Thursday, July 30, 2009

Train Your Will Power

Many people fail to get ahead because they have no willpower to do what they know they should be doing. Nor can they help themselves to avoid the things which they know will ruin them. Many such people would like to give up smoking, to stop using drugs, or to avoid affairs outside of marriage. Many find that gambling or alcohol addiction is wrecking their lives. Yet these people have no willpower to set their life on the right course. They feel helpless, and they have to deal with a nagging conscience that pricks them with what they could have done, or should have done.

Yet there are some strong-willed people who seem to be able to do what they know is right and avoid what they know is wrong. Such people experience peace of mind knowing that they are doing the right thing. Their willpower is obviously working for them.

But how do they do it? What is the secret? The secret is that you can train your willpower.

Suppose you made a resolution to skip lunch for a month and actually stuck to your decision. You may save your lunch money, lose a few pounds, develop sympathy for the poor, and give your digestive system a much-needed rest. More importantly, you will strengthen your willpower.

The reason this works is that you teach yourself to avoid lunch even when you know you could have it if you decide. Your stomach may growl, but you won't listen. Thus you train yourself to ignore the calling of your lower physical self and reach for the higher goals of real human achievement. If you stick to your decision day after day for a month you can develop a regular habit of doing the right thing even when your desires are calling for something else.

Every year, for one month, able Muslims go through a similar fasting exercise. They observe the fast as a compulsory practice which God prescribed in His revealed messages, especially in His last revealed book. One of the many benefits they experience from fasting is its training aspect. The willpower they develop in the one month helps them to continue doing the right thing and avoiding the wrong throughout the year. They find the fast such an effective method of spiritual training and of achieving a closeness with their creator that many Muslims also keep some additional, optional, fasts on other days of the year. They eat an early breakfast before dawn and a late dinner after sunset. From dawn to sunset they would have no food or drink; they would also refrain from sexual activity. Whereas the baser selves regularly call for these things, Muslims train themselves with the help of God to fulfill their natural needs in the time and manner which God declared suitable for human dignity and well-being.

During the fast Muslims also train themselves to always avoid lying, cheating, backbiting, and all manner of false speech and immoral actions.

Compiled From:
"How to Train Your will power to work for you" - Shabir Ally

Seek the Good in Everyone

We must recognize that every person who believes in Allah and in His Messenger cannot be devoid of some inborn good, however evil his practice may be. Involvement in major transgressions does not uproot a person's iman unless the transgressor deliberately defies Allah and scorns His commands. Here, as elsewhere, we have to heed the Sunnah of the Prophet, peace be upon him, who used to treat wrongdoers as a physician would treat a patient, not as a policeman would treat a criminal. He was very kind to them and always listened to their problems.

During the lifetime of the Prophet there was an alcoholic who was repeatedly brought to the Prophet and was repeatedly punished, yet still persisted. One day when he was brought again on the same charge and was lashed, a man from among the people said: "May Allah curse him! How frequently has he been brought [to the Prophet to be punished]?" The Prophet said: "Do not curse him. By Allah I know he loves Allah and His Messenger." It is also reported that the Prophet said: "Do not assist Satan against your brother." The Prophet prevented them from cursing him because their action could create discord and ill­ feeling between the man and his fellow Muslim brothers - his transgression should not sever the bond of brotherhood between him and other Muslims.

Deep contemplation of the above example and incident amply demonstrates the Prophet's insight into the inherent element of goodness in man. We need, more than ever before, to study and follow the exemplary pattern that the Prophet has set for us. Those extremists who indiscriminately accuse whoever makes a mistake of kufr or shirk must understand that they have to change their strategy and learn that a great deal of the corruption and perversion they abhor results mainly from ignorance of Islam, bad company, or forgetfulness. The solution is to help people overcome and defeat all these problems. To be harsh, to accuse others of kufr, and to find fault with whatever they do only serves to alienate and estrange them. A wise man once said: "Rather than cursing darkness, try to light a candle for the road."

Compiled From:
Islam: The Way of Revival,"The Ethics of Daw'wah and Dialogue" - Yusuf al Qaradawi, pp. 224, 225

Pious Souls

Maryam (Mary)
Chapter 19: Verse 96

"Allah the Most Gracious bestows love on those who believe and do good."

Allah the Most Gracious evokes everyone's love for believers who are engaged in good deeds. It is significant that the divine attribute of "grace" is especially mentioned in this context. For it represents His mercy and grace. Allah infuses our love for such pious souls.

An authentic hadith, recorded by both Bukhari and Muslim, states that when Allah loves one of His servants, He tells Gabriel: "I love this servant of Mine. You should also love him." The latter passes on this message to other angels stationed at various heavens. So much so that love for this person permeates even the fish in the water and the ants in their colonies.

We have witnessed first hand how Allah showers His grace on His pious servants. They are loved in all the corners of the world. Men are captivated by them. Such a phenomenon is consistent and may be observed by anyone at any time.

Compiled From:
"Guidance from the Holy Quran" - Sayyid Abul Hasan Ali Nadwi, pp. 227, 228

Monday, July 20, 2009

Six Tips To Dealing with TV

It's tough to escape peer pressure when your friends keep talking about the clothes, the music and the stars. Today, Television defines teen culture. With its barrage of alluring advertisements and captivating shows, it tells you what is cool and what is 'in' and 'out. Let Islam, not the media, decide your dress code, morals, and values.

1. Watch what is Halal. Stick to the most "clean" material you can find. TV should be used with discretion to watch educational and insightful programs or decent entertainment.

2. Remove the TV from your room. Having a TV set in your own room encourages you to watch it more. You are less likely to be tempted by Shaytan to watch something indecent when you have a parent, a sibling, or a friend watching with you. Remember, Shaytan loves attacking people who are 'bored', sitting idle, or in a company of bad people. Keep the TV in the main room, where it won't distract you.

3. Adopt and support Islamic media. Hundreds of educational or entertainment multi-media products crafted by Muslim artists, writers, producers, and singers hit the market every year. These cartoons, movies, and songs could be enjoyable for the entire family!

4. Limit viewing time. If you have to watch TV, limit yourself. Write down a number of hours per week and stick to your limit.

5. Keep the box off when you're doing other things. Whether you're eating dinner, doing your homework, or reading a magazine, you dont need the TV to be on at the same time--keeping it on simply encourages you to watch TV more and neglect other activities.

6. Have a TV free get-together with friends. Make the following rule: no one will watch TV or movies in the living room. If you want to go further, make it a rule that the topics of conversation cannot revolve around the latest twist in a soap opera or the most recent plot on a sci-fi show. Play basketball, go for a walk, do anything but watch TV.

Compiled From:
"Turn off TV - Turn on Life" - Young Muslims Publications

Fasting in Shaban

Ayesha said: "I never saw the Messenger of Allah fast a complete month except for Ramadan, and I have never seen him fast more in a month than he did in Shaban." [Bukhaari, Muslim]

Usamah ibn Zaid inquired: "O Messenger of Allah, I never find you fasting in any month like you do during the month of Shaban." The Prophet responded: "That is the month the people neglect. It comes between Rajab and Ramadan. It is a month in which the deeds are raised to the Lord of the Worlds. I love that my deeds be raised while I am fasting." [An-Nasaa'i, authenticated by ibn Khuzaimah. Hasan according to al-Albaani]

Narrated Abu Hurairah, Allah's Messenger said: "When the month of Shaban is halfway, do not fast." [Reported by the five, Ahmad disapproved it].

As-San`aanee says in Subul us-Salaam: "One can fast provided he has to observe a compensatory fasting (in lieu of the Fard - obligatory ones) or the other prescribed ones which may be categorised as Wajib (compulsory). However, the volitional fasting is prohibited lest one should be subjected to exhaustion and weakness that may in turn render the Ramadan obligatory fasting difficult for him."


Power Organisation

Al-Isra (The Night Jorney)
Chapter 17: Verse 80 (partial)

"and give me a sultan (i.e. power, authority, government) for my help ..."

It is a reality of our world that power only respects power. For transforming society and the world according to Islamic ideals, great power needs to be acquired and mobilised. This is why the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, prayed and worked for gaining power and authority as mentioned in this verse of the Quran.

Power is crucial for advancing positive values and changes in society and for checking corruption and evil. However, it is only a means and not an objective in itself. Power is for Islam, for implementing Islamic values and justice, for the betterment of humanity and not for any personal or national vested interests. Islam stresses that power should be accountable and accessible, and not become an instrument of manipulation, persecution, aggression and injustice.

Power takes many forms and is generally distributed unevenly through society. Besides faith in Allah, determination, cohesion and moral power, other sources of power that can be mobilised by a movement include: money, material resources, technology, sources of information, media and political platforms, as well as skills and specialised knowledge.

Islam instructs Muslims to seek means for strengthening themselves - they should endeavour to become strong in faith, strong spiritually and morally, strong socially, physically, intellectually, financially, and militarily. Although corrupt elements did their utmost to eliminate the Prophet Muhammad and his Companions and resisted reforms and changes in society, he was however alert to their plots and prepared his social movement well to meet their aggressions and hostilities.

Compiled From:
"Building A New Society" - Zahid Parvez, pp. 203, 204

Sunday, July 12, 2009

We Choose, the Power is Ours!

Al-Insan (Humans)
Chapter 76: Verse 3

"We showed him the way: whether he be grateful or ungrateful (rests on his will)."

Satan tries to convince us that we are just pawns in a plan that will play itself out. Allah is the Creator of all things, including men, women and their actions. We are the 'doers' of our actions, i.e. we choose to do certain things and not to do certain things.

While Allah has the power to control our actions, He has given us guidance and left it up to us to follow it. Once we realize that we choose our actions, it only makes sense that we are accountable for what we do.

Dupe Check

With Satan constantly attacking us, we need to check our choices so we please Allah and make it to paradise. How do we know if we are on track or headed for a wreck? We should always keep ourselves in check.

But as the saying goes, 'no one can be their own best critic'. That's why it's important to receive critiques from others with an open mind. No one likes to hear they're doing something wrong, but we should take every opportunity we can to hold ourselves to account before we are held accountable by the All Seeing, All Hearing and All Knowing God.

Compiled From:
"Don't Be Duped!" - Young Muslims Publications

Friday, July 3, 2009

Renaissance of Islamic life

No renaissance of Islamic life can be effected purely by law or statute, or by the establishment of a social system on the basis of the Islamic philosophy. Such a step is only one of the two pillars on which Islam must always stand in its construction of life. The other is the production of a state of mind imbued with the Islamic theory of life, to act as an inner motivation for establishing this form of life and to give coherence to all the social, religious, and civil legislation. Social justice is an integral part of this Islamic life; it cannot be realized unless this form of life is first realized, and it cannot have any guaranteed permanence unless this form of life is built up on solid foundations. It is in this similar to all other social systems; it must have the support of public belief and confidence in its merits. Failing this, it will lose its spiritual foundations, and its establishment will depend on the force of religious and social legislation; this is a force that obtains only so long as evasion is impossible.

Hence Islamic legislation relies on obedience and conviction; it depends on religious belief. Thus we must always keep in mind the necessity for a renaissance of our religious faith; we must cleanse it of all accretions, such as alterations and arbitrary interpretations and ambiguities; only thus can it be a support for the necessary social legislation that will establish a sound form of Islamic life. This form of life will depend upon legislation and exhortation, those twin fundamental methods of Islam towards the achievement of all aims.

We must, then, establish our Islamic theory in individuals and societies at the same time that we set up the Islamic legislation to regulate life.

Compiled From:
"Social Justice in Islam" - Sayyid Qutb, p. 285

Right and Wrong

Sometimes it is beneficial to command, sometimes to forbid. At other times, where right and wrong are mutually inextricable, it is not beneficial either to command or to forbid. It all depends on the nature of specific cases as they arise.

In equivocal cases the believer must seek clarification until the truth becomes obvious to him. For he may not embark upon an act of obedience without knowledge and intention, while if he leaves it undone he is a sinner, since it is sinful to ignore a necessary duty. It is also sinful to do what has been prohibited, however. The implications of all this are far-reaching and there is neither power nor strength except with God.

Under this category falls the concession made by the Prophet, on him be peace, to leading hypocrites and reprobates like Abdullah ibn Ubayy in view of their numerous support. For to have penalized him in some way for his wrong conduct would have entailed the loss of a greater good, through the fury and chauvinism of his tribesmen and through the aversion of people would have felt on hearing that Muhammad was killing his Companions.

Compiled From:
"Public Duties in Islam" - Ibn Taymiyya, p. 81

Better Substitute

An-Nisa (The Women)
Chapter 4: Verses 26-28

"Allah desires to make clear to you and to guide you to the ways of the [righteous] people before you and to turn to you in mercy; and Allah is all-Knowing, Wise. And Allah desires to lighten your burden, for the human being was created weak."

One of the merits of Islam is that it shows mercy towards people in that whenever it forbids something it provides a better substitute with which to replace it. Islam forbids usury but allows profitable business. Islam forbids gambling, but allows winning prizes in contests of shooting, racing, wrestling, etc. Islam forbids adultery but urges Muslims to marry as soon as they can support a family. Islam forbids drinking alcohol but allows all other good and healthy drinks. Islam forbids what is bad in food but allows what is good and nourishing.

The same principle can be traced through all the teachings of Islam. For assuredly, Allah has no desire to make people's lives difficult, narrow, and circumscribed; on the contrary; He desires ease, goodness, guidance, and mercy for them according to the above verse.

Compiled From:
"The Principles of Halal and Haram" - Yusuf Al-Qaradawi