CHARITY Q9:79-80

image credit:www.gettyimages.ae

image credit:www.gettyimages.ae

Have you ever been indecisive about giving alms? Have you ever had someone discourage either the amount of money you want to give in charity or who you want to give it to?

‘I know that man. He is actually not a cripple. I saw him shopping at Oshodi market last weekend and he was walking with his two feet!’ or ‘That man claims to be blind but has two wives and 8 children living in a house he built himself!’

In Sahih Muslim Book 12, Hadith 99, the Prophet (SAW) narrated a hadith where a man desired to give charity so he gave it (on different days) to an adulteress, a rich man and a thief. The people complained about the beneficiaries of such donations and an angel came to tell him (the donor) that his charity had been accepted because, the money the adulteress received may make her refrain from adultery; the donation the rich man received may teach him to spend of what Allah has blessed him with; and the thief may refrain from committing theft.

Also in a hadith narrated by Abu Mas’ud:

When we were ordered to give alms, we used to work as porters (to earn something to give in charity). Abu Aqil came and gave one and a half sa’a (small measure of grains) and another person brought more than he did and the hypocrites said, ‘Allah is not in need of this small amount of charity (to Abu Aqil) and this other person did not give alms but to show off.’ Then Allah revealed: Those who criticize such of the believers who give charity involuntarily and those who could not find to give in charity except what is available to them (Q9:79)…- Sahih al-Bukhari Book 60 Hadith 190

The truth is that it doesn’t matter. The quantity doesn’t matter and who we give it to doesn’t as well. What matters is our intention.

May Allah reward our acts of Ibadah.

SABOTAGE Q7:23

I am ashamed to admit that I am one of those people who are often late. It’s not that I do not care about keeping others waiting. Far from that! I could use the excuse that it’s a cultural thing i.e. Nigerian timing which is often an hour or more beyond the scheduled time; or I could admit that I often shoot myself in the foot.

When I become tired of being late and decide to amend my ways, something always comes up. Seriously! Like I could decide to wake an hour earlier then prolong supplications after my Fajr salaah, iron extra clothes because it looks like I’ll be too early, then cook a complex breakfast, do the dishes, tidy the house, wake the littelets and play with them as I bathe them because I am no longer tense that I am running late…then, suddenly, am late! Again!


The few times we manage to be ready on time, the car refuses to star or we end up stuck in lousy traffic. Granted that the extra minutes help us to reach our destination at the usual time we often do, the fact that I made an effort to be punctual is lost on everyone! *petulant pout*

I often console myself that it is predestined that I am a late-comer but sometimes, I admit that I simply sabotage myself. If only I would stop packing in last minute extra duties because it looks like I’ll be early, I will make it on time but then, talk is cheap. I need to make serious and consistent du’a to stop undermining myself and so should we all.

We know that sinning will make our prayers harder to be answered but we sin and wonder why our requests go unanswered. We know that the best hours to communicate with Allah are at the last third of the night but we grab our blankets tighter when the alarm goes off. We are aware that the first deed we will be asked to account for is salaah but we skip it anyway. Being conscious of the fact that we will account for those/things entrusted to us doesn’t stop us from being negligent of them. Acknowledging that the world will continue to evade us as long as we chase it doesn’t seem to stop us from pursuing it tirelessly.

After messing up so bad, we still hope for Allah’s forgiveness and admission into Al-Jannah at the end of our lives. Funny, isn’t it? It’s kinda like skipping the exam and expecting to be promoted to the next class.

May Allah save us from ourselves because we often wrong ourselves by acting very foolishly, as our own stumbling blocks.

MIRAGE Q29.37-9

Photograph: Pete Turner/Getty Images

Photograph: Pete Turner/Getty Images


How fake we all are; resorting to religion only when it is socially acceptable.

We only remember to say Alhamdulillah when we are in Muslim gatherings, we observe salaah only when we have an audience, our Blackberry display pictures and Twitter avi have Islamic themes only on Islamic holidays or when we are trying to impress someone. Our Facebook statuses quickly announce to the world the minute we check into Islamic Centres and events, while our Instagram account buzzes with pious pictures which are far from who we really are. We are quick to re-broadcast messages and emails that say if you don’t pass it on then you don’t really love Allah, or the Prophet(SAW). Our cars are filled with paraphernalia with Arabic which we can neither translate nor speak.

Once the topic is about the size of hijab, the length of beard or trouser, and marriage (especially polygyny), we all get in a fevered frenzy trying to out-fatwa each other. The Arabic words that roll off our tongues were carefully articulated before a mirror to sound as authentic as possible and we drop them frequently and unnecessarily.

We scrub our foreheads with stones or insist on smacking the bare ground with our foreheads to acquire the tell-tale mark of prayer. Others will refuse to wipe the grains of sand off their faces and indeed would discourage others from doing so too. We play up our religiousness in front of honest folk and cheat them after they trust us. In politics, trade and daily activities.

What separates us from those who disbelieve? We have forgotten what it means to be Muslim and instead focus on being perceived as religious.

We are more concerned about portraying the right image than we are about truly connecting with Allah. If we focus on Allah instead, others will see the message clearer in us than when we continue to put up a facade and act a charade.

So, what does it mean to truly be Muslim, submitting to the will of Allah? Amongst other things, it is obeying His commands and avoiding what He has prohibited; forbidding evil and enjoining good, to avoid judging others, inviting to Islam in the best manners possible and doing all these strictly for Allah’s sake.

May Allah save us from ourselves and help us collapse the facade behind which we hide and improve ourselves for His Sake. May our deeds never become like a mirage in the desert.

JAHANNAM Q3.88, Q44.43-6, Q45.9

There is this joke I want to share with you; and with good reason.

Angels: Almighty Father, we are tired of these Nigerians in Heaven!
God: What have they done this time?
Angel: Everything! They do not listen to instructions! They don’t obey traffic rules and don’t wait their turn. They are reckless! In fact, they have turned heaven upside down since we started admitting them in.
God: Please, bear with them. They are very special to Me. Let Me call Satan in Hell to see how he is doing…Hello, Lucifer. How are things over there?
Satan: Baba God, please call me later. There is an issue I am trying to resolve!
10mins later
God: Hello, Lucifer…
Satan: I’ll call You back; the issue has turned to a crisis!
1 hour later
Satan: Sorry, God!
God: Are you having problems over there?
Satan: It is these Nigerians I have with me in Hell. They…they have quenched the fire in Hell and installed air conditioners!

One may chuckle or be tempted to. It is quite funny and pokes fun at how troublesome but resourceful we Nigerians can be. However, such issues shouldn’t be trivialised. I love jokes like any other person but we should be cautious when we fool around so we do not fall into error.

In contrast to the joke, the verses on Jahannam are truly terrifying. Do look them up.

image credit: jackidelecki.com

image credit: jackidelecki.com


To make matters worse, thirst is quenched with hot scalding oil, boiling water and dirty wound discharges in a place of inexorable heat, where the suffering is unrelenting and persistent.

And to read the tone of Allah’s Voice in these verses; so angry, so scary!

May Allah protect us from His Wrath. May we never get to spend a single second in such a vile fiery place!

DO AS I DO Q2.44

My biggest challenge as a parent is setting the right example for my children. Getting up for ablution once the adhaan (call to prayer) is made so they can link the adhaan with prayer; meticulously performing wudhu so they learn not to rush through the motions; garbing up properly so they understand they should also cover their awrah; then calmly performing salaah and refusing to be distracted by them.
do as i do
But that’s not all. I have to watch what I eat, how I eat it, start with Bismillah and end with Alhamdulillah even if I didn’t use to; reduce my attention to the media, phones, gadgets and increase eye contact; keeping my word; courtesy and manners; hygiene; being active physically and mentally; conversing in my native dialect more frequently; what I watch on TV and listen to on the car radio or play on the CD; adhkaar, adhkaar and more adhkaar

“What you do speaks so loudly I cannot hear what you say.” –Ralph Waldo Emerson

Phew! All these little acts go a long way in moulding them even before I am aware. The more consistently they see these acts (and consistency is difficult unless it is already a habit), the easier it is for them to assimilate like the sponges they are. Our children want to be just like us when they grow up (and they know better than to replicate us). We catch glimpses of ourselves in them when they walk, talk, laugh, sleep…

Who we are is a collage of subconscious habits and we often get shocked when we see our mini-me’s mimic our words, actions and mannerisms. And of course, they do not discriminate in what they learn; even though they even seem to have a greater inclination toward imbibing negative traits!

Do not make your child, nephew, niece or neighbour’s child blame you for the vices (s)he later develops in life simply from watching you as ‘He who guides to a good deed is like the doer.’ Just as you would receive good tidings for the good acts you guide them to later in life, so would you receive your share from the sins you inspired them to commit. You may also be punished for advising them to good while you do otherwise.

Most importantly, rather than dissuade them from being better Muslims, let us encourage them to be better because, who knows? They may be our reason for being admitted into Paradise.

Quote

WEEKDAY CHALLENGE: Deed of the Day Q41.46

A’isha (R.A.) reported:
The Messenger of Allah (SAW) …used to say: Do as many deeds as you are capable of doing, for Allah will not become weary (of giving you reward), but you would be tired (of doing good deeds) ; and he also said: The deed liked most by Allah is one to which the doer adheres constantly even if it is small.- Sahih Muslim 782

Do you notice how surprised some people seem when you perform an unexpected act of kindness to them? Ever detected the question in people’s eyes when you behave considerately like they are wondering what you’ll benefit from your gesture? Have you observed the amazed look on their visage when they notice you are a Muslim being kind to a non-Muslim like it’s a rarity? This is because kindness is rapidly becoming extinct.

Here are some ways we can revive the flagging spirit of humanity:

• Removing a stone or stick out of the way which may harm someone
• Allowing another driver right of way as we drive
• Smiling and saying salaam first; responding to the greeting
• Visit someone at home, in boarding school, at NYSC camp, the hospital, prison, orphanage, anywhere your visit will be appreciated. Don’t you dare go empty-handed!
• Send an inspirational text to the Muslims on your phone
• Call your family members
• Send someone a recharge card
• Share your lunch or buy someone one
• Call your subordinates by name and ask about their families
• Give a hand to someone carrying or lifting a load
• Help pick fallen books, keys or other items. And no! Not only because you have a crush on him/her!
• Tip the messenger who just served you
• Pay the bus fare/ticket for a stranger
• Hold the door for someone behind you
• Help a child, the blind or a senior citizen cross the road
• Give someone a lift to the gate, bus-stop, masjid…
• Hold the elevator for someone rushing to get it
• Allow someone join the queue in front of you
• Return misplaced items or declare them found
spread love kindness

This list is by no means, exhaustible.

These acts may be small but are significant both to the person we are kind to and especially on our scale of deeds. We may, by these little efforts, plant beautiful thoughts in people’s minds toward Islam and leave behind wonderful memories of their encounter with a Muslim. That single positive act (amongst others) may be what will tilt that individual to seek out the truth in Islam.

Like the hadith above mentioned, we should strive toperform these acts consistently, no matter how small they seem.

May Allah guide us all and may we not be led astray after being guided. May He not let us tire easily of doing good.

OPEN BOOK Q2:271, 274

The modest ones amongst us have fallen into the habit of concealing our good deeds. We conceal them so much that the left hand is unaware of the right hand’s activities. Without a doubt, this is good but we forget that we are the first books our children read. In fact, we could be the only Muslim book a non-Muslim may feel inclined to open. But like those diaries with a lock, they cannot access the beauty of our lives because we have locked them out.

While we perform our deeds, we forget to carry our kids along. They do not see us perform ablution and pray. We do not take them to the masjid for fear of them distracting others. They do not see us give alms, fast voluntarily, pay visits to sick relatives and are unaware we pay zakat. Our co-workers do not see us pray, are unaware we fast, have never heard the recitation of the Quran or a nasheed ringtone. So secretive are we of our actions that you would think we were living in the time of the Prophet(SAW) when he had just a handful of persecuted followers. Are we ashamed?

image credit: mereponderizations.wordpress.com

image credit: mereponderizations.wordpress.com


Who knows? Just a glimpse of us in rukoo may be all that’s needed to encourage a co-worker to take that first step toward Islam. That hijab may spark curiosity in your room-mate to try it on. That ablution we performed with our child may be his first memory of you when he is older.

Let us resolve today to leave our books open for others to read so that through us, in sha Allah, they may be guided to what is right.

NOiR: Meditative Monday

[Qur’an in Ramadan 3:Q2.253-Q3.112]

This series starts with meditation on our resolution for Ramadan. You may or may not believe in a list of resolutions but here is one we will do together, in sha Allah.
quran-ramadan

1. Pray Fajr on time and preferably in congregation.

2. Get to work or school on time, earlier than usual, so you can reflect. Thank Allah for letting you reach your destination safely. If you have nowhere to go, wake earlier than usual from your post-fajr nap and meditate.

3. Get a sheet of paper and write out the qualities of the person you would like to become this Ramadan and beyond. Don’t make vague descriptions like ‘to become more pious’ or ‘to become a better Muslim’. Instead, write achievable and measurable goals like ‘to observe salaah within 30 minutes of the adhaan’, ‘eat a salad for iftar on alternate days’, ‘give x naira, dollars or pounds to a homeless person every day, decline visits to non-productive places, work out for 30mins daily, stop lying’. Visualise this individual and believe you shall become like that by the end of Ramadan bi idhnillah. Save this sheet of paper to look at and visualise every day at Fajr.

4. Write out a checklist (if you haven’t already) containing all the acts of ibadah you hope to achieve in Ramadan like reading 20 pages of the Qur’an daily, observing the 2 rakats before Fajr, Sunnah prayers before or after every of the 5 daily prayers, giving a certain amount in alms daily, attending tafsirs (sermons), itikaf (seclusion in the mosque), umrah (pilgrimage to Makkah and Madina) etc. Review your progress daily and see how you can do better the next day. No matter how bleak it seems when you do not meet up, keep forging on till the end. For the mere fact that you intend to do this, Allah will reward you, in sha Allah.

5. Reflect on your life, at how far you have come and how far you have to go to become who you desire. Reflect on the fact that not everyone who fasted last year is alive this year. Resolve that this Ramadan is going to be the best you have ever had, in sha Allah.

6. Bring out your Qur’an and read a part of your daily quota (or all of it, if you have enough time).

7. If this was your last Ramadan, what would you do differently from last year’s?

I would love to read your thoughts.

RAMADAN 101

ramadan
[Qur’an in Ramadan 1: Q1.01-Q2.141]

Ohkay! It is finally here! That much anticipated month that we can never get enough of. It may begin tomorrow for some based on moon sightings but for us in Nigeria, it begins today. Ramadan comes every year but we do not tire of eagerly expecting it and welcoming yet another chance to get closer to Allah.

It is the 1st of Ramadan! Alhamdulillah, we are alive to witness it. We’ve got to gird our loins and make the most of it before it leaves us in a jiffy. Wouldn’t it be a shame if we allowed the benefits of this month fritter away like desert sand between our fingers?

Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar in which it is compulsory for mature, sane Muslims to fast. A pre-dawn meal is taken before the morning Fajr prayer and the fast begun from dawn till sunset when the fast ends for the day.

The month is not only 29 or 30days of abstinence from food, water and sex from dawn to sunset; it is a month where the tongue, eyes, ears, hands, feet and indeed the entire body also abstain from evil. The purpose of the fast is to make us of the Muttaqun (those who have piety and God-consciousness).

Crucial to our fast in Ramadan is the intention which is between Allah and us. You will agree with me that the intention changes everything. You could abstain from food the entire day but
intending to fast for Allah’s Sake changes a mundane non-rewardable action to an act of Ibadah (worship). Let us embark on this spiritual journey with the right intention, and not just because we would like to shed a few pounds. If we need to drop shed some kilos, it should be off our scale of bad deeds. Whatever deed we perform in this month and beyond, it should be done to gain Allah’s Favour and to increase our good deeds on the scale. With the right intention, we end up achieving more than we thought possible because Allah blesses and multiplies the reward for us.

At Iftar, let us remember to break our fast with an odd number of dates &/water after saying Bismillah and ‘Dhahabazzama’u wabtalaati-l-urooqu wathabata-l-ajru in sha Allah’ meaning ‘The thirst is gone, the veins are moistened and the reward is confirmed, if Allah wills.’ Remember to break your fast with only halal food gotten through halal means!

I am going to commence a series in a few days’ time, in sha Allah. This series will be called NOT ONLY IN RAMADAN (NOiR). They are a list of challenges to be carried out this Ramadan but are by no means supposed to be restricted to the Holy Month alone. Also, in parentheses is the quota of Qur’an to be recited daily if you intend to complete the Holy Book within 29 days. I hope you will join me on this journey to make the most of Ramadan.

OPPORTUNITY Q13.11

My son’s shirt had split along its seams and since I had no sewing machine and it wasn’t something a needle and thread could fix, I waited for someone who makes such repairs for a fee. In these parts, men often roam around residential areas with the machine on their shoulders, flipping their huge metal scissors to make a peculiar sound. If you do not hurry out to call out to them, they will be on the next street in no time.
sewing machine
I was indoors and waiting for the tell-tale signal to herald the approach of one. When I heard it, I hurriedly wore my hijab (it’s pretty hot in the tropics to sit indoors with one). Alas, once I get outside, there is no one in sight. I sigh dejectedly and return inside the house, ears pricked for the signal. Before I can wear my hijab and slippers and dash out to the street, someone else has called them or they have gone beyond my line of vision.

Of course, it did not take me long to realise that if I really wanted to get Lil H’s shirt repaired, I had to sit prepared, ready to grab the opportunity once it arose.

Opportunity does not wait for us to go get ready while she waits; she is arrogant and would rather delay you than sit and watch while you prepare. She expects you to be fully alert, eager and hungry, ready to grab her with both hands.

You are not going to see an advert in the dailies and suddenly rush to get the required qualification. You have to have the necessary qualification before-hand. While you wait, you may keep improving your craft by acquiring extra degrees or going for related courses, or volunteering to improve your chances of employment. As a bachelor or spinster, you will not sit at the sidelines without an education or life goals waiting only to get married once a prospective suitor shows up then you will dash to the supermarket to procure the qualities the person desires.

Allah may occasionally toss a freebie in our laps but most times, He will not change our condition until we get up and make something of and for ourselves. It is either we create the opportunity we want or we await, ready to grab the opportunity once it presents itself. Allah will not descend to the Earth to help us but will send us guidance or help through people.

Improve your situation and ask Allah’s guidance.