Allah Loves A Type of Trace

Ash-Shura 42.23

Rasulallah ﷺ said, “There is nothing more beloved to Allah than 2 drops and 2 traces (…) As for the 2 traces: A trace resulting in Allah’s cause, and a trace resulting from carrying out one of the duties that Allah made obligatory.” [1]

This part of the hadith talks about our fragility and brokenness. Our bodies show signs of wear and tear, and if it’s for something that is pleasing in the sight of Allah SWT, then they are loved by Him.

If any of us went for Hajj, we would see people looking exhausted and tired, not having slept for days, even having dusts on their faces at times. No one look their best in ‘Arafah. Yet Rasulallah ﷺ mentioned that Allah SWT praises them to His angels on that day:

“There is no day on which Allah frees more slaves from the Fire than the Day of ‘Arafah. He draws closer and closer, then He boasts about them before the angels and says: What do these people want?” [2]

Allah SWT looks upon the hujjaj who have come to Him from all over the world, their hair unkempt, their faces covered with dust, they are sleep deprived, and all they are asking for is His Mercy and His Forgiveness. Allah SWT sees that; He sees our struggles for Him. Even a hair that becomes grey while we are in a state of Islam – even that is significant to Allah SWT. Rasulallah ﷺ said:

“Do not pluck out grey hair. If any believer grows a grey hair in Islam, he will have light on the Day of Resurrection.” And in another chain of narration, “Allah will record on his behalf a good deed for it, and will blot out a sin for it.” [3]

So think about all of the times you’re struggling with an ‘ibadah. Maybe you had an injury prior, so the ‘ibadah became harder to perform. Think about those elderly people who still struggle to perform ‘ibadah for the sake of Allah. Think about how our previous Ramadhan, then compared it with this year Ramadhan – where we are all have aged, get tired quickly, yet still continue to struggle in seeking for His forgiveness and rahmah.

Allah sees all that. Allah knows that you did that all for Him. And that should be enough for us to keep on going.

This lesson hits home personally. My grandmother, even when she was bedridden and could no longer move around on her own, would constantly ask whether it was time for prayer, because she wanted to pray. All of her good deeds, all of her struggles, all of her traces – I ask Allah SWT to accept them. She passed away this Ramadhan.

May Allah SWT heal our brokenness and weaknesses, and accept our struggles that we do for His sake. May Allah SWT allow us to be used and consumed in ways that are good and pleasing to Him, until the last of our breath. Allahumma ameen.
____________
[1] At-Tirmidhi
[2] Sahih Muslim
[3] Sunan Abi Dawud

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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.

Lifelong Iman Rush – Tip #14: Raise Your Standards

In life, we experience something amazing that makes us feel compelled to come closer to Allah, where we feel a sense of iman-rush. But after a while, dunya gets to us and our reality check makes us feel that we cannot be spiritual consistently.
Here’s a tip on how to remain consistently on the path towards the pleasure of Allah.

———-🌸———-

In this Lifelong Iman Rush series, we have previously discussed 13 tips on how to strengthen one’s Iman, alhamdulillah. This article is the last tip of the series, and it’s all about ourselves setting our own aspiration and ambition. The question that we should be asking is: How strong of my Iman do I really want it to be?

To answer this question, there is actually a practical approach mentioned in the Qur’an. Allah SWT says:

“…But there are among them (1) some who wrong their own souls;
(2) some who follow a middle course;
and (3) some who are, by Allah’s leave,
foremost in good deeds; that is the highest Grace.”
[Fatir 35:32]

In this ayah, Allah SWT highlights for us 3 different levels of people, one of them is where we can truly find our aspiration in regard to our Iman. Let us first break down these 3 different groups:

1. The first that Allah SWT mentions is a group of people who wrong themselves by neglecting His obligations. For example, neglecting the five daily prayers, consuming alcoholic drinks, committing zulm towards people, etc. Not only do they abandon the commandments of Allah SWT, they also allow themselves to indulge in doubtful matters.

What are doubtful matters?

Al-Hasan ibn ‘Ali said: I remember that Rasulallah (ﷺ) said:
“Leave what makes you in doubt for what does not make you doubt.
The truth brings tranquility while falsehood sows doubt.”
[At-Tirmidhi]

Al-Mannawi rahimahullah commented the hadith above: Refrain from that which you are uncertain as to whether it is good or bad, halal or haram; and turn instead to that which you are certain, that you are sure is good and halal. “Truth brings tranquility” means that the heart is at ease with it, and “falsehood sows doubt” means that they make the heart anxious and uneasy.

Al-Hafiz Ibn Rajab rahimahullah commented: This hadith highlights the importance of being careful when faced with doubtful and dubious matters, and keeping away from them, because in the case of that which is definitely halal, the believer will have no doubt in his heart concerning it, rather he will feel at ease and will have reassurance in his heart. As for that which is doubtful, he will feel anxious and worry concerning it.

If we put it in a layman term, doubtful matters are basically those uncertain things where we start to think “I’m not sure whether this is right or wrong, or haram or halal…” At this point, it is better for us to refrain from committing it. This is what the Sunnah teaches us, and it is the safest way in safeguarding our Iman. Doubtful matters are not negligible, insignificant matters. Those who decide to go ahead in committing doubtful matters will fall into destruction. 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.
Sins are Allah’s Hima (i.e. private pasture)
and whoever pastures near it,
is likely to get in it at any moment.”
[Sahih Bukhari]

The best of mankind ﷺ has taught us that whoever commits himself to doubtful matters will fall into sins, just like how a shepherd allows his sheep to graze near the borders of someone else’s private property – he will eventually venture illegally into it and therefore will be punished.

Such are the characteristics of the first group. May Allah SWT protect us from ever becoming one of them.

2. The second that Allah SWT mentions is a group of people who are moderate in their Deen. Meaning, they fulfill obligations as well as leave what is prohibited by Allah SWT. However, they may neglect some supererogatory good deeds (such as nawafil prayers) and commit some things which are disliked / makrooh (such as giving and taking with the left hand).

In our time, this is probably our definition of a really pious person, right? If we are of those in the second group, alhamdulillah. But when we talk about strengthening our Iman, we must continuously strive to improve ourselves in accordance to what is more beloved to Allah SWT.

And this is where we come to the third group – the group that we all should aim for.

3. This is the group of people that Allah SWT praises and defines them as some who are, by Allah’s leave, foremost in good deeds; that is the highest Grace. Subhanallah! Allah SWT praises them in another Surah where He SWT says:

“And ye shall be sorted out into three classes.

Then (there will be) the Companions of the Right Hand
– what will be the Companions of the Right Hand?

And the Companions of the Left hand
– what will be the Companions of the Left Hand?

And those Foremost (in Faith) will be Foremost (in the Hereafter) [As-Sabiqoon].
These will be those Nearest to Allah.”

[Al Waqia 56:7-11]

On the Day of Judgment, there will be 3 groups: a group of people on the left, on the right, and a group of people who are called As-Sabiqoon, the foremost, and closest to Allah SWT. As-Sabiqoon are those from the third group, who will be the VIPs on that Day.

Let us quickly look at the characteristics of the third group. In terms of prohibitions (haram) and disliked deeds (makrooh):

  • They stay away from all prohibitions (haram matters) set by Allah SWT.
  • They leave disliked (makrooh) matters.
  • They leave doubtful matters as we’ve discussed earlier.
  • They also leave excessiveness in permissible matters, for example excessiveness in leisure. Because excessiveness even in permissible matters can distract a believer from the remembrance of Allah.

In terms of obligations and other good deeds:

  • They fulfil all obligations set by Allah SWT.
  • They also fulfil all recommendations in good deeds (supererogatory deeds), such as qiyamulail, fasting six days in Shawwal, etc.

Such are the characteristics of the third group. The sahabah are those from the third group, they set THE standard that we should aspire to follow. No Sahabi ever said: “Oh it’s just makrooh, so it’s ok to do that.” or “Oh, that’s just a sunnah, I can skip that.”

Yes, supererogatory deeds are not wajib, there is a reason why Allah SWT does not make supererogatory deeds as fardh. But we can definitely raise our personal standard by making them ‘mandatory’ upon ourselves. For example, on top of our fardh duties, we can set our mind not to abandon a single nawafil prayer without valid reasons. This way, not only do we protect our fardh obligations, but we also enforce protection upon our extra good deeds. This is for the those who aspire to do more.

As mentioned in previous articles of the series, it is wise however, not to overwhelm ourselves by doing every single supererogatory deed immediately. We won’t be able to keep up that way. Therefore, if we want to start praying nawafil prayers for example, begin that pace one at a time. Start first with the 2 raka’ats prayer before Fajr prayer consistently; then Witr consistently; until we get accustomed before taking in more supererogatory deeds. It was Rasulallah ﷺ himself who taught us that good deeds should be done constantly, no matter how little they are:

“Do good deeds properly, sincerely, and moderately
and know that your deeds will not make you enter Paradise,
and that the most beloved deed to Allah
is the most regular and constant, 
even if it were little.”
[Sahih Bukhari]

So to summarize this tip, we must have both long term and short term goals with regard to our Iman. In the long term, we should all aspire to become As-Sabiqoon, to be muhsinin, aspiring to perform at the level of maximum capacity. But we can’t reach the station of ihsan if we have not fortified our foundations first. So we need to set reasonable short term goals that are low enough to attain, yet high enough that will still inspire us to reach our lofty long term goals. Set ourselves a 1-month, or 3-months, 5-months, 1-year goal. The same way we set our dunya aspirations, do the same for our akhirah as well.

Before I end this article, let me address one of concerns that we might have:

“But the third group is too far to reach. How can we ever be like the Sahabah?”

Allah SWT says:
“Say (O Muhammad ﷺ to mankind):
If you (really) love Allah, then follow me,
Allah will love you and forgive you your sins.
And Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.”
[Ali Imran 3:31]

There are wisdom and reasons why Allah SWT mentions His forgiveness in the above ayah. When we follow the way, the lifestyle of Rasulallah ﷺ, we will realize that we cannot achieve what he ﷺ achieved. But Allah SWT is telling us, by our virtue of trying to follow him ﷺ, He SWT will love us back and will forgive our shortcomings. And the sahabahs, may Allah SWT be pleased with all of them, are examples for us, meant to inspire us. We cannot reach their level, but we can definitely strive and in that process we will reach an acceptable level, insya Allah. Because if we want to progress, then we have to push ourselves out of our comfort zone.

May Allah s.w.t. make us His beloved slaves from the third group – Allahumma ameen.

Alhamdulillah, this is the end of the Lifelong Iman Rush series. If you would like to read the previous tips in chronological order, please click the links below. Jazakumullah khayran.

Pg 1 | Pg 2 | Pg 3| Pg 4 | Pg 5 | Pg 6 | Pg 7 | Pg 8 | Pg 9 | Pg 10
Pg 11 | Pg 12 | Pg 13| Pg 14

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

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.

Useful Means for Happy Life

Sheikh Abd Al-Rahman As-Sa’di (rahimahullah) said that inner peace of one’s heart is the goal that each person tries to achieve in life, because tranquility of the heart is the essential prerequisite for a peaceful life. Some top means to attain happiness:

🌸 1. Iman and righteous deeds are the most important and easiest means for happiness. Allah SWT says:

“Whoever works righteousness, whether male or female, while he is a true believer, verily, to him We will give a good life (in this world) and We shall certainly pay them a reward in proportion to the best of what they used to do (Jannah in the Hereafter).”
[An-Nahl 16:97]

🌸2. Treating people and Allah’s creatures with kindness and benevolence. Allah SWT protects both believers and non-believers from worries for what they show of kindness and good manners to people (and His other creations). However, a believer is much more rewarded for this kindness.

🌸3. Realize that people’s bad treatment, particularly their annoying utterances, do not harm you in any way. Instead, such bad treatment will be recorded in their record of bad deeds. Therefore, it is better for you to train self-control and show the best conduct regardless of what others may do against you.

🌸4. One of the best means for removing worries is not to look for any reward from any person except for Allah.

“We only feed you for Allah’s sake; we desire from you neither reward nor thanks.”
[Al-Insan 76.9]

🌸5. Accomplish your tasks on a daily basis, and never put off until tomorrow what you can do today. Otherwise your tomorrow will be much tiring and exhausting.
_________
Reference:
Useful Means for Happy Life (abridged)
(extracted from a free Islamic book received at Makkah)

To the one who chases his Dunya, but lazy for his Akhirah

We’re very calculative. We want the best phone, the best dress, the best sale bargain. We like to haggle persistently and if we only get a measly RM2 discount, we’d still feel happy about it.

But we’re not as calculative when it comes to matters of the unseen – our Akhirah.

We don’t see that praying on time as one of the best deeds [1] so we refuse to haggle with our nafs to choose the 5-10 minutes fardh prayer over that 30-60 minutes TV show.

We want the best house, we super love free things. But we don’t think of having that free amazing house in Jannah. [2]

If we only understand that the best investment is the investment for our Akhirah. Imam Ibn Al-Qayyim rahimahullah, when referring to good deeds, said that the merchandise of Ar-Rahman is really expensive for the one who is lazy. And Sheikh Ibn Al-Uthaymeen rahimahullah said that it is indeed expensive for the one who is lazy; yet for the one who has zeal, then it is cheap for him!

In this Deen of ours, laziness IS evil – and even more so for being lazy in regard for the Akhirah. This is why Ibn Al-Jawzi rahimahullah wrote:

“The span of lifetime in this world
is practically the life one is given to perform good deeds.
Therefore I wonder at he who prefers idleness in the sowing season,
and leaves yielding for the harvesting season.”

May Allah s.w.t. make us among those who work hard for our Akhirah, and grant us true success in the Hereafter. Allahumma ameen.
____________________________
[1] Sahih Muslim | http://sunnah.com/muslim/1/162
[2] Sahih Muslim | http://sunnah.com/muslim/6/125