[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.

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[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]

[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)

[Ghafir 40:7,9] The Angels Who Bear The Throne of Allah Make Du’a For Us Too!

Some of my favourite ayat in the Qur’an are where Allah s.w.t describes how even the angels who bear the ‘Arsh of Allah ask for our forgiveness:

“Our Rabb! You comprehend all things in mercy and knowledge,
so forgive those who repent and follow Your Way,
and save them from the torment of the blazing Fire!”

“And save them from (the punishment because of what they did of) the sins,
and whomsoever You save from the sins that Day,
him verily, You have taken into mercy.
And that is the supreme success.”
[Ghafir 40:7, 9]

Rasulallah sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said:
“I have been permitted to tell about one of Allah’s angels who bears the Throne, that the distance between the lobe of his ear and his shoulder is a journey of seven hundred years.” [Sunan Abu Dawood]

The fact that such supreme creations of Allah would even bother to ask for our forgiveness is a sign of how extremely Merciful and Loving Allah is to us. We sin and fall into mistakes, time and time again, but He is willing to forgive all of them, willing to give us so many chances, if we just return back to Him sincerely.

Truly, Allah is full of Bounty to mankind, yet most of mankind give no thanks.
[Ghafir 40:61]

Allahumma, forgive our transgressions, make us not those who are ungrateful to You. Help us to remember You, to be grateful to You, and to worship You in the best of manner.

[Hajj Tips] Are Sins done in Makkah multiplied?

Question: Are sins performed in Makkah multiplied? If so, how are they multiplied?

Sheikh Ibn Uthaymeen rahimahullah answered:

“Sins are not multiplied in Makkah from the aspect of quantity; however they are multiplied from the aspect of its punishment being more severe and painful. The evidence that shows sins are not multiplied in quantity is the statement of Allah, the Most High:

مَن جَآءَ بِٱلۡحَسَنَةِ فَلَهُ ۥ عَشۡرُ أَمۡثَالِهَا‌ۖ وَمَن جَآءَ بِٱلسَّيِّئَةِ فَلَا يُجۡزَىٰٓ إِلَّا مِثۡلَهَا وَهُمۡ لَا يُظۡلَمُونَ

“Whoever brings a good deed shall have ten times the like thereof to his credit,
and whoever brings an evil deed shall have only the recompense of the like thereof,
and they will not be wronged.”
[Al-An’aam 6:160]

And this was a Makki ayah (i.e. revealed before the Hijra of the Prophet sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) because it is in the chapter al-An’aam. However performing sins in Makkah is as Allah s.w.t. said:

إِنَّ ٱلَّذِينَ كَفَرُواْ وَيَصُدُّونَ عَن سَبِيلِ ٱللَّهِ وَٱلۡمَسۡجِدِ ٱلۡحَرَامِ ٱلَّذِى جَعَلۡنَـٰهُ لِلنَّاسِ سَوَآءً ٱلۡعَـٰكِفُ فِيهِ وَٱلۡبَادِ‌ۚ وَمَن يُرِدۡ فِيهِ بِإِلۡحَادِۭ بِظُلۡمٍ۬ نُّذِقۡهُ مِنۡ عَذَابٍ أَلِيمٍ۬

“Verily! those who disbelieved and hinder (men) from the Path of Allah,
and from Al-Masjid-al-Haram (at Makkah) which We have made (open) to (all) men,
the dweller in it and the visitor from the country are equal there [as regards its sanctity and pilgrimage (Hajj and ‘Umrah)]. And whoever inclines to evil actions therein or to do wrong, We shall cause him to taste from a painful torment.”
[Al-Hajj 22:25]

Meaning, the punishments for those who perform sins in Makkah are more severe than the punishments for those who perform sins outside of Makkah.

____________
Reference:
Silsilah Liqaa’aat al-Baab al-Maftooh

[Hajj Tips] Preparation for Hajj

Hajj Al-Baqarah 2.197

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

If Allah has selected you as a hujjaj this year – alhamdulillah!

If Allah has yet to answer your Hajj du’a – alhamdulillah ‘alaa kuli haal (in all circumstances), because whatever Allah has ordained for us is always good for us. His blessings are not just in what He gives, but also in what He withholds or takes away. Alhamdulillah!

Regardless of our circumstances, most of us know the importance of Hajj, so we long to attain Hajj Mabrur (Hajj that is accepted by Allah). Thus it is really critical for every Muslim to learn about Hajj, its manasik (rituals), and its history so that we can be prepared when that call comes, fully appreciating it and utilizing its every moment in the best manner.

Alhamdulillah there are many articles about the importance of Hajj and its manasik that are readily available on the internet, but this post will be focusing on preparation before Hajj, more specifically, on the akhlaq and character that we should be striving for starting now, before the days of Hajj come. Allah s.w.t. specifically mentions 3 traits that must be avoided during Hajj:

The Hajj is (in) the well-known months
So whosoever intends to perform Hajj therein,
then he should not have [rafath], nor commit [fusuq], nor [jidal] during Hajj.
And whatever good you do, Allah knows it.
And take a provision for the journey, but the best provision is At-Taqwa.
So fear Me, O men of understanding [Ulul Albab]!
[Al-Baqarah 2:197]

Rafath, Fusuq, and Jidal
Allah s.w.t. says that one must not do [rafath], [fusuq], and [jidal] during Hajj. Ibn Kathir rahimahullah provided their meanings in his tafseer:

[Rafath] means sexual relation with your spouse, including anything that might lead to it, such as embracing, kissing, and talking -even hinting!- about it or any other similar topics, by both men and women. Rafath also include bad and foul words.

[Fusuq] means all types of sins and disobedience, including cursing others, insulting one another with bad names, and slaughtering animals for other than Allah.

[Jidal] means arguing and getting into disputes.

At this point, we might be thinking that there’s no way we’ll end up doing these things during Hajj – after all, it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity.

But think about it. Out of the many types of disobedience, why are these 3 things mentioned specifically in this ayah?

Because Allah s.w.t. will definitely TEST US especially with these three things during Hajj. Allah s.w.t. is teaching us to not feel safe from falling into sins, because it may be due to our haughtiness or ignorance that will cause us to fall into the very sins we were so confident of not doing. If we ask the experienced hujjaj, they will say that they were tested so many times throughout the journey – confusion and disorder at the immigration, luggage went missing, bus got delayed, weather was strikingly hot, got pushed during tawaf, got bumped during sa’ie, got thrown by a pebble at the jamrah – and so many other incidents that might cause rafath, fusuq or jidal – if we’re not careful!

And one of the more difficult tests comes from our own selves – and that is negative self-talk. Have you seen someone who started off thinking badly about a small minor issue, and then eventually started thinking that everything else is just as bad? When things don’t go as per schedule, some people might start thinking to themselves:

“Why is this so difficult?”
Then… “This group is terrible!”
And then… “I’ve paid so much for this package, but this is the kind of service I get??”
And eventually… “That’s it! I’m never doing Hajj and Umrah again! These people are not worth my time! And everything is so difficult and a waste of my money!”

Negative self-talk can be triggered by something so minor, and if not managed, will eventually consume the thought of that person about everything else. Even if we can be physically patient by not saying anything bad with the tongue, we can still cause damage to our sabr if we constantly do negative self-talk within ourselves. And if we do not manage those negative self-talks, then we’re allowing ourselves to be taken advantage by shaytan, and end up physically acting on those negative emotions. That’s how people end up doing rafath, fusuq or jidal.

So how do we manage negative self-talk?

  1. Stop at the very first layer of negative self-talk, and replace it with something that is good. Instead of thinking “Why is this so difficult?!” replace it by thinking “This is a test from Allah, and He will reward me immensely for my patience.”
  2. Move away from the scene or person who is causing you distress. For example, if you’re having a hard time with one of the hujjaj, move away from him until you’ve calmed down. Bear in mind that negative self-talk can create false accusations in our thoughts – we might think negatively about a person from the way he talks or treats us, when in reality, that person has absolutely no grudge whatsoever against us. It’s not people’s flaws that we should be focusing on, but rather our own.
  3. It’s your frame – change it. Meaning we can choose to look at the scenario with a different lense. We HAVE the capability to choose to respond in the best manner that will attain the Mercy and Forgiveness of Allah. And the best of frame / manner that will attain such Mercy is by being merciful towards one another. Rasulallah sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam 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 Abi Dawud]

Developing these beautiful characters must start now, ahead before the days of Hajj come. So if someone is rude to you on the road, choose to be merciful towards him, let him have the way first instead. If you’re in a conversation that is about to get heated, excuse yourself in a respectful manner, remove yourself from the scene, and then come back once you’ve calmed down. Know that these beautiful characteristics are not only important for Hajj, but they’re just as important in every aspect and day of our lives.

The Rewards of Hajj Mabrur
Always, always bear in mind that things will never go 100% smoothly during Hajj, no matter what package or group we’re in. Not everything will go our way, and that is actually part of the ‘ibadah and tests of Hajj.

One may wonder, we are all going for Hajj to do acts of worship, so why are we tested so much during Hajj? Because the rewards of Hajj Mabrur are immense and invaluable. Rasulallah sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said:

“Whoever performed Hajj to this (Sacred) House and did not commit Rafath or Fusuq,
will return sinless, just as the day his mother gave birth to him.”

[Sahih Bukhari]

“And the reward of Hajj Mabrur is nothing except Paradise.”
[Sahih Bukhari]

“Make the Hajj and ‘Umrah follow each other closely,
for they remove poverty and sins
as the bellows removes impurity from iron and gold and silver,
and an accepted Hajj brings no less a reward than Paradise.”
[Sunan An-Nasaa’i]

If we want to come back to Allah s.w.t., rebuild that connection with Him with a clean slate, then there is nothing more beautiful than coming out of Hajj Mabrur completely sinless like the first day we were born. And on top of that, Rasulallah sallallahu ‘alayhi wa salaam specifically said that an accepted Hajj brings no reward EXCEPT Jannah. Subhanallah.

These great rewards will not be given away to anyone so easily. So all these tests that we will face during Hajj are simply prerequisites for us to attain these rewards. Rejoice when Allah tests you, be patient when He does, and always think well of your Rabb for He is The Most Merciful and is never unjust to His creations.

Ulul Albab – The People of Intellect
Notice that Allah s.w.t. mentions [Ulul Albab] in the ayah that we talked earlier:

The Hajj is (in) the well-known months
So whosoever intends to perform Hajj therein,
then he should not have rafath, nor commit fusuq, nor jidal during the Hajj.
And whatever good you do, Allah knows it.
And take a provision for the journey, but the best provision is At-Taqwa.
So fear Me, O men of understanding [Ulul Albab]!
[Al-Baqarah 2:197]

One of the wisdoms why Allah s.w.t. mentions Ulul Albab in this ayah about Hajj is because we must have knowledge in order to attain Hajj Mabrur, and the best of sources to attain authentic knowledge is the Qur’an and the Sunnah. Hajj Mabrur is free from shirk – and the smallest form of shirk is pride – as well as bid’ah. Every hujjaj who aspires to attain Hajj Mabrur must follow the Sunnah of Rasulallah sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam as close as possible to the best of their capability.

Ulul Albab does not just mean people of knowledge, but they’re also people who do a lot of thinking and reflecting. Hajj is an act of ‘ibadah that requires us to do a lot of contemplation. When something seemingly bad happened to us, do not complain, instead listen to the unsaid. When we are tested, always take ourselves to account – muhasabah, seek what Allah is teaching us through that test for everything that happens has a reason and lesson.

May Allah s.w.t. allow all of us to do Hajj in the best way possible that is most pleasing to Him, and grant us all Hajj Mabrur – Allahumma ameen!