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.

Avoiding Shirk & Bid’ah

Worshiping anyone aside from Allah in any way shape or form is shirk. Allah is the one and only God, and we must not direct our worship to anyone but Allah. Shirk is the only unforgivable sin in Islam, if one dies without repenting from it. Any other sin, can be forgiven at the discretion of Allah. Allah has informed us in the Quran:

إِنَّ اللَّهَ لَا يَغْفِرُ أَن يُشْرَكَ بِهِ وَيَغْفِرُ مَا دُونَ ذَٰلِكَ لِمَن يَشَاءُ ۚ وَمَن يُشْرِكْ بِاللَّهِ فَقَدْ ضَلَّ ضَلَالًا بَعِيدًا

Saheeh International English Translation: “Indeed, Allah does not forgive association with Him, but He forgives what is less than that for whom He wills. And he who associates others with Allah has certainly gone far astray.” [the Quran, chapter 4 (an-Nisaa), verse 116]

Therefore it is supremely important for us to avoid shirk. Worship must only be directed to Allah. Not only that, we must not intend from our worship to show off or to gain respect or for any other reason other than to please Allah alone. Always, ensure our worship is performed for the sake of Allah alone. Make our intentions pure for every worship, reviewing it before, during and after our worship.

Bid’ah is doing our worship in any way shape or form other than the way shape or form that the Prophet (ﷺ) taught, did himself, recommended or approved.

Bid’ah worship is rejected no matter how much we do it, how focused or how sincerely we do it. Intentionally or unintentionally, we see a lot of worship done by Muslims that have no basis in the Sunnah of the Prophet (ﷺ) but were innovated much much later by people that came afterwards. Therefore, it is very important to ascertain that the worship is as it was taught by the Prophet (ﷺ). Furthermore, every bid’ah is leads to misguidance and every misguidance leads to the hellfire:

أَخْبَرَنَا عُتْبَةُ بْنُ عَبْدِ اللَّهِ، قَالَ أَنْبَأَنَا ابْنُ الْمُبَارَكِ، عَنْ سُفْيَانَ، عَنْ جَعْفَرِ بْنِ مُحَمَّدٍ، عَنْ أَبِيهِ، عَنْ جَابِرِ بْنِ عَبْدِ اللَّهِ، قَالَ كَانَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم يَقُولُ فِي خُطْبَتِهِ يَحْمَدُ اللَّهَ وَيُثْنِي عَلَيْهِ بِمَا هُوَ أَهْلُهُ ثُمَّ يَقُولُ ‏”‏ مَنْ يَهْدِهِ اللَّهُ فَلاَ مُضِلَّ لَهُ وَمَنْ يُضْلِلْهُ فَلاَ هَادِيَ لَهُ إِنَّ أَصْدَقَ الْحَدِيثِ كِتَابُ اللَّهِ وَأَحْسَنَ الْهَدْىِ هَدْىُ مُحَمَّدٍ وَشَرَّ الأُمُورِ مُحْدَثَاتُهَا وَكُلَّ مُحْدَثَةٍ بِدْعَةٌ وَكُلَّ بِدْعَةٍ ضَلاَلَةٌ وَكُلَّ ضَلاَلَةٍ فِي النَّارِ ‏”‏ ‏.‏ ثُمَّ يَقُولُ ‏”‏ بُعِثْتُ أَنَا وَالسَّاعَةُ كَهَاتَيْنِ ‏”‏ ‏.‏ وَكَانَ إِذَا ذَكَرَ السَّاعَةَ احْمَرَّتْ وَجْنَتَاهُ وَعَلاَ صَوْتُهُ وَاشْتَدَّ غَضَبُهُ كَأَنَّهُ نَذِيرُ جَيْشٍ يَقُولُ ‏”‏ صَبَّحَكُمْ مَسَّاكُمْ ‏”‏ ‏.‏ ثُمَّ قَالَ ‏”‏ مَنْ تَرَكَ مَالاً فَلأَهْلِهِ وَمَنْ تَرَكَ دَيْنًا أَوْ ضِيَاعًا فَإِلَىَّ أَوْ عَلَىَّ وَأَنَا أَوْلَى بِالْمُؤْمِنِينَ ‏”‏ ‏

It was narrated that Jabir bin ‘Abdullah said: “In his Khutbah the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) used to praise Allah as He deserves to be praised, then he would say: ‘Whomsoever Allah (SWT) guides, none can lead him astray, and whomsoever Allah sends astray, none can guide. The truest of word is the Book of Allah and best of guidance is the guidance of Muhammad. The worst of things are those that are newly invented; every newly-invented thing is an innovation and every innovation is going astray, and every going astray is in the Fire.’ Then he said: ‘The Hour and I have been sent like these two.’ Whenever he mentioned the Hour, his cheeks would turn red, and he would raise his voice and become angry, as if he were warning of an approaching army and saying: ‘An army is coming to attack you in the morning, or in the evening!’ (Then he said): ‘Whoever leaves behind wealth, it is for his family, and whoever leaves behind a debt or dependents, then these are my responsibility, and I am the most entitled to take care of the believers.'”

And Allah knows best.

Quality Over Quantity in Worship

Generally speaking, quality is overwhelmingly more important than quantity. Quantity is also important but there is no comparison between the two. This is because, if the required quality is not present, it really doesn’t matter how much of it we have. For instance, if we serve food to a thousand people, but the food is not fit to eat (maybe it is made with rotten ingredients), it has no value and must be discarded. Similarly, if we pray all day long without regard to how we pray, our prayers are maybe of no value at all.

Mediocrity is ubiquitous. Excellence is rare. In my opinion, it is exponentially more important to focus on the quality than quantity. Particularly when it comes to worship. Making sure our worship is of the highest quality possible is essential. Quality in worship has two primary components. Our worship must be done for the sake of Allah alone. And our worship must be done in accordance with the Sunnah of the Prophet (ﷺ). These two components are mandatory conditions for the acceptance of any worship. Worship done for other than Allah or done in a manner not according to the Sunnah, is rejected. It may even be a cause of humiliation on the Day of Judgment.

In addition to meeting these two conditions, the level of Khushoo & Khudhoo (concentration), Taqwa (God consciousness), humility and love for Allah determines the quality of our worship. If this quality is not there at all, there is hardly any value left in the prayer. The obligation to pray the mandatory prayer is met when a prayer is performed but the rewards that are promised in this world and the hereafter cannot be attained from a prayer that lacks quality altogether. The more effort we put in attaining a better level of our worship, the more quality and hence the more value it is for us in the hereafter.

And Allah knows best.

Gamifying Good Habits

Everyone wants to be more productive. Or maybe its just me. We have short life spans and limited time to do stuff and make an impact and leave a legacy. An example to follow for our kids, if we are so lucky to leave them a way of life that follows the Quran and Sunnah. A life fulfilled is a life lived in making this world a better place for generations after us.

The more you can focus on the most productive activities and the more you can invest your time in the activities that have the longest lasting impact, the better. That is why Dawah: inviting people to Allah is such a huge deed. If someone is guided to the right path and lives a good life because of us, all their good deeds and the good deeds of the people whom they influence will be in our account of good deeds until the Day of Judgment. That is the power of Dawah. But that’s a separate article in and of itself inshaaAllah.

I’m always looking for better productivity and the biggest bang for my buck so to speak. I watch the productivity space and try to become an early adopter of the new research and the ideas and products that become available in this category. This topic has been trending lately: habit formation using apps to form good habits and to get rid of bad habits. These apps, specially game like apps that encourage good behavior, reinforce good habits through competition and repetition. Even the simplest achievement of a continuous streak of activity for the past X number of days, weeks or months gives a sense of satisfaction and maybe enough motivation to keep going. Once the habit is formed, it is part of us. In Islam, we have the five daily prayers that also help to form the habit of punctuality as one of its aspects.

There are tons of apps nowadays that work on building habits this way. Perhaps it is not applicable to every learner and every type of learning, but it does seem to be in line with human psychology in general. I have seen it work with learning languages. I have also formed some habits this way that I struggled to form for a number years before. It does work for me and may well work for a lot of people.

We are a sum of our beliefs and actions. If they are correct and good, we are set for life on this blue planet and the eternity in the hereafter.

And Allah knows best.

Arabic Learning Resources

So you’re finally convinced that you need to put some serious effort into learning Arabic for the purpose of understanding the Quran for the sake of Allah alone? Great, I’ve got just the resources for you to benefit from. Actually, links to resources you can readily download and start reaping the benefits from right away.

Learning Arabic isn’t super hard. It’s relatively easy. Particularly the Arabic you need to understand the Quran. The Arabic in the Quran is classical Arabic from the time of the Prophet (ﷺ). In the Quran, Allah says that He has made the Quran easy to understand. For everyone. Arabs, non-Arabs, Muslims, and non-Muslims alike. And this has exactly been my own experience. Once you put your mind to it, you can learn the Arabic that lets you grasp about 80% of the Quran fairly quickly. The somewhat more difficult passages/words are very few and do require some additional study and care, but it can be done within a short period of time, with the help of Allah.

Arabic language learning builds upon itself. Each level of study represents a building block. If you develop a good foundation in Arabic, inshaaAllah you will benefit from it the rest of your life. Spend enough time learning the Arabic alphabet from a qualified teacher. This will ensure you get the right pronunciation and recognize and articulate each letter properly.

Here’s my personal recommendation for the sequence of study for Arabic: if you’re an absolute beginner, start at the very beginning. If you can already read Arabic, skip to the next steps accordingly.

1) The Arabic Alphabet
2) How to join the letters to form words

These are the foundations of the Arabic language. Learn these well to build the rest of your Arabic language learning on a strong foundation. I recommend using Imam Zia’s Quran & Arabic for Absolute Beginners course (available on YouTube for FREE) for this purpose. It’s a good refresher even if you already know most of this material.

3) About the Sentence Structure and Grammar

The best course for learning Arabic, Grammar and Vocabulary, based on my experience, is the Madina Arabic Course which follows the famous books/workbooks etc. The best class for this course that is taught in English is on YouTube:

You can download the books here:

Courses

4) Learning to read with Tajweed

Tajweed is the proper way of reciting the Quran according to the correct rules. The Best course that I know of for learning Tajweed is available on YouTube:

5) The vocabulary of the Quran

There are some wonderful resources available for learning the words used in the Quran. Take a look at these:

http://kalamullah.com/word-for-word-meaning-of-quran.html

http://kalamullah.com/vocabulary-of-quran.html

http://kalamullah.com/language-of-quran.html

6) The meanings and Tafseer

Finally, bringing all of the above together, we strive to learn the meanings and the Tafseer of the Quran. One of the most accessible and best ones of the classical Tafseer is by Ibn Katheer Rahimahullah:

http://kalamullah.com/tafsir-ibn-kathir.html

If you find this blog useful, be sure to not have all the fun by your lonesome self but share with all the people you care about, like and subscribe to my blog. That way you won’t miss updates to the blog. JazakAllah Khair!

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.

The Chai Habit

Chai (or Tea) is a common beverage consumed by almost everyone in Pakistani households globally. We drink that stuff up several times daily. It’s the default thing to drink at breakfast, at work around mid-morning, late in the afternoon (after the Asar prayer) and some even drink it after dinner. Chai is not just an individual thing but it’s actually more of a social habit. The entire family usually has coffee around the same. At the office, the entire department has coffee served around the same time.

Chai is the beverage of choice everywhere instead of coffee. The chai that is preferred is served hot. With sugar and milk. We normally don’t drink the iced-tea unless it is really hot out and the need for chai arises as well as something to cool with. Even then, the normal thing to do is drink some water then drink hot tea with biscuits or something fried (like Samosas). Therefore, aside milk and sugar itself, there are a lot of calories packed in the extras that go with the Chai. Chai is almost a meal in itself.

Chai becomes an addiction of sorts because it contains quite a bit of caffeine and the kick your body gets from drinking tea becomes the pickup we need in the mornings or afternoons. Meals seem incomplete if Chai is not served. There is that feeling of something missing and not quite right. I guess the feeling is exactly like coffee for those that drink coffee. The caffeine helps people stay hooked to Chai for life.

Guests usually get asked if they’d like Chai or Thanda (something cold, such as a soft drink). And, they usually prefer Chai over all the Thanda you can think of. Except for some people. Those that don’t drink tea are considered incredibly odd. Why ever would you not drink chai, in your right mind? Just sayin’.

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.

Tests for a Believer are a Medicine for him

From the Hadith:

When Allaah wills good for His slave, He hastens the punishment for him in this world, and when Allaah wills ill for His slave, he withholds the punishment for his sins from him until he comes with all his sins on the Day of Resurrection. Tirmidhi (2396) Saheeh

Imam ibn Al Qayyim~(Rahimullah) said…

“The Ibtilaa’ [Testing] of the Believer is like Medicine for him!

It cures him from Illness.

Had the illness remained  it would destroy him or diminish his Reward and Level in the Hereafter.

The Tests and the Trials extract these illnesses from him and prepare him for the Perfect reward and the Highest of degrees {in the life to come} !”

Calamities, Trials and Tests are signs of LOVE  FROM  ALLAAH for the Believers. They are comparable to a Cure although it may be Bitter. You accept it because it is from the one whom you Love !

And to ALLAAH  belongs the Best Example.

Allah knows best.

What’s up with this thing called Data Science

Data Science is the newest thing that has become popular for Math, Statistics & Computer Science geeks. This is a new area of study that has increasingly gained popularity over the last couple of years or more. This is evident from the many courses and numerous well paying jobs that turn up with a simple Google search. The courses available online for those who are interested in acquiring this new skillset. And there seem to be tons of jobs for Data Scientists as well. Mose of these jobs require an advanced degree (such as a Master’s or a Doctorate).

Data Science is a new discipline that includes various topics of interest such as Statistics, Data Analysis, R or Python Programming, Regression Models, Machine Learning and more. Usually, the courses demand that learners have Math/Stats & Comp. Sci backgrounds but there are people who have business degrees or humanities background that have ventured into this area because it is so attractive to people who crave creativity and challenge in their work.

A typical Data Scientist does a lot of different things, but primarily it has to do with making sense of data in a meaningful way that is useful for a purpose. That sounds vague actually. It really means extracting meaning from and interpreting data, analyzing it with tools (using pre-built software like Microsoft Excel or custom programming usually with R or Python). It requires the use of Mathematics and Statistics skills. First and foremost it requires acquiring the lots of data, cleaning, cleansing and formatting data and asking useful questions and getting really creative with the use of the data in some way that may be useful for medicine or policy making or urban development or whatever else might be the area you are interested in using Data Science for. In other words, Data Science has tons of applications.