Ramadan Reflection #3: It’s a Test

Assalamualaikum Everyone!

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So I’ve been taking part in a daily Qur’an course where Alhamdulilah, I have been learning many beautiful things about the Qur’an that I never knew before, things that are making think harder and deeper about some of my life experiences. Today I want to share with you a little piece of insight I gained from the class.

In Surah Fajr, Allah s.w.t. says, “Human tendency is that when his Lord tests him by bestowing honour and favours, he feels, ‘My Lord has honoured me.’ But when He tests by restricting his provisions for him, he assumes ‘My Lord has disgraced me.'” (89: 15-16)

In times of difficulty, or times that require patience, we are often told, “Allah is testing you, be patient.” And surely, we believe that every thing in our lives is a test from Allah s.w.t. As human beings, we tend to forget this important aspect of Islam. While we are engaged in worldly things, we forget that everything we are doing, our experiences, our encounters, the decisions we have to make, they are all a test from Allah s.w.t. Our patience is tested, our ability to handle matters appropriately is tested; we are tested in all sorts of ways, through our families, our wealth, our education, our jobs, our faith, everything.

The thing is, there is a slight misunderstanding that many of us have. When something good happens to us, like getting a new car or doing well on an assignment, we think that it is a reward from Allah s.w.t. and Allah s.w.t. is blessing us with something great. On the other hand, when something bad occurs, like an illness, or we lose our job, we think Allah s.w.t. is punishing us for something bad that we did. What’s important to realize is that these experiences are not rewards and punishments, these experiences are tests from Allah s.w.t., Who wants to see how we handle the positive and negative moments in our life.

If something good happens to us, do we become too proud rather than being humble and modest about it? If something bad happens to us, do we become depressed and forget to see things in a positive light?

The key thing to take away from this is that everything in this life is a test. This life is temporary. The way we handle matters in this life is what we need to focus on. The way we handle all kinds of situations, the way we manage our problems, our blessings, the decisions we make, is what will determine the kind of life we will have in the Hereafter. The rewards and punishment will be given to us accordingly in the Hereafter.

We have to remember that we will be held accountable for all of our actions, deeds and decisions, and will be given what we deserve in the Hereafter. So my advice to all of you, including myself, is that when you face a difficulty, or a challenge or you are blessed with something better than you could have ever imagined, remember that it is a test from Allah s.w.t. and He is watching how you will handle it. Try to handle things in the best way you possibly can, humbly, patiently and positively. In’sha’Allah you will be rewarded for it in the Hereafter.

I pray that Allah s.w.t. guides each of us to handle our tests in the best manner. I pray He guides us to be patient and make decisions that will give us good not only in this life but also in the Hereafter. Ameen.

Remember, the reward will come.

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Ramadan Reflection #2: Find Your Light

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Assalamualaikum Everyone!

Alhamdulilah, we’re at our third day of fasting, I am so grateful for how blessed and productive the past few days have been. May Allah s.w.t. continue to guide each of us. Last night, I was reading the translation of the verses that were recited during Taraweeh prayers, and one verse really struck me.

In Surah Al-Baqarah, Allah s.w.t. says: “God is near unto those who have faith, taking them out of deep darkness into the light – whereas near unto those who are bent on denying the truth are the powers of evil that take them out of the light into darkness deep: it is they who are destined for the fire, therein to abide” (2:257).

SubhanaAllah, this is such a powerful verse. I want to focus mainly on my reflections about the first part of the verse. Allah s.w.t. is saying He is close to those individuals who have faith, and can bring them into out of darkness into the light. In other words, Allah s.w.t. will guide, and show the right path to those who have faith.

The Qur’an was revealed to the Prophet S.A.W. at a time when there was a lot of darkness in society, and the Qur’an was the light, the message Prophet S.A.W. had to spread, directing people towards a brighter and proper path.

When we look at the month of Ramadan, metaphorically, Allah s.w.t. is giving those of us who have been chosen to make it to this month, a chance to come out of our darkness, into the light. It is a chance for us to get rid of our bad habits, and establish and maintain our good ones. It is a chance for us to look within ourselves and recognize the aspects of our lives that may be pulling us down, or flaws we may have developed in our character over time, and see how we can change things for the better.

Ramadan should be a time where we make it a goal for ourselves, to find our light. And how can we do that? We must be consistent in our prayer, trying to understand the Qur’an, and moving in a direction that is positive and consists of good thoughts, actions and words. We must try to strengthen our faith by learning about it.

So my advice to all of us for this Ramadan is to think about how we can find our light. We all have darkness or dark moments in our lives that we can overcome. Think about something that you feel is dark in your life, whether it’s related to your relationships, school or work life, anything, and see how you can turn it around to see it in a positive light.

Ramadan Reflection #1: Purify Your Soul With Salah

Assalamualaikum Everyone!

In the name of Allah, the most Gracious, the most Merciful.

I am starting up my Ramadan Reflections (previously called Enlightened Encounters) once again for this Ramadan. Throughout the month, we tend to learn many beautiful and valuable lessons from small encounters and reflections. This is a place for me to express my thoughts and insights, and share them with you, hoping that you’ll benefit from them in some way or another. May Allah s.w.t. grant us knowledge and guide us to purify ourselves and improve our character as Muslims, Ameen. Before I begin, I would like to remind you all that these are only my reflections.

Speaking of purifying ourselves, let me ask you a question, how often do we wake up for Fajr? You know, the time of the day when most of us prefer sleeping in our warm, comfortable beds, when it is dark and quiet in our homes, and the only thing we can hear is the soft breeze outside our windows and the birds chirping early in the morning. Let us not forget it is also the time of the day that Allah s.w.t. has commanded us to pray two sunnah rakats, followed by two fardh rakats. We find it so difficult to wake up for a total of about 10 minutes, to do something that is obligatory in Islam. Why is that?

We are often too worried that we won’t get enough sleep and energy for our busy day at work tomorrow, or the exam we have coming up. Or maybe it’s because we were up late that night watching Netflix or talking to our friends. While all that can be fun and important, we can’t forget the importance of Salah. Have you ever thought that maybe that one additional (mandatory) prayer before sunrise, might just make your day a little bit better? When Allah s.w.t. sees that you have taking time out of your schedule for Him, He might help you in a greater way.

With Ramadan having arrived, the interesting thing to think about is that, suddenly, those individuals who didn’t have the energy to pray Fajr or any other prayer through out the day for the last 11 months, will now make sure they don’t miss a single Salah. SubhanaAllah, we are taking a step towards our Lord, but what about the rest of the year?

I can’t remember where it was that I heard this great analogy that I want to elaborate on and share with all of you. It kind of makes us think twice about the importance we give to Salah. So say you’re a middle-aged man, who’s working a 9-5 job, with a few additional projects on side. You also have a wife and two kids, who you have to take to extra-curricular commitments, attend family parties and all the other things an average middle-aged man would do. One day, amidst your busy schedule, you feel a pain in your chest. The pain is sharp. The pain is unbearable and it’s preventing you from being able to go about your daily routine. You’re not sure why it’s there. So you book a doctor’s appointment immediately to get it checked. You need to know if this pain is something serious, or is it temporary and will go away in time. Now, in order to make it to the doctor’s office, you cancel a meeting here, move a soccer practice there, you move your entire schedule around just so you can make it to the doctor’s to find out what is causing that pain.

Isn’t that interesting? When a person feels a pain in their body, when they feel their body is being harmed, they do anything they can to find out what it is, to make sure it’s nothing too serious. They re-arrange their schedules for that visit to the doctor, that they believe is so mandatory. Why do they do that? Because they want to survive. They also know that they must visit the doctor, and if they don’t, the consequences could be detrimental to their health. So my question is, if people can change their entire schedules for a doctor’s appointment they believe is a “must” for their body, why can’t they take a few minutes out of their day to pray to Allah s.w.t., a command that is a “must” for our souls?

Similar to how doctor’s can cure and heal our bodies, prayer can purify and heal our souls. Especially during Ramadan. We need prayer in our lives. Taking time out of our day to do something that makes us patient, that makes us concentrate, that makes us reflect, that gives us time to ask Allah s.w.t. for anything, is that not something we need? It’s a medicine for our soul, that can teach us so many beautiful lessons.

In the Qur’an, Allah s.w.t. says, “And seek help through patience and prayer” (2:45). Only when we turn to Allah s.w.t., will we gain the help and guidance that we need. Instead of making Salah something that is an afterthought, make it a priority. When planning out our days, we must include prayer in our schedules. Whether we work or attend school, we must make time for Salah each day. Pray on time. Focus on perfecting your Salah, understanding the words you say while you pray, allowing it to be something through which Allah s.w.t. will protect you and purify your heart and your soul.

So I ask you, friends and family, this Ramadan, when you focus on making sure you don’t miss a single prayer, take it one step further by also focusing on making sure you never miss a single prayer in your life again. Don’t let Salah be an afterthought, something that you squeeze in whenever you can, but rather something you remember to do before anything else, fulfilling a command that will bring you one step closer to Jannah.

May Allah s.w.t. make us steadfast in our prayer and make it easy for us to keep up with each and every one throughout our lives in’sha’Allah. Ameen.

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Pray sincerely this Ramadan.