Saturday, June 20, 2015

Give your Best

Bism Illah wa assalaamu alaykum wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh.

Consider this scenario. You know of a sister who has not been praying or wearing any form of hijab. She asks for some Islamic clothing and hijab. You know that she has not worn any hijab consistently for years and shaytaan whispers to you that she is probably asking you so that you will have a better opinion of her or think she really is trying to improve but prevented by a lack of suitable clothing. shaytaan whispers that she will probably not wear what you give her much, or for long, and it will probably end up dusty in the closet or thrown away.

Audhu b'Illahi min as-shaytaan ir-rajeem!

Give her good hijab. Give her things from your collection that you particularly think she will like, or will suit her. This will encourage her towards modest dress. Give her a nice quality aba'a (abaya), a good khimar - things you would wear yourself to Jumu'ah or Eid.

Give your best, Allah will do the rest.

The sister will feel that you have honored her by giving her nice things. It will open her heart to you and give your da'wah a smoother reception bi idhn Illah ta'ala. She will taste the beauty of Islam, the practice of loving for others what one loves for oneself. And for you, you will have lived the beauty of Islam. You will  have lived loving for another what you love for yourself. You will have lived Ihsaan, giving your best knowing that Allah is watching you. You will have lived giving the sister her rights of husn-u-thann, having the best suspicions about her. She may well live up to those expectations, inshaa Allah. You will have triumphed over shaytaan and his evil whispers.

Regardless of what happens to those donated clothes, giving your best elicits the best from yourself and from Allah, subhaana wa ta'ala.

So give your best, Allah will do the rest.

Subhaanak Allahumma wa bihamdik, laa ilaaha illa ant, astaghfiruka wa atoobu ilayk.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Planning for Success: Ramadhaan 1436

Bism Illah wa assalaamu alaykum wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh.

For major events in life, we usually make plans so that they will be a success. Well the "Month of the Year" is coming up, a month that can turn hearts, set lives in order or back on track, repair broken connections with our Creator, and be an expiation for all that has gone before it. Ramadhaan deserves planning - planning for success!

Something I find very beneficial in Ramadhaan is to have a study plan, or lessons, that fit the month -
30 days:30 lessons. Here are some suggestions for your Ramadhaan study plan.

SISTERS ONLY CLASSES: Making the most of Ramadhaan and The Qur'aan: A Light and a Mercy

This 29-day course consists of two daily classes during Ramadhaan:
Making the Most of Ramadhaan:
Using the book Fasting from Alif to Yaa, compiled by Umm Mujaahid, Khadijah bin Lacina Al Amreekiyyah, and
Sittings during the Blessed Month of Ramadan By Shaykh Muhammad Ibn Saalih Al-Uthaymeen
The Qur'aan: A Light and Mercy:
This interactive class will cover a Surah a day from the Surahs of Juz Amma as well as Suratul-Fatiha. It will include: Tafseer, rules of Tajweed and evaluation of recitation, tips on memorization and review, the importance and benefits of learning and reciting the Qur'aan, especially within the month of Ramdhaan, and much more.

Disciplining the Soul by Ibn Jawzi, raheemahullah. This is truly a self-help/self-improvement book for Muslims, maashaa Allah, with 30 short, life-changing chapters. We have recently read it as part of our Islamic Studies curriculum, so we are not including it in our Ramadhaan study plan, but it is something I plan to revisit yearly bi idhn Illah, ta'ala either in Ramadhaan or in preparation the month.

30 Lessons in Fasting, Shk Saalih Al Fawzaan
We are doing these this year, inshaa Allah.

Shk Uthaymeen's Daily Sittings in Ramadhaan
We did these for 3 or 4 Ramadhaans in a row, maashaa Allah, and they are wonderful!

Bitesize Articles 2011
Short lessons for each day of Ramadhaan by Abbas Yahya, found on Al Miraath Publications website.

Bitesize Articles 2013
A different set of short lessons for Ramadhaan by Abbas Yahya, found on Al Miraath Publications.

Our family will be having a very international Ramadhaan, bi idhn Illah ta'ala, with the first week spent in Madinah, the second in Makkah, the third England, and the last traveling across the USA from Washington DC to New Mexico inshaa Allah. We are planning a course of study that can be done on the road, on the run, offline, and pretty much wherever we find ourselves. This year, we are focusing on tafseer of the Qur'aan. We seek greater understanding and connection with Allah's perfect words. What more appropriate time to do that than the month the Qur'aan was revealed?

We have found some wonderful technology to assist us, an application called Quran Tafsir Pro. This application has the Qur'aan ayah by ayah by a huge range of qaaris, including Ibrahim al Akhdar, the qaari we learn our recitation from exclusively. It also has the translation, and at one touch, the tafsir of each ayah. Not only that, but it has an ayah test and random ayah test feature where you are shown an ayah and have to chose the translation/meaning of each word and are scored at the end. On the touch of a word it will give you the grammatical information about it, maashaa Allah. Now that's beneficial entertainment we can all happily indulge in bi idhn Illah ta'ala! And lastly in my promo for this application (ha ha ha!), it has a feature where you can see the du'a from the Qur'aan - beautiful, wal hamdul'Illahi Rabbil aal ameen!

We will be tapping in to Umm Mujaahid's class, Making the Most of Ramadhaan whenever we can inshaa Allah. We are also planning to use the interactive Qur'aanic Arabic Quiz Programme, These things, along with our goal to complete the recitation of the complete Qur'aan over the month, will be our plan for Ramadhaan 1436 bi idhn Illah ta'ala.

We seek Allah's success for our family, your family, and our whole ummah in reaching and exceeding our goals this  Ramadhaan - ameen!

Subhaanaka wa bihamdika laa ilaaha ilaa ant, astaghfirukah wa atoobu ilayk.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

The Internet Talks - Part 2: Medicating and Curing

A man once asked Abû Hurayrah – Allâh be pleased with him, ‘What is al-taqwâ?” He replied, “Have you ever taken a path filled with thorns?” The man replied, “I have.” Abû Hurayrah asked him, “What did you do?” He replied, “When I saw a thorn I would dodge it or pass over it or behind it.” Abû Hurayrah said, “That is al-taqwâ.”

Al-Baihaqî, Al-Zuhd Al-Kabîr p351.

Bismillah wa assalaamu alaykum wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh.

The key to resolving the problems associated with Internet use are to view going online just like a path filled with thorns - each and every thorn a tool of shaytaan to pierce our obedience to Allah.  Allah has presented us with the Internet as a huge test of discipline and taqwa. The Internet can be an excellent means for His pleasure and drawing closer to Him, when used within very specific limitations and intentions. Allah is watching you. There is no click on a site or surfing the web that isn't recorded, so if it isn't for benefit and some form of worship of Allah, then where is it going - the right-hand book (illiyyeen) or the left-hand book (sijjeen)?

Introspection about what occupies our heart is a good place to start, followed by a practical plan to develop and increase our love of Allah. When we fill our time with beneficial things, we crowd out the time that can be spent on non-beneficial things. Will we ever want to displease or disobey Allah when we think of the fact that He gives us EVERYTHING and exceeds every expectation, hope, desire, wish, and dream we could ever aspire to?
Here are some things to consider, or even to put on a bold screensaver or daily reminder, to remind and warn yourself before going on the internet, opening social network sites, etc.

Remember that everything we say on the internet represents Islam. Are we representing it truthfully, or lying about it? 

For example, we cannot "like", watch, or post a music video without pleasing shaytaan and spreading his evil call to following desires. Furthermore, unless we clearly state that we are sinning in doing so and that music is haraam, we have done one of two things (maybe more, but this is what I can think of):
  • shown the understanding Muslims that we are openly following our desires
  • presented a lie to uneducated Muslims and non-Muslims about Islam, as they will understand that it is an accepted and permissible thing.

If we wouldn't say it or reveal it to someone in person, we shouldn't reveal it on the net - it's still impermissible. 

For example,  describing our physical attributes, our talents, our preferences. If we wouldn't stand in front of a stranger and tell them such things with a clear conscience, then they should not be anywhere on the Internet either. Are we comfortable and happy to read whatever we post, comment on, or surf, out loud to our spouse, children, parents, and friends?

Before you "like" something, check if Allah and His Messenger - sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam - would like it too.

This may seem simple, but actually we may have to research to find out whether it is permissible to "like" or post a certain statement or philosophy. We could post something that has elements of kufr, shirk, or is agreeing with something prohibited in our perfect deen.

Here are some practical measures to troubleshoot Internet dangers for ourselves and those under our authority (children, wives, etc.).
  1. Turn our screen, so what we are doing is visible to anyone and everyone around.
  2. Project our screen on the wall, so it's larger than life and public property.
  3. Make sure we are never alone with unmonitored computer/internet access.
  4. Put programs on our computer to record our internet activity and have someone else review where we've been and how long we spent on it.
  5. Set access times so we cannot go on at certain times.
  6. Keep an Internet journal to  note down each time we use it, the intended benefit before using it  and whether we deviated from that. This is so tedious that it should really deter us from using the Internet unless absolutely necessary!  
  7. Be transparent about what we type, like, or post. Never type anything our husband would not fully approve of. (My husband reads all my posts on these blogs, and if I comment on someone's blog I let him know.)
  8. Have our grown son or daughter read our comment, post, or blog first.
  9. Read it out loud to our children of all ages.
The android phone can also accept Internet filtering and restriction programs, and the last three on the list are a good way to troubleshoot Internet use on your phone. After facing the fact that such convenient Internet access is more fitnah than they can cope with, there are some of us who are opting for a return to flip phones for the safety of our aakhirah and our health.

This is probably one of the biggest challenges we will face in our lifetimes: conquering our desires and weaknesses when it comes to the Internet. With Ramadhaan approaching, we need to do everything we can to implement effective remedies and corrections so our fasting will not be tainted, devalued, or ruined by our Internet use. May Allah purify our intentions, fortify our resolve, and give us success in achieving His lasting pleasure - ameen!

Subhaanak Allahumma wa bihamdik laa illaha ila ant, wa astaghfiruka wa atoobu ilayk.