Power in its best form

When someone says the word ‘power’, we usually automatically think of strength, authority, might, force, intensity, and other things of the sort which pertain to our definition of power. Laylatul-Qadr, ‘The Night of Decree’, also known as the night of power, is the most blessed and most powerful night in the lunar month of Ramadhan. Powerful in the sense that a little bit can go a long way, as stated by Allah (SWT) in the Holy Quran,

“The night of Al-Qadr is better than a thousand months (i.e. worshipping Allah in that night is better than worshipping Him a thousand months, i.e. 83 years and 4 months)” [97:3].

A thousand months is more than the estimated human lifespan of 79 years! So in other words, catching Laylatul-Qadr will give you the reward of more than 83 years of worship. I know a bargain when I see one, and that is one I can’t say no to. Speaking of which, when is Laylatul-Qadr you may be asking. Well, we’re taught that it is in the last ten nights of Ramadhan, and that is it an odd night in the last ten nights.

“Allah’s Messenger (SAW) used to practice Itikaaf in the last ten nights and say: ‘Seek out Lailatul-Qadr in the (odd nights) of the last ten days of Ramadhan.’” (Bukhari, Muslim)

How can you get the most of these last few nights of Ramadhan other than the usual doing adhkaars and making du’aa? Listed below are 3 easy and practical things we can do in the last 10 nights to maximise and take advantage of this great opportunity Allah has given us.

  1. Give charity every night, even if it’s just $1. When this coincides with Laylatul-Qadr, it will be as though you have given charity daily for 1000 months.
  2. Praying just 2 rakaat of qiyaam every night. When this coincides with Laylatul-Qadr it will be as though you have prayed every night for over 83 years.
  3. Read Surah Ikhlaas 3 times every night, for this surah carries the weight of one third of the Quran, despite its short length. When your recitation coincides with Laylatul-Qadr, it will be as though you completed the Quran nightly for 1000 months.

These above tips are just a few tips among the sea of things we can do in these last 10 nights. Spending time with family, feeding the homeless, reciting and reflecting on the Quran, memorising a du’aa every night, attending taraweeh with your families, and performing itikaaf are all things we can do as well. Some things may be a little out of our capacity, but nothing we do will go by unnoticed and unseen, for Allah is The All-Seeing, and His mercy extends over us in way we will never come to fathom. One of the scholars said that we even get rewarded for sleeping if our intention is to rest up to worship Him the coming day. SubhanAllah! Do not underestimate any action you do before Allah, especially in these last 10 nights!

Our greatest weapon

Du’aa, we’re told, is the weapon of a believer. And from a young age we’re taught to make du’aa for the things we want in life, whether that’s good grades, Jannah, or those pair of shoes mum said she wasn’t going to buy us. We grew up believing that if we asked God for it long and hard enough, that eventually it’ll be given to us on a silver platter. And when things didn’t end up going according to our plan, we would sulk because we couldn’t see the wisdom behind it, or what was given to us *instead* of what we were asking for.

Something changed within us. The point of du’aa shifted. We no longer yearned for the conversation we got out of supplicating to our Lord. We no longer craved the connection we got out of knowing we had the BEST of listeners, listening to US. Hearing us. Supporting us. Carrying us through our tough times. We no longer found a friend in the Almighty, even though He loves us more than a mother loves her child, and has more mercy on us than the mercy a mother has towards her baby. We became unsure of whether He wanted what was best for us, and thought we knew better.

Du’aa became less of a supplication, and more of a demand. 

“Ask, and you will be given” [Tirmidhi], got taken out of context and we attributed our Lord, *the Creator of the heavens and the earth* into a mere genie, who would apparently grant us much more than just 3 wishes. And we taught our kids to do the same, who taught their kids to do it too. And for generations this continued, until eventually all Islam became was an inheritance. We stopped learning, we stopped yearning. We settled for what we were taught and stopped asking questions. We stopped reaching for the stars, we stopped reaching out to other people. We stopped thirsting for knowledge. We settled. We settled for this life and all the nonsense it bought with it. We settled for impatience and greed. We settled for just the compulsory acts of worship. We lost touch with ourselves. We lost touch with our Lord.

I think it’s time we retrace our steps, and find that connection again. Du’aa is your greatest weapon, and always will be because there’s nothing like having God on your side. Find the meaning of supplication within your own soul. Converse with your Lord, find a friend in Him. Know that the point of du’aa was always the conversation and connection. Seek it, find it, and your outcome will be served to you on a silver platter. It may not be the outcome you prayed for, but it’s the outcome that’s best for you, and you need to trust that Allah know’s what He’s doing. He’s your greatest friend after all 🙂

“And when my servants ask you concerning me, [tell them] I am indeed near. I respond to the invocation of the supplicant when he calls.” [2:186]

Practicing the pause

“Practice the pause. When in doubt, pause. When angry, pause. When tired, pause. When stressed, pause. And when you pause, pray.” – Author Unknown.

Living in this day and age has become similar to a filthy rat race to the top. Everyone is so busy doing something, getting somewhere, meeting someone that we forget to take a break and just inhale the air around us as opposed to the robotic breathing we are accustomed to. Just as everyone is quick to move forward in their lives, they’re even quicker in reacting to whatever may be tossed onto their path. We as a society have forgotten the importance of the ‘pause’.

In times of anger, we snap fizzle and pop, causing collateral emotional, and sometimes physical damage to those we love most. In times of sadness, our tears fall down our faces like nature’s very first waterfalls. When we’re in doubt, it’s almost like the whole world can hear our mind breaking, slowly and painfully. When our little hearts tucked away deep within the confines of our chest are gifted with happiness, it jumps and jives around, trying to tear its way out of our chests and into the wider world. And despite not being able to, that happiness shines on the faces of those it is bestowed upon. Bright, glowing faces of happiness.

The point here is that humans are vessels of emotions. And even though different people channel their emotions differently, there seems to be a recurring pattern with emotions when the ‘pause’ isn’t practiced in its correct moment. Time and time again, Allah attributes reflection to understanding. People that reflect on all aspects of life are those with understanding. In this instance, pausing can very well be used interchangeably with reflecting because when practicing the *pause*, time is given to *reflect* on the situation at hand. How and why things went the way they did. How to de-escalate the current atmosphere. A reasonable way to come to an appropriate solution. By pausing, we put our animalistic side of acting on instinct a seat on the bench, and let our humanly reason and logic shoot some hoops. Pause. Pause. Pause. And then, reflect. You can never go wrong.

“Will you then not reflect?” (The Holy Quran, 37:155)

Us & Them

As I sit here at 11:40pm on a Sunday night, I can’t help but think about the world of chaos we are living in. Everything from the vices present in the Western world, to the senseless killings that are the everyday norm in the Muslim world.

And then I think back to the days of the Prophet, may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him. About how he (saw) lived, and how his companions lived. The things they strived for compared to what we strive for. The society they lived in, and how they faced the adversities that knocked the wind right out of their lungs. The way they worshipped, and how they lived when prosperity was bestowed upon them in abundance. And then my heart sinks just that little bit more, deep within the confines of my chest.

We, the Muslims of today love listening to the inspiring stories of those that came before us. It puts some strength in our spines and a little courage in our hearts. It gives us a strong sense of pride, history and identity. We look at the giants of our religion and are able to hold our heads high at what they achieved and everything they stood for. We know that they’ve set the standards, not only for Muslims, but for the whole of humanity.

You see, these men and women we look up to and admire so deeply knew what it was about. They knew the secret to a happy life, and they understood the essence of their purpose on this world. They knew when the winds of change blew, and how to repair the damage that was done. These great men and women understood the meaning of living in a metaphysical world. Metaphysics is something that transcends physical matter, or the laws of nature. The companions understood that their actions would cause a direct or opposite reaction in the world. They would sin, Allah would withhold something from them. They stood up for the rights of the oppressed and looked after the orphans, and Allah would bless them with prosperity. Their interpretation of the world was so different to our interpretation of it, and that is *the* defining difference between us and them. We live in a physical world, and they lived in a metaphysical world. They recognised that everything is from Allah, good or bad, and they realised that what Allah sends their way is a direct result of their relationship with Him.

Perhaps that is why they mastered the art of living and were granted such high ranks. That’s what makes them a cut, or two, above the rest of us. They strived for perfection, and we just strive for greatness.

The spices of life

“Every soul shall taste death”, is one of the many things Allah has promised the humans living on this earth, regardless of race or religion. Nobody can escape the grips of death when their time comes, no matter how old or young, how rich or poor.

Something I would like to bring your attention to is that Allah uses the word ‘taste’, or ‘savour’ as opposed to something like ‘experience’. You see, us humans, we taste the different flavours of life via the many experiences we undergo. We taste the sweetness of having family and friends around us, we taste the bitterness of tragedy that descends upon our lives, we taste well deserved victory after attaining something we’ve been trying to achieve, such as a degree or a good job. Every experience brings with it a distinct taste, a flavour of its own. And death is no different.

For lovers of all things good, death will be another distinctly sweet taste they’ll experience. Could there be anything sweeter knowing where they are headed and who they’ll be keeping the company of? And for those that derive pleasure from causing mischief on the land of God, well, they will also taste death with a distinct flavour. How you live on this earth and the flavour preferences you’ve chosen determine what flavour you’ll be served at the time of your death. The choice *literally* lies in your own hands. So ask yourself: do I want my departing experience to be a good or a bad one? And then live your life accordingly.

“Be like melting snow, wash yourself, of yourself”

So often we find ourselves at war with ourselves; much like the tides of the ocean, constantly crashing against itself, beating itself over matters which are out of its control. The great difference between the oceans and humans in this regard is that on the surface, it is what it is, at war with itself; but deep down, right at the heart of the sea, there is serenity and harmony, unmatched by anything else. With humans, it’s the exact opposite. On the surface, most people seem calm and collected, but nobody knows of the reality of the state of their sanity, of the war raging within their own soul – a war which seems so far gone, there’s absolutely no point of return, there’s no half way mark where an agreement can be made, with themselves, for themselves. You see, the oceans, however violent and aggressive it may appear to be with itself, is loved by billions around the globe for its originality, nakedness, vulnerability, and complete honesty. Everybody knows the incomparable serenity that lies under the crashing waves, and they find serenity within themselves when around large bodies of water. Or rather, the seas and oceans eminate serenity from their very core. Humans on the other hand, bottle up their inner conflicts under a facade because of the stigma our societies have created around such topics. If a person is uncomfortable in their own skin, or if they’re mentally or emotionally unstable, they’re labelled with such negative terms and called derogatory names, or are said to be seeking attention. But what we don’t realise is that mental health is a serious epidemic that isn’t addressed enough, in Muslim, as well as non-Muslim societies, but moreso in the Muslim society. We put so much external pressure on these people, like there isn’t enough of an internal war going on already. Sweeping it under the rug and saying they’ll be fine, telling them they’re not grateful enough or that they aren’t that great of a Muslim if they feel depressed. The Prophet’s of Allah went through phases of depression, and they were the best humans to ever walk this Earth.

So if you know someone that isn’t doing too well, be there for them, genuinely. Be a listening ear, a pillar of strength, a dose of happiness, and a beacon of light for when they need it, and and even when they don’t.

For all those that have gone through, or are currently going through depression, don’t bottle it up inside yourselves. Talk to a trustworthy friend, a brother, a sister. Get it out of your system, do things that make you happy, often. Write about it, talk about it, draw about it. Use whatever avenue you need if it helps in the healing process, but whatever you do, keep moving forward, even if you’re crawling your way out of this seemingly inescapable darkness. You see, these mountains you carry on your shoulders, you were only meant to climb.

I end with the following quote which helps me through my toughest days, in hopes it giving strength to someone else;
“Oh Lord! My heart is so small, how can you place such big sorrows in it?” “Look,” He answered; “your eyes are even smaller, yet they behold the world in its entirety.”

“… and We are closer to him than (his) jugular vein”

When Allah (SWT) stated in the Quraan that He is closer to us than our jugular vein, He is stating that the role faith plays in our life is just as important as life itself. Our jugular vein, if cut, causes almost instant death due to the amount of blood which is able to escape from it. Our jugular vein, one of the most vital parts of the human body; the one vein we’re unable to live or function without, Allah says that He is closer to us than that very vein which is essential to our survival! The jugular vein is quite a vulnerable vein, so Allah could be telling us to trust in His absolute power, even during the most vulnerable points in our lives. The jugular veins are also great places for IV lines to be placed, so Allah could be saying that everyone will die at some point, and when modern medicine is no longer able to sustain us physically, faith will be able to provide some sort of comfort. And what better comfort is there than knowing that our Creator and our Maker is closer to us than our organs that are inside us? Knowing that whatever adversity that has befallen us, or is to befall us, will only do so with His permission. When sorrow and grief echoes through our hearts, He knows. For every thought that travels through the nerves of our brains, He knows. For He is close, closer than you feel He is, and even closer than you can imagine! Reach out, call Him as you would call upon a friend, and pour your heart out. He knows your pains, He’s just yearning for your call.