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!

Focus Not On The Tests, Focus on Our Attitude

We are constantly being tested by Allah s.w.t. in this dunya, either in a form of difficulty, or ease. This beautiful religion of ours teaches us to be patient when we are hit with difficulties, and to be syukur / grateful when in ease.

This life is like a coin – one side is Patience, and the other is Syukur – meaning that every incident that we will go through the moment we wake up until the moment we sleep, will be between these two incidents that either require Patience or Gratefulness.

The problem with us is this: that we think Allah only tests us with difficulties. The death of a loved one, or the loss of revenue in business – it’s easy for us to call these events as tests from Allah. But it’s not easy for us to remind ourselves that incidents like getting married, or getting a promotion are also tests from Him. It’s hard to convince ourselves and realize that these moments of ease, just like those moments of difficulties, are all tests from Allah s.w.t.

Why is this realization important?

Because both Patience and Syukur are means to carve our way to Jannah. The one who is wealthy yet grateful, and the one who is poor yet patient – while both have different tests – have equal chance to earn Allah’s Pleasure. Similarly, both have equal chance to earn the displeasure of Allah if they are not grateful or patient.

There is absolutely no one who will not be tested by Allah, meaning there is absolutely no one whom Allah does not give him or her a chance to be patient or to be grateful.

When Allah sends us difficulties, it does not necessarily mean He is displeased with us. And when Allah sends us ease, it does not necessarily mean He is pleased with us.
It’s not the test that we should be focusing on.
But it’s our attitude that we should work on.

Rasulallah sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam said:
“Indeed greater reward comes with greater trial.
And indeed, when Allah loves a people He subjects them to trials,
so whoever is content, then for him is pleasure,
and whoever is discontent, then for him is wrath.”
[At-Tirmidhi | Graded Hasan]

Aleppo: The Beginning, Not The End

I strongly encourage everyone to watch this video. Imam Karim AbuZaid, may Allah s.w.t. preserve him share with us a piece of hope in the midst of all the chaos and despair regarding Aleppo.

There is a plot against Syria by the world, to defeat Islam there, to destroy the correct teaching of Islam based on the understanding of the first 3 best and praised generations. It is an orchestrated plan to send a message to the Sunni Muslims so that they will be psychologically defeated. Why?

Because Syria will mark the ultimate victory of Islam in the future.

“Allah will send ‘Isa ibn Maryam (alayhi salaam), who will come down at the white minaret in the east of Damascus, wearing two Mahrud [garment dyed with Wars and then Saffron], resting his hands on the wings of two angels. When he lowers his head, beads of perspiration will fall from it. Every disbeliever who smells the fragrance of his breath will die, and his breath will reach as far as his eye can see. Then he will set out and catch up with him (the Dajjal) at the gate of Ludd, and will kill him.”
[Sunan Ibn Majaj (Sahih)]

If Al-Sham is where the greatest fitnah ever to be faced on this earth (the Dajjal) ended, then insya Allah, Al-Sham will be able to withstand the current situation it is facing (Al-Sham refers to Syria, Palestine, Lebanon and Jordan).

This is our hope in the midst of our despair.
O Muslims, believe in the plans of Allah s.w.t.!
And do not forget the arrows of the night. For the sake of Allah, on the last third of the night, wake up for our brothers and sisters in Aleppo, and make du’a for them. May Allah s.w.t. relieve their suffering. May Allah s.w.t. unite the Muslims.

“And they plotted, and Allah plotted too.
And Allah is the Best of those who plot.”
[Ali Imran 3:54]


Trials are our Opportunities

“Were it not for the trials in this world,
we would be arriving bankrupt on the Day of Judgement.”

Ibn al-Qayyim rahimahullah
[Zaad Al Ma’aad (4/176)]

If you are undergoing tests or calamities, then be patient o Muslims, and remain steadfast on the truth for these tests may raise your rank in the sight of Allah s.w.t.

🌸Rasulallah sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam said:
“If Allah wants to do good to somebody, He afflicts him with trials.” [1]

🌸He sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam also said:
“When Allah has decreed for a servant a rank which he has not attained by his action, He (Allah s.w.t.) afflicts him in his body, or his property or his children. He then enables him to endure that. So that He may bring him to the rank decreed from him by Allah.” [2]

🌸He sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam also said:
“When Allah wants good for his slave, He hastens his punishment in the world. And when He wants bad for His slave, He withholds his sins from him until he appears before Him on the Day of Judgement. Indeed greater reward comes with greater trial. And indeed, when Allah loves a people He subjects them to trials, so whoever is content, then for him is pleasure, and whoever is discontent, then for him is wrath.” [3]

So do not look to trials and tribulations as calamities, but look to them as opportunities to be stronger as you emerge from them with less sins, more rewards, higher status, and an increase in experience and wisdom – insya Allah.
[1] Sahih Bukhari 
[2] Sunan Abi Dawud 
[3] Sunan At-Tirmidhi 

Using Qadr As An Excuse?

“You always use ‘Qadr, Qadr, Qadr’ to put Muslims to sleep!”
“You’re being so impassive about this situation!”
“So you’re saying that we shouldn’t do anything about it??”

My dear brothers and sisters in Islam, remember the hadith of when we are inflicted with calamity, we are taught to never say “If only I had done so and so, this would not have happened…” because the word ‘If’ will open the gate for Shaitan to enter and corrupt our iman. Rather, we are taught to say: Allah s.w.t. has decreed and whatever He will, He does. [1]

So we shall accept it.
But today and in the future – we’re going to do something about it.
This is the attitude that all Muslims should have.
And this is applicable not only in regard to the presidency of Donald Trump.
This is applicable in our daily lives.
There are people who are so accustomed to sins and laziness and blame their situation because of Qadr.
Islam doesn’t teach us to be lazy.
It doesn’t teach us to be complacent.
It doesn’t teach us to be idle, neglectful, procrastinate.
These are all weak excuses to run away from responsibilities.
Jangan salahkan Qadar sekiranya anda sendiri yang malas untuk berusaha.

We utilize our belief in the Qadr of Allah s.w.t. to find comfort in what has been inflicted upon us.
But we do not use this belief in the Qadr to justify our laziness.
For the present and the future – we MUST & SHOULD strive.
And this is part of tawakkul upon Allah s.w.t.

[1] Sunan Ibn Majah

On Donald Trump’s Presidency: Khayr, insya Allah

Say: “O Allah! Possessor of the kingdom, You give the kingdom to whom You will, and You take the kingdom from whom You will, and You endue with honour whom You will, and You humiliate whom You will.
In Your Hand is the good.
Verily, You are Able to do all things.

[Ali Imran 3:26]

In the midst of all the confusion, this is a beautiful ayah for us to internalize.
Allah s.w.t. is the Sole Owner of the Kingship.
The fact that Allah has bestowed some power to this person,
took it away from another,
dignify someone,
and humiliate another…
All of this is khayr.

Even after much consideration of the pros and cons, even after so many efforts that everyone tried to put in place,
Allah s.w.t. has willed for this to happen.
And we as Muslims believe:
بِيَدِكَ ٱلۡخَيۡرُ‌
“In Your Hand is the good.”
All of this is khayr.
So restore your belief in the Qadr and Wisdom of Allah s.w.t.

On Donald Trump’s Presidency: Victory Comes From Allah s.w.t. Alone

Ibn Abbas reported that Ibrahim a.s. said when he was thrown into the fire
“Allah is enough for us, and excellent is He as the Guardian.”
and it was likewise said by Muhammad sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam, when they said:
“Verily, the people have gathered against you, so fear them.
But it only increased their faith and they said:
Allah is enough for us, and excellent is He as the Guardian.” [Ali Imran 3:173] [1]

Indeed, victory does not come from anyone except Allah. Alone. Not by Donald Trump. Not by Hillary Clinton. Not by anyone. Remember when Umar r.a. said:

“Verily, we were a disgraceful people and Allah honored us with Islam,
so if we seek honor from other than Islam, then Allah will humiliate us.” [2]

So this victory and honor must be EARNED. But how could we expect victory, when we ourselves have forsaken our Sustainer? When we abandon salah? When we are stingy in paying zakah and charity? When we talk and fight against corruption and oppression, but we ourselves cheat and oppress others in our business dealings and daily affairs?

Sheikh Muhammad Ibn Saleh al-Uthaymeen rahimahullah said:

“Do you see any destruction more severe than the destruction of the Ummah nowadays? They are billion in numbers, they are nearly one-fourth of the world population, but they have no value in the global community in spite of having moral force, material power and manpower. But when they neglected the Deen of Allah, Allah s.w.t. forsook them, so that a person trusts the oppressors among the disbelievers more than he trusts his own brothers among the Muslims
– and this is an ordeal and a calamity.”

Sheikh Younus Kathrada once wrote:

“What I am saying is that we, as an ummah, carry much of the blame for what is happening to the ummah. We need to take stock of ourselves. I need to start with myself and you with yourself. Is it possible that what is happening to our fellow Muslims is a result of our wrongdoings? The reality is that it may very well be. I could be the problem, you could be the problem.
Thus, it is incumbent on us to correct ourselves.

Victory doesn’t come from holding hands and singing kumbaya. O Muslims, work hard. Fulfill our duties to Allah, and stop oppressing ourselves and others. Return to the Qur’an and Sunnah, and only then will Allah s.w.t. grant that victory that we desperately seek.
[1] Sahih Bukhari
[2] Umar RA on Humility