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Storms occur unexpectedly; some last for a few minutes, some last a few hours and some last a few days.  Regardless of the duration of each storm, we know that they pass and come to an end eventually. Storms are like the trials and tribulations of this life. Each situation passes and moves onto the next. We may face a certain trial or a series of trials suddenly, abruptly and simultaneously. Often we cannot predict how long we will be under that specific trial for, but knowing that just like storms eventually come to an end, the trial(s) we face also come to an end eventually. 

“If you want to be a true follower of Abraham, then do as he did: I do not love that which wanes and vanishes [6:76]. Every circumstance wanes and vanishes. It is ephemeral and will pass away. One poet has said:

 

Coming from nothing
Going to nothing
It’s called circumstance
Because it circles.
Everything that appears
By necessity disappears.
Look at the shadow as you stand
To what end does it come?
No matter how long it is,
It inevitably grows less and less

As I said, whatever circumstance you find yourself in, whether you enjoy it or despise it, will without a doubt pass away.” ~ Excerpt from The Book of Illumination by Ibn Ata’Allah al-Iskandari
 
Dealing with one trial is extremely testing and demands incredible sabr (patience), but having a serious of trials one after the other makes one realise Allah’s Lordship over them and that no matter what they do, they have no control over their affairs. Allah is the One who can and will ease things when He wants, not when we have had enough and can’t cope.  We must never forget the beautiful words of our Lord ta’ala when He says in the Qu’ran al-Karim:

“On no soul doth Allah Place a burden greater than it can bear” (2:286).

When placed under those circumstances, we have no choice but to submit ourselves to the Lord of the worlds and endure everything, regardless of the excruciating pain we may feel, whether emotionally or physically.  Submission is not as easy as it sounds and the heart is in constant turmoil with preconceived thoughts of what the outcome may be, or the length we have to be in that state for. But regardless of how we may feel, we are powerless to do anything about the situation and just have to wait until the Lord most High pulls us out of the situation, because only He has the Power to do that. We all get tested but in different ways; whatever the case, we must know that Allah ta’ala will never leave us and is fully aware of our situation.  People may turn their backs, but Allah ta’ala will never leave us. Allah ta’ala knows our state, situation and what we carry in the hearts and only He can bring the ease and fulfil our needs when He wills. As the great Gnostic Ibn Ata’Allah said eloquently in his Book of Illumination:

“Knowing that Allah knows our condition gives us patience with Allah’s decision.”

And

“Knowing that divine goodness’ subtleties hidden in every difficult gives us patience in high degrees to endure all divine decrees.” 
  
May Allah alleviate the sufferings of all those Muslim brothers and sisters who are going through trials and tribulations, and may each trial be a means of seeking His forgiveness and salvation on the day of judgement. Allahumma amin! 

Photo credit: David HR http://www.flickr.com/photos/hdr400d/1517884823/

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“Ease [yusr] & hardship [‘usr] are the feathers that give strength to the wings of your faith [iman], so that your heart and your innermost being [sirr] can use them to fly to the door of your Lord (Almighty and Glorious is He)”

~Shaykh ‘Abd al-Qadir al-Jilani

I received a text message from a special friend a couple of weeks ago. Within the text message, my friend mentioned to me that if you have love for the Prophet sallaAllahu ‘alayhi wasalam in your heart, then calamities are purification for you and not punishment. This poignant reminder really moved me so I asked my friend to elaborate on this. She wrote the following out for me, and with her permission, I am posting it here for everyone to benefit from insha’Allah ta’ala:

……….
 
Whenever time caused me any distress and I took refuge in him.
I received shelter from him, which was not misused.
I did not ask for the wealth of the two worlds from his hand.
But I received a great gift from the best hand that was ever kissed.
 
Al-Burdah
 
There are certain verses from the burdah that keep coming back to me and this is one of them. It seems to come forth in times of calamities and brings peace and tranquillity to the heart. For he sallaAllahu ‘alayhi wasalam is the key to our happiness. He is there for us and he feels our pain. When we remember him it removes our sadness and replaces it with peace. He is the key to Allah and he is the centre of our lives.
 
Recently I sat in a dars about the 20 benefits of salawat. It was a most blessed gathering and there was not one single eye that didn’t stream with tears.
 
One of the most poignant things that was said that day for me was that Allah will never punish a heart that contains the love of the Prophet sallaAllahu ‘alayhi wasalam within it. If you suffer calamities or difficulties then know it is purification for you and not punishment. For Allah will never punish you if you have love for his Beloved sallaAllahu ‘alayhi wasalam.
 
Loving him is better than going for jihad or setting a slave free, and making salawat has more effect than when water is put on a fire.
 
The other main point taken was that one of the benefits of making salawat is that your name will be mentioned to the Prophet sallaAllahu ‘alayhi wasalam. A special angel on the grave of the shareef will give the names of all of creation. There is no one person who gives salaam without this angel telling the Prophet sallaAllahu ‘alayhi wasalam. He will know you and your father (I think this is something great to think about especially for reverts) as the angel will mention so and so, son or daughter of so and so gives salaams.
 
It is enough to know that Allah and His beloved know your name. If he mentions your name or remembers you then surely you will go steps towards Allah.
 
So we undergo distress, sadness, loss and calamities but our shelter is him. To know him, remember him and love him. For some of us reading this, may at one time in our life not even known his name but it is true to say ‘we received a great gift from the best hand that was ever kissed’ when we entered into Islam.
…………

Whilst on the topic of loving the Beloved Prophet sallaAllahu alayhi wasalam, I would also like to share something which Dr. Asim Yusuf (aka Talib al-Habib)  narrated to us at the al-Ghazali retreat in Spain last week. Dr. Asim mentioned how when the time came to leave his Shaykh (may Allah elevate his rank) in South Africa, he was feeling really anxious. He said to his Shaykh that he doesn’t know what he will do without him now that he will be going back to the UK, and how they will be so far apart. His Shaykh advised to carry the Beloved sallaAllahu a’alayhi wasalam in your heart wherever you go, and you’ll never be alone. Subhan’Allah! This was a very strong and moving reminder for all of us sat in that gathering. It reminded us of how at times when we feel alone or are going through trials/tribulations, we should only have to look inside our hearts and find RasulAllah sallaAllahu alayhi wasalam to guide and comfort us; for he sallaAllahu alayhi wasalam is our key to the Lord, and it’s only the Lord who can move us from one state to another. 

May the Beloved sallaAllahu ‘alayhi wasalam never leave our hearts. May we seek comfort with him in this life and the akhirah; may he be our companion in hardship and ease and may we sincerely humble ourselves in thanks to Allah. Allahumma Amin ya Rabb!

Please may I request you recite al-Fatiha and make du’a for my friend who took time out to share and write the above, and also for Dr. Asim.
 

I was flicking through my notebook earlier, and came across a very short, yet significant piece of advice which a friend expressed many moons ago. Thought I’d share here as it‘s a great reminder for myself, and insha‘Allah ta’ala it may benefit other people who read this……..

“……..Every situation, good or bad, it’s a choice upon ourselves. Predicted on our intentions, whether it becomes a tool for good or for bad, the choice is yours. Either you can decide to follow it through to raise you up or you can complain about it, and send you down. That’s not theory, that’s a practise. If you practise it, you know that everything is due to God. And if you know that God acts with Hikma, with wisdom, then you know that in all occurrences, there is wisdom in that what happens to you. There is the opportunity for khayr and for goodness.

Shaykh Abdal-Qadir al-Jilani says in his Futuh al-Ghaib (Revelations of the Unseen) on how people experience events,  that there are two kinds of people:
1. Those who are blessed with good fortune
2. Those who are tried by what their Lord (Almighty and Glorious is He) has decreed.

Both kinds of people should be aware that “Lo! thy Lord is Doer of what He will.” (11:107), and that He changes and transforms, sweetens and embitters, enriches and impoverishes, exalts and abases, honours and humbles, gives life and causes death, brings forward and puts back. Why should either of them be complacent about his good fortune, why would he be deluded by it, and why would he despair of happy relief while in state of affliction?

So be a good cheer!!

If you don’t get the full thing straight away, that’s fine. We don’t always get the fullness of the thing, but we try and we strive and as a result of that, we hope Allah reveals His mercy upon us and raises us up through His mercy.

Remember, if the servant perseveres in performing the Lord’s commandments (Almighty and Glorious is He), and observing His prohibitions, and in submitting with complete trust to the course of destiny (Qadr), and if he swallows all the bitterness and bears all the burdens involved, opposing his passions and giving up his self-willed desires, Allah (Almighty and Glorious is He) will reward him…….”

 

 

I was going through some very old e-mails and came across a very touching poem which a beautiful friend had forwarded to me a few years back. I believe the original poem was written by Mary Stevenson; this poem has been edited and the beloved Prophet sallaAllahu ‘alayhi wasalam has been added to it.

“One night I had a dream. I dreamed I was walking in the Blessed City of Madinah with my Beloved Prophet sallaAllahu ‘alayhi wasalam. Across the beautiful sky flashed scenes from my life. For each scene, I noticed two sets of footprints in the sand, one belonging to me and one to my Beloved Prophet sallaAllahu ‘alayhi wasalam. When the last scene of my life flashed before me, I looked back at the footprints in the sand. I noticed that many times along the path of my life there was only one set of footprints. I also noticed that it happened at the very lowest and saddest times of my life when I was suffering from anguish, sorrow or defeat. My heart was grieved by this immensely. I turned to my Beloved Prophet sallaAllahu ‘alayhi wasalam and, with tears in my eyes, humbly asked, “Ya Rasoolullah, sallaAllahu ‘alayhi wasalam you promised me that if I followed you, you would walk with me always, and never leave my side. But I have noticed that during the most trying times of my life there is only one set of footprints. I don’t understand why, when I needed you most, you would leave me.” My Beloved Prophet sallaAllahu ‘alayhi wasalam held me close and whispered with his sweet, fragrant breath, “My precious child, I love you and would never leave you. During your times of trial and suffering when you see only one set of footprints, it was then that I carried you.”

May Allah grant us the honour and blessing of meeting RasulAllah sallaAllahu ‘alayhi wasalam in our dreams and in a waken state, and may we be granted his sallaAlahu’alayhi wasalam’s intercession on the day of judgement. Amin ya Rabb!

I was going through my journal (I basically keep a book where I jot down any gems, words of wisdom, profound quotes/stories etc I pick up from influential writers, scholars, poets etc) and came across some points I had noted whilst listening to one of Shaykh Husain Abdul Sattar (may Allah preserve him) lectures a few years ago. I thought I’d share the points here as it’s something which I’ve been currently reflecting on.

“Understanding Sabr”

The noble Shaykh begins the talk quoting the following verse from the Qur’an al-Karim:

In Allaha ma’a al-sabireen (Verily Allah is with those who have sabr).

The Shaykh talks about the people of Sabr (patience). He mentions that there are three types of patience that a person who believes in Allah ta’ala exhibits; and when they exhibit all three types of patience, irrespective of the situation that they face, that is when the truest meaning of the verse (In Allaha ma’a al-sabireen ) comes within their lives.

Types of patience:

1.    Sabr on the good deeds that we do. If we are doing good deeds for the sake of Allah ta’ala, we need to be patient on the deed itself, and be regular in how we do it. We find this in the Sunnah of the Prophet sallaAllahu ‘alayhi wasalam; if he sallaAllahu ‘alayhi wasalam prayed a particular prayer, he would continue with that and not give it up. The Shaykh advised that we must be careful in what we add to our schedule; once we add it, we need to be consistent and keep up with it until we meet our Lord ta’ala.

2.    Once we have implemented a certain deed and have added it to our schedule, we continue and wait patiently for its effect. For example, if we decide to do tasbi after Fajir, we must be patient with the results of it.

3.    We must have Sabr when Allah ta’ala bestows a difficult situation on us, and that we are content with it. We shouldn’t complain, instead realise that the difficulties that undergo in this world are to purify us. We cannot worship all the time or stay away from so much sin; however if we remain patient, Allah ta’ala draws us closer to Him!

Overall, we must remember that whatever we are going through is from Allah ta’ala. Permanent difficulty is distance from Allah ta’ala, and that is what we have to complain about! Thank Allah ta’ala for the difficulties, and know that Allah ta’ala is with the people who have Sabr!

The above is just food for thought and reflection for myself (first and foremost.), and may it benefit all those who read this blog entry, inshaAllah ta’ala. Please note that these are just some of the points which I made whilst listening to the lecture, therefore please do not take them as direct quotes from the Shaykh- I’ve paraphrased! I would strongly recommend listening to the actual lecture which can be found here.

Have you ever taken part in an activity called “Trust Fall”?

Basically, “Trust Fall” is a trust-building activity performed as a group in which a person deliberately allows himself to fall, relying on the other members of the group to catch him. This type of activity is very popular in team building away sessions where the emphasise is on building a trusting relationship with your colleagues.

web20trust20fall

It’s amazing how during those type of exercises, we can just easily relax and fall back! We have the complete confidence that the individual/group will catch us. We trust them.

When the trials of life overwhelm us and we find ourselves perturbed, worried, distressed etc, we should apply the same principle and have conviction that no matter what happens, Allah will not let us fall! He subhanahu wa’tala will catch us.

So relax, fall back and let Him catch you. Just like Mawluna Rumi says in one of his poems “Fall into the Safety of God”.

shhy_17_tn17 Benefits of Tribulation” is a remarkable talk given by Shaykh Hamza Yusuf many years ago, based on the treatise of the seventh century scholar Al-`Izz Ibn `Abdus-Salam – Sultan of the `Ulama’ (may Allah be pleased with him).

This must be one of the talks I actually listen to quite often, especially when I’m feeling down. All of Shaykh Hamza’s talks leave a strong impact on one’s heart; however after listening to this specific talk, it leaves the person with a deeper sense of inspiration and himmah to snap out of the “feeling low” state and to invigorate the high aspirations one has set themselves.

One of the profound analogies Shaykh Hamza makes in the talk, and which I love is:

…we/you are all in the ocean of this duniya; if you panic or have anxiety about things or situations, you will drown. Just RELAX, and you will float because you are in good hands!…. [Paraphrased]

Shaykh Hamza focuses on the hardships the Prophet sallaAllahu ‘alayhi wasalam went through but never allowed any of those afflictions to perturb him. After listening to this lecture, I can say for sure that one will have a different attitude and outlook on calamities and hardships; and it will heal the broken or agitated heart no doubt.

The 17 Benefits of Tribulation are listed below:

  1. You realize the power of Lordship over you.
  2. You realize your object servanthood and your complete state of resignation and brokenness before the will and power of God.
  3. Sincerity to God; one has no place of return in putting off or defending against the calamity except to Him.  It makes you sincere because the muhsin is the one who call on God without any shirk. A moment of ikhlas in this world is enough to save a person.
  4. He returns to God and suddenly is fervent in his desire of his Lord.
  5. It leads to a humbled state before God and it leads to prayers (du’a) that you call on God.
  6. You’re forbearing towards the One who has afflicted you.
  7. You forgive the one who has wronged you.
  8. To be patient during the tribulation.
  9. To be happy about what’s happening because of those benefits.
  10. To be grateful for it.
  11. Purification that these calamities have towards peoples’ wrongs and sins.
  12. Compassion that God enables you to show to people who are in tribulation and to help them.
  13. Tribulation gives you the blessing of having true knowledge of the extent of well-being.
  14. God has prepared rewards for the calamities that you’ve beared patiently or with contentment.
  15. What is hidden inside the folds of these calamities are blessings.
  16. Tribulations prevent you from arrogance.
  17. Contentment.  Tribulation afflicts the good and the evil (people), whoever doesn’t like it, it’s on Him, he’s lost the dunya and the akhira.  Those who are pleased with it, it’s because he knows it, because paradise is better than anything in this world and if these tribulations are what it takes for him to get to paradise, then he’s content with it.

[Courtesy of ihsaan.wordpress]

I strongly recommend everyone to buy a copy of this lecture and listen for themselves.

May Allah elevate Shaykh Hamza’s rank in both worlds, and protect him from all harm and evil. May we use each trial and tribulation as a means of reaching closer to Him Ta’ala.

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