Ramadan Reflection Day 27: Taqwa

There’s been this talk all month long about taqwa this and taqwa that. But what is taqwa? I mean, what does it mean to be God-conscious or pious? Looking at the arabic language leads us to better understanding it. The root word of taqwa means to save oneself, to protect oneself. It also leads to the word for a shield – something we use to protect ourselves from harm.

‘Umar ibn AlKhattab, radhiaAllahu ‘anhu once asked Ibn Ka’ab, radhiaAllahu ‘anhu, the definition of taqwa. In reply Ibn Ka’ab asked, “Have you ever had to traverse a thorny path?” ‘Umar replied in the affirmative and ibn Ka’ab continued, “How do you do so?” ‘Umar said that he would carefully walk through after first having collected all loose and flowing clothing in his hands so nothing gets caught in the thorns hence injuring him. Ibn Ka’ab said, “This is the definition of taqwa, to protect oneself from sin through life’s dangerous journey so that one can successfully complete the journey unscathed by sin.”

So when fasting was commanded to us for the purpose of attaining taqwa, what does it mean? It’s for us remember Allah swt in every moment. When we feel that pang of hunger, we won’t eat because we are doing this for the sake of Allah. When someone angers us, we won’t snap back because the empty stomach is reminding us of our purpose – taqwa – and we’ll bite our tongue.

We’re taught in Ramadan that we can stay away from the halal – food and drink – while fasting for the sake of Allah. We’ve developed taqwa, God-consciousness, in regards to those two things. But how about outside of Ramadan, with the things which aren’t halal? How about the sins we commit on a daily basis? The nasty comments we say to those around us? The laziness when it comes to praying on time? Where’s the taqwa there? If we can stay away from the halal, what’s stopping us from the haram?

The Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) said, “The most common thing which leads people to Paradise is taqwa of Allah and good conduct, and the most common thing which leads people to the Hell Fire is the mouth and the private parts.” [Tirmidhi]

See, the purpose of Ramadan isn’t to go through a 30 day ‘cleanse’ and then go back to your regularly scheduled programming. Ramadan is supposed to instill in us such a sense of taqwa that it will carry into the whole year, in every aspect of our lives. When we’re with people. When we’re alone. Because in every single situation of our lives, Allah swt is fully aware of what we’re doing.

As Ramadan comes to an end, we’ll be going back to our ‘regular’ lives and sometimes thinking it’s not as easy to stay away from the things we said we would. This month should have reminded us that Allah swt is always available and He would never give us something we can’t bear. Ramadan gives us the best tool we could ever receive – the shield of taqwa. With it, we can take on anything this year brings us, bi’idhnillah.

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Ramadan Reflection Day 26: So Pardon Me

A’isha radi Allahu `anha (may Allah be pleased with her) asked the Prophet ﷺ (peace be upon him), “If I knew which night is Laylat al-Qadr (the Night of Power), what should I say during it?” The Prophet ﷺ told her to say:

Allahumma innaka ‘afuwwun tuhibul ‘afwa fa’fu ‘anni.

“O Allah, indeed You are the Pardoner, You love to Pardon, so Pardon me.” [Tirmidhi]

Ramadan Reflection Day 25*: Charisma

When you go out into the world and interact with people, you notice some things. Lately, while having conversations with middle-aged professional non-Muslim men, I’ve noticed they tend to be extremely well-mannered. I am generalizing (obviously) because I’ve only interacted with a certain group but it’s there. I’ve had my chair pulled out for me before I sit down at a dinner. Doors are always held open. In conversation, I feel like whatever I say it important – even if I’m commenting on something as simple as the weather.

When I compare it to my interactions within the community, there’s a huge difference. Yes, there are those with manners, alhamdulillah. The majority, however, feels like another case. I’m sure they know what manners are but when it comes to interacting with a female Muslim, they move from respect mode to avoid-all-interaction-and-run-away-mode. This shouldn’t be the case at all. (I mean last time I checked, Muslim women don’t bite…)

Islam is all about moderation. So in our opposite gender interactions, there should be moderation as well. One can have a respectful conversation whilst remaining polite and charming *without* it seeming like it has turned into a flirtation. It doesn’t always have to go there. (Sometimes I feel like we really need to get out minds out of the gutter.)

I posted the story earlier of the Prophet, sall Allahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, interacting with Umayyah bint Qays who was a young girl. There are countless other examples of how he interacted not only with his wives and daughters but with the women of all ages in the society. I mean, the Prophet sat through halaqahs with women discussing very personal topics – without being vulgar or inappropriate, sall Allahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. Women aside, even in general, the Prophet made each person feel like he or she was the most important person in the world. He instilled so much love just by his simple actions that he defined charisma. Yet no one accused him or any inappropriate motives or actions. Even those who didn’t believe in him couldn’t deny he had manners or was extremely honourable and truthful.

‘Abdullah bin AlMubarak, rahimahuAllah, said, “Mukhlid Iibn AlHusayn once said to me, ‘We are more in need of acquiring adaab (good manners) than learning hadith.” This is something we need to live by. We should be intent on increasing our knowledge all the time but that’s not enough. We are in a month in which the focus was deeds such as fasting and praying but these things mean so little if they are followed through with bad manners. We can fast, pray, and seek as much knowledge as we want but if we cannot interact with other human beings politely, what does it say about our supposed ‘good’ deeds?

*I didn’t get to post yesterday so inshaAllah I’ll be attempting to post 2 today.

Ramadan Reflection Day 24: Virtues of Du’aa

In a hadith narrated by Abu Hurayrah, the Prophet, sall Allahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, said, “In the court of Allah, there is no greater thing than du’aa.” [Ibn Majah]

“Verily your Lord is Generous and Shy. If His servant raises his hands to Him (in supplication) He becomes shy to return them empty.” [Ahmad, Abu Dawood, Tirmidhi]

“For whoever the door of du’aa is opened, for him the doors of mercy are opened…” [Tirmidhi]

Ramadan Reflection Day 23: Body Language

My Dad came up to me earlier today with a humourous glint in my eye.
‘What does ‘Abbasa’ mean?’
Confused, I looked up.
My little brother jumped in. ‘He frowned.’
Daddy looked back at me.
Sheepishly, realizing what he meant, I agreed. ‘Yeah… he frowned.’

My little brother had been doing something which, as the elder sibling, I disproved of. So I was frowning (some would say glaring) at him. Clearly, my Dad noticed and wanted to make this point.

See, this surah covers the story of the Prophet, peace be upon him, and a blind man, Abdullah ibn Makhtoom, whom he frowned at because he was in the middle of a conversation with the big shots of Quraysh. The Prophet didn’t respond with words to hurt him. His frown couldn’t even be seen by Abdullah seeing as he was blind. However, Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala saw. And sent this surah as a lesson for all of us.

Sometimes we’re able to hold back our tongues and stop from hurting people verbally when something is done that we don’t like. But we don’t stop our facial expressions and body language. Those two are not missed. Some research says that body language is 60 – 70% of a conversation, which shows us that a frown can go a very, long way. People pick up on the vibes body language gives off, regardless if they are aware of it or not.

Even if the person we’re speaking to does not notice it, Allah swt will notice it. Going back to the point of every action and the reminder Ramadan brings, are we keeping taqwa, staying conscious of God, in mind in our conversations? In our words? Facial expressions? Body language? It may be quite easy to stay silent for some of us but controlling whatever negative emotion we may be feeling from showing in our demeanor is much more difficult and quite often ignored.

Ramadan Reflection Day 22: Bittersweet

The last 10 days make me sad. Not because Ramadan is ending (although that is a factor as well) but more so because of the intense increase in people at the mosque. I know I should be happy. At least all these people came to the mosque in the last 10 days. At least they came on the 27th night. At least they’re here right now.

Alhamdulillah. Yes. I am happy for that. You never know what obligations may have kept some of us from Ramadan. But it’s bittersweet. The whole month is blessed yet, in general, we only most excitedly take advantage of the last 10 days and sometimes only one night. It’s a reflection in other parts of our lives. How many opportunities for mercy or khayr are there in our lives but we only take advantage of those that require the least effort, least work, least energy on our part? We can pull countless all-nighters for school or work but exerting our efforts throughout a mere 29 or 30 days is too much.

This Ramadan is almost over but it’s never too late to reset our priorities. We should be taking advantage of every single minute of what is left, inshaAllah. Let’s not let it end there. We partake in the sunnah of taraweeh – allow it to mean that our sunnah salah is prayed throughout the year. We stand in qiyaam on the 27th – allow it to be a means of praying qiyam, maybe even once a month throughout the year. We aim for at least one completion of the Qur’an in this month – allow it to be at least one khatm in the whole year.

Ramadan Reflection Day 21: Where Are They?

“Where are the bright ones, the handsome-looking ones, and where are those who took pride in their youthfulness – where have they gone? Where are the great kings who built cities and castles and fortified them with towering walls? What happened to the lionhearted valorous ones who made their enemy suffer humiliation in the battlefields? Time waned under their feet and they ended inside dark graves. Think of it and take heed.” 

— Abu Bakr asSideeq, radhiAllahu ‘anhu