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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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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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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Staying on the Straight Path

Being born into the religion of Allah, Islam, is a blessing. However, to be truly guided to Islam, to consciously acknowledge the truth of Islam, to live our lives according to Islam and to stay on Islam until the day we die is the ultimate success. The real challenge is to believe and then persevere with our belief and our actions throughout our lives. For such a life results in eternal bliss in the hereafter.

Every Muslim should work hard to ensure that they are firmly rooted in Islam so they stay on the straight path throughout their lives. This is not to say that they should close their minds or be rigid in their thinking. On the contrary, Islam does want us all to ponder upon the deep questions regarding our existence and the purpose of life itself. Although the Quran spells out the answers to these life questions, it does implore us to use our minds and think.

Our faith is strengthened by our actions. Doing good, speaking the truth, upholding ties of kinship, keeping promises, being kind and sincere, helping the poor, visiting the sick, fasting, giving charity, performing the hajj and praying regularly on time are good deeds that help strengthen our Imaan (our faith). Just saying I’m a Muslim and I believe in Allah is not enough. We also have to back up our words with actions that are consistent with our words.

Living a life knowing its purpose and being sure of it with certainty is a fulfilled life. Living a life not knowing why we’re here or not being sure is not a fulfilled life. Guidance is awarded to people who sincerely seek to be guided. May we be guided and rooted firmly in that guidance until the day we die.

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The Movie & the Brownies

Two teenagers asked their father if they could go to the theater to watch a movie that all their friends had seen. After reading some reviews about the movie on the Internet, he denied their request.
“Ah dad, why not?” they complained. “It’s rated PG-13, and we’re both older than thirteen!” Dad replied: “Because that movie contains nudity and portrays immorality as being normal and acceptable behavior.” “But dad, those are just very small parts of the movie! That’s what our friends who’ve seen it have told us. The movie is two hours long and those scenes are just a few minutes of the total film! It’s based on a true story and good triumphs over evil, and there are other redeeming themes like courage and self-sacrifice. Even the movie review websites say that!” “My answer is ‘no,’ and that is my final answer. You are welcome to stay home tonight, invite some of your friends over, and watch one of the good videos we have in our home collection. But you will not go and watch that film. End of discussion.” The two teenagers walked dejectedly into the family room and slumped down on the couch. As they sulked, they were surprised to hear the sounds of their father preparing something in the kitchen.

They soon recognized the wonderful aroma of brownies baking in the oven, and one of the teenagers said to the other, “Dad must be feeling guilty, and now he’s going to try to make it up to us with some fresh brownies. Maybe we can soften him with lots of praise when he brings them out to us and persuade him to let us go to that movie after all.” The teens were not disappointed. Soon their father appeared with a plate of warm brownies, which he offered to his kids. They each took one.

Then their father said, “before you eat, I want to tell you something: I love you both so much.”

The teenagers smiled at each other with knowing glances. Dad was softening.

“That is why I’ve made these brownies with the very best ingredients. I’ve made them from scratch. Most of the ingredients are even organic; the best organic flour, the best free-range eggs, the best organic sugar, premium vanilla and chocolate.”

The brownies looked mouth-watering, and the teens began to become a little impatient with their dad’s long speech.
“But I want to be perfectly honest with you. There is one ingredient I added that is not usually found in brownies. I got that ingredient from our own back yard. But you needn’t worry, because I only added the tiniest bit of that ingredient to your brownies. The amount of the portion is practically insignificant. So go ahead, take a bite and let me know what you think?
“Dad, would you mind telling us what that mystery ingredient is before we eat?”
“Why? The portion I added was so small, just a teaspoonful. You won’t even taste it.”
“Come on, dad; just tell us what that ingredient is?”
“Don’t worry! It is organic, just like the other ingredients.”
“Dad!”
“Well, OK, if you insist. That secret ingredient is organic … dog poop.”
Both teens instantly dropped their brownies back on the plate and began inspecting their fingers with horror.
“Dad! Why did you do that? You’ve tortured us by making us smell those brownies cooking for the last half hour, and now you tell us that you
added dog poop! We can’t eat these brownies!”
“Why not? The amount of dog poop is very small compared to the rest of the ingredients. It won’t hurt you. It’s been cooked right along with the other ingredients. You won’t even taste it. It has the same consistency as the brownies. Go ahead and eat!”
“No, Dad … Never!”
“And that is the same reason I won’t allow you to go watch that movie.
You won’t tolerate a little dog poop in your brownies, so why should you tolerate a little immorality in your movies? We pray that God will not lead us unto temptation, so how can we in good
conscience entertain ourselves with something that will imprint a sinful image in our minds that will lead us into temptation long after we first see it?”

Remember, we become de-sensitized a little bit at a time; it is the small and minimal sins that we forget the most.

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We Are the Carpenters

The Messenger of Allah (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) said: “Allah prepares a house in Paradise for every believer who offers twelve Raka’at of voluntary prayer everyday beyond that which is obligatory for him.” [Muslim]
 
Although this Hadith specifies voluntary prayer but our every act of obedience of Allah (subhana wa ta’ala)is an act of workmanship towards the properties we are preparing for ourselves in Jannah.
 
A highly skilled carpenter who had grown old was ready to retire. He told his employer-contractor of his plans to leave the house building business and live a more leisurely life with his family. He would miss the paycheck, but he needed to retire.
 
The employer was sorry to see his good worker go and asked if he could build just one more house as a personal favor. The carpenter agreed to this proposal but made sure that this would be his last project. Being in a mood to retire, the carpenter was not paying much attention to building this house. His heart was not in his work. He resorted to poor workmanship and used inferior materials. It was an unfortunate way to end his career. 
 
When the job was done, the carpenter called his employer and showed him the house. The employer handed over some papers and the front door key to the carpenter and said “This is your house, my gift to you.”
 
The carpenter was in shock! What a shame! If he had only known that he was building his own house, he would have made it better than any other house that he had ever built!
 
Our situation can be compared to this carpenter. Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) has sent us to this world to build our homes in Paradise by obeying His commands. Now, we have to decide how well we wish to build the homes in which we will live forever.  
 
Every work can be our last; every Salah can be our last; let’s pray and work with this realization.
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