The Tricks of Shaitan

A Muslim is warned against Shaitan for he is our openly declared enemy. Many verses in the Quran inform us of this reality and many more Hadith tell us how to protect ourselves against the accursed Iblees and his many agents and progeny. A Muslim must be aware of the tricks of Shaitan in order to guard against them.

We shouldn’t be too impressed with ourselves if we are able to stay away from major sins such as zinā[extra marital sex], gambling, drinking alcohol and so on. Many people are good at avoiding such sins, but they’re not so good at protecting their tongues from backbiting, swearing, cursing, belittling people, and so forth. Nor are they good at protecting their hearts from materialism, worldly desires, jealousy, holding grudges, arrogance, pride and so on. Many more may neglect obligations such as earning a halal income, taking care of one’s family, praying on time, paying the zakat, fasting ramadan, going for hajj and being good to our parents, fulfilling the rights of others among other obligations that Allah has put upon us.

We must remember that if Shaytan is not able to get us to commit sins, he will try to get us to waste time, procrastinate and delay doing good deeds, such as seeking knowledge, reading and studying the Quran, learning Arabic, doing dawah, daily azkaar, seeking forgiveness through istighfar, giving charity, making tawbah and other good deeds that will benefit us in the Ākhirah[hereafter]. He will also try to convince us that we don’t have the time for such things, even though we’re able to make time to watch movies, social media, TV, chit chat, consuming news and entertainment, box sets, or go out with friends and more.

Shaitan is an open enemy for all of us. He is determined to take as many human beings to the hellfire as he can. We cannot afford to let down our guard against him. May Allah protect us all.

And Allah knows best.

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Islam as a Way Of Life

Islam is a complete way of life. Islam is not just a religion focused on worship alone. It has instructions for human beings on how to live life in order to be successful. This means that our entire lives, individually and socially, must be according to the teachings of Islam in order to be successful. Every aspect of human life is covered under Islam.

Islam provides guidelines for everything. It includes the worship rituals, the family life, the individual’s well-being, the society as a whole, the economy, the politics, the relationships between individuals, the relationships between nations and everything in between. Therefore, if we limit Islam to worship alone we are totally missing the point. We will not attain success in this life or the next by limiting Islam just to worship alone.

As individuals, we should ensure that our daily lives are according to Islam. We should ensure that our family lives are according to Islam. We should strive to get the amazing values that Islam promotes to be the norm in society such as honesty, caring for one another, being respectful to parents and elders, being kind to everyone, being helpful to the needy and so on.

Islam has solutions for what ails the individual and what ails the society and nations. We only need to look into it for solutions. Accept that the solutions are not man made, rather they are divinely revealed in the Quran and Sunnah for everyone to benefit from. Solutions to problems of poverty are found in the Islamic economic system. Solutions to family issues are found in the Islamic family system. Solutions to all the rest of the human problems are found in the Quran and illustrated with practical examples by the Prophet(ﷺ) in the Sunnah.

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Guarding Against Shaitan During Trials

Anytime we are going through any test (either good times when everything is going well or tough times when things are rough) watch out for public enemy number one: Shaitaan (aka Satan aka Iblees), for he wants us to fail and fall victim to him. Shaitaan wants to take as many of us into the hellfire as he can. Always be seeking refuge in Allah from the accursed Shaitaan proactively. Being aware of the fact that Shaitaan is our biggest enemy and to be aware of his plans to misguide us is the first step. Knowing how he deceives people is a very important pre-requisite to keeping ourselves safe from his attacks.

Shaitaan has numerous tricks up his sleeve, so to speak. He deliberately takes gradual steps and is very patient. He doesn’t encourage people to sin in a big way immediately. He will bide his time, build up the momentum slowly and patiently, and guide people to turn from righteousness towards evil. He loves to make light of the small sins and gets people accustomed to committing them on a regular basis, taking them away from righteous deeds. Once the person has become used to small bad deeds, those deeds start seeming like they are not a big deal anymore. And the good deeds that he was used to doing before seem like a hardship to him now. Eventually, Shaitaan will make progress from small evil deeds to larger ones if the person doesn’t repent and doesn’t do anything to protect himself from evil deeds, big or small. Shaitaan’s efforts are magnified during trials: when things are going really well, he will cause people to become forgetful of Allah. When things are going bad, he will cause people to be ungrateful and resentful.

The most important thing to remember when your faith is being tested, hold on tight to the rope of Allah. Always remember Allah day and night. Thank Allah for His numerous blessings. Seek forgiveness from Allah for all our sins. Make Tawbah (repentance) right away if we commit any big sins. Read the Quran with understanding. And seek help from Allah with patience and with prayer. Never open any door for Shaitaan to enter in from. Keep ourselves protected morning and night by keeping a close relationship with the Quran. Engaging in the prayer is a great step toward protecting ourselves from Shaitaan.

And Allah knows best.

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Never take your health for granted

Health is such a huge blessing from Allah, alhamdulillah. We should never ever take our health for granted. We should take good care of ourselves in terms of diet and exercise and healthy habits all around to care for the bodies entrusted to us by Allah for this life. We only realize how incredible the blessing of health is when we are not well. May Allah protect us all from falling ill. We should be in the habit of thanking Allah every single day whether we are healthy or sick.

We should do everything we can to ensure we are thankful to Allah for our good health and get into good habits as a lifestyle choice. I have highlighted a few items that I think we should pay special attention to in terms of ours and our families’ health and well being. This is not an exhaustive list by any means:

Make the morning and evening Azkaar daily – the daily remembrances of Allah and the supplications were taken from the sunnah of the Prophet (ﷺ) who taught us how to remember Allah, make Dua and ask Allah for continued blessings. These duaas and azkaar are readily available in printed form or as apps for our smart devices. Make this a daily habit after fajr prayer (mornings) and after maghrib prayer (evenings).

Pray the “Duha” prayers daily – this is a great habit to acquire. Pray 2 (or 4, 6, 8, 10 or 12) units of prayers in the morning (15 mins after sunrise to right before zohor time). There are a lot of benefits mentioned in the Hadith of this prayer.

Give Sadaqa regularly – Giving charity regularly is also a great habit.

Take care of our health as a habit – This goes without saying: take special care with what we eat and keep a healthy exercise/walking/jogging/biking/swimming schedule to stay in shape.

Avoid unhealthy habits – This also goes without saying: avoid unhealthy habits such as smoking, drinking, sleeping too much or too little, eating too much or too little, eating unhealthy foods, not eating a balanced diet etc. Our bodies are a trust from Allah to us, we are obligated to take care of it.

Visit the sick regularly – this is another great habit. It builds humility, gratitude and awareness in us of how great a blessing health is. And as a bonus, this is a very rewardable good deed and is often neglected.

Go with the Janazah (funeral) regularly – this is also another reminder for us that this life is temporary and we are all destined for the grave one day and so we need to prepare for our death NOW.

Get health checkups regularly – Doctors will tell you and this is common sense as well. We need to keep an eye on our health and get regularly tested to ensure we are healthy inshaaAllah.

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Repentance for Our Sins

Repentance is returning back to Allah after having fallen into sin. Nobody is free from sin. Every human being sins, the best of those who sin are those who return to Allah in repentance immediately when they sin. Allah does not require that we never sin, only that we try our best to stay away from sinning and when we do fall into sin by mistake, out of ignorance or out of forgetfulness, we feel remorse, renew our intention firmly and honestly not to fall into that sin again, ask Allah for forgiveness, make amends and ask for forgiveness from the whomever we have wronged if applicable.

Allah loves those who repent. Allah does not like those who do not repent. The components of repentance are giving up the sin straight away, regretting the sin, resolving not to commit that sin again, restoring people’s rights or property if the sin involved wrongdoing towards others. Finally, the repenting must be done before the agonies of death are upon him. Since nobody knows when they will die, it is extremely foolhardy to wait before repenting. Repent right away. Believe that Allah will forgive when we repent sincerely. It is a promise from Allah. Do not let the sin lead you into despair. Both Satan and Adam sinned. The major difference between them was that Satan was arrogant about it and Adam immediately sought forgiveness and repented.

Another component of repentance is to make an effort to change the situation which resulted in the sin: move if we’re in an environment conducive to sinning, for instance. Or leave the friends and acquaintances that are engaged in sinning. And do our best to surround ourselves with people and environment of good people. Furthermore, do good deeds to proactively erase the sins. There are many recommended good deeds that Allah and His Messenger (ﷺ) have informed us about that erase our evil deeds.

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Dictating On Voice Activated Devices

Dictating to a voice activated device is a novel experience for me. Sometimes you just don’t want to type your ideas but want to speak them out loud. The technology these days empowers authors like myself who are too lazy to type or just want to try out the technology for the sake of it. So I’m trying this out to see how it goes. I haven’t figured out everything yet. But I am pleasantly surprised that my voice is recognizable to the iOS software and without too many corrections I can get this thing done. The built-in software within iOS is pretty good at translating voice to text. It is far more challenging for me to get accustomed to dictating what I want to write to software. I have yet to Google how to delete my mistakes when I see them typed by voice commands. I would like this experience to be completely hands-free and smooth flowing. And it should not take too long to get to that stage.

So, in order to practice, I decided to test it out by dictating this article. Just to see if I can throw this thing off. So far it doesn’t seem to mind and types whatever I say as long as I say it in English intelligibly enough. I haven’t have to type any tongue twisters or easily misheard or misinterpreted words phrases or sentences. Abracadabra hocus-pocus this is truly magical, the thing ignores my coughing and sneezing and other noises from the background. While I cannot say that this software built into the device will work for everyone but it seems to work for me. So far so good. Now if I can only focus on the writing (dictating) it would greatly increase my writing speed and productivity. I do type pretty fast but naturally I speak faster.

Writing is an artform and it has come a long way since the days of pen and ink on manuscripts to typewriters and desktop PCs to small portable smart devices that support voice recognition so good that the writer can free himself or herself from the medium and focus on the content itself. It will take some time but it will truly be the way writers write in the future. I think. I’m loving this. I think.

I have to learn to use this dictation thingamajig properly before totally adapting it over typing. For instance I still pause, as it eight [hesitate], while I wait for it to type what I just said instead of just saying it because it does take a few seconds to process. I still have to figure out how to delete mistakes using voice commands.

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Faith and the Limits of Human Capabilities

We have limited capacities in all of our faculties: vision, hearing, smelling, feeling, thinking and understanding. We are blessed with the right type of capabilities as human beings to live a comfortable life. When we see someone with a disability, we naturally feel for them and should feel a sense of gratitude towards all the blessings we have been granted. We didn’t create any of the capabilities we normally take for granted. Always be thankful to Allah for all that we have.

I often wonder about the limits of our capabilities: our eyes cannot see everything: we have a range of vision that is suited to our needs. We can’t see beyond that. We know other creatures who can see far more than we can. We cannot hear everything: we have a range of hearing that is suited for our survival. We cannot hear beyond that. We know of other creatures who can hear far more than we can. The same goes for the sense of smell. Yet, we are so arrogant sometimes to want to understand everything before we believe in Allah. Our minds have limits, we cannot understand everything. The concept of faith is meaningless if we could see, hear, smell and understand everything. What is left to believe after that?

It is human nature to forget that we did not create our bodies and the amazing capabilities we have as a result. We can walk, talk, see, hear, touch, taste and feel. We have been given a brain we can use to reach great potential. All of these complex capabilities are for us to use for the duration of our lives on earth. We can use these capabilities to serve Allah, be good to people and leave a legacy of good works behind. Or we can be evil and become agents of bad works and leave the earth worse off than we found it. The choice is ours to make. May Allah guide us to always stay on the right path and live as agents of good and leave this world a better place for all.

And Allah knows best.

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How to conduct research about Islamic topics

Conducting research about Islam is an important part of acquiring knowledge. It is essential to make sure that the right information from the right sources is chosen. There is a lot of inauthentic information that is commonplace nowadays. Because of the Internet, there is an even greater need to ascertain that the information is thoroughly researched and backed by authentic sources. This is because information is so easily distributed with the help of technology that anyone with or without knowledge can spread it. Proliferation of knowledge means both authentic knowledge and inauthentic made up stuff is out there.

Researching requires scrutinizing the material to see whether it is a work that has been referenced properly with primary sources of knowledge namely the Quran and Hadith directly or from secondary sources that take from works that are based upon the Quran and Hadith. This is no simple task. Very often well-intentioned people end up including questionable material in their works because they just couldn’t do the research or imagined that their sources were correct when they were in fact made up material. It can be confusing to a non-scholar to determine whether the secondary sources have been authenticated to be derived and based upon the accepted interpretation of the primary sources.

The safest way to do this research is to work with a few reputable scholars who will not shy away from providing you with the references when asked. As a rule of thumb, make sure to cross-references the sources yourself and not to rely on anyone blindly. As students of knowledge, we owe it ourselves to check and double-check information before accepting it.

Islamic knowledge has been preserved by Allah’s help. The Quran is protected against alteration as a promise of Allah. The Hadith is a primary source for Islamic knowledge right after the Quran. There has been a lot of work done by the scholars of Islam to authenticate Hadith. There is a fully developed science of Hadith which includes the chains of narrations, their content and the knowledge of the narrators of Hadith. The Prophet (ﷺ) explained the Quran to his companions and the reasons of the revelations of much of the Quran are preserved in the Hadith collections. Without the Hadith, the Quran can be interpreted incorrectly by people. Without the Hadith the knowledge of Islam is incomplete.

And Allah knows best.

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Finding and reading quality books on Islam

There’s tons of books to read and never enough time to read them all. So how does one decide what to read and what to skip? One of the best ways to choose the best books to read for the biggest value for your time is to ask scholars. Often they will tell you the best book in any given Islamic topic. They might even caution you against certain books that maybe misleading or harmful. There are also book recommendations from booksellers or librarians and these days there are also reader ratings on a bookseller’s web site. There are many ways to choose. The idea is to get a well rounded education on Islamic topics from a wide range of quality books by a variety of recommended authors.

Frequent bookstores and good libraries if you’re lucky enough to have good libraries where you live. Browsing through the many books is a joy in and of itself, but I digress. If you have good book recommendations from scholars, keep a running list of books to read and a record of the books you’ve already read on each topic. Read from a wide range of categories for Islamic topics such as Aqeedah, Quran/Tafseer, Hadith/Sunnah, Seerah, Fiqh etc. Furthermore, try to read from various authors’ works instead and where possible, read the same topic from at least two to three authors to get different perspectives on the topics.

Develop a good reading habit that you’re always reading one or two or more books at a time. Read in a way that you’re distilling the information contained within them to notes that you can actually read and refer to later on. Find a method that works for you for reading and getting the most out of the books you read and keep at it until it becomes a habit. If something is not working out, try an alternate method. If some book is too difficult to read, move on to the next one. There’s likely a better written book on the same topic.

And Allah knows best.

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Why is Dawah Our Responsibility?

Allah sent numerous Prophets and Messengers (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon all of them) throughout human history in various locations around the earth. Some of these Prophets are mentioned in the Quran. Among those that are mentioned in the Quran include (not in chronological order) Adam, Abraham, Noah, David, Solomon, Jacob, Job, Jonah, Joseph, Zacharia, John, Moses, Aaron, Salih, Hud, Shoaib, Idrees, Jesus and the final Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ). Each of these Prophets or Messengers were sent to their own people or nation. Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) was sent for all of mankind (and the Jinn), not just in Arabia but all over the world.

Since Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) was the last one of these Prophets & Messengers, Allah has commanded his ummah (his followers) to call people to Allah. So the responsibility of calling people to the religion of Islam has shifted from the Prophets & Messengers to the people of the last Prophet (ﷺ). This is evident from the Quran, the Sunnah (recorded in the Hadith) as well as the understanding of the Sahabah (the companions of the Prophet (ﷺ) as they continued to call people to Islam after his life. Therefore, the work of Dawah (calling people to Islam) is an obligation for Muslims, Allah knows best.

The work of calling people to Islam is one of the highest virtues and one of the most rewardable of good deeds. This is because the reward of the good deeds of any and all people that
we call to Islam will be added to our accounts of good deeds. If anyone come to Islam (or Muslims that change their ways back to Islam after having forgotten their way), their who life’s work and anyone they call to Islam and their good deeds are all in our accounts until the Day of Judgment.

And Allah knows best.

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