Sunday, December 15, 2013

Increasing Eemaan

When I first left home for university in the United States, I began to experience a feeling of constriction of my chest, lack of natural enthusiasm and a general feeling of uncleanliness of the heart. I was healthy otherwise and progressing well with my studies and work, but this uneasiness did not leave me. I tried many techniques to overcome it. I started yoga, jogging and meditation. Nothing really helped. I could not understand this phenomenon, until I studied Islam. Now I know that it was a decrease in the level of my eemaan which has caused this feeling.

Therefore (for) whomsoever Allah intends that He would guide him aright, He expands his breast for Islam, and (for) whomsoever He intends that He should cause him to err, He makes his breast strait and narrow as though he were ascending upwards; thus does Allah lay uncleanness on those who do not believe. (Al Anaan, 6:125)

So what exactly is eemaan? The English words often used to translate eemaan are "faith", "belief" and  "conviction". In aqeeda, this faith encompasses the faith in Allah (SWT), the angels, the prophets, divine scriptures, the Last Day and divine pre-ordainment. An incorrect belief in any one of these makes one's eemaan incomplete. Physically eemaan causes a feeling of well being, wholesomeness, satisfaction, patience, energy, joie de vivre (joy of living) and a spiritual expansion of the heart. Lack of eemaan causes the opposite feelings of crankiness, uncleanliness, guilt, constriction, unease, lack of concentration, laziness, etc.

It is He who sent down tranquility into the hearts of the believers that they would increase in faith along with their [present] faith. And to Allah belong the soldiers of the heavens and the earth, and ever is Allah Knowing and Wise. (Al Fath 48:4) 

The majority of Islamic scholars agree that eemaan entails a faith expressed by words which find conviction in the heart and results in actions of the limbs that attest to it. Thus words are not enough, nor is belief in the heart by itself. All three need to manifest themselves to indicate to a person whether he has eemaan. The majority of scholars also agree that the level of eemaan  does not stay constant. It increases and decreases. Thus a wise practicing Muslim will seek out ways to constantly grow his eemaan.  In Urdu, we have a word called eemaandaar. It is used for an honest/upright person, but literally it means someone who constantly monitors the level of his eemaan. A Muslim must be sensitive of how he feels. If he feels down some day he should try to determine its cause and engage in those activities which can raise his eemaan.

One way to increase eemaan is to seek knowledge which complies with Islam. By constantly learning about aspects of Reality which reinforces faith, one will find certainty in thought and actions. Reciting the Quran with proper tajweed while understanding its meaning has a great effect on eemaan. A person engaged in learning about the unseen will have stronger faith in it than someone who has not studied it.  Another means of upgrading eemaan in translating that knowledge in to actions by doing good deeds. By doing so one internalizes that knowledge and it becomes part of him. Thus by obeying and worshipping Allah (SWT), his belief in Him (SWT) increases. In contrast, engaging in desires and sins dwindles eemaan. Another effective strategy to increase eemaan is engaging in rememberance and contemplation of Allah (SWT), His attributes, His Creation and how He regulates all things. Thus dhikr  and taffakkar are excellent means of raising one's eemaan. Try spending some time daily in contemplation. Think about your past, how Allah (SWT) has influenced it, His wisdom in your life, the true nature of things, etc.

As a student, I saw others around me choose detrimental ways to deal with the lack of eemaan. Some started smoking, drinking, experimenting with drugs, having girlfriends, partying, listening to hard music, watching bad movies, etc. while I suffered silently, trying to find natural cures to this common malady. By trying to study and implement Islam, I have found the cure to that uneasy feeling that I first felt when I was eighteen. By repeatedly articulating statements of faith, having conviction in my heart and engaging in the resulting good actions eemaan gets established. It can be raised by seeking knowledge, implementing it, rememberance and deep contemplation. A life lived in this way is the only sure cure to the constriction of the heart and related psychosomatic maladies. 

Friday, December 13, 2013

The Early Hours

Sprinters of the 100m dash confide to us that the most critical factor in their race is the start. The difference between a winner and loser often boils down to a perfect start. The same is true for the rest of us. All we have in our control is the day we live. We can’t change the past and we can’t lose sleep over the future. The only thing we can do is get today right and the way to get it right is to start it right. If we resolve to do this day after day, weekday and weekend, work day and holiday, etc. we have set ourselves up to succeed in life.

The early hours, i.e. hours before fajr are the most productive hours you can spend awake. The mind is fresh, the heart is receptive, the soul is tranquil as the night and there is no one / nothing to disturb your train of thought. In a life full of appointments, it is a “me time” no one should consider squandering. Once you fall into the routine of waking up for in the early hours and sleeping right after ishaa, you have set yourself up to live a most productive life. To help me achieve this routine, the first thing I do after waking up is to have a shower to completely rejuvenate myself. I excuse myself for all appointments after ishaa, even those on the weekends and encourage my family to go to bed early as well.

It is the best time to submit to Allah (SWT), express regret for the past (seek forgiveness),  plan for the present day and articulate one's aspirations for the future (make supplications).

Abu Hurairah (RA) narrated that Allah’s Messenger (SAW) said: ‘In the last third of every night our Rabb (Cherisher and Sustainer) (Allah (SWT)) descends to the lowermost heaven and says; “Who is calling Me, so that I may answer him? Who is asking Me so that may I grant him? Who is seeking forgiveness from Me so that I may forgive him?”‘ [Sahih al-Bukhari]

By taking time out to pray qiyaam ul lail regularly, one is resolving to spend one's days (and thus one's life) for Allah (SWT) in the pursuit of goals and aspirations that are pleasing to Him (SWT) and not chasing after one fleeting mirage after another by being a slave of others, the dunya or one's nafs.

Waking up early is a natural routine followed by so much of Allah’s (SWT) creation. In the past, with the absence of electricity which extended the days into nights this was the routine of the pious people of our salaf. Slaves used to commiserate each other if their master’s family did not wake up to pray tahajjud every day. Muslim scholars were able to write books during these hours. The polymath, Ibn Sina, used to spend his day carrying out his duties as the vizier of Amir Shams Ad-Dawla of Hamadan, while writing famous encyclopedias like the Cannon of Medicine and Book of Healing in the early hours. When he faced a mental block, he used to pray for inspiration to Allah (SWT). Those nine years were the most productive of his blessed life.

As opposed to those who wake up late and spend the whole day running from appointment to appointment, chore to chore, deadline to deadline, etc. a person who uses his early hours for praying, studying and planning the day has the day under his control. He has control over his time and as time is life, he has control over his life. Thus he can begin to achieve the responsibilities of vice-regency that Allah (SWT) has meant for the son of Adam (AS). This routine also minimizes anxieties and other psychological maladies that are so common in today’s lifestyle.

Waking up at this time was only obligatory on the Prophet (SWAS) and not his Ummah. This is a mercy from Allah (SWT) as He (SWT) is best aware of man’s nature and his weaknesses. Nevertheless, those of his Ummah who have high aspirations cannot properly achieve them while fulfilling all their responsibilities without adopting this important sunnah in their lives. A productive Muslim has no choice but to be a morning person.

Ever wonder why the Prophet (SWAS) did not need to go on a "vacation" or the Sahaba (RA) long for the "weekend"? It was partially because of this routine, in which one does not "burn out" but achieves all multifaceted goals with optimum effort. Every day was productive, every minute was cherished and used wisely. There was no question of taking "breaks" as the whole life was integrated and holistically structured to constantly achieve without the need for discontinuities.

If one wants to be a high achiever and leave a legacy in life, one must learn to use time wisely. By waking up before fajr, one can plan one's day out perfectly – the day being all that he has control over. A life spent with this routine, will not only be according to nature, it will be most productive. Some of the most productive thinking time is before dawn. A wise Muslim will make it his daily habit to use it to achieve all his goals without burning out, bi-izn Allah.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

A Call to Congregation

As opposed to other religions, Islam does not advocate complete social isolation as a means to enlightenment. Perhaps it is the most social religion out there. Muslims men are supposed to meet each other at least five times a day for daily salawaat, weekly for Jumma, annually for the Eidain and they gather from all over the world for at least once in a lifetime of every capable practicing Muslim during the Hajj. This does not mean that a Muslim does not have private time for contemplation. A wise Muslim, uses his pre-dawn hours in worshiping alone and reflecting on various aspects of his affairs as he pleads for divine help in all matters.

Despite common misconception, it is important to point out that praying in congregation is not optional for men. A Muslim man should strive his utmost to make sure that all his daily prayers are offered in order of priority in a nearby masjid or muslllah or in any other form of congregation at home, on the road, in the mall, etc. During the Prophet’s (SWAS) lifetime, all Muslims used to pray in the masjid - even the hypocrites. Sickness was not accepted as an excuse to come to the masjid. A sick man was often brought to the masjid held by two men on either sides. Even blindness was no excuse for missing congregational prayers at the masjid. At the same time, Islam is practical and provides flexibility for genuinely natural excuses. It is recommended that a Muslim, eats before praying if he is hungry and food is being served, as not doing so would divert his attention from the congregational prayers. Similarly he must answer the call of nature first and then attend congregational prayers. If the first congregation is missed for any reason, he can pray in subsequent congregations. During travel, four unit of prayers are shortened to two units and he can combine the noon and afternoon prayers as well as the sunset and night prayers if he so desires. There is a special way of praying when one is under attack (salaatul khawf) while ensuring everyone’s protection. If one has already prayed, one is rewarded if one repeats one’s prayer by accompanying another Muslim who has not yet prayed and is seeking a congregation to pray with. One should pray alone in the exceptional circumstance when there is nobody else to pray with.

The Prophet’s (SWAS) masjid was not just a place for offering prayers. It was a community center where meetings were held, strategy was discussed, people were educated, prisoners of war were kept, poor were housed, booty was distributed, delegations were received, from where emissaries were sent, etc. Those calling for the revival of the Ummah must start by re-establishing the proper roles of their neighborhood masajids. Establishing regular salawaat there is just the first step and not an end in itself.

By visiting one’s neighborhood masjid often one gets to come in regular contact with Muslims from all walks of life – young and old, rich and poor, healthy and sick, countrymen and foreigners, scholars and the illiterate, etc. There are immense lessons in interacting with the same group on a regular basis over a prolonged period of time. One gets to understand their issues, problems, their habits, their desires, their goals, their way of thinking, etc. It is said that one learns Islam not by reading books, but by interacting and observing the scholars. Thus associating with those who are more pious that oneself who regularly pray in the masjid, will over time have a very great impact upon one’s understanding and practice of Islam, while gently receiving feedback for any incorrect practice.  For the same reason, masajid are great places to regularly bring one’s children who tend to absorb whatever they experience from a young age.

A Muslim’s primary jamaat is formed of the people who regularly pray at his neighborhood masjid. There are so many Muslims who live in a country, yet have primary allegiance to a jamaat on the other side of the world. They have little knowledge of their host societies and the issues there. Most Islamic groups differ in their methodologies even if they all claim to be following the Quran and the Sunnah. Their ideology and methodology are derived from the interpretation of their founder’s perspective on how the Quran and Sunnah should be implemented in today’s world. Due to human deficiency, the ideology is specific to a particular geographic and historic context. It is dependent on their intellectual maturity and understanding, which will always be less than that of the Prophet (SWAS) and the Sahaba’s (RA). Thus we find one group emphasizing dawah, another spreading knowledge, another struggling to revive the khilafa, another emphasizing adopting the Sunnah, another following the salaf, others calling for jihad and qital, etc. While the common man is entangled in fiqhi issues without understanding of the essence of the faith.

Each group is like a blind man examining an elephant. One feels its trunk and says that an elephant is like a pipe. Another feels its tail and says that an elephant is like a rope. Another feel its feet and says that an elephant is like columns. Another feels its ears and says that an elephant is like a cloth. Another feels its teeth and says that an elephant is like a spear. Yet another feels its sides and declares that an elephant is like a hairy wall. In this analogy, the blind men are the intellectual founders of all present jamaats and the elephant is Islam. Their ideology pales in comparison of the holistic vision of Muhammad (SWAS) who was able to see the whole elephant for what it is. It is our duty to follow the Prophet (SWAS) as faithfully as possible by espousing his vision of Islam. By joining a modern group one automatically put limits on that vision. One gives up the essential personal duty for deep contemplation to the ameers of the jamaat we choose to follow. Joining a jamaat makes one give up holistic study from the sources of Islam and limit it to the jamaat’s literature. One tends to study the specific curriculum designed by its education department. One repeatedly emphasizes the verses and hadiths cited by their literature to justify their methodology, etc. The alternative is to re-establish the jammats of our respective local masajid.

Islam emphasizes social interaction and makes it incumbent to constantly interact with the righteous Muslims while establishing prayer in the neighborhood masjid. There are many benefits of interacting with such people including personal and children’s tarbiyya. We should have primary allegiance to our neighborhood jamaats rather than following the various modern groups from other parts of the globe. By doing so we can continue to benefit from group interaction while continuously striving to develop our personal visions.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

The Secrets of Spending

Among the responsibilities of a conscientious Muslim is the responsibility of wealth. He is held accountable for how he earned it and how he spent it. There is to be a balance in a Muslim’s spending. Neither is an ideal Muslim a spendthrift nor is he a miser.

And do not make your hand [as] chained to your neck or extend it completely and [thereby] become blamed and insolvent. (Israa 17:29)
To develop the wisdom in order to spend on the right things, on the right occasions needs an understanding of the objectives of an Islamic lifestyle and our role in it. Thus knowledge of Islam is a pre-requisite of developing wise spending habits. If we are committed to changing our lives according to the mission of Islam, we will strive to learn and implement the fiqh of financial matters as it relates to us.
To start off with we must ensure that our earnings are halal viz. we work in a business that does not deal in products and services which violate the principles of Islam and that we work honestly. This is essential in order for us to live a blessed life. There are many Muslims out there who would not consider eating any meat which is not zabiha. Yet they have no qualms in accumulating interest in their savings accounts!

Likewise care is needed that money is not spent on haram products and services like interest-based mortgages, loans, lottery and other such vices. Instead spending money on halal alternatives is rewarded, like spending on monthly house rent. There are many people who say that taking a mortgage helps save money. They should realize that Allah (SWT) has said that He destroys the blessings in any transaction of riba. Whereas spending on one’s family in a halal manner by paying monthly rent is rewarded and blessed. It is an investment for the Hereafter with manifold rewards. Thus it is not a waste of money.
Many people feel compelled to take out interest-bearing loans to fulfill their needs. I feel this can be avoided by living strategically in today’s world. Loans should be avoided if at all possible. If one is forced to, one can take non-interest loans with the genuine intention to pay it back as quickly as possible. The Prophet (SWAS) did not pray janaza prayers on those who died with outstanding loans. Thus salvation is dependent on fulfilling the responsibility one has not only to the Creator but also His Creation. A loan-taker is also deprived of the blessings that come by giving regular zakat and sadaqaat.

The purpose of spending should be primarily to seek Allah’s (SWT) pleasure, not primarily to follow the trend/fashion, showing off, social competition, pleasing one’s nafs or other people. Thus one should get a house in a peaceful, strategic location of the city that is comfortable, because in its secure environment one can carry out constructive activities for Allah’s (SWT) sake. Similarly, a vehicle should be purchased for its reliability and economic value to take one to those places where one needs to go to carry out one’s responsibilities efficiently. Clothes should be worn to cover the aurah, protect the body from the elements and to look pleasing to one’s spouse and the community for Allah’s (SWT) sake. If we just learn to check our intentions before we shop, we can avoid much waste.

By committing to adopt the Sunnah lifestyle, we can learn to spend where it is important and curtail unnecessary expenses. By living a simple, practical, down-to-earth, goal-centered, efficient, natural and satisfying lifestyle, one does not need to worry about the superficial things that people spend so much on these days. The biggest fraction of the Prophet’s (SWAS) expenses was on charities. By taking care of the weaker segments of society, we not only follow Allah’s (SWT) injunctions, but also benefit ourselves immediately through a feeling of satisfaction, thinking outside our own domain of phobias, good will and satisfaction in in our communities, etc. The Prophet (SWAS) also frequently shared meals with relatives and the community creating healthy social bonds among them and creating opportunities for dawah and tarbiyya.

Another aspect of the Prophetic lifestyle is that it is at higher intellectual and spiritual levels than the rest of humanity. Thus we should also strive to raise our levels of understanding and implementing the deen. This cannot take place by just having free Skype lessons from unqualified teachers. A considerable amount of money and time needs to be allocated for one’s and one’s family’s education – secular as well as religious. Personally, I have found that I am more dedicated to a class if I make sure that I pay a high amount for it. I tend to take it more seriously. Not only does it benefit me more, it enables the education provider to support scholars, improve their services and serve many more people. Almost all time of year, my family and I are engaged in learning and teaching. Thus I do not consider spending on courses and books a waste of money, especially if they are Islamic. Over the years, I have bought and studied many expensive books, some of them from overseas. This is the only hobby I have for collection things. At home we have a library and a big fraction of it is religious books, DVD and cassettes. We regularly attend the annual book fairs in Abu Dhabi and Sharjah spending AED 1500-3000 on each occasion. We buy multiple copies of many good books to give as gifts.

Similarly, money must be invested in dawah work. It is more beneficial if one engages in the dawah projects in person rather than donating money to dawah organizations. Money should be spent liberally on those things that are needed for dawah like carrying out good quality car maintenance for a vehicle that is being used for that purpose or upgrading a computer for internet dawah. Monthly donations should be given to extended family members and one should stay in touch with them asking after their well-being and giving any advice or help. This is especially true for one’s parents. It is important to highlight that helping others is not limited to just spending money on them. There are a whole range of possible ways one can benefit them.
By adopting the above methodology, I have found that I can save money on frequently upgrading homes, furniture, crockery, cars, mobile phones, clothes, accessories, etc. I do not go for the latest deals no matter how attractive they are if they do not fit with my general goals. I go to the shops and malls only when it is essential, with a list and I make sure I leave quickly. Another big area of curtailing expenses has been entertainment. By living our lives naturally, we do not feel the need to constantly keep ourselves amused. Children can be kept healthy by enjoying an outdoor weekly trip to the park or the beach. For many years our annual vacations have been spent in Makkah and Madinah rather than worldwide resorts.

Money must not be wasted on frivolous things that do not help one’s mission. Rather one should be spent one’s halal earnings with the Prophetic intention, vision and example on one’s family, relatives, community, for seeking knowledge, for charity and dawah projects. By doing this, one can fulfill one’s needs but avoid situations in which loans are necessary, making one a solvent and contributing member in one’s society.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Time Management for Muslims

There has been a lot said and written on the subject of time management mostly from non-Muslim Western sources. Unfortunately most material available only addresses the problem of wasting time in fragments. There has not been a holistic treatment of this subject from an Islamic perspective. We Muslims repeatedly find ourselves at a loss at organizing our affairs and achieving our multi-faceted goals due to mismanagement of time. In addressing this subject, I will attempt to share a holistic methodology which over the years I have found effective. It should be helpful for most practicing Muslims, insha Allah.

First of all, one should realize the importance of life and time which are gifts from Allah (SWT). Life is a one-time opportunity whose proper use will ultimately decide one’s destiny in this world and the next. Since Allah (SWT) is the Creator and Regulator of all affairs, it is only appropriate that we use the blessing of time in accordance with His wishes alone. Thus we must first make a clear intention to dedicate one’s life and all our actions based on an overall mission to serve Allah (SWT) and His deen and thus qualify for Paradise. This mission should not just be given lip service. It should be sincerely implemented in all aspects of our lives.

Once this realization and intention is established, one automatically begins to filter all one’s activities to remove those that hinder its achievement. One becomes driven by clear goals and tends to carry out routine activities in the most efficient manner. One feels is no craving for addictions like TV viewing, computer games, movies, shopping sprees, collecting stuff, etc. Weekly grocery shopping can be achieved in 30 minutes flat with proper planning and timing. Children can be taken to parks and beaches on an early weekend morning when the people sleep so that there is plenty of parking, no crowds, no traffic and no indecency.

By resolving to implement a Sunnah lifestyle, one organizes one’s daily activities to become focused in achieving the supreme mission. The Sunnah teaches us to live simply and efficiently, focusing on those aspects which are really important for us and doing away with time wasters. Not only that, it is the pattern of divinely inspired, human lifestyle that helps achieve the supreme mission in the most optimum way. The Sunnah is a most natural lifestyle, in which one consciously aligns oneself to the natural rhythms and forces of Creation. One synergizes with the natural world and achieving goals becomes a natural outcome. This is what is meant by having tawfeeq (divine alignment of opportunity and preparedness) in realizing one’s ambitions. The levels of stress, anxiety and effort are the least compared to any other possible means. This makes it possible to achieve multiple synergistic goals simultaneously.

For a practicing Muslim, the five salwaat are the milestones in one’s daily routine which he uses to organize his activities around in well-defined chunks. It is found that doing work in well-defined stages is more beneficial than during prolonged uninterrupted sessions. Prayer must be established at its earliest time and with the first congregation at the masjid, whenever possible. The prayers fulfill the essential purpose of connection to Allah (SWT), reinforcing the mission, self-reflection and resolving/planning to work on pending tasks through divine inspiration which comes after supplications. The masjid and the congregation are means to help one meet one’s goals and mission. By frequently visiting the masjid, one becomes involved with others who share one’s mission, thus synergizing with them. One should involve oneself and one’s family in the local masjid activities. Time should be invested in socializing with people of positive outlook who support and share one’s mission.

The choice of residence should be in that neighborhood of the city which is closest to a masjid, work, relatives, shops and other places where you do your chores. By avoiding frequent out-of-town travel, one gets more time to focus on one’s goals. Traveling and traffic jams not only waste time and resources but they also make one tired, hindering one to work on goals. One should try to find and use local resources as much as possible, rather than going to distant places to reach them. The internet makes it possible to engage in dawah, order things and study subjects online.

Proper planning is essential for success. Thus waking 30 minutes regularly before fajr for tahajjud makes one better organized as you ask Allah (SWT) for help in the day’s activities. Waking early and planning the day is much better than spending the late night tossing and turning in the bed, anxious for what tomorrow will bring. The latter is very counter-productive. Contrary to general assumption, waking for tahajjud makes one more alert throughout the day. One regularly falls easily to sleep right after ishaa as the Prophet (SWAS) recommended.

It is important to try and always plan your work, projects and activities. At work, avoid sitting after office hours. Do not make unreasonable commitments on project deadlines. Always give yourself a reasonable time margin. Let your colleagues know you have many commitments other than work. At the same time make sure you are known for working honestly, efficiently and produce good results. Do not sacrifice the essential balance in life to ever get ahead at work, no matter how many people are doing this around you. Whatever achievements you make will not be lasting and will return to haunt you in later stages of your life.

The choice of a life partner influences how organized you end up being in life. Marry someone for their deen, so that the whole family is organized around the supreme mission. Their support is essential for your success. Empower people under you by delegating and learning to trust them. Write a family mission statement and constitution with your spouse when you get married and try to live up to it. Try to pass on good time management habits to your children.

Lastly, it is vital for all family members to take the time to raise their emaan frequently. It will give everyone the energy to achieve their other goals. Worshipping, reading, learning, researching, teaching, writing, doing good works, dawah, avoiding sins, contemplating and spending time with the Quran are some activities that are useful. Make these activities the means for you and your family’s genuine contentment rather than wasting time in some other forms of senseless entertainment. Always look out for ways to make you and your family more efficient.

We learn from the Seerah, how all aspects of the Prophet’s (SWAS) life were aligned to his mission. There was wisdom and lessons in every mundane thing he did in his life. In order to use time wisely, we must make our intentions and mission the same. What better way to do this than to adopt the Sunnah in our lives? Worship as in the salawaatul khamisa, qiyaam and reciting Quran, planning, socializing, work, choice of residence and spouse, learning, entertainment, dawah, etc. can all be a means to our ultimate success if we have the right intentions and use them properly towards the right end. By doing so we would use our time efficiently.

I ask Allah (SWT) to give me and all the Muslims more blessings in use of our time. Ameen

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Zaraa Deen Pay Chal Kay To Daykh!

Aye zindigi kay maenay doonDhnay walay …
Zaraa deen pay chal kay to daykh!

Aye mall kay chakar laganay walay …
Zaraa masjid aa kay to daykh!

Aye yoga may sukoon talash karnay walay …
Zaraa sajday may giRgiRa kay to daykh!

Aye cigarette say cigarette sulganay walay …
Zaraa namaz qaim kar kay to daykh!

Aye masghool ayaam guzarnay walay …
Zaraa tahajjud may uTh kay to daykh!

Aye dunya dunya ghoomnay walay …
Zaraa Kaabay ki ziarat kar kay to daykh!

Aye aasaishoN ki zanjeeroN main jakaR kay rahnay walay …
Zaraa jihaad pay nikal kay to daykh!

Aye uloom uloom ka mutalaa karnay walay …
Zaraa Quran ko samaj kay to daykh!

Aye huzn may dubkiyaaN khanay walay …
Zaraa dhikr maiN zubaaN tar kar kay to daykh!

Aye soodh pay karzay laynay walay …
Zaraa haath uThaa kay to daykh!

Aye dunya ki masroofiat maiN khonay walay …

Zaraa maaN ko muskura kay to daykh!

Aye Facebook pay ghair friends bananay walay …
Zaraa rishtay jooR kay to daykh!

Aye ghazal kay misray gungunanay walay …
Zaraa shaadi may bandh kay to daykh!

Aye office politics kheylnay walay …

Zaraa kaam may dil laga kay to daykh!

Aye falaaN falaaN say jaghaRnay walay …
Zaraa khud ko badal kay to daykh!

Aye dunya ki shikayat karnay walay …
Zaraa achi nasiyhat kar kay to daykh!

Aye azyat pay azyat uThanay walay …
Zaraa darguzar kar kay to daykh!

Aye zeest maiN har fashion karnay walay …

Zaraa Sunnat pay chal kay to daykh!

Aye filmoN o diraamoN kay diwanay …
Zaraa Seerat paRh kay to daykh!

Aye mausiqi say luft uThanay walay …
Zaraa tilawat lagaa kay to daykh!

Aye Valentine Day bananay walay …
Zaraa Eid pay galay mil kay to daykh!

Aye degree pay degree jamaa karnay walay …
Zaraa pehlay khud ko samaj kay to daykh!

Aye khwaishoN ki parawi karnay walay ...
Zaraa nafs say laR kay to daykh!

Aye achi aarzoayN karnay walay...
Zaraa aagay baRh kay to daykh!

Aye parayshaN haal honay walay ...
Zaraa gunaahoN say bach kay to daykh!

Aye dar ba dar bhaTaknay walay ...
Zaraa simt badal kay to daykh!

Aye apnay liay jeenay walay ...
Zaraa Uskay liay miTT mar kay to daykh!

Aye hadd say tajawuz karnay walay …
Zaraa aaj sachi tawba kar kay to daykh!

Sunday, November 3, 2013

The Purposeful Pursuit of Persistent Pleasures

IMAX movies, cable TV, 24-hours news channels, music, amusement parks, spectator sports, computer games, shopping sprees, vacation trips, dating, all night parties, recreational drugs, etc. The list of entertainment options these days are endless. The non-working, waking hours of many are consumed by such activities. “Work hard and play hard!” is their motto in life. It seems that humanity is craving for an elusive inner pleasure which these activities provide only temporarily. The repeated cravings for them become deeper and deeper until they often results in additions, compulsive disorders, living beyond one's means and crime. No wonder the rich among us are busy amusing themselves to death while the poor are envious of their glittery lifestyles and resort to any means to follow them.

In 1995, I studied a small classic book called Chimia As-Saada (The Alchemy of Happiness). It is a book of Islamic spirituality in which Imam Ghazzali (R) outlines the secret of ultimate happiness. (See'%C4%81dat ). Living a life devoted to Allah (SWT) not only fulfills the obligation we have as Muslims, but doing so gives us the sweetness of faith, which satisfies the inner cravings of the soul of a Believer. He does not have the need of endless entertainment and many such activities may become repulsive to him. A person who experiences this satisfaction is a true ascetic (zahid). His life is blessed and he can feel true happiness without the need for cheap thrills. Al Ghazzali gives the analogy of a riding animal when describing the body. He says that the soul is the rider, riding on the riding animal (his body) heading for a final destination (The Hereafter). According to him, a person should take care of the body, its needs and pleasures, just as much is needed for its purpose of taking the rider to the destination safely.
The Seerah of the Prophet (SWAS) is punctuated with moments when he and his Companions amused themselves. This sort of halal fun is necessary for the physical senses so that they can relax and become capable of taking greater burdens of responsibility during the journey of life. It is also beneficial in keeping cordial relations and attracting people to the Truth. The Prophet (SWAS), his companions and his family watched the performance of Abyssinian entertainers inside the masjid. The Prophet (SWAS) used to make jokes (not based on false statements).  He used to have light moments with his family members, running races with his wife. He used to interact with children, inquiring about their games. Yet despite all this, he did not have the urge to keep himself amused like we do nowadays. Regarding his personal pleasures, he is reported to have said:
“Made beloved to me from your world are women and perfume, and the coolness of my eyes is in prayer.” (Ahmad and An-Nasa ‘i)
Thus a person who understands the meaning of life and has the capability of unraveling spiritual mysteries, will have an inner eye to see dimensions of reality which are not apparently visible. His soul will long for increasing this insight. He will find inner pleasure in pursuing a path of discovery. He will enjoy the process of piecing together a large jigsaw puzzle of the most beautiful landscape. As he nears completion his excitement and anticipation grows. Until he finally puts the last piece. For a Muslim the last pieces will be put together in Jannah when he will have the Ultimate Pleasure from seeing the “Face” of Allah (SWT). It is that pleasure which we must all be striving for and only in its pursuance will we find burst of real joy in our mundane earthly lives.
Don’t you enjoy the feeling when you give charity, read a good book, see your mother smiling at you after you obey her, hear you children recite Quran, understand a difficult concept, see Allah (SWT)’s wisdom in your life, travel, experience and contemplate on Creation, share nostalgic moments with your extended family members, joke with your wife, get appreciated for giving good advice, act justly, fulfill obligations, fall in prostration, etc.? All these actions in our worldly lives are acts of worship and obedience to Allah (SWT) that make us naturally happy and satisfied in themselves. They are a foretaste of the Ultimate Pleasure awaiting us in the Hereafter. As we grow in obedience we develop insights about the reality we are part of, creating a perpetual cycle of obedience and satisfaction.
By doing such acts regularly and systematically as the Prophet (SWAS) did them, we can hope to find the most optimum pattern for happiness which can be achieved. Doing so entails implementing the Sunnah in our lives. A life patterned on such pleasures will have no desire for other forms of entertainment. It will free us from sins, wasting resources, destroying our nafs, selfishness, adopting bad habits, setting bad examples for others, degrading oneself, living a life of borrowed living, addictions, compulsive disorders, etc. It will heal the wounds of material disparity in our societies.
Realize, my friends, that the human soul has been created for its destiny to experience the Ultimate Pleasures of Jannah. It is in our nature to try and fulfill this desire somehow. Most people try to fulfill it by ephemeral means which leave them thirsty with a never quenching thirst for more. These means are harmful for our bodies, souls and societies. The real means of achieving happiness is to prepare for the ultimate happiness of the Hereafter. In living a life devoted to Allah (SWT) in the systematic way we learn from our Prophet (SWAS) we will find deep pleasures which come with understanding reality of our journeys. This understanding and pleasure is elusive to those who fail to submit themselves. A person who is hooked on to these pleasures will be satisfied from the simple blessings of this life and has no perpetual need for abominable amusements.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Unravelling Urdu

Urdu is the lingua franca of the Muslims of the Indo-Pak Subcontinent. As a relatively new language, its history is intertwined with the Muslim rule of India. As the common language of the soldiers Muslim armies it evolved by borrowing their native words from Arabic, Persian, Turkish and regional Indian languages. For most of the history of Muslim rule in India, Persian was the official court language. It was used in all literature, communication, edicts, deeds, wills, contracts, etc. To be considered educated a person was supposed to know Persian and its rich literature no matter what religion one followed. About 200 years ago towards the end of the Mughal reign, Urdu slowly displaced Persian.

During the Partition of India, Urdu became a means for the demand of a separate Muslim homeland and as such it was quickly adopted as the official language of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, despite a dearth of native speakers among its citizens. Since then there have been serious dissatisfaction with the promotion of Urdu at the expense of other regional languages in Pakistan. As the feelings of Muslim nationalism gradually dissipated and were substituted by regional demands, language riots broke out for greater demands for languages such as Bengali, Sindhi, Seraiki, etc. Urdu eventually became a political rallying point for the Muhajirs. Thus historically this language has been intertwined with the politics of the Indo-Pak Subcontinent.
Culturally Urdu represents the culmination of centuries of malaise in the Indian Muslim psyche. Its literature is filled with a passion for women, wine and a longing of past glories. It seldom points to any practical and sound solution for the revival of Muslims to regain their leadership position of the world.  Iqbal’s poetry is filled with instigations for Muslims to wake up from centuries of this slumber, but it gives few solutions that are holistically sound and based on religion. Urdu religious literature is also marked by an excess of piety, which crosses the limits, by its exaggerated praise of pious men of past; raising their status to inhuman levels. The intercultural milieu of the Subcontinent and its distance from the source language of Islam continues to give rise to numerous deviant sects and groups. Their ideologies have affected the very fabric of Urdu language which is often used to convey and promote them.

The language of Islam in the Subcontinent used to be Arabic like everywhere else. All religious education was conducted in it. It was slowly replaced by Persian and then by Urdu. Even in religious seminaries, although Arabic is still taught it has taken the place as a subject among several subjects and not the medium of instructions of all subjects as should be the case. The further a nation is from the source language of the religion, the more chances of deviation arise. The miracle of Islam is the Quran, whose linguistic eloquence and meaning cannot be fathomed without a deep understanding of Arabic. The Quran and the Sunnah cannot be implemented without a tight grip on Arabic. The absence of Arabic at a community level in society has led to a lack of understanding and adoption of the holistic worldview of the sources of Islam. The essence of Islam is missing from our individual and collective lives, no matter how enthusiastically we claim love for it for historical and nationalistic reasons. Without a love of Arabic our love for Islam is not sincere. Many of our current problems stem from the fact that we discount the internal spirit of the religion by sticking rigidly to its external rulings.
In recent years, the status of Urdu as a Muslim language has been seriously challenged. The mainstream digital media regularly broadcasts programs and views in Urdu that are openly secular. The inundation of Hindi songs and movies in Muslim communities has set its own worldview which is at direct contrast with the Islamic one. English has directly challenged the position of Urdu as the language of education and reform. Khyber-Pakhtunkha province of Pakistan recently decided to teach English instead of Urdu in its public schools. Muslims are not reading much and those that are, are switching from Urdu to English for economic reasons alone. It is best if we face the fact that Urdu is a dying language that will eventually merge with Hindi and English to become a common hodge-podge vernacular for the masses of South Asia.

It is thus wise for Muslim families from the Subcontinent to revive Arabic learning and give it due importance. Many families make a decision about what set of languages they should teach their children – English, Urdu, French, Chinese, Arabic, etc. In today’s globalized world, the child will learn English regardless of how much effort we put in it. If the family is culturally inclined and speak Urdu at home, the child will eventually learn to understand and perhaps speak Urdu without extra effort. French and Chinese are good languages to learn for dawah purposes due to the shear large number of its speakers, worldview. But in order to convey the message of Islam, your child must first imbibe it himself and that is only possible by immersing him in Arabic. It is more productive if parents set a good example by constantly engaging themselves with acquiring Arabic. This way they will pass on their love and enthusiasm for it to their children.  If your child masters Arabic, learning to read and write Urdu will not be problematic, due to the similarity in their script. In fact, by learning Arabic, your child’s Urdu will automatically improve as one of the foundations of Urdu is Arabic.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Writing About the Writings

Formal writing is a specific form of expression that developed over centuries. Islam ushered in the era of written scholarship, where writing changed from being a privilege of a selected few to the right of the Muslim masses. The Quran eulogizes writing: "Noon. I swear by the Pen and by that which they write" (Qalam V.1). Although the Prophet (SWAS) himself could not read or write, he made it incumbent upon both male and female Muslims to learn. Soon Arabic became the language of global scholarship. Almost every masjid had its adjoining kuttab or madrasah. The Abbasids translated ancient Greek, Persian and Indian manuscripts to Arabic; followed by a period of synthesis and new developments in all subjects of inquiry. The work done at that time, became the basis of the European Renaissance and establishment of modern scholarship as we know it. Writing has become the premiere choice of scholarly engagement in the last couple of centuries.

Writing became the means of exchanging and preserving ideas. In fact, the most important idea for mankind, i.e. its purpose and mission in life, was written down by scribes as revealed to successive Messengers of Allah (SWT) - the last being preserved by Allah (SWT) Himself forever.

As compared to speaking, writing is more of an asynchronous process. One can think about an idea, ponder over about its nuances of meaning and constantly refine it until it comes out just right. This cannot be easily done with synchronous speech. Preferring script to speech means that the writer can think more about the impact of his words and their consequences, something that may save him a lot of embarrassment. The best aspect of writing I personally find helpful is that I can take a position, build up my case, present the evidence and conclusion, without being interrupted by anyone.

The best writing is that which emanates from true faith by studying the original sources of knowledge, i.e. from the Knower of all, Al Aleem. Thus a study of the Quran and Hadith, their understanding in the context of our lives and times brings out gems of insights which are worthy of sharing with others. In fact, sharing them makes one more conscious of their veracity and inspires oneself to right conduct. Come to think of it, it fulfills a duty every conscientious Muslim is obligated to undertake and will be asked about on the Last Day.

My writing also enabled me to fulfill many of my social obligations that I had long neglected. These days there are many alternatives to formal written narratives like calling or texting on a phone, chatting, video conferencing, etc. Living on a shoe-string budget in the United States, I always preferred writing letter to making long distance calls to my family (email did not exist for the public back then). That phase of my life was followed by another three years where I had minimum contact with family and friends except through emails and letters. I lived in a new country, without telephone, cell phone, etc. My days and night were spent reading, researching and writing which I did quite a lot while teaching in a university and surviving on my own.

I came out of my isolation through the written word. At first, I expressed my views through individual replies to emails to friends and family. This was followed by a desire to address them collectively on pertinent common topics. Often the articles were followed by written exchanges by my audiences which allowed be to further refine them. I looked up everyone I could and added them to my distribution list. Thus writing allowed me to re-establish ties with my extended family and friends who are scattered over the world. Some of my early emails were published without my permission in a Pakistani Canadian publication after which I decided to post almost everything on a dedicated blog.

I am now attempting to select, arrange, re-edit/re-format a subset of those write-ups in a form of a book for wider distribution.

Through Allah's (SWT) tawfeeq, the circumstances to write these articles were created by the efforts of my teachers who gave me genuine ilm and under whom I am still learning; Umm Abdullah who provided me time and opportunity to write them with full concentration. I pray that this work is a form of sadaqajaria for them, my parents and everyone else who provided feedback and helped to spread it to others. Ameen.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Reaping the Rewards of Ramadan

Ramadan is the annual discount days that we get for stocking up hasanaat for our aakhirah. The rate is exceedingly profitable, so it is important to consider how best to use this opportunity for everyone in the family, especially the head of the household.

Like all limited time offers, proper time management is key. A daily schedule helps in keeping focus on what is important. Wasting valuable time by sleeping away the hours should be curtailed – rather sleep should be kept to the minimum. Watching TV should be limited to only those broadcasts that are truly beneficial, like live taraweeh broadcasts from the Haramain. Similarly, all Eid shopping should be out of the way in the beginning of Ramadan, so that the last ten days can be best utilized for worship.

Time should be reserved for personal and collective worship, throughout the day. This includes the daily adhkar, Quran recitation, qiyaam, congregational prayers, taraweeh, etc. The men of the family should encourage others to participate in worship and take them with them for collective worship. Even if young ones do not participate fully, just being in the masjid, while seeing worshippers pray together in the special Ramadan atmosphere leaves a lasting impact on their young hearts and minds.

Learning is another beneficial activity of that one should establish both at a personal as well as a family level. Personally, one can use Ramadan to memorize a portion of the Quran, or understand its meaning, or daily study some ahadith, The family can also learn together. Last Ramadan while walking to and from the masjid my son who was 6 then, memorized some surahs of Juz Amma, just by repeating after me. Older kids can be asked to research the background to these surahs and report back to the family when the family is together, e.g. while driving, sharing meals, etc. The younger ones can be asked to draw and color whatever they have heard.

Ramadan is also a time for sharing whether it be sharing food, clothes, wealth, knowledge, etc. Some may disagree, but I have found that rather than arrange and iftaar parties throughout the month for the rich, where people participate in food orgies and end up missing taraweeh prayers, it is better to supply food to less privileged members of society, e.g. the needy, students, bachelors, orphans, travelers, etc. Taking your kids with you for daily rounds of food distribution engenders a love of giving and an appreciation of the blessings they have in their lives. Projects can also be developed through zakat money which many Muslims choose to pay during this blessed month.

To free up time for all the above activities, it is important to keep food shopping, preparation, presentation and consumption to a minimum. A simple meal can suffice daily for futoor as well as suhoor. Husbands can help by doing groceries quickly using a shopping list at a less crowded time of the day and not picking faults in food presented to them.

Sons, husbands and fathers play a big role is helping to maximize the benefits of Ramadan for themselves and their families. A family which is properly led to utilize Ramadan time for worship, learning and charity can hope to achieve the real spiritual goals of this month.

Characteristics of a Believing Wife

The Prophet (SWAS) has been reported to have said: "A woman is normally sought as a wife for her wealth, beauty, nobility, or religiousness, but choose a religious woman and you will prosper. " (Muslim)

Some well intentioned Muslims try to heed to this Prophetic advice in choosing a spouse and make religion the principal criteria for their selection. Soon they face problems defining religiousness or those main religious characteristics that are of greatest benefit with respect to a potential wife. Does wearing a hijab and praying regularly qualifies a Muslima in satisfy this criteria? Certainly it is an indication, but sometimes appearances are deceptive and so some deeper characteristics should be considered before making this important decision.

The foremost of these is having the right belief or aqeeda, for someone's system of belief might be different from someone else's. If one spent one's entire life in doing good works, but one's belief system is corrupted they may not gain any reward for it in the aakhirah. In terms of marriage, belief forms the basis of a worldview a person acquires, so two people having different beliefs can not easily agree on common understanding because their perspectives are different. Spouses are like a pair of eyes in a head; each has separate vision, but when they focus on common vistas they provide a depth in perception that is not possible by either one of them alone. Thus having different color eye glasses on each eye, results only in confusion. This poses more difficulties for children who are often left perplexed about how they see reality. Even among Muslims, different sects have different aqeeda, so care must be taken in choosing a mate whose belief one concurs with.

The next important characteristic may be quite difficult to ascertain. It is sincerity to Allah (SWT) which is a very private matter as it has to do with intention of a Muslim. When a wife does everything primarily for Allah's (SWT) sake, one can be sure that Islam is not just on her lips but has entered her heart. That is the essence of religion. So when she does something good to him or his relatives it is primarily to seek reward from Allah (SWT). It will make no difference to her if she is appreciated for her good deeds or not as she knows that Allah (SWT) appreciates her. Many misunderstandings and complaints, typical in marriages, can be neutralized by this great characteristic alone.

Love of the Prophet (SWAS) and his Sunnah should be another important consideration for marriage. The Sunnah provides Muslims with exemplary patterns of lifestyle which provide the context to live the most natural way that Allah (SWT) intended us to live. A wife who takes the Prophet (SWAS) as the best role model for herself will try to constantly try to improve her character according to his. She will cultivate good characteristics like patience, thankfulness, humility, devotion, truthfulness, modesty, sincerity, dependability, etc. Such characteristics are indispensable in a good believing wife. The life of someone who follows the Sunnah is characterized by perfect balance. They fulfill the rights of Allah (SWT) as well as those around them. A wife who loves the Prophet (SWAS) will follow the caring way he dealt with people. Wives play a big role in social interactions of families and friends, so a genuinely concerned and caring wife will be a source of good dawah and reform. She will constantly think about the welfare of others, in both their religious and mundane matters. She will help keep good ties of kinship. Certainly she will not forget the responsibilities she owes to her own children whose characters she is most likely to influence in life.

After the love of Allah (SWT) and the love of the Prophet (SWAS), should come the love of learning. A wife who is committed to a lifetime of learning will always look for ways to keep improving herself, both in deen and dunya matters. She will be eager in each stage of her life to learn the required knowledge to carry out her responsibilities in the best of manners. With the correct aqeeda she will always try to build up her inner vision by placing what she learns in the correct framework of belief. This will allow her to ultimately develop insights about the nature of things. This hikma (wisdom) and firasa (intuition) are rare and valuable qualities to have in a wife. Indeed the Prophet (SWAS) has been reported to have said: "…Whoever follows a path in pursuit of knowledge, Allah will make easy for him a path to Paradise..." (bn Majah). She is also more likely to pass on this love of learning to her children

A wife can have all the above qualities, yet if she is not obedient then the family unit is prone to tear apart. Obedience should foremost be to the commands of Allah (SWT), to the Prophet (SWAS) and then to the husband. It is the nature of human societies that they need a responsible person in any situation who looks after the interests of the whole group. In a family that responsibility lies with the husband, who should seek to acquire all the above characteristics himself before demanding them in his potential spouse. There can not be two people in the family competing to lead. If the wife does not obey the husband, chaos ensues. At a macro level this leads to disruption in society, as the family unit is the basis of any healthy society.

For a successful Islamic marriage, both the husband and the wife should be committed to constantly improve themselves and acquire good characteristics that are deeper than just the apparent symbols of religion. If a wife has the right aqeeda, is sincere to Allah (SWT), loves and practices the Sunnah, is committed to learning and is obedient to the husband, then there is very little else that a wise practicing Muslim should consider.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Digging Down into the Depths of the Deen

Have you ever considered a deep rooted tree? No matter what the elements throw at it, it holds its ground. In the winter it shrivels and becomes leafless, but come spring, the deep roots it has are enough to help revive it so that it flourishes and gives fruit and shade. The Prophet (SWAS) uses the similitude of such a tree to describe true believers.

Ibn Umar reported that Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) one day said to his Companions: Tell me about a tree which has resemblance with a believer. The people began to mention (different) trees of the forest. Ibn 'Umar said: It was instilled in my mind or in my heart and it stuck therein that it implied the date- palm tree. I made up my mind to make a mention of that but could not do that because of the presence of the elderly people there. When there was a hush amongst them (after they had expressed their views), Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) said: It Is the date-palm tree. (Sahih Muslim)

What distinguishes a believer from a disbeliever is that his worldview is formed based on the Truth and Reality, whereas that of a disbeliever's perspective is distorted and based on delusions and doubts. Allah (SWT) contrasts them in the following verses

Have you not considered how Allah presents an example, [making] a good word like a good tree, whose root is firmly fixed and its branches [high] in the sky? It produces its fruit all the time, by permission of its Lord. And Allah presents examples for the people that perhaps they will be reminded. And the example of a bad word is like a bad tree, uprooted from the surface of the earth, not having any stability. Allah keeps firm those who believe, with the firm word, in worldly life and in the Hereafter. And Allah sends astray the wrongdoers. And Allah does what He wills. (Ibrahim 14:24-27)

It is the Sunnah of Allah (SWT) that he tests humanity time and again. Just like a tree suffers from the elements, man also undergoes punishment and trials from Allah (SWT).

Alif-Lam-Mim. Do people think that they will be left alone because they say: 'We have faith', and will not be tested? And We indeed tested those who were before them. And Allah will certainly make known, those who are true, and will certainly make known those who are liars. (29:1-3)

Scholars say when someone undergoes bad times he can judge whether it is a punishment from Allah (SWT) or a test from Him (SWT) by studying his reaction to the ill he undergoes. If his problems cause him to become rebellious and his devotions to Allah (SWT) decrease, know that it is a punishment. If he becomes repentant and becomes closer to Allah (SWT), know that it is a test and it is beneficial for him.

The question arises as to how a person can prepare himself to withstand the tests of life? The answer is to establish stable foundations for himself, just as the good tree has deep roots to stabilize it. That foundation for a believer is sound and deep knowledge of the deen which he must constantly endeavor to pursue. Allah (SWT) says:

But those firmly grounded in knowledge among them and the believers believe in what has been revealed to you, [O Muhammad], and what was revealed before you. And the establishers of prayer [especially] and the givers of zakah and the believers in Allah and the Last Day - those We will give a great reward. (Nisa 4:162)

The above verse shows the excellence and importance of being firmly grounded in knowledge. It indicates that to protect a person’s eeman and help him stay firm in the trials and tribulations, which are inevitable, he must dig down to the depths of the deen, by constantly seeking knowledge of Islam. Realize that the pre-requisite of faith is knowledge, so it you feel spiritually weak, the remedy is to engage in seeking knowledge. In Islam, faith is not blind short-lived enthusiasm, rather knowledge leads to faith which leads to good works which leads to success in this world and the next.

The pursuit of knowledge must begin with the basics. The first type of knowledge that is essential is the knowledge of the Quran. That means that the Quran should not only be learnt to be read, but also its meaning should be understood. Its worldview must be known and implemented. This knowledge is just the basic. Next comes the knowledge of the Sunnah. After these two come other branches of Islamic knowledge like Fiqh, Aquida and Seerah.

It is inconceivable that the life of this world will not have problems. Allah (SWT) has promised us that He (SWT) will definitely test us. We should use the bounties and resources He (SWT) has bestowed us to prepare for those tests. The best preparation is to constantly keep learning the knowledge of the deen starting from the basics and endeavoring to go deep down. Only with deep knowledge we would be like the deep rooted tree which can withstand severe weather which is bound to come, sooner or later. A wise person will use the opportunities in life to prepare for bad times.

The Prophet (saw) advised to: Take benefit of five before five: Your youth before your old age, your health before your sickness, your wealth before your poverty, your free time before you are preoccupied, and your life before your death. (Al Hakim)