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Juz 8 & More!

Bismillah!

Before you read the notes, please keep in mind that these are key points and lessons from the summaries of various Juz’/Surahs of the Qur’an. They are not in-depth descriptions of each verse. If there’s anything that you disagree with or believe is wrongly stated, please forgive me. The goal is to help us learn about the Qur’an, learn about Allah s.w.t., and in’sha’Allah gain more Taqwa. I hope this benefits you in some way or another in’sha’Allah!

Ustadh Amjad Tarsin: Attaining Taqwa (God Consciousness) in Ramadan 

“O you who believe, fasting is prescribed on you as it was prescribed on those before you, so that you may attain taqwa, consciousness of God.”

  • The point of fasting is something far deeper than simply refraining from eating and drinking. In fact, refraining from eating, drinking and sexual relations with your spouse is the lowest level of fasting.
  • Imam Al-Ghazali offers six ways to gain a high level of taqwa and achieve the deeper purpose and level of fasting/Ramadan:
    1) Lowering one’s gaze. Fasting of the EYES. Try to prevent yourself from looking at things that distract you from the remembrance of Allah. “A lust-full glance is dangerous.” And Allah will grant a sweetness of faith if we avoid that lust. Be aware of what you shouldn’t look at and be conscious of Allah. Things that nullify your fasting: lying, backbiting, swearing by Allah, looking at things with lust, fowl speech.
    2) Protect your tongue from lying, argumentation, debate, useless conversations, fowl speech. “Fasting of the Tongue.” Keep silence as your companion and remember Allah. Backbiting is very common so be careful and have a heightened degree of awareness before Allah as you will be held accountable for every thing you say and do.
    3) If something is haram for you to say, it’s probably haram for you to listen to. Try to avoid listening to backbiting or lying or fowl speech or putting yourself in those environments because if you listen to it, you are a part of it and you become an accomplice.
    4) Protect your hands, feet, stomach (limbs) from anything that is doubtful. The point of Saum is not just hardship, Allah wants it to be easy for us, we have to be more aware of Allah in everything we do.
    How many people fast and all they get from it is hunger and thirst.
    5) Don’t be excessive when indulging in food. Have enough so you can stand up straight. Don’t fill up your stomachs excessively, that’s not necessarily the point. Secret to success of fasting is weakening your desires.
    6) Have hope in Allah. Fear your own shortcomings. Always pray that Allah accepts your fasts and intentions. Have the determination to improve. Set realistic goals for yourself. Hope Allah accepts your fasts and intentions, fear Allah might reject it because of our shortcomings.
    Saying: “Let go and let God.” – Put your trust in Allah because you don’t have control over everything even though it’s a human being’s tendency to think they have control, at the end of the day, Allah is our Master, He is in control. When you engage in an act of worship, you need to come out at the end of it stronger and better.
    “The most beloved acts for Allah are those that are most consistent.” Set goals you can achieve. A person reading 2 Rakah nafl sincerely or reading 2 pages of Qur’an consistently everyday with reflection and thought can be better and more impactful than a person doing 20 rakah and not really being there mentally or getting anything from it.
    Definition of backbiting: Speaking about the qualities of a person without their presence, in a way that if they were there, they would not like it. -> common.
    Speaking about others permissible only when there is a clear benefit such as in a business matter or when someone is trying to secure a relationship (didn’t hear the whole thing).
    Choose acts of worship that are sustainable, beyond Ramadan, but also challenge yourself.

JUZ 7-8: Surah Al-An’am and Surah Al-A’raf

Unfortunately, I didn’t take the best notes from the beginning of the 30 For 30 Video Series, but we’ll work with what we have!

Juz 7 ends with and Juz 8 begins with Surah Al-An’am, and it focuses on various aspects such as making the distinction between the “Believers” and the “Disbelievers.”

  • Surah Al-An’am is a Makkan Surah, that emphasizes the Oneness of Allah. When this surah was revealed to Prophet Muhammad S.A.W., his companion Ibn Masud memorized the Surah right away. The verses of this Surah were revealed all at once.
  • It emphasizes that the people whom the Prophet S.A.W. was trying to deliver the message to wanted to see a miracle, but Allah s.w.t. says that even if a miracle was sent to the people of the Prophet S.A.W., they still would have rejected the message because their hearts had a disease of pride and desire. Even if an angel was sent, they would have thought that it was magic.
  • Think about your own life: don’t be deceived by this world and your desires
  • The people who wanted the pleasures of this world were granted those pleasures, but while the doors of Dunya were open for them, Allah s.w.t. was punishing them by letting them dwell in the ease of this Dunya only.
  • It is not worth rejecting the Akhira for the pleasures of this Dunya.
  • Do not insult other people, do not insult those who invoke something other than Allah because what will happen is that they will come back and insult you, insult your religion, insult Islam and insult Allah s.w.t. and our Messenger. Prevent this from happening, instead, respect others and be respected.
  • In this Surah, Allah s.w.t.’s will and the concept of Predestination is also introduced.
  • If a person’s heart is unlocked, and they are willing to believe in Allah s.w.t. and Islam, even if they haven’t believed before, then Allah s.w.t. may will for them to be guided. If you believe, you believe in the unseen.
  • In life, you will have people who will challenge your faith, but Allah s.w.t. does not stop a person from finding guidance. It’s a matter of how we respond to Allah s.w.t.’s Guidance. Often times, being challenged in our faith is an opportunity for us to become more firm in our beliefs and stronger in our faith.
  • Don’t always follow the majority. During the revelation of the Qur’an, the majority of the cities disbelieved, while only a minority, a small number of people believed in and accepted Islam. There was a very small group of believers in Makkah. Sometimes, you don’t have to follow the majority, because Guidance is within the minority. Just because you’re in a minority, don’t think that Guidance is not with you. Stay firm and don’t buckle to social pressure around you.
  • Whoever Allah wishes to guide, Allah will expand his heart to accept Islam. Allah will open the hearts of those Allah wills to guide, others’ hearts will be constricted.
  • Allah s.w.t. is free of need and full of mercy. Allah s.w.t.’s mercy is expansive. You can always come back to Him, He will not neglect your repentance and your efforts.
  • Everything is for your Lord. Your sacrifice, your living, your dying, your prayer are all for Allah and you have to submit to that, even if it’s not the “common.”

Surah Al-A’raf

  • This Surah works together with Surah Al An’am. This surah focuses more particularly on the consequences of people using different paths (i.e. the believers/the oppressors)
  • The first 10 verses focus on the regret of the people once they have been punished, the regret of people who insisted on disbelieving.
  • According to Br. Omar Suleiman, the real reason some people disbelieved was not because they rejected the message, but simply because the Messenger of Allah S.A.W., was not from their tribe and was of a different community. It wasn’t because the Qur’an was unconvincing but simply because of the differences between the tribes, economic factors, etc.
  • This is when the story of Adam is introduced. In the story of Adam (May Peace and Blessings be upon him), Iblis, rejected to bow down in Sajda because Iblis believed he was better than Adam, because he was made from Fire and Adam was made from Clay. The difference is one of the reasons he refused to bow down. According to Br. Omar Suleiman, this was the first case of racism, from the Shaytan himself. This also reflects the situation between the believers and those who rejected the message of the Prophet S.A.W. as they were discriminating based on tribal, nationalistic, economic factors, etc.
  • Allah s.w.t. gave us the ability to recognize guidance and accept it or reject it –> Predestination.
  • The way that Shaytan leads us astray is by trying to make us ungrateful, and that’s exactly what he tried to do with Adam and Eve. In this Surah, there is mention of how Shaytan said that he will come and try to distract people from all directions by making them ungrateful and leading them away with desires. Shaytan’s end goal is to make people ungrateful. Ingratitude = focusing on what we don’t have.
  • When Shaytan distracted Adam and Eve, he was trying to make them ungrateful, as they had already had paradise, and everything in it, but they didn’t have the one tree that Allah s.w.t. forbade them from approaching. Shaytan, however, tried to make them ungrateful by desiring the tree and what the tree had, which is a sign of what Shaytan does and tries to do. Try to avoid being ungrateful. When Adam and Eve “slipped,” they called upon Allah to forgive them and the du’a they were given, was an inspiration from Allah.
  • Lessons: Don’t let Shaytan misguide you. Instead, maintain gratitude to Allah and hold on to the rope of Allah. We only find Allah through His guidance. This Surah focuses on the conversations between the people of Jannah and the people of Hellfire.

 

I’m Muslim, and I hope you’ll understand.

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In the last week, I have seen, heard and read a lot. Many people have expressed their views and opinions in response to the recent attacks that took place in Paris and Beirut and several other countries. It has taken me time to finally express my feelings, because I was trying to understand and make sense of what was happening in the world, and I’m still trying. In the past week, I have seen people of different faiths and ethnicities express their deep sorrow about the 130 individuals that were killed on Nov. 13. I have seen social media posts targeting certain faiths and ethnicities for being responsible for the attacks. I have seen people question the admissibility of Syrian refugees into Canada because they think they pose a threat to our nation (even though they are trying to escape the same crazy nut heads who killed people in Paris). I have heard about a mosque, a place where Muslims pray, getting burnt down in Peterborough; a woman getting verbally attacked and pushed at a Toronto subway station; a woman getting punched and having her hijab, a headscarf, ripped off while trying to pick up her children from school; and various other occurrences of innocent individuals getting blamed for things they have not done. I have stood next to a man reading an article about ‘ISIS’, and glancing over at me, and wondered, what might be going through his mind? I’ve received a text from my sister saying: Carry pepper spray with you for your own safety. I’ve received a text from an editor saying, “I sincerely hope you haven’t personally experienced any negativity over the situation.” I’ve gotten on the subway and received all kinds of looks. In my head, I’m thinking, wow I must look really good today, that’s probably why they’re staring at me right, but that’s probably not the case. But who knows?

Each of these incidents has left me shocked, and wondering why humanity is failing. When the #ParisAttacks occurred, I was shocked and sad to hear what had happened, just as much as I was sad to hear what happened in Beirut a day earlier, or what happened in Mali a few days ago, or Ankara last month, or maybe the earthquake in Afghanistan, and all the other countries where people die, suffer and struggle every day.

It aches me that because of these attacks, suddenly, a large population of the Muslim community both here in Toronto, and abroad is being pressured to apologize time and time again for what happened, when really, they had nothing to do with any of it. That lady who was picking up her children from school, for what reason did she have to experience a personal attack? I’m sorry, but there is no reason for people to have to apologize for what they haven’t done. And I’m sorry, but how can you assume something about me or my sisters who also wear a headscarf, without knowing a single thing about us? We are not accountable for the actions of some crazy group of people who “claim” to be Muslims.

What I hope people will understand is that Islam is a religion of peace. It teaches us that acting unjustly towards one person is equivalent to acting unjustly towards all human beings. The Islam I grew up with teaches me to greet strangers with a smile, help the less fortunate, to be forgiving even when we’re hurt, to seek and promote justice, and spread love and peace in our homes, our communities and our world. This is the Islam that I try to achieve and practice every day.

For someone who’s been in Canada for 15 years, I identify myself as a Canadian-Muslim. I keep up with my prayers and strive to understand and apply the beautiful message of the Qur’an every day, but I also buy breakfast sandwiches from Tim Horton’s, I cheered for the Blue Jays when they made it to ALCS; and of course, I also dread taking the snow off my car before I commute with hundreds of other Canadians to study journalism in the heart of my favourite city: Toronto.  This is who I am, yet as I write this, I feel disappointed, because it almost sounds like I am trying to “prove” myself innocent or something, and I shouldn’t have to do that. So I wonder, just because I wear a headscarf or am clearly easy to point out as a Muslim, why do people think it’s okay to associate me with some unjust and horrible individuals? Why, when getting onto the subway, should I feel afraid because there’s a slight chance I’ll get verbally or physically attacked because I wear a symbol of faith in a country where freedom of conscience and religion is an accepted fundamental freedom? Why should I apologize for something I condemn? All my life, I’ve felt safe in Canada, and for the most part, I still feel safe, but I know there are people who have experienced discrimination, and this is a problem that something needs to be done about.

Like many other Muslim friends and relatives of mine, I too am stuck trying to make sense of everything. I could go on forever, but I want to offer some practical ways that we can respond to the current state of the world.

For my Muslim friends and family,

  1. Firstly, push yourself to be a better Muslim, each and every day. Learn the beauty of Islam, and spread it in your homes, your schools and your communities. Greet people with a bigger smile on your commute to work or hold the door open for a few seconds longer for the person walking behind you. A simple act can come a long way. Show what it means to be a Muslim, don’t tell.
  2. People will say things, on social media or in real life, and what they say might hurt and you may want to speak up. Always look at the situation and ask yourself, whether stepping in and speaking up will be worth it and useful or whether you should just leave it because not everyone will understand. Make a judgment call.
  3. I hope that every person stays safe always, but for those of you who feel unsafe, especially at night, travel with a friend or take advantage of the #illridewithyou hashtag to travel with kind people who are willing to help out.
  4. Speaking from a journalism student’s perspective, I understand that the media isn’t always fair, and the media’s coverage of mass shootings and killings isn’t always balanced. But you have to remember, that the media reports on what the public finds interesting. While it may seem that there news isn’t reported fairly, it’s probably out there, many people just haven’t picked it up. Do your research first, and if it’s not out there, speak up. But on that note, be sceptical of the media and don’t believe everything you hear. Verify the facts and be critical of what you read, and form your opinions logically and reasonably.
  5. Be patient, and make dua (a prayer). I know it’s a tough time, but praying to Allah s.w.t. will undoubtedly bring comfort to your hearts. Hold on to your Deen and let your courage be seen.

And to my non-Muslim friends,

Don’t feel sorry for me, or the other 1.6 billion Muslims that live around the world. The point of all this isn’t to ask for your pity. Instead, I hope that you will understand the situation appropriately. I hope that you will understand what real Muslims truly stand for. I hope you will understand and love us for who we are. I hope that you will advocate for what is just and what is right. I hope that you’ll understand, that the majority of Muslims condemn the violent acts that are taking place around the world. If you have questions or curiosities about my faith, don’t be afraid to ask me or any other Muslim you encounter. It is better to know, than to assume. I hope that you’ll understand that hijabs do not symbolize terrorism. Terrorism has no religion. I hope that next time, when you get on the subway, you won’t judge a person before you get to know them, but rather greet them with a warm smile and make them feel accepted in a country that they too consider theirs.

Because next time, when I’m walking down Yonge St. or getting off the subway at Dundas Station, I will greet you too, my non-Muslim friend, with a warm-loveable smile. Why? Because I appreciate you, regardless of our differences.

 

 

Istanbul 2K15: Eid in Istanbul…and more!

Merhaba!

I hope you are all having a wonderful summer; I sure am experiencing the summer of my dreams. Every day, I discover something new. Every day, I become more and more grateful for the opportunity that I have received. To start off, a belated Eid Mubarak to my friends and family who were celebrating this past weekend.

Spent Eid by the water with these lovely girls.
Spent Eid by the water with these lovely girls.
This was the first time in my life that I spent Eid away from my family and friends in Canada. Seeing how people in a different part of the world celebrate Eid was a unique experience. There are both similarities and differences in the way both Canadians and Turks celebrate Eid. Here in Turkey, Eid-Ul-Fitr is called Ramadan Bayram or Seker Bayram. Bayram was a three-day holiday where the flow of life in Istanbul changed drastically. While many historical museums, monuments and archaeological sites were closed for the first day of Bayram, the streets were filled with both local and tourist families enjoying large feasts and street music. But as families were reuniting and travelling for the weekend, those of who aren’t from the city faced significantly more traffic and crowded areas than normal.

For Eid, my friends and I went to a peaceful park by the water. We enjoyed each other’s company throughout the day. I was mostly looking forward to being able to have more than one Turkish meal throughout the day. For dinner, we had a classic Turkish dish called Iskender. It is a combination of beef, and bread with a special sauce drizzled over it, eaten with plain yogurt. And for dessert, we had Turkish dondurma, icecream. Restaurants were filled with families all throughout the night. I really enjoyed spending the evening with my friends, it wouldn’t have been the same without their company. But I must add, there is something different about spending Eid at home with your family and friends, taking part in your yearly Eid traditions like gift exchanges, putting on Henna and enjoying multiple meals throughout the day. While I missed being at home, I’m grateful to have experienced Eid in a new place, with amazing new people.

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Aside from that, the past week has been really great. I’m slowly starting to fall in love with this city and its culture more and more. On Wednesday, I went out with my Turkish interpreter, who I can call my friend, Elif. We visited a neighbourhood called Yusuf Pasa to kickstart some interviews for the story I will be working on here in Istanbul. The story is about a Syrian man who escaped the war in Syria and successfully opened a restaurant called Tarbus. Wednesday was the second-last day of Ramadan, and the restaurant was jam-packed with people enjoying their final Ramadan iftars with their friends and family. We were there to conduct some interviews and take videos of some the food, the atmosphere and the workers. I can say without a doubt, when you have a camera in your hand, you will get stared at from every corner of the street. But hey, we’re journalists, we should be used to that.

Anyways, when we were done shooting videos, we were very hungry so Elif suggested eating dinner at the Syrian restaurant. We ordered a beef and rice dish, some chicken strips and fries and the best hummus I have ever had. It was a unique experience for both of us, as both of us were trying a new dish for the very first time. We ate it very quickly considering how hungry we were, but every bite was tasty.

Our Syrian meal from Tarbus.
Our Syrian meal from Tarbus Restaurant.

Meet Elif, she's awesome.
Meet Elif, she’s awesome.
What I loved most about this experience was getting to learn about and enjoy the people I was surrounded by. The workers and families eating at the restaurant greeted us with a smile, gave us a chance to use our camera in the crowded space, and thought of us at the time of breaking fast as well. I was also able to spend a day with a local Turkish citizen, Elif and I enjoyed every moment with She shared with me her experiences in Turkey and what she loves and detests about the city of Istanbul. I told her about my life in Canada, what we do for fun and so on. We taught each other phrases in our languages and were able to learn about each other’s values and perspectives. Walking down the streets in Yusufpasa, we noticed the same strange occurrences and laughed about the same silly things. It’s amazing how you and someone from the other side of the world can have so much in common. That’s really the beauty of it, we tend to care about the same issues, we enjoy similar types of foods, and we love to learn from one another.

I can go on about my days here, but I will stop there for now, as I have to get back to writing my story. Let’s just say, each day, I’m starting to love this city more and more. The different sites, the culture and the people and our daily interactions spark all kinds of emotions within me. When you are travelling through a new city, there is something great to take away from every experience you have.

ISTANBUL 2K15: Iftar in Turkey!

Now that I have successfully made it to Istanbul, Turkey, and have had a chance to settle in and familiarize myself with the city, I can finally start blogging.

Yesterday was my fourth day in Istanbul and I had the opportunity to take part in a public iftar (breaking of the fast) with local Turkish families. My 5 other trip-mates and our interpreter, intended to visit a public iftar on the Asian side of Istanbul to take some photos and videos for our multimedia class. When we arrived, we noticed there weren’t many people and it wasn’t exactly what we were looking for. In a few minutes, what started off as a small number of people, turned into a large crowd of families that were waiting patiently to break their fasts.

A kind family invited my friends and I to have a seat on the ground and take part in their public iftar. Before we could ask for anything, they started passing us all kinds of unique Turkish dishes to pour into our plates. They gave us water, soup, pastries, and lots of other delicious food. The few minutes before the Adhan, the call to prayer went off, families of adults, elderly and children were waiting together to eat. Some were talking, others were passing food to each other, and some were raising their hands in prayer.

The lady we sat with, Ayfer, spoke a little bit of English, so we were able to ask her where the food had come from, and what the Iftar was for. She was very kind and was interested in knowing where we were travelling from and our backgrounds. At the moment of break fast, everyone excitedly began eating their meals and their faces lit up with joy as they appreciated every bite.

The experience of having iftar with Turkish families was one of my favourite moments so far. There’s something different about immersing yourself in a new city and getting to know the people and their practices. Despite there being a slight language barrier, I felt welcomed in the crowd and was able to have small conversations with the families as well. What I found amazing was that despite having some differences, I was able to connect and relate to the Turkish families as a result of Ramadan, a blessed month that touches on the importance of building unity with our families and local and global communities. We shared one thing in common and that was more than enough for us to enjoy each other’s company and feel unified.

So…travel tip: Do whatever you can to immerse yourself in a new culture. Whether it’s taking part in a community gathering or spending the day with a local citizen, take the time to be a part of the society you are living in. It’s the best way to learn about the people, their values, their language and more!

That’s all for now, stay tuned for more!

Amira

Istanbul 2K15: But First, Italy

All packed and ready to go!
All packed and ready to go!

It’s already here? It seems like it was just yesterday when I found out that I would be spending my summer doing what I love. Time has flown by, and a long-awaited experience has finally arrived.

For someone who will be travelling by herself for a month for the very first time, I seem to be surprisingly calm, probably because it doesn’t feel real, but it is. My large suitcase, carry-on bag and backpack are all set and ready to go. My parents are kind of freaking out, but also very excited about sending their baby girl off by herself for such a long time, but I think this will be a learning experience for both me and them. I think we’ve prepared each other pretty well.

So what will I be doing in this summer? I am taking part in the IeiMedia Multimedia Exchange Abroad, a program that invites students from across the world to learn what it takes to be an international journalist from faculty members who are working journalists. The multimedia programs takes place in various countries including France and Spain. The one I am going on begins with four days in Venice, Italy, where we will be seeing the historical sites in Venice, and learning about its relations with Turkey. My final stop will is Istanbul, Turkey, where I will be spending the remainder of my time.

I can’t even take in how amazing this experience will be (in’sha’Allah). Seeing how another country embraces Ramadan, the month of fasting for Muslims, seeing how East meets West in a country that shares both European and Asian culture, trying all kinds of delicious Italian and Turkish dishes; it’s going to be great.

My first stop is Venice, Italy. While I am a little nervous about travelling by myself for the very first time, I think it’s going to be a learning experience that I will cherish forever. As someone who loves to explore, meet new people, and try new things, I certainly am and will be grateful for every moment that is to come.

Eeek, my flight’s at 5 p.m. Excited? Heck yeah!

I will be updating my blog regularly, so stay tuned for more!

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.

Ramadan Reflection #2: Find Your Light

light-at-the-end-of-the-tunnel

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.