Monthly Archives: January 2013

Do not be sad – Always remember Allah

Concerning His remembrance, Allah, the All-Glorious, says:

Verily, in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find rest. (Qur’an 13: 28)

Therefore remember me [by praying, glorifying etc.] and I will remember you…
(Qur’an 2: 152)

And the men and the women who remember Allah much with their hearts and tongues, Allah has prepared for them. Forgiveness and a Great reward [i.e. Paradise]. (Qur’an 33: 35)

You who believe! Remember Allah with much remembrance. And glorify His Praises morning and afternoon [the early morning (fajr) and ASR prayers. (Qur ‘an 33: 41-42)

You who believe! Let not your properties or your children divert you from the remembrance of Allah. (Qur ‘an 63: 9)

Aild remember your Lord when you fbrget… (Qur’an 18: 24)

And glory’s’ the Praises of your Lord when you get up from sleep. And in the night-time also, glorify His Praises, -and at the setting of the stars. (Qur ‘an 52: 48-49)

You who believe! When you meet [an enemy] force, take a firm stand against them and remember the Name of Allah much [both with tongue and mind], so that you may be successful. (Qur’an 8: 45)

In an authentic hadith, the Prophet (bpuh) said:

“The example of one who remembers his Lord in relation to one who does not remember his Lord is that of the living and the dead.”

The Prophet (Blessings and Peace be upon him) also said:

“The mufarridoon outstrip others.” His Companions asked. “Who are the mufarridoon, O’ Messenger of Allah.” He said, “The men who remember Allah often and the women who remember Allah often.”

And in another authentic hadith, the Prophet (bpuh) said:

“Shall I not inform you of the best of deeds, and the purest of them with your Lord? The deed which is better for you than spending gold and silver (for a good cause). And which is better for you than to meet your enemy. And you cut their throats and they cut yours?” They said, “Yes_ O’ Messenger of Allah.” He said, “The remembrance of Allah.”

The following is an authentic hadith:

“A man came to the Prophet and said, Messenger of Allah, the commandments of Islam have become too much for me, and I am old in age; so inform of something that I can adhere to.’ He said, `That your tongue (continually) remains moist with the remembrance of Allah.”‘

Know Your Soul, Know Yourself!

Many passages in the Qurʾān extol the significance of the soul or nafs. In one celebrated passage, it says:

By the soul and Him that formed it, then inspired it with its wickedness and God-fearingness. He is truly successful who purifies it, and he is indeed ruined who corrupts it. [Surah Ash-Shams, 7-10]

The Qur’ān also offers this glad-tiding:

But those who feared the standing before their Lord and curbed their soul’s desires, the Garden is their abode. [Surah An-Nazi’aat, 40-41]

The idea of curbing the soul’s passions and of seeking to purify it is reiterated in the following hadith: ‘There are three acts that, whoever does them will experience the sweetness of faith: one who worships God alone, for there is no true god but Him; one who pays his yearly zakat on his wealth with an agreeable soul – not giving a weak, decrepit nor diseased animal, but giving from his middle wealth, for God does not ask for the best of your wealth and nor orders to give the worst of it; and one who purifies his soul.’ A man inquired: What is purification of the soul (tazkiyat al-nafs)? He replied: ‘To know that God is with him wherever he may be.’1

The Qurʾān describes the human soul (nafs) as possessing three potentials or degrees which are present within it simultaneously.2

The first and the lowest degree is al-nafs al-ammarah bi’l-su’ – “the soul that constantly incites to evil”. The Qurʾān says:

…The soul does indeed incite to evil… [Surah Yusuf, 53]

 This untamed, unweaned soul is the abode of a multitude of incessant cravings and passions: be it for wealth, fame, power, physical gratification, exploiting others – that is, anything which deflects one away from God and to the lower possibilities of the human condition. Al-Jurjani (d.816H/1413CE) defined the nafs al-ammarah as: ‘It is that which inclines to the bodily nature, ordering [the pursuit of] physical pleasures and carnal appetites, pulling the heart to debasement. It is the abode of evil, giving birth to all reprehensible traits.’3 So, this nafs, equivalent to the English word “ego”, refers to the reprehensible aspects of our actions and character – actions in respect to our sins of omission or commission; character in terms of pride, envy, vanity, greed, impatience, ostentation, and the like.

As the believer strives to purge his soul of blameworthy traits (radha’il) and labours to replace them by their praiseworthy opposites (fada’il), the nafs al-ammarah is gradually weaned away from heedlessness and disobedience to God, and thus begins to give way to al-nafs al-lawwamah – “the reproachful soul.” The Qurʾān declares:  

No! I swear by the reproachful soul. [Surah Al-Qiyamah, 2]

 This soul is man’s active conscience that is afflicted with regret, remorse and self-reproach whenever the Divine Will is disobeyed and elements of the lower, evil-inciting soul resurface. Al-Jurjani writes of the nafs al-lawwamah: ‘It is that which is illumined with the light of the heart, according to the measure of how much it has become awakened from habitual heedlessness. As soon as it commits a sin due to its natural oppressive disposition, it takes to blaming itself and repenting from it.’4

After much inward striving and discipline, the nafs al-lawwamah is further purified of any opposition to God’s will or shari’ah, and is ever receptive to heavenly outpourings. Here the nafs al-mutma’innah – “the soul at peace” or “the tranquil soul” then begins to predominate. It is this soul that is most worthy of divine assistance and acceptance. It is about this that the Qurʾān says: 

O tranquil soul! Return to your Lord, pleased and well-pleasing. Enter among My servants. Enter My Paradise. [Surah Al-Fajr, 27-30]

Having established His obedience and internalized it, it is intimate with God, at peace with God’s decree (rida bi’l-qada’), tasting the sweetness of faith. Al-Jurjani defines the nafs al-mutma’innah in the following manner: ‘It is that whose illumination is completed by the heart’s light, such that is has been purged of its blameworthy traits and adorned with praiseworthy ones.’5

In all of this, four factors are crucial and have a significant bearing in purification of the soul: (i) one’s inborn nature; (ii) his upbringing; (iii) spiritual striving (mujahadah) and self-discipline (riyadah) in adulthood; and, of course, (iv) God’s tawfiq or enabling grace.

Concerning spiritual struggle or mujahadah, the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him), said: al-mujahid man jahada nafsahu fi ta’ati’Llah – ‘The warrior is the one who strives against his lower soul in obedience to God.’6

So let us roll-up our sleeves and let the work begin.

Our Lord! Grant piety to our souls and purify them.

You are the Best of those who purify;

You are their Guardian

and Master.



1. Al-Bayhaqi, al-Sunan al-Kubra, no.7275. Its chain is sahih – as per al-Albani, Silsilat al-Ahadith al-Sahihah (Riyadh: Maktabah al-Ma’arif, 1987), no.1046.

2. Cf. T.J. Winter (trans.), al-Ghazali, Disciplining the Soul and Breaking the Two Desires(Cambridge: The Islamic Texts Society, 1995), xxviii-xxix.

3. Al-Jurjani, al-Ta’rifat (Beirut: Dar al-Kutub al-‘Ilmiyyah, 2000), 239; no.1931.

4. ibid., 239.

5. ibid., 239.

6. Ibn Hibban, Sahih, no.4707; al-Tirmidhi, Sunan, no.1671, who said the hadith ishasan sahih.

Ponder these points…

Do not be sad, because sadness causes you to regret the past, to have misgivings concerning the future, and to make you waste away you’re present.

Do not be sad, because it causes the heart to contract, the face to frown, the spirit to weaken, and hope to vanish.

Do not be sad, because your sadness pleases your enemy, angers your friend, and makes the jealous rejoice.

Do not be sad, because by being sad, you are complaining against the divine decree and showing vexation at what is written for you.

Do not be sad, because grief cannot return to you the one that is lost or is gone away. It cannot resurrect the dead; it cannot change fate, or bring any benefit whatsoever.

Do not be sad, because sadness is often from the devil and is a kind of hopelessness.

Have we not opened your breast for you [O’ Muhammad]? And removed from you your burden, which weighed down on your back? And raised high your fame? So verily, with the hardship, there is relief, Verily, with the hardship, there is relief [i.e. there is one hardship with two reliefs, so one hardship cannot overcome two reliefs]. So when you have finished [from your occupation], then stand up for Allah’s lvorship [i.e. stand up for prayer]. And to your Lord [Alone] turn [all your intentions and hopes and] your invocations. (Qur ‘an 94: 1-8)

Do not despair when you face a difficult situation

If you find yourself in a tough situation, do the following:

1. Ask yourself, what is the worst that can happen?
2. Prepare yourself to cope and deal with that worst-case scenario.
3. If something bad does occur, meet it with calm nerves in order to deal with the situation better.

Those [i.e. believers] unto whom the people [hypocrites] said: `Verily, the people [pagans] have gathered against you [a great army], therefore, fear them.’ But it [only] increased them in Faith, and they said: `Allah [Alone] is Sufficient for us, and He is the Best Disposer of affairs [for us].  (Qur’an 3: 173)

If you lose a limb, you still have others to compensate for it

Ibn `Abbaas (may Allah be pleased with him) said:

“If Allah removes the light from my eyes,
My tongue and ears still have in them light.
My heart is intelligent and my mind is not crooked, and my tongue is sharp like a warrior’s sword.”

When harm befalls you, perhaps there is a benefit that comes with it, a benefit that you cannot perceive.

And it may be that you dislike a thing which is good for you… (Qur’an 2: 216)

Bashhar ibn Burd said:

“My enemies disparage me, and the defect is in them, it is not a disgrace to be called defective.
If a person can see gallantry and truth,
Blindness in the eyes will not be a hindrance.
In blindness I see rewards, savings, and protection,
And for these three, I am most needy.”

Observe the difference between what Ibn `Abbaas or Bashhar said and what Saaleh ibn `Abdul Quddoos said when he became blind:

“Farewell to the world; the old man who is blind has no share whatsoever of this life.
He dies and people consider him to be of the living, False hopes have betrayed him from the beginning.”

All Divine decrees will come to pass, both upon the one who accepts them and upon the one who rejects them. The difference is that the former will find reward and happiness while the latter will find only sin and misery.

`Umar ibn `Abdul-`Aziz wrote to Maymoon ibn Mehran:

“You have written to console me for losing `Abdul-Malik. For this matter I had been in waiting, and when it finally came to pass, I had no misgivings about it.”

In order to find peace, turn to your Lord

Allah’s slave – i.e. every one of us can find comfort only by turning to Allah, the Exalted, Who mentioned tranquility in many verses of the Qur’an:

Then Allah sent down His Sakinah [calmness and tranquility] upon His Messenger and upon the believers. (Qur’an 48: 26)

…He sent down calmness and tranquility upon them… (Qur ‘an 48: 18)

Then Allah did send down His Sakinah [calmness, tranquility and reassurance, etc.] on the Messenger [Muhammad]… (Qur’an 9: 26)

Tranquility means having a heart that is at peace and that has a sound trust in Allah. Tranquility is a state of calm enjoyed by those believers who have been saved from doubt. And it is according to one’s closeness to Allah and steadfastness in following the Messenger’s way that one will achieve tranquility and peace.

Allah will keep firm those who believe, with the word that stands firm in this world [i.e. they will keep on worshipping Allah Alone and none else], and in the Hereafter (Qur’an 14: 27)

Breaking Bread as Brothers

God insists in the Qur’an: And hold fast, all together, to the rope of God, and do not become divided. [3:103]

The Qur’an further insists: The believers are indeed but brothers. So make peace and reconciliation between your brethren. [49:10]

Brotherhood (ukhuwa) is a great principle of Islam. It is a brotherhood obliged by God. It is a brotherhood, the bonds of which are rooted in love of God and love in God. Islam’s teachings all ensure that these bonds are allowed to flower and flourish, and that whatever stands in the way to prevent this, or to incite discord or division between Muslims, is disowned by the shari’ah.

Hence the Holy Qur’an says about things that may incite schism or friction between Muslims: The Devil seeks only to cast enmity and hatred amongst you by means of alcohol and gambling, and to turn you from remembrance of God and from [His] worship. Will you not then abstain? [5:91]

Islam not only explains the ideals of brotherhood, it lays down specific teachings and measures that help to make it a reality in our lives. Among that which helps nurture a deep and abiding sense of brotherhood are:

Firstly, remembering that God has made the life and honour of every believer sacred and sacrosanct. It is forbidden to harm a Muslim’s honour or repute, as it is to harm their life or their property. Let us remind ourselves about this foundational fact with the following hadith: ‘Do not envy one another; do not inflate prices one to another; do not turn your backs on one another; and do not undercut one another – but be, O God’s slaves, brothers. A Muslim is the brother of another Muslim: he doesn’t oppress him or forsake him, nor does he lie to him or hold him in contempt. Piety is right here (pointing to his breast thrice). It is evil enough for a person to hold his brother Muslim in contempt. The whole of a Muslim, for another Muslim, is inviolable: his blood, his property and his honour.’ [Muslim, no.2564]

Secondly, to make it a part of our daily spiritual habit of supplicating for the well-being of Muslims. One hadith says: ‘The du‘ā’ of a the Muslim, for his brother [Muslim] in his absence, is always responded to.’ [Muslim, no.2733] In fact, so great an act is it, and so sacred is the life of a believer, that the Prophet, peace be upon him, declared: ‘Whoever seeks forgiveness for the believing men and women, God records for him a good deed for every believing man and woman [he prays for].’ [Al-Haythami, Majma’ al-Zawa’Īd,10:210]

Thirdly, another way to arouse love of fellow believers in our hearts is to devote some time of our day, each day, in their service or khidmah, in whatever capacity we can. So dear is this dedication and service to God, that one celebrated hadith says: ‘God helps His servant as long as the servant continues to help his brother.’ [Bukhāri, no.2442; Muslim, no.2580]

Fourthly, trying not to end the day with rancour in our hearts against any Muslim, but striving to rid ourselves of this noxious disease whenever it arises. The following du’afrom the Qur’an is a powerful medicine for such a thing: “Our Lord! Forgive us and our brethren who preceded us in faith, and leave not in our hearts any rancour or ill-will towards those who believe. Our Lord! You are Kind, Compassionate.” [59:10]

Fifthly, doing one’s utmost to follow the Golden Rule: ‘None of you truly believes until he loves for his brother what he loves for himself.’ [Bukhāri, no.13; Muslim, no.45] But if one fails to live up to this lofty standard, then to never fall below the minimum level of behaviour with others – which was taught to us by the great pietist, Yahya b. Mu’adh al-Razi: ‘Let your dealing with another believer be of three types: If you cannot benefit him, do not harm him. If you cannot gladden him, do not sadden him. If you cannot speak well of him, do not speak ill of him.’1

Allahumma allif bayna qulubina wa aslih dhata baynina waj’alna min al-rashidin.