Wednesday, 22 May 2013

In the Heat of the Moment....

It has been swelteringly hot these last few days. The heat is so unbearable that my eyes would become watery. I was just mentioning about it casually to my hubby one day. He pondered on my remark, looked at me solemnly and then replied, “what we are experiencing is just heat on earth and yet we feel that it is unbearable, so can you imagine how the heat in Hell would be?”…errrr…Gulp! Ouch!!!

Sigh! As much as I hate to admit it, he does have a point. I think if we are ever given a glimpse of what kind of heat to expect in Hell, we will not be complaining at all. The thing is I am such a diva when it comes to heat. I am, what people call “Wax Queen” because I melt under the sun. I literally wilt and am practically useless if the heat is too strong for me. I have minimised my whining about the sun and heat considerably over the years but sometimes, ‘in the heat of the moment’, my composure slips. Hey, I am only human, of flesh and blood, I’m made!

The Wise Owl had once told me that nothing is created by chance and nothing happens by co-incidence. God has His own reasons to create everything and everything has its own purpose.

“He cannot be questioned for His acts, but they will be questioned (for theirs).”
Surah Al-Anbiya 21:23

If we think about it, we are pretty hard to please. When it rains every day we complained about the rain and getting wet but when it is hot, we also bemoaned about the weather being too hot. Luckily Malaysia only has 2 types of weather i.e. rain or shine. Imagine if we have 4 seasons weather like UK then, our list of grouses will be so much longer!

When I stopped and thought about it, I realised that I am actually fortunate, despite whatever weather God sends down to earth. When it is hot like it is now, I can still shade in my house and hibernate in an air conditioned room. If it rains, I can still run for shelter and sit comfortably, sipping coffee, whilst smelling the fresh air. We do not have typhoon or earthquake or tornado or other severe weather conditions, unlike in other countries. However hot it may be, we are still the lucky ones.

            The Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) said:
“Do not curse the wind. If you dislike what you see of it, then say, “O Allah, we ask You for the good of this wind and the good of what is in it and the good of what it is ordered to do. We seek refuge with You from the evil of this wind and the evil of what is in it and the evil of what it is ordered to do.”

I have read about war torn countries where people, especially children, die due to severe weather conditions. They do not have a proper shelter or adequate protection against the severe condition. Their fate is very much worse than mine.

Like the Wise Owl said, there is always a reason for everything, we just need to open our eyes wider and search for it. If we are lucky, we will be given insight or knowledge as to the reason for its occurrence, but we are not, then it does not mean that we should just sit and whine.

“It was narrated on the authority of Abu Hurayrah, May Allaah Be Pleased with him, that the Prophet SAW,  said: “If the weather is very hot, delay the Zuhr Prayer till it becomes (a bit) cooler because the severity of heat is from the raging of Hell. Hell complained to its Lord saying, ‘O Lord! My parts are eating (burning) one another.’ So Allah Allowed it to take two breaths, one in the winter and the other in the summer. The breath in the summer is at the time when you feel the severest heat and the breath in the winter is at the time when you feel the severest cold.” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]
SubhanAllah! Seriously! After this, whenever I feel like complaining about the weather, I shall remember this Hadith. The severest heat is just Hell letting out a breath!!! What I am experiencing is not even the severest heat. If Hell were to exhale a very deep breath, I know I would be charred or scorched to death!...oooooo just the thought of it is enough to give me nightmares for months…
I also found out that severe weather and weather changes are also one of the signs of Qiyamah (Day of Judgment).
Abu Huraira reported Allah's Messenger (way peace be upon him) as saying: The Last Hour will not come before wealth becomes abundant and overflowing, so much so that a man takes Zakat out of his property and cannot find anyone to accept it from him and till the land of Arabia becomes meadows and rivers.”
Sahih Muslim #2208, Kitab Al-Zakat
So the moral of the story is,  I should just keep my mouth tightly shut, whatever the weather condition is and be thankful to be alive to experience it….

Monday, 13 May 2013

If Tomorrow Never Comes....

“Each night, when I go to sleep, I die. And the next morning, when I wake up, I am reborn.” ― Mahatma Gandhi

Last weekend, I found myself alone at home, at night. The kids were at my parents and hubby was out attending a function. The house became extremely quiet, even for Fluffy the cat. I think the quietness drove her mental because I found her seeking for my attention and companionship, when normally, she completely ignores me.

As I was getting ready for bed, I remembered something that the Wise Owl had told me a while back. He told me that when we go to sleep, it is akin to dying. Our soul is taken out from our bodies. If our time is not up then God will return our soul to our bodies and we will be awaken from our slumber the next day but if we have reached our appointed time, then our soul will be out permanently. When that happens, it is what we describe as a person who died in his sleep.

It is Allah that takes the souls (of men) at death; and those that die not (He takes) during their sleep: those on whom He has passed the decree of death, He keeps back (from returning to life), but the rest He sends (to their bodies) for a term appointed verily in this are Signs for those who reflect.”
Surah Az-Zumar 39:42

As I was pondering about  the Wise Owl's words of wisdom, suddenly, a thought struck me. What if when I sleep tonight, God Al Mighty decides that I have reached my expiry date. What if tomorrow never comes for me? Am I ready to face my Maker? Will I pass the ‘grave’ test?

“The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: ‘The grave is the first of the stages of the Hereafter; whoever is saved from it, whatever comes afterwards will be easier  for him, but if he is not saved from it, what comes afterwards will be worse for him.’” And the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “I have never seen any scene but the grave is more frightening than it.” (Narrated by al-Tirmidhi, 2308; Ibn Maajah, 4567;”

So what is this ‘grave’ test? Is it an oral test or practical? Who will be conducting this test?  Let me see….from my reading, I found out that the 'grave' test is like an exam where 2 Angels will descend upon our soul in the grave, almost immediately after friends and families have left the burial site, and ask us 3 important questions. If we pass, then the second phase of our lives, will be made easy but if we fail, then torture awaits. In a way, we are lucky because unlike any other exams on earth, where we will not know the questions until we are in the examination hall, this exam is somewhat different. We are informed of the questions that will be asked by the examiners, so that if we want to, we can thoroughly prepare the answers.

So his soul is returned to his body and there come to him two angels who make him sit up and they say to him, ‘Who is your Lord?’ He says, ‘Allaah.’ They say, ‘What is your religion?’ He says, ‘My religion is Islam.’ They say, ‘Who is this man who was sent among you?’ He says, ‘He is the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him).’ They say, ‘What did you do?’ He says, ‘I read the Book of Allaah and I believed in it.’ Then a voice calls out from heaven, ‘My slave has spoken the truth, so prepare for him a bed from Paradise and clothe him from Paradise, and open for him a gate to Paradise.’ Then there comes to him some of its fragrance, and his grave is made wide, as far as he can see. Then there comes to him a man with a handsome face and handsome clothes, and a good fragrance, who says, ‘Receive the glad tidings that will bring you joy this day.’ He says, ‘Who are you? Your face is a face which brings glad tidings.’ He says, ‘I am your righteous deeds.’
Narrated by Abu Dawood

Oh dear! Am I prepared to answer all the questions correctly? I mean, I can answer all those questions correctly now because my tongue will obey what my brain is telling it to say but, in the grave, my soul will speak the absolute truth and the answers will be reflective of my deeds and how I lived my life. If I’m lucky, my soul will give all the right answers but if I have not been living my life as a true Muslim, then, I will be in deep trouble….

He said: “Then his soul is returned to his body, and there come to him two angels who make him sit up and they say to him, ‘Who is your Lord?’ He says, ‘Oh, oh, I don’t know.’ They say, ‘What is your religion?’ He says, ‘Oh, oh, I don’t know.’ Then a voice calls out from heaven, ‘Prepare for him a bed from Hell and clothe him from Hell, and open for him a gate to Hell.’ Then there comes to him some of its heat and hot winds, and his grave is constricted and compresses him until his ribs interlock. Then there comes to him a man with an ugly face and ugly clothes, and a foul stench, who says, ‘Receive the bad news, this is the day that you were promised.’ He says, ‘Who are you? Your face is a face which forebodes evil.’ He says, ‘I am your evil deeds.’ He says, ‘O Lord, do not let the Hour come, do not let the Hour come.’
Narrated by Abu Dawood

Ooooooo….pretty scary! I really don’t know if my good deeds will speak or will it be my bad deeds? One thing I know for sure is that, no one can escape the interrogation in the grave.

The thing is, we never really do think about death. We often take for granted that we will wake up the next morning and breathe another day. Somewhere, at the back of our head, we know that death is inevitable but it just does not dawn on us that it can happen at any time. Death still seems unreal and foreign to us hence that is why we take it lightly and we often forget about it. I know I am guilty of that sometimes. I forget…….

Have you ever asked yourself, “If I die tonight, am I equipped to meet my Maker? Have I seek for forgiveness from Him? What provisions am I taking with me to Hereafter? Is my right book heavier than left or vice versa? Have I asked forgiveness from the people whom I have wronged? Have I forgiven those who have wronged me? Did I spend my time and wealth wisely? Did I share my knowledge? Was Quran my guide?.......think about it.....What if?.....

I realised that night that, in the event that I die in my sleep,  I have not put my affairs in order , (despite reminding myself countless times!). My provisions for the Hereafter is quite pathetic and severely lacking! I must admit that I would be terribly ashamed to meet my Maker with my current track record.  I got so distracted with worldly affairs that I forgot about death. I sincerely hope that God is extending my validity period so that I can try harder tomorrow and the day after that, but just in case tomorrow never comes for me; tonight, before I sleep, I must seek for forgiveness from God AlMighty, for all my sins and also, I must forgive everyone………Astaghfiru-Allah, (“I ask forgiveness from Allah”)

            “The Prophet (peace be upon him) said:
“By Allah! I ask for forgiveness from Allah and turn to Him in repentance more than seventy times a day.”( Bukhari)

“Prophet SAW was sitting with his companions when he SAW said that a man will enter and he will go to Jannah. The companions saw a man entered the room. Next day the prophet SAW repeated his words and the same man entered and the third day same thing happened. So Abdullah bin Umar wanted to find out what was so special about this man so he went to the man and said Can I stay with you for three days because I had an arguement with my father and made an oath I will not enter his house. The man agrees. So Abdullah bin Umar starts to observe him, during night the man prays isha and Abdullah (RA) thinks to himself that maybe he will pray throughout the night, but the man goes to sleep. So Abdullah says ok he will fast in the morning. But morning comes and the man prays fajr and he eats breakfast. So Abdullah RA says maybe today is something, let me observe him another day but the next day the man prays isha and prays fajr but does not do any nafl ibadah. And the same thing happened the third day. Abdullah (RA) became surprised because he used to finish the Quran in three days so he confronts the man after the third day and tells him that I did not really argue with my father. I heard Rasool Allah SAW say that you are a man from jannah so I wanted to see what was so special about you, but I didn't find anything special. The man then said I pray and before I go to sleep I forgive everyone. I do not have any hard feelings for anyone in my heart.”

Monday, 6 May 2013

The Avengers...the aftermath....

“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power.” ― Abraham Lincoln

Whenever I feel stress or angry or sad, I would sometimes pick up something to sew. Sewing helps me channel my anger and frustration or sadness. As horrific as it sounds, somehow, mentally imagining I’m stabbing the source of my antagonism with a needle, does bring some sort of relief and comfort. Sigh! It does sound pretty sadistic, doesn’t it but hey! I am only human. After I complete my little project, normally I would feel better plus, it gives me time to rationalize things and decide what to do next.

Yesterday, as I was stabbing my little needle away, the television was on and ironically, it was showing ‘The Avengers’. For those of you who have not seen 'The Avengers' movie, the story is typically about good versus evil but with a twist. The good team, consist of individual persons with super powers, united with a common purpose i.e. to fight a common enemy that threatened earth and the entire human kind. My favorite character is actually 'The Hulk'. He reminds of my own temper and how I look like when I'm breathing fire. The story line is pretty far-fetch but the moral behind it, is worth paying attention to.

What I learnt from that movie is that ‘power’, is a very dangerous thing. If we human were given ‘super powers’ by God then, the whole world will be destroyed within seconds. As human, we tend to be ruled by our emotions and when we have power or super power, the temptation to use it against our so-called enemies, would be overwhelming indeed. We will be on a killing spree and we will keep justifying every kill. The whole world will be chaotic and no longer safe to live in. hhhmmm…wait a minute! That sounds like the world we live in now!

     Anyway, I am a calm and collected person (well…most of the time!) but tempting as it is, I do not want this super powers. Why? Because in my spur moment of extreme anger, I might abuse it and later, live to regret it. I mean, you have no idea, the countless times when I wish I have the  power, to zap an abusive husband into smithereens, every time the victim wife comes to me and seek for my help or permanently stun a child abuser/molester every time I read about it in the papers, but alas I don’t . Killing is a very serious matter indeed.

     Because of that We ordained for the Children of Israel that if anyone killed a person  not in retaliation of murder, or (and) to spread mischief in the land - it would be as if he killed all mankind, and if anyone saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of all mankind. And indeed, there came to them Our Messengers with clear proofs, evidences, and signs, even then after that many of them continued to exceed the limits (e.g. by doing oppression unjustly and exceeding beyond the limits set by Allah by committing the major sins) in the land!.
            Surah Al-Maidah 5:32

I suppose that it is a good thing that I don’t have such powers because the possibility of me abusing it, is much greater than putting it to proper use. The only people whom I know, that were given such extraordinary powers, were the Prophets. The story about Prophet Moses a.s. splitting the sea and running through it is clearly stated in the Quran.

Then We inspired Musa (Moses) (saying): "Strike the sea with your stick." And it parted, and each separate part (of that sea water) became like the huge, firm mass of a mountain. Then We brought near the others [Fir'aun's (Pharaoh) party] to that place. And We saved Musa (Moses) and all those with him. Then We drowned the others. Verily! In this is indeed a sign (or a proof), yet most of them are not believers. And verily, your Lord! He is truly the All-Mighty, the Most Merciful”
Surah Ash-Shura 26:63-68

Prophet Solomon a.s was given the gift of the ability to communicate with the animals, control the wind and also to control the jinns.

And to Sulaiman (Solomon) (We subjected) the wind strongly raging, running by his command towards the land which We had blessed. And of everything We are the All-Knower. And of the Shayatin (devils) (from the jinns) were some who dived for him, and did other work besides that; and it was We Who guarded them.”
Surah Al-Anbiya 21:81-82                                       

Other than Prophets, I have never heard of anyone whom has been granted such divine powers by God Al Mighty.

When we talk about powers now, we refer to authority or wealth. A person in a position of authority does posses certain ‘powers’ so to speak. He or she may not be able to fly or speak to the cats but she or he, has the ability to influence and affect changes in a community or country. Many whom such 'power' were granted to, may not realized that, the power of authority is actually given by God to men, for the purpose of good. It is acquired not because he earned it or that the person is popular amongst his peers but it is because God AlMighty has Will it to be so, but, every power comes with a price. To quote Spidey, ‘with great powers comes great responsibility’.

It does matter if you are a CEO of a company or a minister or even the President of the Bird Watching Club, if you are a leader, then you have responsibilities towards the people under your wings. Use your powers wisely as you can be assured that you will be interrogated later and I have been informed by very reliable sources, that the interrogators are non too merciful. 

            Sahih Muslim - Volume 9, Book 89, Number 264, Narrated Ma'qil
I heard the Prophet (SAW) saying, "Any man whom Allah has given the authority of ruling some people and he does not look after them in an honest manner, will never feel even the smell of Paradise."

Back to the moral of the story; to me, the message of  ‘The Avengers’ , other than men should not wear spandex!, is simply, regardless of who we are or where we come from or what religion we profess, when it comes to justice, we must unite under one banner. This is always a situation where the good versus the evil and the evil does not distinguish between race or color or gender or religion.  A wrong is still a wrong and two wrongs can never make a right. 

Do not be discourage as we, the normal humans, also have powers that no one can take away . We have the power to hope, we have the power pray, we have the power to be happy, we have the power to dream, we have the power to ensure the safety our family and neighbours and most of all, we have the power to make a difference, however small…………think about it, we have the power to be......