[Al-Anfal 8:29] If You Have Taqwa Of Allah…

“O you who believe! If you have Taqwa of Allah, He will grant you [Furqan],
and will expiate for you your sins and forgive you,
and Allah is the Owner of the Great Bounty.”
[Al-Anfal 8:29]

Taqwa of Allah includes doing what He SWT has enjoined (both obligatory and recommended), and avoiding what He has forbidden (both haram and makrooh). This ayah mentions that those who have taqwa of Allah will be granted 3 things:

💎 Furqan – the ability to differentiate between right and wrong, what is good and what is bad, what is beneficial and what is harmful. Scholars said that it also means a way out and aid in this Dunya and the Hereafter.

💎 The expiation of sins and His forgiveness – Scholars mentioned that they mean forgiveness for both small and big sins; or that they mean forgiveness for both one’s past sins and future sins.

💎 Tremendous rewards from Allah SWT.

Ibn Kathir rahimahullah wrote that those who have Taqwa of Allah:

1. Will be guided to differentiate between truth and falsehood. This will be a triumph, safety and a way out for them from the affairs of this life, all the while acquiring happiness in the Hereafter.

2. Will also gain Allah’s forgiveness, thus having their sins erased and pardon, thus having their sins covered from the people.

3. Will be directed to a way to gain Allah’s tremendous rewards.

May Allah SWT make us one of the Muttaqun.
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References:
1. Ke Arah Memahami Al-Quran dan Al-Hadis by Ustadh Dr Abdullah Yasin
2. Tafsir Ibn Kathir

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Losing Two Of Allah’s Major Blessings Because of Zulm

Losing Two Greatest Blessings of Allah Through Zulm
Losing Two Greatest Blessings of Allah Through Zulm

When we think of oppression, we usually think of war-torn countries, evil dictators and corrupt governments. While all of these are true, and doing something and spreading awareness about it are certainly noble causes, we usually forget to look at the one thing that we can actually make an immediate difference to – ourselves.

Maybe we’re thinking – me committing oppression? No way!
But we need to realize that…
Not paying back the money we owe is zulm.
Not returning something that we borrow is zulm.
Not fulfilling an amanah towards others is zulm.
‘Disappearing’ for a period of time from our work without consent is zulm.
Revealing someone else’s secret is zulm.
Backbiting people, slandering them, and spreading tales about them is zulm.
Degrading people is zulm.
Disrespecting our parents is zulm.
Cheating on one’s spouse is zulm.
Behaving loudly in one’s neighbourhood is zulm.
Withholding sustenance from one’s pets is zulm.
All of these, and more, are a form of oppression.
And the greatest form of zulm is to commit shirk.

[Zulm] literally means to put something in a place that it does not belong, to misplace rights. So if a person withholds a right from their spouse / family / community – a right that has been mandated by Allah SWT – even if there is no screaming or yelling involved, it is still a form of zulm. It also means that everytime we sin, we’re actually committing a form of oppression upon ourselves, because we’re not giving ourselves our due right, because we’re exposing ourselves to Allah’s punishment.

This reality is super important to know, because the consequences of committing zulm are severe on one’s happiness now and in the Hereafter. People who commit zulm will lose TWO very major blessings of Allah: His Love, and His Guidance. Allah SWT says:

وَٱللَّهُ لَا يُحِبُّ ٱلظَّـٰلِمِينَ
“And Allah does not love the Zalimun.” [Ali Imran 3:57]

وَٱللَّهُ لَا يَہۡدِى ٱلۡقَوۡمَ ٱلظَّـٰلِمِينَ
“And Allah guides not the people who are Zalimun.” [Al-Baqarah 2:258]

We sacrifice BOTH the Love of Allah and His Guidance if we do zulm.

Let that sink in.

We sacrifice BOTH of Allah’s Love and Guidance.

Subhanallah. If we lose these two Divine blessings, then how can we ever function? Zulm forms such a shell on a person’s heart, that it causes that person to lose the Love of Allah as well as losing the capacity to receive Guidance.

Even the noblest of mankind feared doing zulm towards others. Umm Salamah, Ummul Mu’minin, RA said that Rasulallah ﷺ never went out of their house without raising his eyes to the sky and said:

“Allahumma, I seek refuge in You lest I stray or be led astray,
or slip or made to slip,

or cause injustice (towards others) or suffer injustice,
or do wrong or have wrong done to me.”
[Sunan Abi Dawud]

If he ﷺ used to be so afraid of doing injustice, then where does this leave us?

So I remind myself and then others: Do not consciously wrong ourselves through shirk or committing sins. We are all human, we’re bound to make mistakes, but CONSCIOUSLY committing sins is of a different level. Stay away from those seemingly ‘innocent’ paths that will eventually lead us to sinning.

Do not consciously harm anyone and any creation of Allah. Get out of that situation. If your circle of friends are backbiting someone, do not sit with them. If you see someone being cruel towards animals, stop them. If you’re one of those people who abuse their spouse, then let it be known that you have trespassed a major boundary in our Deen, for Allah SWT says in a hadith Qudsi:

“O My slaves,
I have made zulm [oppression] unlawful for Me and unlawful for you,

so do not commit oppression against one another…”
[Sahih Muslim]

One of the main takeaway lessons from this hadith Qudsi is this: Allah SWT is so good to us, we should therefore be good to one another. He SWT has made oppression forbidden upon Himself, then who are you to oppress another slave of Allah?

And lastly, always ask the protection of Allah SWT from committing zulm just like how Rasulallah ﷺ did. We seek refuge with Allah SWT from oppressing anyone, and being oppressed by others, and may He SWT help us be just in all of our affairs. May Allah SWT help those who are oppressed all around the world and bring an end to the tyranny of their oppressors.

Allahumma ameen.

Patience Only Comes By Cultivating Patience

Al-Anfal 8-46
Patience Only Comes By Cultivating Patience

Allah SWT tells us in the Qur’an, that as a matter of fact, we will certainly be tested. Every person will be tested in some capacity. Some are not tested with their health, but with their family. And there are some who are not tested with their family or health, but with their careers, wealth, reputation, or even faith. The point is, every person has a unique set of tests that they go through in life.

There are times we see people go through tests that we personally feel confident of overcoming if they were to happen to us. Maybe because we’ve attended lectures about patience, studied it numerous times, so we think we got this. But when those tests actually hit us – despite learning, talking and preaching about those concepts, theories and principles – we reel. We struggle. Why?

Because the learned is not the same as the experienced. Because at that point, it’s not just about knowing tconcepts anymore, but it’s about how much we’ve truly internalized and absorbed them in our heart.

Abu Darda RA said, “Verily, knowledge only comes by learning, and forbearance only comes by cultivating forbearance.” [1] Patience and forbearance are achieved through PRACTICING them. It won’t happen just through learning and talking about it.

And so, before we start thinking “I got this”, we need to actually start nurturing that quality today. Because how are we truly going to find patience with the major things that will happen to us, if we cannot even be patient with the small, petty, annoying things that are actually happening now, that happen frequently in life? If we can’t have patience with someone cutting us off on the side of the road, or when a person bumps into us, or when in an argument, then how can we expect to have patience when we’re finally faced with a devastating calamity? So it is beautiful that Rasulallah ﷺ taught us:

“…And whoever remains patient, Allah will make him patient.
Nobody can be given a blessing better and greater than patience.”
[Sahih Bukhari]

When something struck us, remember to hold on to that patience, and remember the promise of Allah SWT:

“…Only those who are patient shall receive their reward in full,
without reckoning (meaning UNLIMITED, without measure!).”
[Az-Zumar 39:10]

Sulayman ibn Qasim said that the reward of every deed is known, except for the reward of patience, which will be like heavy rain.

May Allah SWT help us to cultivate patience, to be patient for His sake, and to remain istiqamah in patience until the day we return to Him. Allahumma ameen.
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Reference:
[1] Rawdat al-‘Uqala 100

[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.

[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.

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