Make Dawah or Accept Dawah

Allah (ﷻ) is our Creator, Sustainer, the One & Only God. He sent numerous Messengers and Prophets (may the peace & blessings of Allah be upon all of them) throughout human history to various nations on earth in order to guide them to the correct path. Muhammad (ﷺ) was the last one in a long chain of the Messengers & Prophets. He was sent as a mercy to mankind for through him Allah sent the final guidance to mankind and preserved it in the Quran & Sunnah. The guidance brought by the final Messenger (ﷺ) was preserved and the responsibility of ensuring the guidance reaches everyone was given to every Muslim until the Day of Judgment through Dawah.

Dawah is an invitation to Allah and His religion Islam. The way human beings behave, we either affect others (with our words and actions) or we are affected by others (because of their words and actions). Either we give Dawah to others or we receive the Dawah from others. This is because if we are not actively seeking to convey the message of guidance and salvation to others, we are receiving messages of whatever the world has to offer. To be beacons of the light of guidance is to be safest from the darkness of misguidance.

Islam is essentially a way of life. Therefore the best invitation to Islam is through actions, not through words. When people see Muslims living Islam, they will be attracted towards it. Words alone are not enough to invite people to Islam, especially if they see a contradiction between our words and our actions. Therefore the best form of Dawah is through our own practice of Islam in every aspect from worship (which is our relationship with Allah), to dealing with individuals & societies (which are our relationships with other human beings). These dealings include both in our interpersonal relationships and our business dealings.

If our worship and our relationships with human beings are both sound, then our Dawah is in line with the teachings of Islam and is effective. Otherwise, our Dawah is deficient and not very effective.

And Allah knows best.

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How to Get Our Hearts at Peaceful Rest

We all cherish peace of mind. Indeed we all need it. And when we are not at peace with whatever, we crave that peace of mind with all of our body and soul. We have such a big need for it as human beings. So it is only natural that our Creator, Sustainer God has given us precise instructions of how to get this peace and tranquility that our hearts desire so much. We find these instructions in the Quran and the Sunnah.

The Quran tells us that the real peace that our hearts desire is found in the remembrance of Allah. Not meaningless utterances of remembrance but conscious, meaningful remembrance of Allah. Our hearts do indeed find peaceful rest in Allah’s remembrance. Allah explains this in the Quran in this famous verse:

الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَتَطْمَئِنُّ قُلُوبُهُم بِذِكْرِ اللَّهِ ۗ أَلَا بِذِكْرِ اللَّهِ تَطْمَئِنُّ الْقُلُوبُ

Saheeh International Translation: Those who have believed and whose hearts are assured by the remembrance of Allah. Unquestionably, by the remembrance of Allah hearts are assured.

Obviously, a pre-requisite to all this is to have full faith in Allah alone. In order to have proper faith in Allah, learn about Allah and remember Allah with the proper etiquette. The remembrance of Allah is in the five daily prayers, the recitation of the Quran with meaning, the many duaa and zikr that have been related to us by the Prophet (ﷺ) during his life and recorded by his companions. These remembrances are readily available in authentic books of Azkaar and Duaa. Read them after learning their meanings. Read them daily during the mornings and during the evenings. Pray the five daily prayers on time. Recite the Quran daily even if just a little bit, with understanding. Once we establish a connection with our Lord, we will definitely have discovered the peace that our hearts so desire.

Without this peace of mind, peace of heart, peace in general, we feel that queasy feeling of being disturbed to our core. This feeling has nothing to do with material possessions, health or even family. This is much deeper than that. We could have all the wealth in the world, be healthy and have a loving family around us, we would still not be at peace in our core if we don’t have the guidance to have faith in Allah. This might be hard to imagine for some but it is the God honest truth.

And Allah knows best.

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Reading the Quran Daily With Understanding

I advise myself and you all to make reading Quran daily with understanding a part of life. Even if it’s just a little bit daily, do read it. Regularly. And read it with understanding. Just as we feed our bodies daily with food, Alhamdulillah, we need to feed our souls. Therefore, don’t delay and start today. Reading the Quran daily with understanding will help us be connected with our Creator & our Sustainer Allah. The goal is to establish a lifelong relationship with the Quran so we are familiar with the Quran enough to go to it first for answers, guidance, comfort and to make sense of this life.

In order to do this successfully, we definitely need to know enough Arabic to understand the Quran properly. Start today on the journey to learn Arabic. Everything we do in order to get closer to the book of Allah, the Quran, we are rewarded for it. I shall provide a list of ready to use resources for learning Arabic in an upcoming blog post.

Quran is not read like other books (not like a story book or a science book). The Quran is read with an intention to listen and obey. To seek to understand. To find answers to our questions. To seek comfort knowing that the Quran is the actual speech of Allah, our Creator, Sustainer God.

Seeking knowledge is a great form of worship. What is a life that is lived without learning the purpose of our own existence but groping in the darkness of ignorance? All the answers to what ails individuals and society are present in the Quran. We should refer to the Quran for answers to our deepest questions such as “Who created me?” Or “Why was I created?” are answered in the Quran. If we refer to other sources for answers to these questions, then we will definitely go astray. May Allah protect us all from misguidance.

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Remembering Allah Daily

Remembrance of Allah is where our hearts truly find peace. A Muslim remembers Allah daily numerous times throughout the day and night. Remembering Allah daily helps us remember what our place in this universe really is. It also helps us to remember that we rely on Allah for everything. If Allah wills it, we will live another day. When Allah wills it we will leave this temporary worldly life. We are not created for this world but for a very powerful purpose: the everlasting life in the hereafter, i.e. after our death in this life, when we are resurrected, we will never cease to exist. So we remember Allah often. Many times daily, in fact.

First and foremost are the five daily prayers which are spread out throughout the day to ensure that our hearts are connected to the Creator throughout our lives. We also remember Allah through the recitation of the Quran. This is a way to converse with Allah since the Quran is the speech of Allah. Furthermore, we have supplications (duaa) for everything we do: for waking up, for entering or exiting the washroom, for eating and drinking, for going changing outfits, for going out of the house, for traveling, for entering or leaving the masjid (mosque) and for everything in between. In addition to all these, we are encouraged to supplicate morning and evening with the recommended duaa and azkaar that the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) used to supplicate with. These supplications are meant to ask Allah for help for our daily affairs, protection from evil and to be able to be good Muslims.

Remembering Allah in the morning with these supplications (known as Azkaar as-Sabaah or the morning reminders) helps us start off our day right. Remembering Allah in the evening before we go to sleep (known as Azkaar al-Masaa’ or the night reminders) to go to sleep with the consciousness that Allah is our Creator and Sustainer God.

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Reading A Book a Month

I’m trying my hardest to read a book a month. This month I have finished reading Dr. Israr Ahmed’s (May Allah have Mercy on his soul) book Rasul-e-Kamil (in Urdu). Although the book is only about a hundred pages, it packs the essence of the life of the Prophet (ﷺ) highlighting his special purpose in this world. Allah sent him as a mercy to mankind. His character, his example and his being in and of itself was such a supreme example of what Allah wants every one of us to aspire to. He lived a humble life and brought the Message of Allah through the Quran. He also lived the Quran so we have an example to follow.

This book is about the life and times of the last Messenger of Allah, Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) [may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). This is known as a book of Seerah (or the biography of the blessed Prophet (ﷺ) of Allah). Although I have read a few books on the Seerah already, it is always beneficial to read more. I recommend reading a book on the Seerah once every year. I also recommend everyone read a book of Tafseer every year. This is to keep us connected to the book of Allah (the Quran) and the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ).

Islam has two fundamental sources. The Quran and the Sunnah. The Sunnah is stored in the collections of authentic Hadith. The Seerah contains the biography of the Prophet (ﷺ) from these two sources. The Quran, Sunnah and Seerah of the Prophet give us the complete context for understanding the message of Islam. Taking any of these sources in isolation will only create an incomplete understanding of Islam. An incomplete understanding is usually an incorrect understanding and can lead people in the wrong direction. May Allah protect us from an incorrect understanding of Islam.

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How do I start learning the Quran?

The Quran is a divinely revealed book containing the speech of Allah as revealed to the Prophet (ﷺ) by the angel Gabriel (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). It is a special book. Every Muslim should aspire to learn and make it their most important project in life. Learning the Quran is a lifelong journey. Everything you learn in your journey toward learning to read and understand the Quran for the purpose of getting closer to Allah and understanding the religion of Islam is rewardable. There are numerous rewards, but that’s a different blog post. For this post, I’m outlining what I believe to be the essential steps for learning the Quran. Start from the very beginning, in the following order:

1-The Arabic Alphabet – learn the names, shapes & how to pronounce each alphabet properly. Apart from the individual letters, learn how to join the letters with vowels to form complete words. This will be very handy to have done early in your journey as everything will build on top of this. Make sure you get it right the first time, with as good a teacher as you can possibly find. This will be the foundation. Consider this successfully completed if you can read the Quran.

2-The Tajweed Rules – learn the rules of Tajweed to truly understand proper pronunciation of the letters correctly when reciting the Quran. Simply learning to read is not enough, learning to read with the rules of Tajweed is mandatory for properly reciting the book of Allah. Tajweed rules should be learned with the help of a qualified teacher.

3-The Arabic Language – learn enough Arabic to be able to understand the Quran in its original language instead of relying on translations. It isn’t hard, ANYONE can do it if they put enough effort into it. There are courses available for this, so it’s a great idea to enroll in one of those and learn it properly.

4-Tafseer – learn the meanings of the Quran by studying from a basic Tafseer, something like the popular Tafseer of Ibn Katheer. A well written Tafseer relies on the authentic Hadith and the Quran itself to explain the Quran. Tafseer that doesn’t rely on Quran & Hadith should be avoided. Ideally this should be read in its original Arabic but if that’s not possible, there are translations available in English, Urdu and possibly other languages as well.

5-Bringing it all together – Once you have learned to read with Tajweed, have learned enough Arabic to know the meanings of what you’re reciting, have invested enough time to study from a reliable work of Tafseer, then you are truly on the path to understanding Islam inshaaAllah. You still need to refer to the Hadith, Sunnah and the works of the Seerah (the recorded works contain authentic descriptions, actions and sayings of the Prophet (ﷺ)  as well as his blessed life to bring it all together.

May you find the journey of Quran studies be an easy and fruitful one. Ameen.

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Studying the Life of the Prophet (ﷺ)

The Quran is the book of guidance for all of humanity. The Prophet (ﷺ) was the practical embodiment of the message contained in the Quran. The blessed life of the last Prophet & Messenger of Allah (may the peace & blessings of Allah be upon him) is a source of guidance for all of us. He showed us practically how to live life according the teachings of the Quran.

In order to understand the Quran and really appreciate the message of Islam, we must invest the time and energy to study the life of the Prophet (ﷺ). We have to understand Islam from the lens of the Hadith (which is essentially the recorded actions and sayings of the Prophet (ﷺ). Learning Islam from the right context is extremely important. This is particularly true these days when a lot of made up propaganda and false information is heavily marketed and readily available.

We are extremely lucky to have many books on the subject in every language available to us these days. These are called books of Seerah (books on the life of the Prophet (ﷺ). The books that are written by qualified scholars taking only from the authentic sources (Quran and authentic Hadith) should be read by every Muslim to personally learn about the life of the Prophet (ﷺ). There are also audio and video materials available online today that are very useful in acquiring this much needed knowledge.

One of the best books available in English is the Sealed Nectar (which is the English translation of the Arabic book Ar-Raheeq al-Makhtoom by SafiurRahman Mubarakpuri). There are lectures on the Seerah by prominent lecturers in English. The most detailed ones are by Dr Sheikh Yasir Qadhi available on YouTube.

There are plenty of other resources available as well but these should get anyone get started on this journey of acquiring knowledge. Start today and learn. May your path to knowledge be easy and fruitful.

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Being Good to People

Being good to people is part and parcel of being a good Muslim. If we understand Islam, we would realize that behaving well with fellow human beings is one of the most fundamental requirements of Islam. As a matter of fact, being good to all creatures is required by Islam. It is really unfortunate that Muslims, just like people of other religions, go about treating each other unfairly in all kinds of ways. If only they realized that good character is not optional in Islam. This includes the words we use when speaking to others as well as all of our actions. We cannot use hurtful words or hurt anyone physically or emotionally as a Muslim.

People are generally good.

It seems like common sense. People already know this innately. Being good is liked by people in every society. Being bad is disliked. Nobody likes to be lied to or cheated. Yet people do lie and cheat. Without regard to the consequences of their sins.

Bad character is commonplace.

What needs to be done to change this? Specially when it comes to Muslims since we know that sins carry a punishment in the hereafter that is much greater than any harm that we could imagine in this world. Still, we see Muslims in Muslim societies ill treating other Muslims, just like people of any other religion. This seems to be due to a lack of awareness and a lack of the effort needed to create good habits. People know that lying is evil, but they have developed lying as a habit over many years without consciously thinking about it.

So many people lie as a rule.

We need to remind each other to fight this habit and break out of it completely. Fight the urge to habitually lie or cheat or be bad to others. Make it a point to be good to others on purpose. Even when it seems odd. Learn the Quran and the Sunnah of the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) to find out how important good character is and teach it to our families. Without this effort, the societies will go from bad to worse.

Be good to everyone.

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Learning Arabic for the Quran

The Quran is the word of Allah, the Creator of everything. The Quran contains guidance for everyone. And for all times. And it is in the Arabic language. This means that in order for anyone to get guidance the first and foremost thing that they must do is learn the Arabic language. It would seem very unfair if the language of the Quran, the book of guidance for all of humanity, was a difficult language to learn. Arabic itself is a very complex language, but the language used in the Quran is made simple by Allah for everyone to learn. This is very important to know because a lot of Muslims dismiss the idea of learning the Arabic language and simply rely on translations to understand the Quran.

The Quran is a miraculous text. It is unlike any other book. It does not read like any other book. It is not a book that you read from cover to cover to understand a narrative. It does not contain every detail of every narrative that it contains, often omitting dates and names just to get to the real purpose of the message. It talks about the purpose of life, the reason Allah created us, the way that life should be lived in order to attain success in this life and success in the next life which is everlasting. Allah has explained a lot of things for us to understand the reality of life. It is for us to read and find out on our own. There is an element of belief in the religion of Islam also: we have not seen Allah yet we believe in Him because of the signs that Allah has given us including our own intellect.

The Quran uses the Arabic language to convey the Message of Islam to all of humanity for all time. It uses vocabulary that is easy to understand once someone puts the required effort to learn it. The vocabulary of the Quran can be easily understood by anyone within a few months of learning. There are tons of resources available for learning Arabic. Make the investment in time and effort in order to understand the Quran.

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Learning to Read the Quran

Learning to read the Quran is one of the most important endeavors a Muslim can take. The earlier this task is started the better it is. Traditionally, in the Muslim world, children learn to read the Quran early in a local masjid or madrasah. Usually, Quran is taught in parallel to kids attending another school to learn Math, Science and other such subjects. Kids generally finish a reading of the Quran in a couple of years or more. This is generally known as Nazra or reading the Quran while looking at the text as opposed to Hifz which is memorizing the Quran.

It has proven to be a good practice to teach the Quran when the kids are young because any learning from the early years is made easy and solidified over the years. This is specially true of memorization: kids’ memories are very sharp when they’re young. It is common to find kids as young as 6, 7, 8 or 9 year olds have completely memorized the Quran. This is a miraculous feat in itself since the Quran is a sizable text (around 600 pages) and there are repeated texts with slight variations so its hard to memorize.

What is missing, though, is the understanding aspect. Most Muslims are non-Arabs. As a result they don’t understand the meanings of the Quran unless they learn Arabic or learn the meanings without learning Arabic using just translations in their mother tongue. This is a tragedy in the Muslim world. To try to mitigate this problem, it is a very important to learn enough Arabic to understand the Quran in its original Arabic. This is not too hard to do if done with the help of a capable teacher and a good text. The Arabic of the Quran is made easier to understand by Allah specially if some effort is put into trying to learn it. Let’s make an effort and learn enough Arabic to understand the Quran and teach it to our kids.

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