Friday, 15 September 2017

Expectations vs Faith

“Blessed is he who expects nothing, for he shall never be disappointed.” ― Alexander Pope

Recently, I was badly let down by someone whom I considered as close to me. I felt disappointed and most of all -hurt. As hubby and I sat down to talk about my woes, hubby gave me a statement, "Babe, I think you had expectations and it was not met, hence that's why you're disappointed"

I stopped and thought very hard. Was it 'expectations' or was it 'faith'? What I mean by 'faith' is having the good impression or assumption or thought that the person will do the right thing i.e. husnozon.

Abu Huraira reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “Beware of suspicion, for suspicion is the most false of speech. Do not seek out faults, do not spy on each other, do not contend with each other, do not envy each other, do not hate each other, and do not turn away from each other. Rather, be servants of Allah as brothers.”
Hadith Bukhari

Almighty Allah Says: "O You Who Have Believed, Avoid Much [Negative] Assumption. Indeed, Some Assumption Is Sin. 
Quran 49:12

So, by me trying to have good assumption that people will do the right thing in fulfilling a trust, is it considered as having expectations? If so, where do you draw the line? When do you put your guard up? How do you learn to trust?

Pretty tricky isn't?

Hubby always tells me that not everyone thinks like I do hence I shouldn't have expectations. I guess there's a very fine line between having faith and having expectations. It's not always easy to tell the difference. It's a balancing act between obeying commandments and controlling emotions. For an emotional person like me; who cries buckets watching cartoons; the scale will always tipped heavier towards the emotions.

Sigh! For now, I think I will just have to try to have good impressions and if the person turns out to be the complete opposite, then I need to tell myself that it's a lesson that I need to learn and move on.

It's like giving it your best then leaving it in His Hands....InsyaAllah.

Put your trust in Allah. Allah loves those that trust [in Him].
Quran 3:159

Saturday, 17 June 2017

The Secret of the Night

“The darker the night, the brighter the stars, 
The deeper the grief, the closer is God!” ― Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Used to be, in the wee hours of the night, you'll  find me snoring away. Even during my student days, I was never the 'burn the midnight oil' kind of person. I need my sleep or I'll  turn into this really cranky bear.

When I learned  about night prayers i.e. tahajjud, the first thing that came to mind was, impossible!

"And from [part of] the night, pray with it as additional [worship] for you; it is expected that your Lord will resurrect you to a praised station."

Surah Al-Isra', 17:79

Abu Hurayra (Allah be pleased with him) reports that the Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace be upon him, his family, and companions) said, “The best prayer after the obligatory prayers is the night prayer.” [Muslim]

Still....wanting to be better, I tried. More often than not, I failed. I just could't get up at 3 am. Then, I read that one of the companions of the Prophet pbuh had missed his night prayer and he had said that the reason he was prevented from waking up was because of his sins. Eerrkkk! I must have mountainous of sins if I'm not able to wake up at all. Seriously?  Am I that bad?

So, feeling rather upset, I spoke to the Wise Owl about my predicament. Surely I can't  be all bad and surely  there must be a way for me to wake up for tahajjud.

The Wise Owl said to me that everything  starts with intention. I must truly wanting to wake up for Him then only it can happen. Plus, I must sleep early so that I get enough rest. If I really  want to wake up so bad, then it will happen.

"Allah's Messenger said that Allah said: He who comes with a good deed, its reward will be ten like that or even more. And he who comes with vice, his reward will be only one like that, or I can forgive him. He who draws close to Me a hand's span, I will draw close to him an arm's length. And whoever draws near Me an arm's length, I will draw near him a fathom's length. And whoever comes to Me walking, I will go to him running. And whoever faces Me with sins nearly as great as the earth, I will meet him with forgiveness nearly as great as that, provided he does not worship something with me. (This Hadith is sound and reported by Muslim, Ibn Majah and Ahmad in his Musnad). Another prophetic tradition says: (He who met Allah associating anything with Him, will enter Hell)"
(Hadith Muslim)

Night prayer is a special time between God and His creation. To some, it's like a lovers' tryst where everything else ceased to exist except you and Him.

"Abu Hurairah reports that the Messenger of Allah (saws) said: “Our Lord Descends to the lowest heaven during the last third of the night, inquiring: `Who will call on Me so that I may respond to him? Who is asking something of Me so I may give it to him? Who is asking for My forgiveness so I may forgive him?”
[ Bukhari and Muslim.]

Now, in this holy month of Ramadhan is the best time to pray tahajjud. If you have never tried, try at least once. I can tell you, it's an experience that you'll unlikely forget. If you can't  wake at 3 am then just wake up 30 minutes before fajr prayers. During Ramadhan it should be easier since you're  waking for sahur.

I still do have my lapse days where I sleep like the dead till morning but I would like to think that it was due to pure exhaustion rather than sins. Ok...maybe some days it was sins but keep trying I must.....

Sunday, 4 June 2017

Life is a Journey

Life is a journey.

It's almost 1/3 into Ramadhan and I feel lost. I think that I've been too caught up in worldly affairs that I let my relationship with my Creator slipped. I also took many of the blessings given to me, for granted.

Are you feeling lost like I do? It helps to know that you're not alone in your struggles. It's a daily struggle for me. Is it too late to embrace Ramadhan? Nope! InshaAllah, we can catch up, in our own way.

The best way to start fixing the relationship with God, to me, is to pray.

We often forget that we recite a very special dua whenever we pray.

"In the Name of Allah, the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful.
All the praises and thanks be to Allah, the Lord of the 'Alamin (mankind, jinns and all that exists). The Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful.
The Only Owner (and the Only Ruling Judge) of the Day of Recompense (i.e. the Day of Resurrection) . You (Alone) we worship, and You (Alone) we ask for help (for each and everything). Guide us to the Straight Way 
The Way of those on whom You have bestowed Your Grace, not (the way) of those who earned Your Anger, nor of those who went astray."

Ameen...

Surah Al Fatiha is the only Surah in the Quran, that I found, ends with 'Ameen'. It's a very powerful Surah.

Before we embark on any journey, we need to get the correct directions so that we arrive at the right destination.

Similarly in life, to be on the right path, we must seek Guidance from Him alone. So ask... "And your Lord says, "Call upon Me; I will respond to you." 
Quran 40:60

#ramadhankarem #itsnevertoolate #askandyoushallreceive

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Welcoming Ramadhan

Abu Huraira related that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said: Whoever fasts during Ramadan with faith and seeking his reward from Allah will have his past sins forgiven. Whoever prays during the nights in Ramadan with faith and seeking his reward from Allah will have his past sins forgiven. And he who passes Lailat al-Qadr in prayer with faith and seeking his reward from Allah will have his past sins forgiven (Bukhari, Muslim).

I've always knew Ramadhan is a very special month, even during my ignorant days. I used to hear how magical things happened to some people the moment Ramadhan arrives. I was lacking in many ways back then but still, I wanted to experience the 'euphoria' some people experience during the holy month. 

I remember once many years ago, I was standing in prayer on the 1st night of terawih at the masjid and thinking to myself, "Ok God. Hit me! I'm ready to embrace ramadhan". I stood, in anticipation of a miracle happening; squeezed my eyes shut and tried very hard to feel something in my heart as the Imam recited the verses of the Quran. I thought to myself, this is it!....it's gonna happen! The euphoric spirit of Ramadhan is gonna descend down and envelope me like a lover's embrace and I would be sobbing my heart out. As I waited and waited, nothing happened. I then told myself...wait for it...wait for it....still...nothing happened. I ended zoning out in between the prayers and my mind wandered off. There were absolutely no tears....no sadness....no miracle....zilt!

After many years and many books and many lessons, only then that I understood I can't  simply jump into Ramadhan like how I jump into the pool.

A dear sister told me that, Ramadhan is like running for marathon. You need to prepare yourself ahead before the race. If you expect to be able to do your best and win the race when you run on the day of the race without any prior preparation, then you are sadly mistaken. That was my folly. I didn't make any preparation but instead just jumped into it and expected to come out triumph. 

I also realised that everyone receives and reacts to Ramadhan differently. The spirit of Ramadhan is not like snow that will blanket each and everyone at the same time. Whether we will be touched by the spirit and experience the 'euphoria' or peace and calmness of the holy month, very much depend on the state of our hearts, our imans and also His Wish. 

For me, I had to repair my heart first and understand the true spirit of Ramadhan before I could shed a single tear. There were many night before when I felt that my heart was made of stone because the person next to me was sobbing uncontrollably in response to the recitation of the surah by the imam in the terawih prayer and there I stood totally unmoved and unfazed. I thought for certain that my heart was dead. I thought that I was beyond help. 
 
Prophet pbuh said, “There is a piece of flesh in the body if it becomes good (reformed) the whole body becomes good but if it gets spoiled, the whole body gets spoiled – and that is the heart.”
Hadith Bukhari

  Not good!

And then a few nights after, I was the one sobbing uncontrollably while others maintained their cool. 

Over the years, I've learnt not to have expectations about how your Ramadhan should be. It will not happen according to our plan or wish but according to God's Will. Sometimes, we get too caught up in doing the physical act of worship that we neglect the spiritual part of it. You know, like an empty vessel. 

I also understand now, that even if I'm not consumed by overwhelming sadness or feeling of high on the first night of terawih or first Ramadhan, it does not mean that I'm beyond redemption. It just mean that I have to re-examine my heart and trace back my footsteps leading up to Ramadhan. I need to discover my 'miss-step' and rectify it. 

For some people, the spirit touch them in the first few days of Ramadhan and for some, the last 10 days. Some might not even get 'touched' at all. Everyone's experience is different from each other. The last things you should do is compare your self to others. There's no ruler for piety. Only Allah SWT is the Judge of that.

With Ramadhan just around the corner, let's start preparing for our spiritual marathon. Slow and steady wins the game....

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Heaven Sent...

E-book version of 'Heaven Sent' is available  at payhip.
http://payhip.com/b/F3yI

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Say a Prayer....

“Prayer is not asking. It is a longing of the soul. It is daily admission of one's weakness. It is better in prayer to have a heart without words than words without a heart.” 
― Mahatma Gandhi

I had an interesting conversation with someone recently. This person asked me why Muslims pray in a certain way, i.e. our movements in prayer.

I remember asking this very same question to the Wise Old Man many years ago and his answer blew me away but I wasn't sure if this person is willing to accept the same explanation.

Since this person works in journalism, I decided to try to explain in a way that perhaps she can relate to:-

Whenever we want to see a King, there are certain protocols that we need to adhere to which includes the way we walk, the way we speak and even the way we sit. Each bow and salute has its own purpose and meaning. Each king has his own ways and protocol. Whether we like it or not, it's something that we just need to follow if we want to speak or see the king. The King sets his rule and we follow it with respect.

To me, similarly with prayer.

"Narrated Abu Dhar:

Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) said, "While I was at Mecca the roof of my house was opened and Gabriel descended, opened my chest, and washed it with Zamzam water. Then he brought a golden tray full of wisdom and faith and having poured its contents into my chest, he closed it. Then he took my hand and ascended with me to the nearest heaven, when I reached the nearest heaven, Gabriel said to the gatekeeper of the heaven, 'Open (the gate).' The gatekeeper asked, 'Who is it?' Gabriel answered: 'Gabriel.' He asked, 'Is there anyone with you?' Gabriel replied, 'Yes, Muhammad I is with me.' He asked, 'Has he been called?' Gabriel said, 'Yes.' So the gate was opened and we went over the nearest heaven and there we saw a man sitting with some people on his right and some on his left. When he looked towards his right, he laughed and when he looked toward his left he wept. Then he said, 'Welcome! O pious Prophet and pious son.' I asked Gabriel, 'Who is he?' He replied, 'He is Adam and the people on his right and left are the souls of his offspring. Those on his right are the people of Paradise and those on his left are the people of Hell and when he looks towards his right he laughs and when he looks towards his left he weeps.' Then he ascended with me till he reached the second heaven and he (Gabriel) said to its gatekeeper, 'Open (the gate).' The gatekeeper said to him the same as the gatekeeper of the first heaven had said and he opened the gate. Anas said: "Abu Dhar added that the Prophet (ﷺ) met Adam, Idris, Moses, Jesus and Abraham, he (Abu Dhar) did not mention on which heaven they were but he mentioned that he (the Prophet (ﷺ) ) met Adam on the nearest heaven and Abraham on the sixth heaven. Anas said, "When Gabriel along with the Prophet (ﷺ) passed by Idris, the latter said, 'Welcome! O pious Prophet and pious brother.' The Prophet (ﷺ) asked, 'Who is he?' Gabriel replied, 'He is Idris." The Prophet (ﷺ) added, "I passed by Moses and he said, 'Welcome! O pious Prophet and pious brother.' I asked Gabriel, 'Who is he?' Gabriel replied, 'He is Moses.' Then I passed by Jesus and he said, 'Welcome! O pious brother and pious Prophet.' I asked, 'Who is he?' Gabriel replied, 'He is Jesus. Then I passed by Abraham and he said, 'Welcome! O pious Prophet and pious son.' I asked Gabriel, 'Who is he?' Gabriel replied, 'He is Abraham. The Prophet (ﷺ) added, 'Then Gabriel ascended with me to a place where I heard the creaking of the pens." Ibn Hazm and Anas bin Malik said: The Prophet (ﷺ) said, "Then Allah enjoined fifty prayers on my followers when I returned with this order of Allah, I passed by Moses who asked me, 'What has Allah enjoined on your followers?' I replied, 'He has enjoined fifty prayers on them.' Moses said, 'Go back to your Lord (and appeal for reduction) for your followers will not be able to bear it.' (So I went back to Allah and requested for reduction) and He reduced it to half. When I passed by Moses again and informed him about it, he said, 'Go back to your Lord as your followers will not be able to bear it.' So I returned to Allah and requested for further reduction and half of it was reduced. I again passed by Moses and he said to me: 'Return to your Lord, for your followers will not be able to bear it. So I returned to Allah and He said, 'These are five prayers and they are all (equal to) fifty (in reward) for My Word does not change.' I returned to Moses and he told me to go back once again. I replied, 'Now I feel shy of asking my Lord again.' Then Gabriel took me till we '' reached Sidrat-il-Muntaha (Lote tree of; the utmost boundary) which was shrouded in colors, indescribable. Then I was admitted into Paradise where I found small (tents or) walls (made) of pearls and its earth was of musk."
Sahih Bukhari

Prayer was made compulsory on us on the day of isra' mikraj. The movements in prayer was taught by our beloved teacher, Prophet Muhammad pbuh.

Narrated Malik:

We came to the Prophet (ﷺ) and stayed with him for twenty days and nights. We were all young and of about the same age. The Prophet (ﷺ) was very kind and merciful. When he realized our longing for our families, he asked about our homes and the people there and we told him. Then he asked us to go back to our families and stay with them and teach them (the religion) and to order them to do good things. He also mentioned some other things which I have (remembered) The Prophet (ﷺ) then added, "Pray as you have seen me praying and when it is the time for the prayer one of you should pronounce the Adhan and the oldest of you should lead the prayer.
Sahih Bukhari

The way I understand it, God has decreed that if I want to talk to Him specifically in prayers, then I have to perform certain movements as taught by our beloved Prophet pbuh. That's the protocol. At any other times, I can still talk to Him through my dua.

But prayer is not just a means of communication between us and Allah SWT but it's also a way to show our love and gratitude for the blessings that He has given us. Each of the movements in our prayer has its own meaning and purpose.

When we love someone, we would bend over backwards trying to please them so if we have fallen in love with Allah SWT, prayer will not be something we do because we are forced to by commandment but rather something we love to do in order to please Him. It doesn't become a task but a pleasure.

The Wise Owl once told me that if a person has fallen in love with his/ her Creator, all acts of worship will be easy to perform as it's done out of love. It will come naturally.

Also, when we do sujod, that is when we are closest to God. 

" Abu Hurairah (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said, “A slave becomes nearest to his Rubb when he is in prostration. So increase supplications while prostrating.” [Muslim]

So, my advice is, check how you approach your prayer. Is it with love and devotion or as a reluctant servant?