A Glimpse of Jannah

I love that in the Quran, Allah gives us a glimpse of what Jannah will be like. He tells us about gardens, rivers, food; things that we can see on the earth. And because we can see these things, we can imagine, to our best ability, what Jannah will be like. So because we can see the beauty on the earth, it makes us long for Jannah. We know that no matter how beautiful earth is, Jannah will be so much better. If we could not understand what was being described about Jannah we wouldn’t long for it like we do. This longing helps us to strive for Jannah.

When I’m struggling, when a hardship comes my way, when I’m hurt or afraid, Allah has put these beautiful descriptions of Jannah in the Quran to help us through. Not only describing what Jannah will be like but also telling us that we won’t experience any hardship or sadness or pain or fear in Jannah. That’s one of the most amazing things that Allah could have shared with us. We can live happy and in peace for all of eternity.

That sometimes I want something but I can’t have it but in Jannah we can have whatever we want. We just have to think it and we will get it, whether it’s food, books, clothes, anything!

Knowing these things about Jannah helps us to keep going when we feel like we can’t continue. When we feel like the pain won’t ever go away, knowing that we can live pain free for an eternity can push us to keep going.

So I know that no matter what happens in the dunya, whatever difficulties I may face, as long as I do my best to worship Allah and stay on the straight path, Jannah will be my reward, where I can live peacefully for all of eternity and that the biggest blessing of being in Jannah will be to finally meet our Lord.

Transformed by the Quran

This is a piece I wrote which I submitted to the Productive Muslim, Transformed by the Quran, competition, which ran during Ramadan. Alhamdulillah I was lucky enough to be chosen among the top entries! I thought I would share it here with all of you.

This is the link to all the top entries, I would definitely recommend reading them as they are all so inspiring!

The Best of #TransformedByTheQuran Competition Stories

I was reminded of this ayah when my husband left, what we call love notes, for me before he left for university.

They are clothing for you and you are clothing for them. Quran (2:187)

This ayah is so famous. Everyone knows it. We may not know where in the Quran it is but we have most likely heard it before.

But you know what I never realised that this is part of the ayah about being with your spouse in Ramadan. It actually is part of a long ayah but it never really hit me, the significance of it being in this particular place.

It comes in the section of ayah that speak about fasting during Ramadan. Before this ayah, Allah speaks about those who are exempt from fasting and then Allah tells us how He will answer us if we call Him. It speaks about dua and that He is near.

Straight after this Allah tells us He has made marital relations permissible in the night. Then says “they are clothing for you and you are clothing for them.”

This made me realise that there has to be a connection between increasing our taqwa and having a good husband and wife relationship.

As we spend this monthfasting and in dhikr, praying and reading Quran we should see that reflect in our marriage. Our God consciousness should make us more conscious of how we treat our spouse. These acts of worship should help us improve our character and this should be most prevalent in how we speak and behave with our spouse.

These acts of worship shouldn’t be just a ritual we do but we should put it into action in our daily lives. So as we read the Quran and it tells us the characteristics of the believers implement them. It tells us about diseases of the heart try and remove it from within yourself.

Reflecting on this ayah alone tells us so much about how to be with our spouse. We should look for the good in them. We should cover their faults from others so that means we shouldn’t go round telling others things that annoy you about your spouse. Beautify your spouse.

It is such a blessed time to work on your marriage. There are shayateen to whisper in your ear to cause disunity between you. As we are more God conscious, we are more aware that Allah is watching us, we should behave in such a way that we will happy to know that Allah is watching.

So use this month to also work on your marriage. As you improve your relationship with Allah also improve your relationship with your spouse.

Ramadan Reflection – Allah knows everything 

Sometimes me and my husband open the translation of the Quran on a random page and reflect on the ayah we come across. Last night we read this ayah;
Unquestionably, to God belongs whatever is in the heavens and earth. Already He knows that upon which you (stand) and (knows) the day when they will be returned to Him and He will inform them of what they have done. And God is Knowing of all things. Quran (24:64)
We discussed how in this ayah, Allah tells us that He knows where we stand. As in He knows what is in our hearts, the basis for our actions and what condition our souls are in. He knows whether we do something out of sincere faith or if theres hypocrisy in our hearts. So we can’t hide anything from Him.
Then Allah says when we will return to Him. Not if, when. So we will with certainty go back to Him. With whatever deeds we did, good or bad. And that Allah will tell us what we did in our lives. Every single thing we did.
He knows what is done sincerely, what we did to show off, what we did publically and what we did in private. For example someone could be diligent in their prayers when they are out in public and always tell people that they must pray on time. But in private they delay or miss their prayers. Even though no one else would know this about them. Allah will know. This person cannot hide it from Allah.
Just like someone in public may not seem practicing but in private they pray all their prayers sincerely and read Quran etc. No one knows this about them but Allah knows.
When we return to Allah, He will then tell us exactly what we did and whether we were sincere or not. Because as Allah says at the end of the ayah, He is knowing of all things.
He knows us better than anyone else in our lives, even better than we know our own selves. We cannot hide anything from Him. Like He says in another ayah, He is closer to us than our jugular vein. So how can we ever possibly imagine that we could hide anything from Him.
So we should take this as a warning and use our time to become better people and to try to be sincere in everything that we do.

Self Esteem 

Allah will not change a condition of a people until they change what is within themselves. Quran (13:11)

I recently listened to a really interesting lecture about self esteem and the islamic perspective. It was really interesting to hear as we all suffer from low self esteem in one way or another. So learning about self esteem will help us to increase our self esteem.

Self-esteem: The value you place on yourself, which enables you to love and cherish who you are and care for yourself accordingly.

Having good self esteem and self worth gives you self confidence. You have a positive outlook in life and are thankful for what you have. It’s so important to be grateful as the opposite of shirk is kufr. This in turn will help you succeed in life as you will be more resistant to difficulties and obstacles and be able to overcome them. Having good self esteem will help to improve your relationships, as you are comfortable with yourself you won’t feel jealous, intimidated or threatened by anyone else. For example the mother/sister in law can be threatened by the daughter in law, they sometimes feel that the daughter in law will “take” the son from them. Having good self esteem means that you are confident in your relationship so will not feel that a new person will destroy that relationship. One of the most important reasons for having good self esteem is that it will give you inner peace. You won’t be obsessed over the events of the past and keep blaming yourself for mistakes that can’t be changed. You will be able to accept whatever has happened and learn from it and move on.

None of you will believe until you love for your brother what you love for yourself. (Bukhari)

This hadith is so important it teaches that we should feel good about who we are and be able to see the success of others and we should not feel jealous of what others have. When we constantly feel as though you deserve what others have more than them or you are jealous of their success it is as if you are questioning Allahs wisdom. Allah gave that person that success for a reason, but do we think we know better than Allah? Allah is al-Hakeem, the wise, He knows exactly what is best and for whom. We should remember that just as want certain things, we should also want others to have it too. But we need to have good self worth and self esteem to be able to want for others what you want for yourself.

So what does it mean to have good self esteem? The sister explained different components that make up having good self esteem.

1) Your personality – having a strong personality improves your self esteem.

2) Spirituality – you are true to what you believe. You are not easily influenced to change your opinions to match what others are saying. You live by your own values and standards.

3) Looks – you feel content with your looks. You avoid both extremes of being obsessed and letting go.

4) Sense of purpose – You know where you are heading

5) Sense of belonging and acceptance – You are at peace with yourself and accept yourself the way you are.

6) Sense of competence – you have proficiency in different areas and are aware of areas of self improvement. You are able to filter information in an empowering way.

7) Influence others – you are aware of the impact you have on others and you know when to take feedback from others.

So our self esteem is affected by many different factors in life.

There are ways to improve your self esteem and as we are all vulnerable to suffering from low self esteem at some point in our lives it’s important to know ways in which we can improve our self esteem.

1) We all do a lot of self-talking. We speak to ourselves in our head all the time. I can’t do this or what will people think if I did this? We need to change our self talk into one that is positive. Tell ourselves that we can do it, that we have the ability to achieve the goal. Motivate ourselves.

2) Surrounding yourself with positive people can make a huge difference in your self esteem. The type of people you surround yourself with affects how you think. So if the people you are around are always complaining, are ungrateful and always focus on the negative then you will be pulled into that type of thinking. And the opposite is also true. So it’s important to be careful in who you spend your time with.

3) Celebrate small successes. Don’t wait until the absolute end of a goal to celebrate. Celebrate each milestone, each step you took. Take the time to acknowledge each step and reward yourself for achieving it. It will help to motivate you and encourage you.

4) Volunteer for a charity. Sometimes you can’t see it from the inside so you need to start on the outside. The feeling you get when you help someone can help you a lot in making you feel better about yourself. It makes you more grateful and helps you see the good in your life by helping those less fortunate than ourselves.

5) Dress in a presentable way. The way you are dressed can impact the way you think about yourself. So even if you are at home all day don’t stay in your pyjamas.

So we should all work on our self esteem as there are many things in life which can affect it. But we shouldn’t confuse good self esteem with arrogance. Self esteem is appreciating what you have been give, being grateful. It is not feeling that you are better than others. There is no contradiction between good self esteem and being humble. Having good self esteem means you feel safe and secure about who you are

I Want More!

Competition in (worldly) increase diverts you.
Until you visit the graveyards.
No! You are going to know.
Then no! You are going to know.
No! If you only knew with knowledge of certainty
You will surely see the hellfire.
Then you will surely see it with the eye of certainty.
Then you will surely be asked that day about pleasure.
Surah At-Takāthur
Spending our lives competing for the next best thing. We are all guilty of this. We spend so much of our time and effort on trying to get the next best thing. We always want more, we’re never satisfied with what we have. For some it’s clothes, others it’s shoes, some want a better paid job, others want a bigger house and some want lavish weddings. Some compete with our children, who’s child can be more successful. What we fail to realise is that none of these things last, they’re temporary. And why do we want these things? To show others that what you have is better than theirs? To be proud that you have things other people don’t? Because you just desire to have more, that what you haven’t can never be enough?
In Surah At-Takathur, Allah tells us that we are all so preoccupied by the love of the world, we are so attracted to its ornaments that it distracts us so much that we actually forget the dunya is temporary and we delay in seeking the aakhirah and limiting our desire for it.  The love of the dunya distracts us so much that death comes to us and it’s too late. In a hadith narrated in Bukhari, the prophet (saw) told us that At-Takathur actually means the piling up of wealth and children. In essence we just want more and more and more. We collect all these material things as if it will last forever. We fool ourselves into thinking that if we just had this one last thing we will be satisfied, but when our nafs is so strong it won’t ever be enough.
The prophet (saw) said: If the son of Adam were to possess two valleys of riches. he would long for the third one. And the stomach of the son of Adam is not filled but with dust. And Allaah returns to him who repents. (Muslim)
This hadith shows us that humans are never satisfied with what they have. We always want more and the only thing that stops us from wanting more is death. Our desires take over and we become so busy in competing with each other that it keeps us from our true purpose in life. It stops us from pondering over what our purpose in life is and pondering over the Quran. 
Allah tells us here that it is only when we go to the graveyard and are buried will we realise what we were so distracted from. Its at that time we will beg for a second chance to go back and do what we should’ve done instead of getting distracted. Allah knows that the majority of us will do this so He gives us warning after warning to emphasise how important it is that we don’t get distracted. 
Allah tells us that if we had solid conviction in the knowledge of the Quran we would have seen what we are being distracted from. Then on the day of judgement we will see the hellfire with our own eyes and we will again be certain of what Allah had taught us about in the Quran. Then once we have seen what out fate is we will be asked about every single blessing we had in the dunya. From our eyesight to our house to our children. Every single blessing that we have Allah will question is about it. We’re we grateful? The more blessing we have in the dunya the more we will be questioned. SubhanAllah 
So we should try and be as grateful as we can for every single blessing Allah has given us. To remember that this dunya is temporary and constantly re-focus our minds when we start to get distracted by the dunya. It doesn’t mean we can’t have things, it just means we shouldn’t let these things distract us from our real purpose in life. Look to those less fortunate than us so we can realise just how much we have been blessed with so that our desire for more will decrease. Every single one us desires something and it’s not actually a bad thing to desire things but we need to keep it in control and not allow it to become so important that we forget that we are headed for the aakhirah and we want Jannah. Make Jannah our ultimate desire.

Qadr of Allah

God eliminates what he wills or confirms, and with Him is the mother of the book. Quran (13:39)

And every small and great (thing) is written. Quran (54:53)
If everything is written in the tablet then what role do we play in changing our destiny? Can we really alter what’s been written? If it’s all written then why should we make dua and ask for things?
Know that if all the people get together in order to benefit you with something, they will not be able to benefit you in anything except what Allah has decreed for you. And if they all get together in order to harm you with something, they will not be able to harm you in anything except what Allah has decreed for you. The pens have stopped writing [Divine (Allahs) Preordainments]. And (the ink over) the papers (Book of Decrees) has dried.
(Tirmidhi)
So doesn’t this mean that everything has already been decided? But the hadith mentions pens, in plural. So that must mean there’s more than one pen writing our decree. We know many other times aside from the tablet in which our decrees are written. The angel writes in our mothers womb and we also have laylatul Qadr. From this we learn that there are other times in which Allah decrees what is written for us.
The prophet (saw) said: Allah has appointed an angel in the womb and the angel says, “O Lord! A drop of discharge (ie. semen), O Lord! A clot, O Lord! A piece of flesh.” Then if Allah wishes to complete the child’s creation, the angel will say, ” O Lord! A male or female? O Lord! Wretched or blessed (in religion)? What will his livelihood be? What will his age be?” The angel writes all this while the child is in the womb of its mother. (Bukhari)
Indeed, We sent it down during a blessed night (night of decree) Indeed we were to warn (mankind).
Therein (ie. on that night) is made distinct every precise matter
(Every) matter (proceeding) from Us.
Quran (44:3-5)
So with there being so many times in our lives where our decree is being decided it makes you wonder about why we work so hard for things or bother asking Allah for anything. What amazes me is that actually we are encouraged in the Quran and sunnah to make dua constantly and ask for everything that we want from Allah. There has to be a reason right? Well there is and its a very important reason. Something we always need to keep in mind.
Nothing can change Qadr except dua. (Tirmidhi)
SubhanAllah so if there is a calamity written for us we can combat it with dua. We can ask Allah to change our situation, we can ask Allah to improve our situation and we can ask Allah to remove a hardship too. If our duas are sincere and consistent then it can be changed!
One of my favourite examples is Yunas (as), he was in the belly of a whale and Allah tells us in the Quran that he would have stayed there until the day of judgement if he hadn’t made the dua to Allah. So Allah changed what was decreed for him and he was allowed out of the belly of the whale.
There is nothing that is beyond our supplication. If Allah allows our tongue to move to ask for something then that means that Allah wants to give us something. We should strive to make dua constantly and consistently and never give up hope in the mercy of Allah. But we always need to keep in mind that sometimes what we are asking for is not good for us. We may not understand or be able to see why with our limited vision and wisdom but Allah is Al-Hakeem, the wise and He knows what is going to better for us. Allah always plans in our favour and He loves that we make dua to Him. He waits for us in the last third of every night to see who will make dua to Him so that He can answer it.
Prophet (saw) said: “The dua of any one of you will be answered so long as he does not seek to hasten it, and does not say, ‘I made dua but I had no answer.’” (Bukhari).

Rizq is only from Allah 

And there is no creature on earth but that God is its provision, and He knows its place of dwelling and place of storage (before birth and after death). All is in a clear register. Quran (11:6)

We worry so much about how we will be able to afford this and this. We work and work and work trying to earn enough money to pay for all the things we want and need. Yet we forget that our rizq, our sustenance comes from Ar-Razzaq, the Provider. 

And every small and great (thing) is written. Quran (54:53)

 

Our sustenance, everything we will ever get in our lifetime has already been decided. It was decided 50,000 years before the heavens and the earth was created. Just think about that, not 50,000 years before you were born but Allah wrote in His tablet everything that will happen including our sustenance.

Say “Never will we be struck by what God has decreed for us; He is our protector” and upon God let the believers rely. Quran (9:51)

Allah knows exactly what you need and when you need it. He will provide everything for us, but don’t think that means we can just sit there and it will land in our laps, we have to work hard too. But it needs to be a balanced approach, we need to have tawakkul in Allah that He will provide us with what we need but we also know that He tells us that we have to take the first step. One of my favourite examples is when Maryam was under the palm tree alone with no one to help her during her labour, she had faith in Allah that He will help her, yet she still had to shake the palm tree to get the dates. Allah didn’t just make them fall without her having to do anything, she had to shake the tree first then Allah sent the dates. This shows me that no matter what difficulty you are in if you have tawakkul in Allah and you continue to strive hard then Allah will provide for you in ways you couldn’t even imagine.

The prophet (saw) said: Allah has appointed an angel in the womb and the angel says, “O Lord! A drop of discharge (ie. semen), O Lord! A clot, O Lord! A piece of flesh.” Then if Allah wishes to complete the child’s creation, the angel will say, ” O Lord! A male or female? O Lord! Wretched or blessed (in religion)? What will his livelihood be? What will his age be?” The angel writes all this while the child is in the womb of its mother. (Bukhari)

When a child is born it’s provision has already been decided by Allah and then written by the angel. So we should not run after the dunya as only what has already been written for us will come to us and no matter how much we want something and how hard we work to get it, if it is not decreed for us then there’s nothing we can do to get it. We should be grateful for all the blessings Allah has given us, and not compare what we have to other who seem to have more than us. We should remember that we have far more than a lot of people.
One thing we need to remember is that having faith that Allah will provide for us does not mean we can spend our money excessively and live out of our means. We need to be wise in how we use the provision given to us. So if we have an income of £1000 a month we should not spend beyond this. We should distinguish between what we need and what we want. And although Allah has said to enjoy what Allah has provided for us, He does not like people to be extravagant. Living a life within our means and being happy with what Allah has provided for us will mean we are much happier and not so stressed out.