We have limited time in this life. And we are preparing for a eternal existence in the hereafter. In other words, our time here is of great importance. We must not waste time on actions that do not add value to our hereafter. Worse still are the actions that take value away from our hereafter (sins). We must focus on actions that add positive value to our hereafter. Better still, we should try our best to focus on actions that may have the biggest impact on improving our experience in the hereafter. We need to seek out those big ticket items and put them on our list of things to focus on daily, weekly, monthly, annually and as often as we possibly can. Every good deed counts, and we should never belittle any small deed for we never know which is most valuable to us in the end. But if we have the options to do one or the other, always pick the most rewardable deed, with the most impact.
The currency of the Day of Judgment is made up of our good deeds. The more of them we have, the better. Allah multiplies the rewards of each good deed ten times. A good deeds is written in our accounts for even for intending to do good. A good deed is written when someone stops himself or herself from doing a bad deed that they had intended to do. Furthermore, deeds are multiplied manifold, up to and beyond seven hundred times the reward, depending on the sincerity of the intention of the person, the conditions under which the good deed was performed, the difficulty of the task and so on.
Only sincere good deeds, done exclusively for the sake of Allah (Ikhlaas), in accordance with the teachings of the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) (Sunnah) are accepted. So we must take care and learn how to ensure sincerity of actions and what the Prophet’s (ﷺ) sunnah is pertaining to our actions.
And Allah knows best.
Associating partners with Allah in our worship is called Shirk. Shirk nullifies all our actions, no matter how good they might be. We must make Allah alone (and no one else) the focus of all of our worship or we will not attain success. In fact, must always maintain Tawheed (the belief in the oneness of Allah in our utterances and in our actions) for us to be considered Muslims.
Additionally, performing our acts of worship following anyone other than the teachings of Allah’s Messenger, Muhammad (ﷺ) is called Bid’ah. Bid’ah not accepted no matter how much or how eagerly we perform it. The way of the Prophet (ﷺ) is called the Sunnah. All our acts of worship must be for Allah and as taught by the Prophet (ﷺ) in his Sunnah.
The first thing to do when investing for the future is to ensure we don’t have holes anywhere where all our investments may be leaking away. It doesn’t make any sense to invest our time, money and effort into something but let it all be lost because we didn’t care to protect our investments from things that might threaten them. Similarly, it doesn’t make much sense to make so much effort into worship (Ibadah) but let it all go to waste by ill treating or cheating people or lie to them or hurt them in one way or another (akhlaaq). Or have really good character but neglect the obligatory acts of worship (for instance salah (prayers), siyam (fasting), zakah (obligatory charity), hajj (going on pilgrimage to Makkah). Before we proceed with trying to achieve Jannah, we must plug any holes that might jeopardize our efforts.
Obviously, sins represent holes that we must plug in or lose our good deeds to sins. Similarly, the quality of our good deeds is also very important. We must not let the lack of sincerity of our intentions take deprive us of the value of our deeds. A tiny good deed done sincerely for the sake of Allah may be way more valuable than a huge good deed done to show off to people or to get recognition or to get some other worldly benefit. A poor man donating a dollar out of a small purse only to feed a hungry soul is valued way more than a billionaire who donates millions to look good to his friends and family is valued nothing at all in the sight of Allah.
And Allah knows best.
We all want to attain the ultimate success and avoid the ultimate loss. To reiterate, the ultimate success for us as Muslims is Jannah (the Paradise) in the life after death, in the hereafter. The ultimate loss is Jahannam (the Hellfire). In order to attain Jannah, we have to be very smart about it and use our intellect to find out all we can about how to attain it. The same is true for avoiding Jahannam. The first step is to learn what to do and the next step is to implement what we learn to make it happen.
Islam is a complete package, we cannot afford to neglect any of the various aspects of Islam. Islam consists of several major aspects such as Aqeedah (the correct beliefs), Ibaadah (the correct way of worship), Akhlaaq (the good character with fellow human beings and other creatures), Muamalat (business dealings), Muasharah (the society) etc. We are all judged in each of these areas and to focus on one or two and neglect others is not the way to attain success. We must be conscious of our obligations to Allah, the fellow human beings in interpersonal and business dealings and enjoin good conduct and forbid bad conduct in the society.
There’s nothing worse than blindly putting all our efforts into something only to find out we are only going farther in the wrong direction. Therefore, it is very important to ensure we are on the right path before we start. In order to be sure we are on the right track, we need to do some research and find out what’s what. The easiest way to do this is to get in touch with several well known scholars. Several of them. This is because it is easy to lean one way or the other, be it wrong or right, when getting only one person’s understanding. When we ask several people, we are getting a wholesome picture rather than a biased view. We should also read on our own and ask questions to arrive at the right answers, much like if we are trying to find the best doctor in town to treat us. Validate our answers by asking the scholars so we are not assuming we know when we may have misunderstood. Only when we are sure, should we embark on the journey. Along the journey, keep checking occasionally to ensure we stay on the right track. If we are truly, sincerely seeking guidance, putting all the effort we possibly can, and asking Allah in the depths of nights’ darkness to be with us and lead us to Him, He will surely not let us go astray.
And Allah knows best.
Naturally, human beings tend to remember Allah more when we are sick or distressed somehow. Depending on what’s going on, we may have varying degrees of feelings of sadness, helplessness, loss, despair and the like. These feelings make cause us pain that is in addition to any physical due to sickness. And when these feelings overwhelm us somewhat, we usually can’t help but call unto Allah more. It is a natural response. We know instinctively that we are not in control of anything, but Allah is in control of everything including our lives including our health and sickness.
When we are sick, our prayers are more deep, more sincere and more hopeful. This is the reason why we should regard times of sickness as times of cleansing and getting closer to Allah. We should never ask for times of sickness and always pray to Allah for blessing of good health until the day we die. But when we do get sick, we should not despair. We should instead get busy with prayers and seeking forgiveness for our sins. We should also remember Allah and be busy engaged in doing good deeds when we are healthy. Whatever we are used to doing on a daily basis when we are healthy, we would get reward for even when we are not able to do them when we are sick and unable.
What we should never do if we are sick or feel sad or distressed for whatever reason is to start to despair. We should remind ourselves that life is a test. Allah is in control. As part of our faith, we know that we should put our hope in Allah, do everything that He has commanded and avoid everything that He has forbidden. Do our best and leave the rest to Allah. We should treat the time of sickness as a time to get all of our sins forgiven, accumulate good deeds and pray for ourselves, our families, our relatives and friends and the rest of humanity.
And Allah knows best.
Arabic is a very rich language. In order to really learn the language properly, it is important to build on top of a strong and healthy foundation. The building blocks of Arabic must be very well understood from the start for an easier learning experience.
From the very beginning, the Arabic alphabet needs to be mastered in every aspect i.e. reading, writing, pronouncing. It also means recognizing the letters in its various written forms: connected with other letters or disconnected.
Next the Arabic grammar is usually learned along with simple conversational sentences so the learning makes more sense. Reading, writing and comprehension go hand in hand at this stage. The rules of the Arabic grammar are very systematic in nature for the most part with a very few exceptions. Although there are a lot of rules, they can all be learned relatively easy with the help of Allah.
While learning the Arabic grammar, it is also helpful and even necessary to expand the Arabic vocabulary. Keep an Arabic notebook and learn a few new words everyday. Try to use them in sentences to make it stick. Write them out. Read out loud. If you have a native Arabic speaker teacher or a friend, you can seek assistance in learning the correct pronunciation of the words. Practice. Practice. Practice.
A lot of Arabic texts use the Quran and Hadith to teach examples of really good Arabic. So inshaaAllah you’ll get good exposure to the Quran and Hadith, which is really what we ultimately seek to understand. So it is a good idea to familiarize yourself with reciting the Quran if you are able to recognize letters and read Arabic.
Advanced Arabic classes teach Arabic morphology or Nahw & Sarf. This is the stage when you really begin to appreciate the beauty of Arabic. Arabic is hard, but the journey to learn it is worth it.
May Allah make it easy for all of the Muslims to learn Arabic for the purpose of understanding the Quran and Hadith.
Learning Arabic is a necessity for Muslims. This is because the Quran and the Sunnah, which form two of the most fundamental sources of Islamic knowledge are in the Arabic language. Of course, these primary sources of Islamic knowledge have already been translated into virtually every language there is. But the reality is that you only get the full and correct understanding of Quran and Sunnah in the Arabic language. Translation loses its essence.
Therefore, in order to understand the religion properly, the Arabic language is a pre-requisite. In other words, a person’s understanding of Islam is not complete if they rely solely on translations. Not only does it not suffice to read the translation for a complete understanding, but it is very likely to misunderstand Islam when all of our knowledge base is based on translated text. This is specially true if the person who did the translation does not himself or herself know Arabic that well. So now you have a very twisted understanding from what was originally intended.
Most Muslims have taken this very lightly and think that it is totally optional to learn Arabic. We should realize that we are only limiting ourselves when we assume that learning Arabic for the purpose of understanding the Quran and Hadith is not required. Every able Muslim should make every possible effort to learn the Arabic language for the sake of seeking a more complete and authentic understanding of Islam.
There are many people teaching Arabic at various mosques or schools around the world. Concerned Muslims do find a way to organize Arabic classes in their locality if at all possible. Additionally, with the internet and social media, there are numerous resources for learning the Arabic language available online these days. Interested Muslims can and should take advantage of the many opportunities for learning Arabic online. If it’s important to you, you will find a way. Learning Arabic is the most important basic knowledge areas that every Muslim should invest in.
And Allah knows best.
To learn Islam and to serve Islam is to love Islam. The most precious thing we have as Muslims is the religion of Islam. It is every Muslim’s duty to learn Islam as much as they possibly can. And after learning it, to serve the religion in any capacity they can. To really thank Allah for the ultimate blessing of guidance to the faith of Islam, we as Muslims must serve Islam any which way we can. The religion of Islam has been misrepresented by so-called Muslims of late and the press has had a lot of opportunity to intentionally or unintentionally portray Islam in a negative light. Therefore, there is an even greater need for Muslims to step up and serve the religion by being good Muslims and examples of the character of the Prophet (ﷺ) for others to see and learn from.
To serve Islam could be to teach other Muslims about various aspects of Islam, to teach the Quran and Hadith to others, to implement Islam into our daily lives and behave like true Muslims for everyone to see, to write about Islam for everyone to read, to answer questions people have about Islam, to dispel misconceptions about Islam in any way possible, to learn and teach Arabic to non-Arabs solely for the purpose of understanding the Quran and, last but not least, to invite non-Muslims into Islam.
I often wonder what I ever did to deserve such a huge blessing? I also wonder if I hadn’t been born Muslim, would I have found Islam coming from another religion, say Hinduism. Hinduism was most likely my ancestors’ religion before Islam was introduced to Southern India where my ancestors are originally from. Therefore I am totally grateful to Allah for guiding my ancestors to Islam from whom I have come to inherit it. And I would love to meet and hug that one ancestor who first accepted Islam way back when. I’d tell him or her how I love them so for leaving Hinduism and embracing Islam for it must have been a challenge to switch religions.
And Allah knows best.
Being able to tell a story in drawing (and writing) is a remarkable skill. I see a lot of talented artists tell memorable stories in the comics medium which is a unique art form. It combines drawings & writings in a coherent way to tell stories in a way that writing alone could not accomplish. I have so many stories to tell. I can imagine telling them in my head. But I want to make them available in drawn (and written) format for my readers to enjoy.
My drawing skills are next to nothing. I know almost nothing about drawing. I did take drawing classes in school but they were rudimentary and I didn’t seem to have a natural inclination toward drawing. I still don’t think I have any drawing skills to speak of. Yet I find drawings fascinating. I particularly enjoy comic strips and graphic novels and the skill with which the artists sometimes are able to convey almost anything through their drawings.
The comics medium is a fascinating one because one can actually tell stories way more effectively than with writing alone. I don’t really want to draw people or animals in a realistic manner because I believe that that is not allowed in the religion. But I want to be able to tell a story in a comic strip or a graphic novel without having to draw elaborate facial features on comic characters.
I have always been fond of writing. I kept almost a regular journal throughout my school years growing up. I used to love to write and found it to be soothing and calming exercise to put my feelings into written words. Later in life, I started blogging. I’ve been blogging on and off for almost twenty years now.
There was a time I used to blog daily, as I do now. But then I stopped because life was happening too fast and furious, I guess. Now I’ve rediscovered writing so to speak and the calming affects that it has on me. I don’t consider myself a writer per se. But I do love to write. I think about writing a lot and want to capture ideas that I like quickly before they are gone from my imagination.
There are a lot of comic strip artists showcasing their amazing artwork on social media such as Instagram and Facebook. Also, there are a lot of accomplished artists who have shown us non-artists how to draw comics on YouTube. Time to learn me some art :p
Human beings have an infinite number of blessings to thank Allah for. Allah has bestowed countless blessings on each and everyone of us. If we were to try and enumerate the blessings we have been granted, we would never be able to do so. The blessings we enjoy daily are not something we did anything to acquire ourselves. They are all gifts from Allah.
The intellect that we have been granted with which to think and have a sense of self with, which we think of as essentially our core, our self is actually not our own. We didn’t create it. We got it. From Allah. As a gift. And as a test to use while we are on this planet for a finite period of time.
The bodies that we identify ourselves with and think that we own are actually on loan from Allah. We didn’t create ourselves. Our parents, the vessels that bore us, did not create us. We received our bodies as gifts from Allah to use while we are alive in this life for a limited time.
Similarly, all the rest of our blessings: our health, our wealth, all of our worldly possessions, our families, the air we breathe, the water and the food we need to stay alive with and anything and everything for that matter, are all from Allah. All for us to use for a while then we die, leaving behind our possessions and belongings for others to inherit. In fact, we never really ever owned any of the things, we only got them on loan.
We are supposed to thank Allah for our blessings and never use them to disobey Allah with. We are never to abuse our blessings, any of them, in anyway shape or form. We are to use them according to how Allah has instructed us to use our blessings, sharing our wealth with others, living with others around us in harmony, being beneficial to humankind and animals. We are to try to leave the world a better place than we found it. We are to obey Allah and be kind and just and helpful.
And Allah knows best.
Being good to our parents is one of the most important obligations in Islam. Our parents do so much for us throughout our lives, from the time we are born, throughout our childhood and often until well into our adulthood. We can never repay our parents for what they do for us. We are instructed by Allah and His Messenger (ﷺ) to be kind to our parents in every respect. We are ordered to be dutiful to them, to care for them, to help them, to make them happy with whatever we can, to ensure that they have the best experience we can give them throughout their life.
We should be super careful when it comes to our parents. They took care of us when we were babies and helpless. We should do our utmost to care for them when they are old. We should talk to them when they are sad. And we should talk to them when they are happy. They will say things that seem outdated to us, but we should listen and obey and be respectful of their wishes. The only exception to this if they ask us to disobey Allah: we should still treat them well, just don’t obey them in disobeying Allah. We are to love and care for our parents even if they are disbelievers.
The dua of the parents is one of the most effective prayers for the children. So the children should strive to get as much dua from them by being good to them. Similarly the due against the children by the unhappy parents is just as effective. This is hard to imagine, because what parent would want to make dua against their own children. However, it is not the dua uttered but the hurt that is felt that is sufficient. If the parents are treated badly and just cry out thinking how badly their children are treating them, that is enough to be a dua against their children.
We all know this yet we see so many who aren’t good to their parents.
It is one of the greatest sins to be unkind to parents. Being disrespectful to parents or making them cry or hurting them in any way is such a huge sin that according to an authentic Hadith the punishment for it is seen in this world as well as the torment that is reserved for it in the hereafter. May Allah protect us all from our own evil actions.
And Allah knows best.