Friday, 18 September 2009

This is iman

The Prophet SAW in his ascent to Jannah could smell a beautiful smell and asked Jibrael what the beautiful smell was. He SAW was told this was the smell of the hairdresser of the daughter of Firaun, and her children,.

Who may this woman and her children be, we may ask? Yet another figure in an Islamic history book? But surely, my dear sisters, this woman is more than a dormant figure in a book. This woman is the magnificent, most beautiful example for us all, on what Iman really means. What steadfastness upon the Haq really means. And what sacrifice fi sabeelilah really means.

And the hadith narrated in Ahmad and Ibn Majah is as follows:

The hairdresser of the daughter of the Firaun, a nobody, another servant in the expansive quarters of the Firaun was one day combing the hair of her master's daughter. And as she was doing so, she accidentally dropped the comb and after picking it up to resume her combing, she subconsciously uttered Bismillah. Just as we do, my dear sisters, before we eat, before we do any action, the utterance of bismillah is alhumdulilah of second nature to us, as it alhumdulilah was to her. But this utterance in no way had the same repercussions as maybe out utterances do today. Swiftly the daughter asked her what she had said, asking her whether she was mentioning the name of her father.

But this brave and valiant woman's reply was - No. I mention Allah, my God and the God of your father. Immediately the daughter became angry and rushed to her father to tell him what had happened. He, in his anger, at finding this out, summoned her to him.

And she came and stood, a woman, a woman, sisters, in front of this great, most tyrannical and dictatorial Pharaoh. And he said to her, 'who is your god?' And she said, 'Allah is my lord.' He said 'who is Allah?' She said 'Allah is my god and yours.' Yes, she was cornered and put in a place, when she had to answer, she answered. No compromise, no thinking about how it would affect her job, her livelihood and most of all her 5 children.

Her answer made the Firaun furious and he ordered for chains to be brought. They whipped her, punsihed her but her reply was the same 'Allah is my lord and yours.'

And so he ordered for them to bring a large container and he spilt boiling oil in to this container, and then he said, 'bring me all her children!' And her first child was brought. A child who for a mother, her heart aches for, when he may graze his knee, bang his head. Yet as the Firaun asked her the same question again and her response was the same, this child was put into the boiling oil, for his flesh to melt away from his bones, leaving his mother in this dunya.

But my dear sisters, the pain of the loss of a child, in front of your very eyes, in a manner which could make the coldest of hearts weep, did in no way weaken this jewel of Allah. She continued to watch all four of her children being immersed in the boiling oil and killed in this way. And then came the fifth, a baby who was still breastfeeding. And she was about to pull back. Imagine sisters, the innocent form of a baby whose total dependence on the mother for all form of nourishment, imagine how a mother would feel to think of the fate that laid for him. And then Allah SWT, the Lord of the heavens and the earth, in his magnificence, enabled this baby to speak to his mother. 'Be patient my mother, you are in the truth, Allah Allah has promised you with a great heaven, keep going mother.' SubhanAllah!

And the same fate befall the innocent baby.

She knew she was next and she began to cry. The tyrant, Firaun, then asked her why she was crying. And sisters, it was not in regret of what she had done, or in anger for Allah's test upon her. No. It was because she had a request she wanted to ask this man, but she did not know whether he would comply. And what was this request?

This request was - After she was also boiled alive, that all that remained of her and her children should be gathered together and buried in the same grave. This is so, on Yawm Ul Qiyamah, she could be raised with all the children beside her and enter Jannah with them.

Sisters, what are our tests? Comfort? Ease? The fear of what people will say to us? The sacrifice of wealth, status, career? Just think of this fragant jewel of Jannah, and remember that nothing is too big a sacrifice for the sake of our Rabb.

Sunday, 13 September 2009

A picture of the end

The Prophet SAW always iterated, that a believer should remember death. So sisters, please imagine:

The time for the day’s iftar is nearing and you count in your head the many things you still have to do in the short time span that you have. And then you remember you have not prayed Asr Salah. You leave the ladle beside the cooker, brush your hands with the tea towel nearby and gallop up the stairs to make wudu. You had intended to break the fight the children were having over the new remote controlled car you bought them, but you reassure yourself, that you can do so in about ten minutes, after you finish your salah.

You splash the water in the bathroom sink as you whizz through wudu, then just about wipe the dripping water off your face with the hanging towel and rush to your room, eyeing it for the prayer mat. You find it, throw it down onto the thick soft carpet and swiftly make your takbir. You try to forget the fizzling noise of the hot oil frying the samosas you can hear in the distance, as you know if you think about this, you will be worrying over the colour of the samosas, over the concentration in your salah. You recite the surahs, complete the sujood and as you turn your head in salam, finishing off your salah, and your thoughts immediately return to all the commotion happening downstairs. You can hear the oil, you can hear the cartoons on TV, but now most of all you can hear two children arguing and screaming over a small red remote controlled car you found in a sale yesterday.

And you rise quickly, scanning in your head all the things you still have left to do and thinking about the order in which you will do them to ensure everything gets done before the time of iftar. As you rise you sweep up the prayer mat with you from under your feet. But as you fold the prayer mat in half, it falls from your hands, to end up in a scrumpled heap on the floor in front of you. And over the next few seconds, the following happens:

A piercing, numbing pain consumes your entire head which feels like someone ripped your head apart from the inside. So intense is the pain, that it overwhelms every sensation you felt just one moment ago. So intense is the feeling that the clear vision that you just had becomes dark and the walnut veneered wardrobe which always stands in front of you directly in your vision, when you pray salah, every day, no longer is recognisable.

You realise that you are falling to the floor, hitting something on your left side which you know is the end of the bed. You have not even thought about making some sort of noise through your mouth, but you can’t even think how to use it as you can’t find your voice. But before you can even exert that effort your whole body violently convulses and you are laying in your vomit on the floor. Things slowly come back into focus and you can see the colourful pieces of lego, play plates and cups under that walnut veneered wardrobe that have collected over time. You can hear again the shouts from downstairs which have seemed to have died down and despite the numbing pain which has engulfed your head, a bellowing ache forms in the deepest pit of your stomach as you have flashes of the baby always looking for you, but never being able to express it, you imagine your daughter sitting at the living room window wondering when you will come back and you imagine them waiting at the school gates with the delicate hope of seeing you, just maybe today, pulling up in the car. You briefly think of all those you love and you feel crippled when imagining the pain they will feel. But as you lay there, feeling very little, not understanding where you are now, what is happening, one thought becomes crystal clear in the depths of your heart.

The feeling that you felt before you undertook your most important exam, the feeling you felt before you faced your parents after disobeying them in the worst way possible at some point in your childhood – Think back to the most intense, gripping sense of fear you have felt, having no idea what was to come, being crippled by the feeling of not knowing what would happen to you. Think back to this feeling and multiply it exponentially. Because lying there, in the double bedroom, of your three bedroomed house, with the cooking still on the hob downstairs, the kids still running around chasing the speeding car across the room, you realise that this is it. This is the moment when it all ends, all opportunities, all hopes, all desires, everything comes to a dark end. Overwhelming feeling of being lost, the unknown engulfs you as you realise that your limbs will now bring you now avail to gtake you where you want to go, as you are going back to Allah. No turning back, the good deeds and the evil sins now stand in their separate lines waiting to travel with you, back to your Rabb. All those times when you put the wealth, the children, the enjoyments of this dunya above the pleasure of your Rabb; all those times when you thought tomorrow will be the time when I sacrifice for Allah; all those times now are all you have, without ever actually embracing the sacrifice– Those times now are all you have.

The pictures of those times now dry in your mind, and your heart frantically tries to change them, etch some out, ply some of them to rub out the sin and complacency in the dunya. But as helpless as you lie there on your bedroom floor, you realise you are just as helpless now in changing any of your deeds. You are now in Allah’s hands, waiting for His account, with the story of your life as your baggage. That realisation that would be strong enough to knock you down to the floor overcomes you, that the end really did come and you never made those sacrifices, never detached your heart from the pulls of the dunya. You are trapped in a time now where there is going to be no going back, and you would cry the tears of a lifetime in regret but you are past that ownership of yourself and your free will.

As the Angel of Death swoops into your suburban home to collect the next soul for that night, your physical self is still curled up on the floor next to the creased up prayer mat. The stench of the vomit travels into the passage and your loved ones try to understand what the smell is. The screams and the cries of those who walk in, as the Angel glides away, to find you would have perturbed you beyond belief when you were in this dunya, but now your ears cannot hear them you eyes cannot see them.

There is no immunity from death, so there should be no denial of it. May Allah SWT help us to remember death and our return to him, just as we remember living our lives in the dunya.

Thursday, 10 September 2009

Back in the month where Allah SWT could do no more to urge us to worship him

It's been a while. I'm not yet another one of those blogs who has been electrically active then disappeared into thin air when posting gets tedious. Because it's all for Allah SWT right? We don't get tired of praying and fasting, so how can we tire of spreading the word of Allah?

Post maternity leave 3 month return to work, a mad trip with two young children to Malaysia which although was supposed to be leisure ended up being an examination of my patience and stress levels. But now alhumdulila back at home, with the kids, wondering how to structure life, with no work lying ahead, no new baby about to come, it's just about fulfilling my responsibilities in the best way possible. And as someone asked, will I get bored? Bored? What a question. How can you get bored when you have the weight of the responsibilities of a Muslimah on your shoulder... Where is the time or audacity to feel boredom? The Angel of Death lurks behind us, in front of us every twenty minutes or so, someone once worked out if I remember correctly - Would I tell him, when he finally decided to take me, yikes I was bored with fulfilling my obligations of being a mother and bringing up my children in the best way that I can so Paradise can be at my feet, bored maintaining the home which brings me the reward of a jeehad, and tired with trying to carry Allah's deen to everyone around me in a time which is as dark as the time the Sahabah struggled in...??!!! So nope, bored, doesn't even fit in the equation. And I'm sorry, but I'm not that much of a sheep that I will kill myself working in the office in the day, working at home in the night, fighting with my kids and fighting with my hubby, just to get through the day. Yes everyone around me is doing it, people in my office even did it, but I have to ask myself why and I would rather choose tranquility in life, any day.

But having returned from Malaysia in the blessed month of Ramadan, of course Ramadan always sparks thoughts about what ibadah means. And my thought for tonight, as we enter the most blessed ten days of Ramadan, is that understand what ibadah really is. Because something is clearer than crystal, whatever action you do, whatever intention you have Allah SWT is the All Hearing and All Seeing, he knows it all. So if you neglect Allah's commands all year round, going by what pleases you, what fits in with the people you hang out with, over what Allah wants of you, Allah doesn't forget this, come Ramadan. Even though you may begin your fasting, retrieve your prayers and even maybe don the hijab, Allah SWT knows that you do it in this month maybe because everyone else does it, maybe because this month has a special spiritual atmosphere that motivates you, or maybe you do just want to please Allah. But our obedience to Allah knows no limits, no seasonalities. Allah keeps out hearts beating 365 days a year, every second every minute of the day, not by season or by month. Allah SWT grants us the mercy of family, rizq (provisions) even the mercy of tests in life to gain reward and expiate our sins, these mercies are never part-time, or intermittent.

So without questioning whether we mean to worship Allah sincerely in this month or not, the bigger question is why we have the mentality that we can choose when to obey Allah and when not to:
'But no, by your Lord, they can have no real iman until they make you (oh Muhammad) judge in all of the disputes and find in themselves no resistance in your decision and accept them with fullest submission' (surah Nisa)
Allah SWT uses many things in his Noble Quran to swear by, but in this ayah he views the content to be of so much importance that the Lord of the worlds swears by Himself. And Allah SWT majestically tells us in this verse, that our obedience to what the Messenger of Allah brought us goes beyond the fancies and superficial desires we human beings hold - And real faith is by embracing the code of Islam, as our own code for life. Despite the fear of what friends and family will see, the fear of loss of a job or client, the desires of status and honour in this world - whatever it may be - fullest submission is only what it can be.

Don't end this Ramadan by switching off the religious button in your brain. And anyway, you can only switch off something when you have the power to do so. But this is Allah Subhanahu Wa Taala we are talking about. The Allah who exists all year round, sees everything you do, and is closer to you at this very moment than your jugular vein. And let's face it, it's not us who really does the switching off, that's for Allah isn't it, when he decides to make that last intake of cool oxgenated air, our very last.