

الْمُؤْمِنُ الْقَوِيُّ خَيْرٌ وَأَحَبُّ إِلَى اللَّهِ مِنَ الْمُؤْمِنِ الضَّعِيفِ وَفِي كُلٍّ خَيْرٌ

“The strong believer is better and more beloved to Allah
than the weak believer, although both are good…”
[Sahih Muslim]

When I first read this hadith, I thought that the physically stronger believers are better than the physically weak believers because they could help the Deen more, and achieve more. I’m physically not as strong as the average person, so I actually felt bummed about it. But alhamdulillah, when revisiting this hadith, the ustadh pointed out that Rasulallah ﷺ said “The strong MU’MIN is better and more beloved to Allah than the weak mu’min.” Meaning, the believer with a stronger iman is better and more beloved to Allah than the believer with a weaker iman. This is something that we can all strive regardless of our physical condition, insya Allah. Nonetheless it is praiseworthy to gain strength and vitality in order to worship Allah SWT for a longer period of life.

How can we have a strong iman? Rasulallah ﷺ said:

“Iman has over seventy branches – or over sixty branches,
the uppermost of which is the declaration: لا إله إلا الله
(None has the right to be worshipped but Allah);
and the least of which is the removal of harmful object from the road,
and modesty is a branch of Iman.”
[Bukhari & Muslim]

Iman increases when we obey Allah SWT, His commandments and prohibitions; and it decreases when one disobeys Him, when we sin. The more branches of iman that a person commits in his heart, on his tongue, and in his actions, the stronger his iman becomes. So for example, a believer who fulfills all fard (wajib) commandments of Allah SWT, and on top of that has haya’ as the hadith states, has a stronger iman than another believer who also fulfills all fard commandments but lack in modesty. How much iman increases and decreases are dependant on our good deeds as well as our knowledge of the Deen.

It is amazing that Rasulallah ﷺ said, “The stronger mu’min is better and more beloved to Allah than the weak mu’min, although BOTH are good.” Whether we have strong iman, or weak iman, have hope and have good thoughts of Allah SWT for there is still khayr in us. Subhanallah, such is the mercy of Allah towards the believers. And just as important – have good thoughts of your fellow Muslims too! It’s really disheartening to see people claiming to love the Sunnah, but bicker and belittle among each other, especially on non-principal matters in the Deen. We need to constantly remind ourselves to instil the fear of Allah SWT – because while we may think we’re a ‘better’ mu’min than others, we can actually be small in the Sight of Allah due to our ego and bad character towards others.

At the same time, the hadith also teaches us that not all mu’min are equally the same in their good deeds and in istiqamah, therefore not all mu’min are equally loved by Allah SWT. So it teaches us that in order to become a more beloved slave to Allah, we need to exert ourselves to become a stronger mu’min. This is as Allah SWT says:

“And for all, there will be degrees according to that which they did…”
[Surah Al-Ahqaaf 46:19]

In another surah, Allah SWT says:

“Then We gave the Book (the Qur’an) as inheritance
to such of Our slaves whom We chose.
Then of them are some who wrong their selves,
and of them are some who follow a middle course,
and of them are some who are, by Allah’s Leave, foremost in good deeds.
That, that is indeed a great grace.”
[Surah Fatir 35:32]

Ali bin Abi Talhah reported that Ibn Abbas commented: “This (ayah) refers to the Ummah of Muhammad (ﷺ). Allah caused it to inherit every Book that He had revealed; those who wrong themselves will be forgiven, those who follow a middle course will have an easy accounting, and those who are foremost in good deeds will enter Paradise without being brought to account.”

Based on this ayah, scholars say that the ummah of Rasulallah ﷺ are divided into three:

ظَـلِمٌ لِّنَفْسِهِ
The first group of believers who wrong themselves. They do not do shirk, but they are careless in doing some fard (wajib) actions, and also commit some haram (forbidden) actions.

مُّقْتَصِدٌ
The second group of believers who follow a middle course. They fulfill all fard actions and avoid things that are haram, but they do not go further than that, meaning they may neglect some supererogatory good deeds (extra deeds beyond fard), and do some things which are makrooh (disliked).

سَابِقٌ بِالْخَيْرَتِ بِإِذُنِ اللَّهِ
The third group of believers are those who, by Allah’s leave, foremost in good deeds. They rush to do all types of khayr. They fulfill all fard obligations AND supererogatory good deeds. They also avoid all things that are haram AND makrooh. This is as the hadith Qudsi where Allah SWT says:

“…And the most beloved things with which My slave comes nearer to Me,
is what I have enjoined upon him [i.e. fard obligations];
and My slave keeps on coming closer to Me through performing Nawafil
(doing extra deeds besides what is obligatory) until I love him…”
[Sahih Bukhari]

On top of that, the third group ALSO leaves all doubtful matters (syubhat). This is as Rasulallah ﷺ said:

“Both legal and illegal things are obvious,
and in between them are doubtful matters.
So whoever forsakes those doubtful things lest he may commit a sin,
will definitely avoid what is clearly illegal;
and whoever indulges in these doubtful things bravely,
is likely to commit what is clearly illegal…”
[Sahih Bukhari]

Subhanallah indeed, the believer who falls in the third group is the stronger mu’min compared to the other two groups!

Now ask ourselves, which group am I in right now, and which group do I aim to be? Am I happy with my current state, or can I actually do better? The wise believer will consistently exert in improving himself. This is as Allah SWT says:

“…But those who believe, love Allah more (than anything else)…”
[Surah Al-Baqarah 2:165]

May Allah SWT instil the love of iman inside us and help us exert to become a stronger mu’min. May we be amongst the third group who are believers that are more beloved to Him – Allahumma ameen.

____________
References:
Ke Arah Memahami Al-Qur’an dan Al-Hadis, by Ustadh Dr Abdullah Yasin
Tafsir Ibn Kathir

[Al-Mutaffifin 83:1-3] Woe to Those Who Give Less In Measure

“Woe to Al-Mutaffifun (those who give less in measure).
Those who, when they have to receive by measure from men,
demand full measure.
And when they have to give by measure or weight to (other) men,
give less than due.”
[Al-Mutaffifin 83:1-3]

Al-Mutaffifun are egocentric. They demand absolutely full-to-the-brim measurement when they want something, but they themselves purposely give less than what is due. These ayaat are not just about measurements in selling and buying, but they include all aspects in our lives. Consider these scenarios:

In a meeting / discussion, how many of us want people to accept our ideas and opinions, yet we ourselves refuse to entertain the ideas of others?

How many of us get super enraged when someone block our car in a parking lot, but we find no qualm to do exactly the same to others?

If an employee takes his full salary, but does not work for the full required hours, then this too comes under the definition of Al-Mutaffifun.

Indeed we live in an egocentric / kiasu world, where society taught us to be opportunists, regardless of moral principles. But our ways should always be guided by the Qur’an and Sunnah, not what’s ‘normal’ in society. We may get away scot-free now, but every single ounce of our misdeed in every single dealing that we did will be brought forth on the Day of Judgment.

“And We shall set up balances of justice on the Day of Resurrection,
then none will be dealt with unjustly in anything.
And if there be the weight of a mustard seed, We will bring it.
And Sufficient are We to take account.”
[Al-Anbiya 21:47]

He Whose Life Is Long and His Deeds Are Good

It was narrated that a man asked Rasulallah SAW:
“O Messenger of Allah! Which of the people is the best?”
He (SAW) said: “He whose life is long and his deeds are good.”
He said: “Then which of the people is the worst?”
He SAW said: “He whose life is long and his deeds are bad.”
[At-Tirmidhi | Graded: Hasan]

Rasulallah SAW taught us it’s not our lifespan that matters, but our actions. An average lifespan filled with khayr is definitely so much better than a long lifespan filled with sins. We seek refuge with Allah SWT from a long life that only increases us in sins.

As we enter the year with new goals and resolutions, let’s also start with self-critic of our shortcomings.
Do I enter the year with a stronger iman and better akhlaq than last year?
Has there been an improvement in my relationship with Allah, and my relationship with His creations?
Or is there an increase in sins, in bad habits and bad character instead?
Am I getting lazier, or more cynical, or more prone to anger?
Do I constantly demand for my right, but forgetting about fulfilling other people’s rights?

“Have I truly improved myself?” is something that we need to ask ourselves constantly – not on a yearly basis, but on a weekly, daily basis. Our Deen always advocates that doing good should start right now, at this minute, at this instant.

With family, job, and personal responsibilities, it’s easy to forget that our time in this dunya is actually tiny and miniscule compared to the time we will spend in our graves, and then compared to the time we will spend in the Hereafter. It’s easy to forget that this small fraction of time will determine our eternal fate in the Hereafter.

And it’s the Mercy of Allah SWT that He allows us to still receive khayr in our graves because of the good deeds that we do. Allah SWT says:

“Verily, We give life to the dead,
and We record (1) that which they send before, and (2) their traces,
and all things We have recorded with numbers (as a record) in a Clear Book.”
[Yasin 36:12]

Ibn Kathir rahimahullah wrote that this ayah means: “We [Allah] write down the deeds which [1] they used to do themselves, and [2] the legacy they left behind [meaning the effects of our deeds even after our death, such as educating our children, reviving a forgotten Sunnah in the society, etc will still be written for us as hasanah], so We will requite them for that; if it is good, then We will reward them, and if it is evil, then We will punish them.”

This is why scholars of tafsir have said that we have two types of age: (1) Our age in this dunya, and (2) our age in the grave i.e. al-barzakh, because we can still earn hasanah from the effects of the good deeds we left behind. This is like the Hadith where Rasulallah SAW said:

Whoever starts (or sets an example of) something good in Islam,
will have a reward for it,

and a reward equal to that of everyone who does it after him,
without that detracting from their reward in the slightest.

Whoever starts (or sets an example of) something evil in Islam,
will bear the burden for that,

and a burden equal to that of everyone who does it after him,
without that detracting from their burden in the slightest.”
[Sahih Muslim]

It’s good to have new year goals and resolutions, but not at the expense of forgetting the absolute reality that we will, very soon, return to Allah SWT – either in eternal goodness, or in eternal misery. So let these ahadith be a reminder to make important changes in our lives. The wise believer will realize the little time he has left, and will be busy planting seeds of khayr while he is still alive, so that he can harvest them and reap the reward in the Hereafter.

[An-Nahl 16 : 99-100] Are We Weaker Than Shaytan’s Weak Tricks?

Verily! He (shaytan) has no power
over those who believe and put their trust only in their Rabb.
His (shaytan’s) power is only
over those who obey and follow him, and those who join partners with Him (Allah).
[An-Nahl 16 : 99-100]

Ponder these ayaat deeply. Allah SWT says that shaytan has absolutely no power except over those mentioned in the above ayah – and remember that riyaa’ (showing off) is also a form of shirk. Meaning his tricks are weak. He can’t force us to do an evil act, he can only whisper suggestions to us. Allah SWT says in another ayah:

And Shaytan will say when the matter has been decided:
“Verily, Allah promised you a promise of truth.
And I too promised you, but I betrayed you.
I had no authority over you except that I called you, so you responded to me.
So blame me not, but blame yourselves…”
[Ibrahim 14:22]

How can someone be under the influence of shaytan, when his plots and tricks are themselves weak to begin with? The words of our ustadh hit us squarely when he said:

Kerana mereka yang dikuasai adalah LEBIH LEMAH.
Because those who let themselves to be overpowered by the weak tricks of shaytan are even WEAKER than that.

So it’s abhorrent to see someone, for example, feel proud because he is rebellious to his parents, or feel accomplished for being a nuisance to his community, or feel cool for speaking vulgarly to others. It’s ugly for the self to feel superior over others, because while we may outwardly look strong to everyone, we’re actually very weak for falling into the ploys of shaytan.

Don’t allow ourselves to be delusional of this reality. Don’t allow shaytan define for you what ‘strength’ is.

[Surah Al-Mulk] Having Rahmah While Having Power Over Others

Some of the themes of Surah Al-Mulk are about Sovereignty and Kingship. When these two things are placed in mankind’s hands, he becomes haughty and self-serving. Allah s.w.t. says about mankind:

Nay! Verily, man does transgress.
Because he considers himself self-sufficient.
[Al-Alaq 96 : 6-7]

When he is given power, he transgresses. This is the norm in life. It is extremely difficult to contain oneself when one has that sort of power / status / fame. This is why our Deen teaches us not to purposely seek out for it:

It was narrated that Sa‘d ibn Abi Waqqas was with his camels
when his son ‘Umar came to him. He dismounted and said to him:
‘You are busy with your camels and sheep,
and you have left the people contending with one another for kingship?’

Sa‘d struck him on the chest and said:
Be quiet! I heard the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) say:
“Allah loves the slave who is pious, independent of means, and hidden from the people.” [1]

Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen (may Allah have mercy on him) said:

“The one who is hidden from the people is the one who does not try to be prominent and known, and he is not interested in becoming prominent before people or being pointed out, or having people talk about him. You will find him going from his house to the mosque, and from the mosque to his house, and from his house to visit his relatives and brothers, keeping a low profile.” [2]

There is a quote that says, power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Such is the nature of man. But there is a hidden gem, a lesson in Surah Al-Mulk regarding this. That even though the Surah speaks about Allah’s Sovereignty, the Surah also mentions the Name Ar-Rahman multiple times, in a span of just 30 ayat. Saying that yes, Allah s.w.t. is Al-Malik, but He is also Ar-Rahman.

This is important. Let this be a reminder to those who have been given some sort of power, wealth, status or intellect over others to be merciful to one another. Use Hikmah in your dealings with others. This is truly a forgotten Sunnah – especially on the social media. The more prominent you are, the more people look up to you, and the bigger impact your character has in your community.

_____________
References:
[1] Sahih Muslim | https://sunnah.com/muslim/55/16
[2] Sharh Riyadh as-Saliheen (p. 629)