we declare Your Perfection above and beyond all: we have no knowledge whatsoever except what You have taught us. No doubt it is You, and You alone that is all Knowledgeable and all Wise. (al-Baqarah, 32)

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Making Du'a

Du'a is a means for us to directly speak to Allah. We are taught from the sunnah of the Messenger s.a.w to always make du'a to Allah s.w.t. and of course, the majority of us usually follow up the daily prayer with du'a. In fact, even some portions of the prayer are forms of du'a. However, there are times that we may find ourselves not actually making du'a but only rehearsing whatever we've memorised instead. Worst still are the times when we have no idea what the imaam is reciting and we're just raising our hands saying 'amiin' over and over.

On the topic of making du'a, I'd like to share a reflection of a very beautiful ayah from Surah al-Baqarah. InshaAllah, this will motivate us to become more aware when making du'a. Allah s.w.t says:

وَإِذَا سَأَلَكَ عِبَادِي عَنِّي فَإِنِّي قَرِيبٌ ۖ أُجِيبُ دَعْوَةَ الدَّاعِ إِذَا دَعَانِ ۖ فَلْيَسْتَجِيبُوا لِي وَلْيُؤْمِنُوا بِي لَعَلَّهُمْ يَرْشُدُونَ

When My slave asks you about Me, then I am near. I respond to the call of anyone who makes du'a when he makes du'a. Then they should try to respond to Me and believe in Me so that they may be rightly guided [al-Baqarah, 186]

How to get close to Allah

There are several gems in this ayah. First of all, this part of the ayah "When My slave asks you about Me, then I am near" is a conditional statement. We are told in other ayaat from the Qurat that Allah is indeed near to us, but this ayah further clarifies who Allah s.w.t is near to - the one who asks about Him. Another lesson that we can derive just from the sequence of the ayah is that in order to get close to Allah, we must be the ones to first make the initiative.

Being close to Allah

There are also important things that we must take notice by Allah using the word qareeb (close). Obviously, it's much more effective to ask something from someone who is in close proximity to us, but even more than that, the word close can also depict the kind of relation we have with another person. For instance, a close friend is someone whom we can trust and just pour our emotions to. This is the kind of relation that we should have with Allah. We shouldn't be shy to admit our mistakes to Him, to ask for His forgiveness and to ask whatever it is we want.

Conditions for Allah's response to du'a

Next, Allah s.w.t says "I respond to the call of anyone who make dua when he makes dua"

Being the Most Merciful, Allah responds to the dua'a of anyone, but with a certain condition:

"Then they should try to respond to Me and believe in Me so that they may be rightly guided."

The first condition for Allah's respond to our du'a is that we should try to respond to his commands. Notice the Mercy that Allah grants to us in this statement. For himself, he said "أُجِيبُ" (I respond) whereas for our part, he said "فَلْيَسْتَجِيبُوا" (they should try to respond), meaning that as long as we make honest efforts to respond to His commands, this is enough for Him to respond to our du'a in return.

The second condition is to have iman (to believe) in Him, which might come off as a little strange. This ayah is intended for the believers, so why is it that Allah is telling us to believe? The answer is simple. Allah s.w.t is telling us to always revitalise our iman and this can be done by means of trying to respond to His commands. InshaAllah, by always adhering to this simple lesson that Allah taught us in the Quran, we might become among those who are rightly guided.

OK, I've been making du'a but it doesn't seem to have any effect

This is something that might come to the mind of some Muslims. Is Allah not responding to our du'a? He does. We just need to realise how He does so. This matter is dealt with in two hadeeth from the Messenger s.a.w:

"There is no Muslim man on the face of the earth who supplicates to Allah but Allah would either grant it to him, or avert a harm from him of equal proportions, as long as his supplication does not involve sin or cutting the relations of the womb." [At-Tirmidhi]

"The supplication of the servant will be accepted as long as he does not supplicate for what includes sin, or cutting the relations of the womb, and as long as he does not become hasty." He was asked, "O Messenger of Allah! How does one become hasty'' He said, "He says, `I supplicated and supplicated, but I do not see that my supplication is being accepted from me.' He thus looses interest and abandons supplicating (to Allah)". [Muslim]


I learnt this from:
A Juma'ah khutbah by Br. Nouman Ali Khan
Tafsir Ibn Kathir

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Wonderful lecture about the position of music in Islam


If you know me from years past, you'll know that I'm a music junkie. I used to listen to music while doing pretty much anything. It's hard to imagine someone like me would stop listening to music altogether but that's exactly what I did. Alhamdulillah, I have stopped to actively listen to music after being convinced by Br Kamal al-Mekki in his lecture that it's better for me to give it up some time last year and really, I don't miss it at all.

I saw another lecture yesterday by a Br Abu Mussab which was to me the most comprehensive lecture about the position of music in Islam and I would like to share with you here. It deals in much more detail than that of Br Kamal al-Mekki's as it also includes the discussions of what we call today as Islamic nasheeds/songs (Maher Zain, Sami Yusuf, etc).

Before you make remarks like "What? Music is haram?? That's nonsense! That's taking it too extreme!!" I strongly suggest you watch the lecture first and then make your decision. I pray that it will benefit you as much as has benefitted me.

WallahuA'lam, Allah knows best.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Amazing facts about the Quran - Surah Yusuf

Surah Yusuf is actually one of the most unique surah in the entire Quran. First of all, it is the only surah in which the story of prophet Yusuf a.s is mentioned. However, the stand out feature of this surah is that it is the only surah among the longer surah that conveys a single unified story - the story of Prophet Yusuf a.s. - from the beginning till the end of the surah. Interestingly, Allah s.w.t already hints this nature of the surah by mentioning in the third ayat of the surah, "We are narrating to you the best of stories"

The following are the plot in the narrative of this surah, told in over 100 ayaat:

1. Yusuf (alayhis-Salam) has a dream.
2. His brothers plot against him
3. His owner’s wife attempts to seduce him
4. Her friends attempt to seduce him
5. He (as) is imprisoned
6.The king has a dream
7.The king’s dream is interpreted
8. Yusuf (as) is released from prison
9.The ladies confess
10. His former owner’s wife confesses
11. His brothers learn their lesson
12. Yusuf (as)’s
dream is interpreted and realized.

Now, if you noticed (and have studied a little bit of literature), you'll find the first six plot points were the conflicts while the latter six are the resolutions. So that's 6 conflicts and 6 resolutions - again highlighting the theme of balance in the Quran.

But that's just the tip of the iceberg.

Let's take a look at the plot point again with a different perspective. Pay attention to the numbers and the words in bold.

1. Yusuf (alayhis-Salam) has a dream.
2. His brothers plot against him
3. His owner’s wife attempts to seduce him
4. Her friends attempt to seduce him
5. He (as) is imprisoned
6.The king has a dream
6.The king’s dream is interpreted
5. Yusuf (as) is released from prison
4.The ladies confess
3. His former owner’s wife confesses
2. His brothers learn their lesson
1. Yusuf (as)’s
dream is interpreted and realized.

The amazing fact about this narrative isn't just that its balanced, but it's also symmetrical. Just like the way a paper is folded in half, conflicts are introduced and solved in a reverse symmetrical order.

It may not be impossible for an author to write a narrative in a similar style, provided he/she be given enough time to properly draft it beforehand. BUT, the Quran wasn't revealed as a book, it was first heard in the form of the speech of the Messenger s.a.w. and this feat is nothing short of a miracle.



I learnt this from:

Friday, May 6, 2011

You only live twice

As ridiculous as that old James Bond movie title sounds, there's actually truth in it. After all, Allah Himself s.w.t says:

كَيْفَ تَكْفُرُونَ بِاللَّهِ وَكُنْتُمْ أَمْوَاتًا فَأَحْيَاكُمْ ۖ ثُمَّ يُمِيتُكُمْ ثُمَّ يُحْيِيكُمْ ثُمَّ إِلَيْهِ تُرْجَعُونَ
How can any of you deny Allah and you used to be dead then He brought you to life, then He will give you death again, then He will bring you to life again, then you will be returned to Him (2: 28)

We are given life twice, and the way we carry ourselves in the this life will determine our life in the next one. Just about any Muslim knows that. However, too often we became overly concerned with this life that we don't give as much concern about the next one. Allah s.w.t reminds us of this fact in surah al-A'la:

بَلْ تُؤْثِرُونَ الْحَيَاةَ الدُّنْيَا. وَالْآخِرَةُ خَيْرٌ وَأَبْقَىٰ
Not at all, you prefer worldly life. And the hereafter is better and longer lasting (87: 16-17)

In this ayat, Allah s.w.t is using the pronoun 'you', meaning He is speaking directly at you and I and the problem that He highlights isn't wanting for dunya (worldly life); it's preferring dunya over akhirah (the hereafter). In other words, Allah is telling us to get our priorities sorted out!

But let's face it, in this day and age, when people talk about long-term thinking and aspirations, most will talk about getting a high-paying job, a luxurious house and ride etc, which is nice and all but you know what Allah has to say:

وَفِي ذَٰلِكَ فَلْيَتَنَافَسِ الْمُتَنَافِسُونَ
and in that (the rewards of jannah), let those who have aspiration aspire (83: 26)

Let's all be the judge of ourselves. How much effort are we putting into dunya? How much are we putting into akhirah?

It's all a matter of preference and in the end, that makes all the difference in the world.


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