Travelers on the Path of Knowledge

Knowledge is an ocean and a few drops just aren’t enough. -Unknown

Benefited and Rewarded April 3, 2013

Filed under: Gems,Islam,Reflections — Lena @ 12:27 am

(An old post that I never published.)

How truly Magnificent is He who rewards us for those actions which are already beneficial to our hearts, our very state of being, and our success in both this world and the next?  A sister read this from another sister’s letter at a hijab party I once attended, and subhan’Allah how true were these words (may Allah reward her).  I feel this very line applies to everything in Islam.  Allah, subhana wa ta’ala, has made certain things obligatory on us and each of these things is only there as a method of increasing our iman, truly realizing what is the purpose of our life, and not becoming tangled up in the silly, trivial matters of this world.  All of these protect us from the evils of this dunya, protecting us from shaytan and the weaknesses of our own nafs.

That is just the case with the hijab.  It was five years ago exactly (now over 11 years ago–time flies subhanAllah) that Alhamdulillah, Alhamdulillah, Alhamdulillah…all praises belong to Allah, the One, the Most Generous, the only One worthy of praise…I started to wear hijab.  Subhan’Allah, it is the best decision I have yet to make in my life.  I really do not think I can fully express how grateful I am to Him, subhana wa ta’ala.

I am also grateful to have been there for that hijab party.  It was such a great reminder.  Everytime before I go out, I throw this piece of cloth on my head and the worst thing I could do is forget why it is that I choose to do so.  Fi sabilillah.  That’s it.  There is no other reason to it.  Allah subhana wa ta’ala made it obligatory on us and it is an act of obedience to my Lord, Creator of the worlds.  What a meager act in return for all the wonders He fills me with, in return for all the good He has given me, my family, my loved ones.

I don’t think I did this topic justice…but a few thoughts I had wanted to share.

May Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala grant life to our actions by filling them with sincerity.  Ameen.

 

Our Source of Stability July 30, 2012

Filed under: Allah's Names,Gems,Reflections — Lena @ 5:06 pm

Bismillah wAlhamdulillah wa salaatu wa salaam ‘ala rasulillah wa aalihi wa sahbi wa sallam

Earlier in the year, I discussed the tafseer of surat al Haaqah with my students.  I love Bayyinah’s tafseer podcasts.  They offer such insight on the verses and the meaning behind each of the words chosen.  SubhanAllah.

Oftentimes, we hear the name of Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) ‘Adheem translated as “The Great”.  However, Sh. AbdulNasser gives different insight on the name and draws its connection to the daily prayer.  It amazes me how every word in the prayer has such deep meaning if we take the time to reflect and learn about it.

Sh. AbdulNasser shares that the name ‘Adheem also draws on the meaning of stability and that He Alone is the Most Stable and in fact our Source of Stability.  Then our attention is drawn to the prayer.  At which point of your prayer do you feel that you are in the most unstable position?  Is it during the standing, the ruku’ (bowing), the sitting, or the sujood (prostration)?  If someone were to come over to you and give you a slight push, you would be able to hold your ground for most of these except for at the time of ruku’.  Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala as He sent to the Prophet sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam through Jibril ‘alayhi salaam, taught us the words we are to say in each moments of the prayer, such that there should be no moment devoid of our dhikr (remembrance of Him) and our beseeching Him and our salawaat on His Beloved (sallAllahu alayhi wa sallam).  And at this point when we find we are in the most unstable position in the prayer, what is it we are told to say?  Subhana Rabbi al ‘Adheem.  Glory be to my Lord the AlMighty, the Most Stable.  We recognize at this moment the magnificence and greatness of Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) and recognize that in reality we are unstable creatures who derive any sense of stability from Him and His Mercy.

This is similar to the way in which we call on Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) when in sujood (prostration).  We lower our heads to the ground, prostrating in humility before our Creator, the King, and we say “Subhana Rabbi al ‘Aala”: Glory be to my Lord the Most High.  We recognize our insufficiency and weakness and complete need of Allah and how low we are in reality, however it is through our calling on Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) and our connection with Him that we can be raised above the angels.

May we each find our stablity in You, Ya ‘Adheem and be humble before You, Ya ‘Aala.  Forgive us for our shortcomings and relieve the oppressed around the world from the oppression of those that rule over them.  Ameen.

Any mistakes are only from myself and all good is from Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala).  May this blessed month of Ramadan be finding you in good health and you are taking advantage of its many blessings.

 

Beautiful Simplicity January 7, 2012

Filed under: Dhikr,Islam,Reflections — musaafir @ 6:48 pm

As I knelt to pray Maghrib this evening, I heard a quiet shuffling behind me. In the library, I pray in a secluded hallway in which there are two vacant spaces- one in which females pray and one in which males pray. Of course, these aren’t clearly designated- the location is just convenient because often the males come with a friend or two to pray in congregation and the larger space is more appropriate for that. However, there’s been numerous times where we pray in the other’s space just for convenience. But this digression takes away from what inspired me to write this entry.

While I was completing my prayer, I felt someone pass me into the other vacant space and heard various sounds. Something being dropped, something being unzipped. I tried to clear my mind as I finished my prayer. When I said the final salams, I turned behind me to see who was in the other space. An unfamiliar face greeted me. She was consumed in her ritual of sorts. She was clothed just as an other ordinary person I would see in the library, but I was aware that the unzipping was the sound of her removing some articles from the bags she carried. As she laid out a prayer rug, I turned back around to begin my Sunna prayers. When I finally completed, I could not help but to turn around again. This female had put on a beautiful, luscious, black abaya and a hijab with different hues of gray. I wasn’t able to take my eyes off of her. Something about the sheer simplicity of her just drew me to her. And as she prayed, she looked like she was in complete serenity. The movements of prayer were beautifully executed, no rigidity in her movements, complete and fluid movements. It looked like a beautiful art form. And as I continued to sit on my prayer rug, it was me praying that I could as well be graced with some of that beauty. I long to pray as I mean it- with complete focus and uninterrupted by any sounds, movements or thoughts other than my focus on the One.

For some reason, her abaya was just so perfect. I wondered why people couldn’t see the beauty of the abaya. It looks so beautifully feminine. Compare it to my denim skirt and pink sweater, she- this unknown stranger- was the one who exuded confidence and beauty. She was the one giving up the conventional idea of beauty and while doing so looking even more radiant. And to think.. this girl brought in an extra bag with clothing in it specifically for her prayer, subhanAllah. Having been blessed to have started wearing hijab in my teenage years gives me an immense amount of respect for people that carry around these extra articles for prayer. It’s not easy- but they, too, are making a dedication to God. When she packs her bag, carrying in it items for prayer, she is consciously reminding herself that she needs to pray and to do so she needs to humble herself before her Lord. What do I do when I go to pray? I walk down the hallway and I pray in whatever I’m wearing. Jeans, a sweatshirt, fancy clothes or not– it doesn’t matter. It’s such a mindless act and when I dress in the morning, I don’t remind myself that my clothing and the way I dress is for the One who Created me. But I should- this hijab isn’t mindless. This is an active expression of my faith and it is up to me to determine how cognizant I am of it.

Someone once told me that when you make the opening takbir for prayer, there is beauty in the way you lift your arms up to your shoulders/ears. The back of your hands are brought up as if to throw all your cares and worries behind you- and as you say “Allahu Akbar” you are reiterating that God is indeed great(er) than anything else going on in your life at the moment. And this prayer, this ritual form of worship is a further acknowledgement of that fact and your utter dependency on God. It’s so utterly beautiful that I can’t adequately explain it. Seeing this person perform her prayer just instilled in me a greater feeling of love and desire to be closer to the Beloved.

May we be blessed with the ability to see our own deficiencies and blessed with the strength and determination to correct our inadequacies. May God accept it from us and bring us good in all that we do. May we appreciate Him and love Him. May our obligatory and non-obligatory acts of worship be accepted from Him and bring us closer to Him. May we be truly active in our acts of faith. Ameen.

 

Life’s Reflections March 14, 2011

Filed under: Reflections — Lena @ 11:01 pm

Bismillah.

A simple yet incredibly powerful phrase placed at the top hoping something may flow from mind to fingertips to screen. Well, it’s not so much the concern that nothing will flow forth, it is the concern of how I present it and the coherence with which I can present all these thoughts that fill my mind. Alhamdulillah.

I have deep hesitations when it comes to blogging and sharing with the world little factoids about myself and my everyday life. Maybe it’s paranoia or maybe it’s reality. Regardless, there are days I do feel compelled to share my experiences, thoughts, and insights to the world, moreso for myself but Allahu ‘alam, inshaAllah it could be of some source of benefit to somebody else. I need a venue where I can just present my thoughts and let them out, and possibly receive some feedback.

This writing comes after a beloved friend, who I dearly and sorely miss, wrote on her site the importance of just writing and to stop allowing those pestering thoughts to hinder you.

Alhamdulilah Allah blessed me with a marriage a little over a year ago and it has taken me from all I knew for more than twenty years of my life to a place more than a thousand miles away both in physicality and in experience. Alhamdulillah. I find new struggles everyday but at the same time I find new blessings everyday. Alhamdulillah–He indeed is the Best of Planners. Within the first few months of marriage, the hadith in which the Prophet (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) states that marriage is half of the deen (or one’s religion) really started to come to light. I would hear this hadith of our beloved (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) previously and would not truly understand its meaning. It took being within the experience to understand it, and I am sure I am still learning its full meaning and nuances.

My marriage showed me sides of myself I never knew existed–things that I would have never thought to bother me previously I found bothering me; aspects of the new relationship brought out so many different character flaws I would have never noticed otherwise. Over a year later, I still struggle with these flaws on a daily basis and I imagine it will be a constant process inshaAllah as most important matters in life are. It is only with my marriage that I am now aware of these flaws (inshaAllah I hope there are good things too that came out and that I can grow in these) and have to address them; I have to consciously work each day to not become frustrated, jealous, impatient and to be more grateful and gracious, forgiving, and understanding and without my marriage there would have been these little defects hiding in me never inspected. To develop a marriage and a wholesome, beneficial relationship with another, you have to push yourself beyond the norm and beyond the limits other relationships take you. To look at yourself completely and to correct what needs to be corrected, to fine tune the good, and to really develop yourself fully in your deen.

You have this other individual now who has so many rights over you and who you’re with the majority of the time, through the best of it and the worst of it.  It’s this great realization with marriage that your actions and choices do not only affect you.  While this is true of many and possibly all relationships, it is magnified in marriage.  And when you reach this realization, you can begin to manifest it in all your actions and inherently it drives you toward becoming a better person.  This is a realization I am slowly making and I struggle daily in making it a reality in my life.

 

May Allah ta’ala forgive me for anything incorrect I stated, as they are only from me, and any good and benefit only comes from Him.  Alhamdulillah.

May Allah ta’ala ease the difficulties humanity is facing throughout the world and may He subhanahu wa ta’ala deliver them from it and grant them the best of this world and the next.  Ameen.

 

My heart May 4, 2010

Filed under: Random,Reflections — Lena @ 5:27 pm

longs, deeply, for the company of the righteous.

 

Relying on Allah Alone

Filed under: Gems,Islam,Random,Reflections — Lena @ 1:11 pm

Allah ta’ala does not like to find us becoming dependent on other than Him. We become dependent on our money and we will find we are tested with it being taken from us. We become dependent on people, and He ta’ala will have them disappoint us, let us down. This is all Allah ta’ala calling us back to Him, showing us that we should never come to rely or depend on other than Him–Our Sustainer, Our Provider, the Ever-Lasting, the Ever-Appreciative, The Protector, The Merciful, The King.

 

Separating Actions from Essence April 27, 2010

Filed under: Dawah,Islam,Reflections — Lena @ 6:28 pm

Bismillah wAlhamdulillah wa salaatu wa salaam ‘ala Rasulillah.

A true student of knowledge (may Allah ta’ala increase him) once shared the key to dawah to a group of college students some time ago in a beautiful house of Allah ta’ala on Long Island.  His teacher once advised him and he gladly advised us with a precious gem of true awareness of the reality of affairs.  So what was this key, this gem, the reality of affairs?  When calling others to Islam, stir up in your heart the belief that every individual you meet is better than you.  Regardless of what you see outwardly, recognize that you do not have the ability to see through this person into their hearts and very souls.

Do not be distracted by what you perceive or what is on display—whether this individual is non-Muslim, a non-practicing Muslim, a struggling Muslim (really, who is not struggling?), or a supposedly devout Muslim.   This is their state at this single moment in time and you do not know where they are headed in their next moments on the path of life.  It has been said that Umar ibn al-Khattab (rA), Ameer-ul-Mu’mineen (the leader of the believers), was beloved to Allah ta’ala when he was bowing to idols in Mecca.  Allah ta’ala is outside of space and time and to Him, Umar was beloved because Allah ta’ala knew the deep devotion to Islam he would develop, the great man and companion of the Prophet (sallAllahualayhi wa sallam) he would become, and what his true end would be regardless of his state at a certain moment in time.

This brings to heart a certain concept that I have been taught in the past from both scholars and peers (may Allah ta’ala increase each of them).  In line with this idea of recognizing that a single moment and our perceptions do not determine a person’s final state with Allah ta’ala, comes the Islamic concept of separating one’s actions from his essence.  Constantly, especially living in America and, more generally, the modern world, we witness haraam act after haraam act.  We may notice women and men dressed inappropriately, or hear inappropriate language or blasphemous statements, or gaze upon relationships outside of marriage (just to mention some issues among many).  We should hate these actions as we have been told by Allah ta’ala through the Prophet, sallAllahualayhi wa sallam, and we should never allow ourselves to become desensitized to such acts.  We should never be “okay” with such things occurring but should try to discourage it, forbidding the wrongs, and replace them with values and morals by upholding the good.

However, while we hate the action we should not come to hate the individual or his essence.  This act is occurring at a single moment of this person’s life and does not necessarily dictate his/her end.  It does not dictate what is in his heart, or his state.  It does not dictate what lies within the essence of this individual.  We cannot see what turmoil and struggle resides within the heart of this person, only Allah ta’ala can, so we should not act like we have such abilities.  We should hold compassion for this individual as we know how difficult it can be to do good when there is wrong all around you.  We should constantly pray for his guidance and be examples with our actions—actions of respect, good-will, and concern.  I truly believe that the world would be a far better place if we constantly prayed for guidance, not just the guidance of others, but our own more importantly.

Moreover, we have to recognize many of us have a blessing others do not have and without this deen, many of us would be lost.  Our ability to refrain from certain sins is only a gift from Allah ta’ala and not something we can attribute to our own great will, for each of us, when we reflect and look within, knows how truly weak we are.  Allah ta’ala also bestows on us at each moment the great gift of concealment—He ta’ala constantly conceals our sins, small and large, for us so that others may not be aware of an immense fault we hold within our chests.  This is an enormous and immeasurable blessing from Allah ta’ala that should not be taken for granted.  When Allah ta’ala chooses to make the sins of others apparent to you, it is a reminder—you do not like witnessing others committing such acts so stay away and do not fall into them yourself, thank Him for keeping you from it or concealing you, and also for you to fulfill your promise and duty as a Muslim—to uphold the good and forbid the evil—and to call others to the beauty and magnificence of our religion.

When we approach individuals with these points at heart, a certain humility will overcome us that will speak far louder and more effectively than our words.   People can sense when they are being spoken down to, or when you belittle them with your mannerisms.  Therefore, bring alive in your heart the conviction that you are not aware of the true essence of this person, humiliate yourself before Allah, and see the magnificence within this individual for he/she is a creation of Allah ta’ala and he is, unbeknownst to him, craving the blessing we have been so graciously granted, Alhamdulillah.  With this, you will find your actions and state will reverberate with the person long after you have stopped speaking.

I will leave you with this thought.  I heard in a lecture recently a teacher relating a story that occurred when a scholar came to visit the United States.  While this scholar was riding in a car, another car came to pass with its music blasting, and one of the individuals with the scholar said something to the effect that this man was crazy.  The scholar replied: “Don’t you hear him? He’s saying: ‘Rescue me. Rescue me.'”

May Allah ta’ala forgive me for anything incorrect. May He ta’ala grant us His tawfiq and taysir to perform acts which please Him and to stay away from acts that displease Him.  May He make us individuals worthy of carrying the banner of Islam and make us examples for the Muslims and non-Muslims.  May He increase us in our following of the example of the best of creation, the Prophet, and may He ta’ala shower His blessings upon him, his family, his companions, and those who follow him until the end of time. Ameen. Allahumma Ameen.