[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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[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.

Man’s Sense of Sinfulness and Purification of Soul

sinfulnessandpurificationofsoul

It is true that the nafs by its very nature is inclined towards freedom. However, religion restricts this ‘freedom’ in order to discipline the nafs. Without such restriction, we could lose all good values and the nafs might lose control and act in a completely irresponsible manner.

The nafs is constantly being tempted since what is alluring is always attractive. A person may enjoy listening to and taking part in gossips, deriving a vicarious pleasure in it because s/he feels s/he is better than the person whose weaknesses are being exposed. Or the nafs may find committing adultery an enjoyable way of satisfying its desires. But if we really think, we’ll find that this short-lived ‘freedom’ is not worth the trouble, because we will have to bear the consequences of our misdeeds for a long time.

If we think about all the sinful pleasures we might have enjoyed 10 years ago, and then ask whether we’re left with any of those pleasures now, what would be the answer? Nothing! The pleasures of sin have vanished, yet the punishment remains.

But think of fasting in Ramadhan 10 years ago. What effects are we feeling now from the suffering of thirst? What is left of that hunger pangs 10 years ago? The pain and suffering undergone for the sake of performing duties lillah have disappeared, but the reward stays with us.

You have been endowed by Allah SWT the power of reasoning and the will to choose which way is best.

So will you not utilize them before it’s too late?

_______
Reference:
Man’s Sense of Sinfulness and Purification of Soul (abridged)
(extracted from a free Islamic book received at Makkah)

The 9 Characteristics of ‘Ibad-ur Rahman (8/10) – Respond To The Ayat of Allah s.w.t.

A Project in collaboration with The Ideal Muslimah.
Articles authored for The Ideal Muslimah are available here.

To read the series in chronological order, please click the links below:
Pg 1 | Pg 2 | Pg 3Pg 4 | Pg 5 | Pg 6 | Pg 7 | Pg 8 | Pg 9Pg 10

———- 🌺 ———-

ibadur-rahman-8

بسم الله الرحمن الرحیم

And those who, when they are reminded of the Ayat of their Rabb,
fall not deaf and blind thereat.
[Surah Al-Furqan 25:73]

🌸 Eighth Characteristic: They Respond To The Ayat of Allah s.w.t.

Alhamdulillah, today we will be discussing the eighth characteristic of ‘Ibad-ur Rahman. This next category could include you who are reading this right now!

Before we proceed, let us think back: How many of us have read the Qur’an, or listened to heartfelt reminders regarding the Deen, or read something that is absolutely beneficial that we just gotta share with everyone – yet at the end of the day, we’re like: “Yeah it was a nice speech / post, but I’m still gonna do what I’m gonna do anyway.” So we close our computers, we return to our homes, and nothing changes.

This attitude has got to change.

Because Allah s.w.t. tells us that the ‘Ibad-ur Rahman are nothing like this. When they read, listen, or are reminded of the ayat of Allah, they do not pass or trip over the ayat like the deaf or the blind. They are not those who like to read and keep on reading, or listen and keep on listening, or share and keep on sharing, yet nothing of themselves have truly changed. The hearts of ‘Ibad-ur Rahman are attentive and moved by the ayat of Allah – its commandments, its prohibitions, its reminders, its stories – and their limbs carry out the good actions that they have learned.

This is like the ayah:

The believers are only those who, when Allah is mentioned, feel a fear in their hearts
and when His Ayat are recited unto them, they increase their Faith;
and they put their trust in their Rabb.
[Surah Al-Anfal 8:2]

The ‘Ibad-ur Rahman are nothing like the disbelievers, who are not affected nor want to change their ways when they hear the Words of Allah. So they continue as they are, as though they have not heard the ayat, and persist in their disbelief, wrongdoing, ignorance and misguidance. This is as Allah s.w.t. says:

And whenever there comes down a Surah, some of them say:
“Which of you has had his Faith increased by it?”
As for those who believe, it has increased their Faith, and they rejoice.
But as for those in whose hearts is a disease, it will add suspicion and doubt to their suspicion, disbelief and doubt, and they die while they are disbelievers.
[Surah At-Tawbah 9:124-125]

Indeed, how many have read the ayat of Allah, but they remain deaf and blind. How many have looked at the signs of Allah, yet they do not see. How many have heard, but they do not comprehend. These are certainly not the characteristics of ‘Ibad-ur Rahman.

Qatadah said:

“The believers (‘Ibad-ur Rahman) are not those who are deaf from hearing nor blind from seeing the truth. By Allah, they are those who want to think,
and those who benefit from the Qur’an.”

We all love attending Islamic seminars or classes, or watch Islamic youtube videos, or listen to Islamic podcasts, or read Islamic articles. But sadly, some have turned these khutbah, classes, seminars, posts – and even recitation of the Qur’an – as entertainment. They have been reduced to just becoming something fun to do or participate. We’re not guilty for enjoying them of course, but these reminders should be taken as something more serious – because the ayat of Allah is not about casual listening, it’s about taking decisive actions. When Qur’an enters our hearts, there must be significant changes within us.

So here’s an advice for me and you: When we read an article, or listen to a podcast, a youtube video, or an Islamic dars, say to ourselves that these are lessons for life which I will not pass them over like the deaf or the blind. Remember the advice by Ibn al-Qayyim rahimahullah:

The people of the Qur’an are those who read it and act upon it,
even if they haven’t memorized it.

May this reminder motivate us to become the people of the Qur’an.

🌸 ‘Ibad-ur Rahman Characteristics Recap 🌸

8th Characteristic
The hearts of ‘Ibad-ur Rahman are attentive and moved by the ayat of Allah – its commandments, its prohibitions, its reminders, its stories – and their limbs carry out the good actions that they have learned. They listen to the ayat of Allah with khushoo’ and are determined to implement the commandments, prohibitions, and reminders that they learn in their everyday lives.

______________
References:
Tafsir Ibn Kathir
Tafsir Surah Al-Furqan by Dr Abdullah Yasin
Rumaysho.com
Who Gets Allah’s Mercy by Ustadh Nouman Ali Khan

[Madaarij us-Saalikeen] The Station of Fear

Ibn al-Qayyim rahimahullah wrote that fear is one of the most important stations on the path of worshiping Allah and most beneficial for the heart. Allah s.w.t has praised those who possess the attribute of fear, saying:

“And such (are the believers) who are humbled by the fear of their Rabb.”
[Al-Mu’minun 23:57]

Fear of Allah’s displeasure and punishment is not only for the grave sinners, but it is also for the pious and observant believers, as in the following hadeeth:

‘Aishah the wife of the Prophet (ﷺ) said,
“I asked Rasulallah (ﷺ) about this Ayah:
And those who give that which they give, with their hearts full of fear… (23:60)
referring to someone who drinks alcohol and steals?”

He (ﷺ) said:
“No, O daughter of As-Siddiq.
They are those who fast, perform Salat, give charity
– while they fear that their Rabb will not accept it from them.
It is these who hasten to do good deeds, and they are the foremost of them (23:61).”

[Tirmidhi | Graded Hasan]

Al-Hasan commenting on this said, “By Allah, they (the Companions) obeyed Him and strove hard in it, yet they feared it might be rejected. A believer combines righteousness with fear in his heart, while a hypocrite combines evil with impunity.”

The true and praiseworthy fear is that which stops a person from the prohibitions of Allah. And another praiseworthy category of fear is to fear returning to the state of sinfulness and heedlessness after one has attained closeness to Allah.

Abu Uthman said, “Sincerity of fear is vigilance from sins, open and secret.” And Sheikh Islam Ibn Taymiyyah said, “The praiseworthy fear is that which prevented you from the prohibitions of Allah.”

🔖 Two Types of Fear: Khawf and Khashya
There are several words used in the Qur’an to refer the word [fear], but in this particular post, I will only highlight two that are mentioned in Ibn al-Qayyim’s book. Allah s.w.t. said:

“So fear them not, and fear [khawf] Me alone, if you are believers.”
[Ali Imran 3:175]

“So do not fear people, but fear [khashya] Me.”
[Al-Maaidah 5:44]

Ibn al-Qayyim rahimahullah wrote that scholars said [khawf] means:
– The anticipation of punishment.
– Allah’s lash with which He straightens up those who are fleeing from His door.
– To do away with careless sense of security by envisioning the great news (of the Last Day).

However, the word [khashya] is more specific – it is specific to the true knowers of Allah. Khashya is fear associated with the intimate knowledge (ma’rifa) of Allah, as Allah s.w.t. said: “Truly, those who fear [khashya] Allah from among His servants are the knowers.” [Fatir 35:28]

In essence, as what my teacher taught, [khawf] means a general fear, fear of something that is impending, eg. death, or the Day of Judgement. However [khashya] is fear with knowledge, a higher station of fear, for this fear never subsides within a believer’s heart who truly has knowledge.

For example, two people are attending a funeral processing, during which both of them are humbly reminded of their deaths to come. One of them is fearful [khawf] of this impending event. He fears for that day. However, one month or two months later down the road, he forgets about it and returns to sins and transgressions. But the other person is a person of knowledge, he has [khashya] – fear with knowledge, he steers away from all types of sins because he WHOLEHEARTEDLY KNOWS that Allah is Ever-Watching, Ever-Hearing. His fear does not diminish.

This is one of the reasons why – my dear sisters in faith, and my brothers in Islam – that the beautiful Names and Attributes of Allah s.w.t. is a critical branch of knowledge that every believer must try to learn. Only those who learn this knowledge will truly experience [khashya]. Subhanallah, it is a fundamental knowledge for any Muslim and extremely beneficial in all aspects of our lives, and more so for our Akhirah. May Allah grant us beneficial knowledge – Allahumma ameen.

🔖 Balancing Fear with Hope
Ibn al-Qayyim rahimahullah wrote that when fear exceeds boundary, it may bring hopelessness and despair. This is why it is important for a believer to balance his fear with hope. The heart in its journey towards Allah s.w.t. is like a bird whose head is love, and hope and fear are its two wings. When the head and the two wings are sound and healthy – the flight of the bird is good; but when the head is cut off – it immediately dies; and when either or both wings are deficient – the bird cannot properly fly and may become victim of a trap. The righteous predecessors preferred to strengthen the wing of fear during good times when heedlessness is feared, and to strengthen the wing of hope at times of calamity and when near death.

Fear is not the end in itself, but a means towards an end. When that end, i.e. Allah’s ultimate pleasure, is attained, then there is no longer need for fear. As Allah says to the people of Jannah: “There is no fear upon them, nor do they grieve.”

The one who fears Allah is a refugee
towards His Rabb’s [mercy] from his Rabb’s [displeasure].

___________
Reference:
Madaarij us-Saalikeen, by Ibn al-Qayyim rahimahullah

To Be Forgotten/Ignored By Your Rabb

And it will be said:
“This Day, We (Allah) will forget you as you forgot the Meeting of this Day of yours.
And your abode is the Fire, and there is none to help you.”
[Al-Jathiyah 45:34]

In Sahih Muslim, it is reported that Allah will ask some of His slaves on the Day of Resurrection:
“Have I not given you a spouse, honored you, and subjected the camels and horses to you?
Have I not allowed you to be a chief and a master?”
The slave will say in answer, “Yes, O Rabb!”
Allah will say, “Did you think that you would ever meet Me?”
He will say, “No.”
Allah the Exalted will say, “Then this Day, I will forget you as you forgot Me.

This because you took the revelations of Allah in mockery,
and the life of the world deceived you.
So this Day, they shall not be taken out from there (Jahannam),
nor shall they be returned to the worldly life (so that they repent to Allah).
[Al-Jathiyah 45:35]

Therefore o sons of Adam, be wise! Do not let the pleasure of this world fool you, for there will come a definite Day when no apology shall be accepted by the Rabb of all worlds. There will come a definite Day when Allah s.w.t. will forget you, as you have chosen to forget Him.
__________
Reference:
Tafsir Ibn Kathir