Author Archives: fshakil

Coming Back ‘Home’: Reflections From An Egyptian Abroad

Egyptian Streets

No two Egyptians are exactly alike.

By Daniel Nour, contributor, EgyptianStreets.com

The dark skinned Nubian beauties of Edfu and Karnak aren’t the same as those pale Cairean women swishing around their tiled apartments. The Shubra taxi driver smoking behind the wheel is not the same as farmer from the Delta sipping tea in the square after a long day. Copts in a church in Nag Hamadi do not look like Copts in a Mall in Mohandeseen.  The Brotherhood do not sound like Secular-Liberals. Muslims and Christians disagree on a couple of things.

Are any of these people more Egyptian than others? I’m not sure. But I do know that they, all of them, probably think of themselves as “Egyptian.”

And this presents us with a little problem, doesn’t it? What makes someone Egyptian? Is it a series of criteria? A certain level of proficiency with the language? Knowledge of the…

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Does Happiness Exist?

Happiness is usually defined as the “state of being happy” or “an experience that makes you happy.” Synonyms which correlate with happiness include contentment, joy, pleasure and satisfaction.

Ive decided to talk about two sections in relating to happiness. One being that of temporary happiness and the other permanent.

Temporary Happiness

Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) reminds us that we shall all be tested one way or another as this life is just a means. Some of us will go through hardships and some will go through many blessings but both are tests. Allah says:

“Do people think that they will be left alone because they say: ‘We believe’, and will not be tested? And We indeed tested those who were before them.” ~Qur’an [29 :1-3]

If we think about this, being told this is a blessing within itself. Allah has informed us that we will be tested beforehand. And He has also told us of how we will be tested, in this Dunya :

“And We will surely test you with something of fear and hunger and a loss of wealth and lives and fruits, but give good tidings to the patient” ~Qur’an [2: 155]

This Dunya is designed for us specifically. The same way we have exams and the exam is specifically structured with a series of questions which will determine your knowledge, this world is specifically designed to test our strength in faith towards Allah.

And the test may come with easy questions (blessings) or come with hard questions (hardships). But the reminder for us here is that the good tidings will be given to the person who is patient and that reward is relating to the permanent happiness which will be found in Jannah.

So patience is the key to happiness in the temporary sense.  How many times are we afflicted with a calamity or given a blessing yet we still are not content. We wish the hardship wouldn’t have come for us and with blessings we aren’t satisfied completely with one and want more. But we are told to reflect and the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said:

“If Allah wants to do good to somebody, He afflicts him with trials.” ~[Bukhari]

The reason why we are here in this Dunya is to worship Allah (سبحانه و تعالى‎). And Allah afflicts us with a trial or a blessing in order to only turn to Him. 

“So exalt [ Allah ] with praise of your Lord and be of those who prostrate [to Him]. And worship your Lord until there comes to you the certainty (death).” ~ Qur’an [15 :98-99]

Till our end, we are to do nothing but in all aspects of our life worship Allah. And know that that your trial is by the Love of Allah. Because clearly Allah (سبحانه و تعالى‎) states:

“Allah does not burden a soul beyond that it can bear…” ~Qur’an, [2 :286]

So think that whatever Allah has given you, including hardships is only because He knows you are capable of handling it. And we are always tested in accordance to our level of faith. And this in my opinion usually happens in hardships as follows:

1)   We break down (our imaan weakens)

2)    We repair (Become closer to Allah)

3)   We become stronger (strengthen our faith as a result).

If the outcome of what you’ve been through does not end with you becoming closer to your Lord, then you need to change that.

” O you who believe! Be careful of (your duty to) Allah and seek means of nearness to Him and strive hard in His way that you may be successful.” ~Qur’an [5 :35]

The goal of this Dunya is to please Allah and we can only achieve that by building a close relationship with Him. The ultimate goal however is Jannah.

Permanent Happiness

When looking at the Ayahs in the Qur’an regarding paradise, we are given many different descriptions of how beautiful and wondrous Jannah is but still Allah says:

 “So no soul knows the delights of the eyes which is hidden for them; a reward for what they did.” [32 :17]

All the descriptions will not match up to the imagery that we create in our minds of Jannah, because nothing can compare in this world to the world of the hereafter.

Who better knows our souls than our Creator? Our souls have desires and long to feel a sense of happiness. And our Lord knows exactly what our souls need. And the reward, he has placed for the pious believers, for the righteous and good, is Jannah.

Anas Ibn Malik ( رضي الله عنه) reported that the Messenger (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said:

 “Among the inmates of Hell, a person who had led the most luxurious life in this world will be brought up on the Day of Resurrection and dipped in the Fire and will be asked: ‘O son of Adam! Did you ever experience any comfort? Did you happen to get any luxury?’ He will reply: ‘By Allah, no, my Rabb (Lord).’ And then one of the people of Jannah who had experienced extreme misery in the life of this world will be dipped in Jannah. Then he will be asked: ‘O son of Adam! Did you ever experience any misery? Did you ever encounter difficulty?’ He will say: “By Allah, no my Rabb, I neither experienced misery nor passed through hardship”.~ [Muslim]

Imagine forgetting the hardships, the pain you went through in this Dunya because you were patient enough to always seek Allah’s help and guidance. The contentment is felt by just one single dip. Your worries, anxieties, stress and sadness will be like they never existed.

But this permanent happiness, is dependent upon temporary happiness.  And Temporary happiness depends on patience and seeking Allah’s help and guidance.

I leave this with a Du’a from me to All, that May Allah keep us all on the right path, that we are able in struggles and in goodness to always seek His help and to thank Him. May we always strive to be the people of piety and goodness, so that we may enter Jannah and be Happy.

Ameen

(Ive added a video below for anyone who wants to watch called ‘Don’t Be Sad: Allah Knows’)

 

“Let’s Have a Heart to Heart”

heartpic.jpg

A while back I received a present, a heart stone. Which gave me an idea for the topic which I’m going to discuss, which is to do with Our Hearts.

Now in a general sense, if we think about the physical anatomy of the heart, we know that it is regarded as the most vital organ in the body. It pumps blood around our body so the rest of our organs can function properly by delivering oxygen and nutrients.

If we think about this and link it to what the Prophet (peace be upon him) said:

“Beware in the body, there is a flesh, if it is sound, the whole body is sound, and if it is corrupt, the whole body is corrupt.”~Al Bukhari /Muslim

We can apply this in two senses:

Physically – if the heart is working, the rest of the body and other vital organs are functioning properly.

Spiritually- If the heart is sound religiously, the soul is at peace.

Now lets look more in depth at the spiritual sense as this is more of significance. The Prophet (peace be upon him) tells us:

“‘Verily Allah does not look to your bodies nor to your faces but he looks to your heart,’ and he pointed to the heart with his fingers.”~ Muslim 

So what really matters is not our appearance, colour, race, shape or size but our internal state. Many of us focus on our outer appearance so much that we neglect caring for our souls. Allah reminds us that our self-worth is dependent upon our level of taqwa.

“And whoever does righteous deeds, male or female and is a true believer in the Oneness of God, such will enter paradise and not the least injustice, even the size of a speck on the back of a date stone will be done to them.” ~Qur’an 4:124

Allah judges us by our deeds and what is in our hearts. So back to the point made earlier of the spiritual sense of the heart. This is looking at our soul and we should realise that if our heart is not at ease, then our relationship with our Creator needs strengthening.

The heart in Arabic is translated to the word  ‘Qalb’. And ‘Qalb’ can literally mean ‘to turn’ or ‘to flip’ and we are reminded in this hadith:

“All the hearts of the offspring of Adam are between the two fingers of Ar-Rahman. He turns it (in any direction) He wills.” ~Muslim

This is why our hearts need to be protected, as it can be easily influenced and attach to other things. And we need to be aware of what our hearts actually attach to, because if it takes us away from the worship of Allah, know that we have a problem. This is why it is necessary for us  to try and make this du’a:

يَا مُقَلِّبَ الْقُلُوبِ ثَبِّتْ قَلْبِى عَلَى دِينِكَ

Yaa Muqallibal Quloob Thabbit Qalbee ‘alaa Deenik.

“Oh turner of the hearts (Allah, the Most High), keep our hearts firm on your religion”

If Allah wished for us to not be on the path of guidance, he can make it easily so. So we should always be grateful and remember to continue to ask for guidance, to keep us steadfast InShaAllah.

Diseases of the Heart

The hardened heart

“Then your hearts became hardened after that, being like stones or even harder…”

~Qur’an 2:74

Imagine this description of comparing a heart to a stone. The hardening of hearts as hard as a rock. And this is an occurring problem we have in society as there are those who know of Allah and His miracles yet they choose to disobey. So we can see that Hardening can occur with the knowledge of Islam. And the Prophet (peace be upon him) said:

“The person most distant from Allah is the one with the hardened heart.”

~Tirmidhi

All diseases have symptoms so lets discuss a few of the symptoms of the hard heart so that  we can know how to prevent it.

1) Not caring about having a relationship with Allah – this includes not making the effort to try and form a relationship. Neglecting prayer, turning away from the worship of Allah.

2) To not enjoy the actions of worshipping- Praying becomes monotamous and a routine instead of a joyful activity which you wish to do to please your Creator.

3) Not benefitting from listening to lectures or listening to advice that is beneficial.- Arrogance is a key component in this. Your arrogance prevents you from taking useful pieces of advice.

4) Sinning without guilt- This involves feeling little or no remorse for the sins you have committed and not wanting to correct your mistakes. But the sinner who repents and feels guilt there is always hope for Him.

All diseases have symptoms, but for those symptoms to arise in the first place, there must be a cause. So lets think about how could someone possibly develop a hard heart.

1) Ignoring the remembrance of Allah. This links to Dhikr. If you think about Dhikr in the same way water hydrates you, you understand that Dhikr is a key component in keeping our souls nourished and well.

2) Disobeying commands knowingly. And I say knowingly because there are people who may not know something but then realise and put it into practice after. But this disobeying of commands includes not caring about the sins committed.

3) Following your own Nafs (desires).  This means indulging in practices which are haram. In this sense you are Overfeeding your body and neglecting your soul. This is even applicable to halal things also, such as If you spend more time with family and neglect your worship.

4) Wasting of Time.  A lot of the things we do in our spare time are frivolous, and we could spend this time in worship to our Creator. Not only in just praying but making the intentions to do something for the sake of pleasing Him.

If we take this hadith into consideration:

“Do not laugh too much, since excessive laughter kills the heart.”

~Tirmidhi/Ibn Majah

This shows that an act such as laughter we know that it is a good thing and a pleasant thing to do. It is even recommended for us to smile in Islam as a form of charity, yet TOO MUCH of it will kill the heart. And we’ve all heard of the phrase “Everything good is in moderation.” This can be applied here also.

Our hearts are such important organs, physically and spiritually and so delicate as they can be affected so easily.  So lets all try a little harder to look after this organ in our body, because we know that if that is sound, then the rest of our actions are sound.