my Jannah

my Heaven

Asiyah RAA, the wife of the pharaoh, had everything a woman could possibly want in this world. She has the palaces, the riches, the power, the beauty, the comfort. When prophet Musa AA came with the belief that God is One. She found in that message a truth that this world could not give her, and so she believed. Her faith, however, was tested. The pharaoh tortured her in the most brutal of ways so that she may recant her faith, but she did not. Her last words in this world were a prayer that rippled across time and reached us through the Quran; “My Lord, build for me near You a house in paradise and save me from Pharaoh and his deeds and save me from the wrongdoing people”(1). Allah s.w.t honored her devotion by mentioning her in the Quran and the Prophet SAAW referred to her as one of the four greatest women of all time (2).

Asiyah is a woman who chose heaven over this world with unaverred conviction. An ambition fueled by a deep love for her creator, and a certain belief that the eternal happiness of heaven is worth the sacrifice of an imperfect, temporary world. On a smaller scale, we are faced with similar choices in our everyday life. Should I pray now or should I delay it since the time/place is inconvenient? Should I dress modestly or should I fit in with society’s fashion standards? Should I give into vulgar speech since it’s becoming a norm, or should I stick to principal? Should I spend this free time listening to music, or should I use it to remember Allah s.w.t through thikr? All choices that either build our heaven or take us further away from it.

In the spirit of Ramadan, I have been thinking about my heaven a lot lately. I say my heaven, because it is a very personal thing. A reward from my creator to me and according to my tastes, wishes, and the efforts I put into building it in this world. Fasting is not easy but we push through, knowing the reward is great. I am particularly reminded of my heaven in the last hour of fast. It is the longest hour, my energy levels are low and my body is exhausted. My heart, however, feels so full. As though the emptiness of my stomach gave room for my heart breath and flourish. In that hour, in attempt to distract myself from the screaming hunger, I like to think of all that I want in my heaven.

I want heaven. I want the eternal happiness, the eternal comfort, the unparalleled beauty of nature. Rivers and oceans and forests and jungles and more. I want to taste the fruits of heaven. I want beautiful homes in heaven; beautiful clothing and I want to be beautiful in heaven. I want to be there with those whom I love from family and friends. I want to meet Asiyah and tell her how I too, chose heaven. I want to meet the prophet SAAW and tell him how much of his sunnah I tried to follow and how his legacy traveled through time to settle in our hearts. I want to meet Yussuf AS, just to see how beautiful he is. I want to meet Bilal RAA and tell him I too, was in pursuit of the sweetness of faith. I want to meet my creator, the One and only whose mercy and love is the essence of who I am today.

Praying for what I want in my heaven builds my motivation to pursue it against all odds. I try to imagine it as though I can almost see it. Many live their lives with an abstract and distant idea of heaven. I want my heaven to be concrete and present in the actions of my everyday life. I want every single step I take in this world to be a step closer to my heaven. Because I have reason to be there. Because Allah s.w.t has my heaven customized just for me. And He, the most generous, the most merciful, never dissapoints.

 

Blessed Ramadan 2018 to all.

 

 

(1) Surah Al-Tahrim, Verse 11

(2) In a famous narration, Anas Bin Malik reported that the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ said:“From among the women of the world who have reached perfection and who are worthy of following are (the following four):Miryam the daughter of Imrân; Khadija daughter of Khuwailid; Fatima daughter of Muhammad and Asiyah wife of Fir’aun” (Tirmidhi)

 

To be beautiful

Like any other woman or man, I want to be beautiful. My understanding of beauty, however, evolved along with my understanding of my faith.

I was never able to embrace fashion, or keep up with beauty trends. The industry is constantly changing, constantly deceiving.

I first had to establish who I want to be beautiful for.

When I tried being beautiful for others, I felt drained by and enslaved to their criticism. Often contradicting and more so infuriating. The happiness that people can give is always very temporary and flawed. I wanted something more constant, sure and lasting.

Then I was told that I should be beautiful for myself. But I was unconvinced. If I strive to be beautiful, I want to receive acknowledgement and appreciation in return. I want to be rewarded for my efforts and gifted and loved.

In my journey to faith and learning about my creator I realized that the only one deserving of my beauty is He. My effort to become beautiful in the eyes of Allah s.w.t will never go in vein or unnoticed.

Allah s.w.t is the most beautiful and the creator of all beauty; He loves beauty. His appreciation of my beauty is the only one that can fill my heart with contentment. His love is the only one that will never fade with time, or change with circumstances. He is the Most loving, the Eternal.

Then I had to establish how I can be beautiful in the eyes of Allah s.w.t.

We are told that our Prophet Yusuf AA has half the beauty of this world, and the other half the rest of humanity is to share. Allah s.w.t dedicated an entire chapter of the Quran to the story of this beloved prophet, in which He mentions much about Sayiduna Yusuf’s character, and nothing about his physical appearance. This tells us a lot about Allah’s (s.w.t) perception of beauty.

The purest form of beauty is that of the soul; a sort of beauty that the heart can feel before the eyes can see. A beautiful soul is one that is nourished by worship and polished by good character.

True beauty radiates from a person who is in constant remembrance of their Lord. When the tongue speaks His names (1), the mind contemplates His greatness, and the heart cleansed by His worship. A person who seeks to be beautiful in the eyes of his/her creator, will do all that is in their power to follow His commands as well as the ways of His messenger.

“A man’s beauty is in his tongue” is a hadeeth (2) of the prophet SAAW. Although the authenticity of this hadeeth I am unsure of, its meaning does coincide with another where the prophet says “speak good or remain silent”. The ears are the doors to the soul. Beauty is to be able to fill another person’s soul with only good words of honesty, respect and love.

Our beloved Prophet saaw says, “God has sent me as an apostle so that I may demonstrate perfection of character, refinement of manners and superiority in behavior.” Physical beauty is not neglected in Islam. In fact, cleanliness is a big part of the faith. However, today’s materialistic trends exaggerate the weight of physical beauty to unrealistic levels. Meanwhile, Allah s.w.t weighs the person in accordance to his/her character and deeds. All are equal in their chance to earn His love and build their heaven, regardless of their appearance.

Being beautiful in the eyes of Allah s.w.t only increases one’s beauty in the eyes of His creation. Gaining the love of Allah s.w.t also guarantees the love of His creation (3). Only He can place the world in your hands and contentment in your heart.

 

 

 

 

(1) Allah s.w.t has 99 names (otherwise known as attributes or characteristics) mentioned   in the Quran and the Sunnah of the Prophet SAAW. Muslims are encouraged to call Allah s.w.t by His names as they pray to Him.
“The most beautiful names belong to Allah: so call on Him by them.” (Quran, 7:180)

(2) Hadeeth: sayings of the Prophet Muhammad SAAW

(3) Abu Hurairah RA reported: The Prophet (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam) said, “When Allah loves a slave, calls out Jibril and says: ‘I love so-and-so; so love him’. Then Jibril loves him. After that he (Jibril) announces to the inhabitants of heavens that Allah loves so-and-so; so love him; and the inhabitants of the heavens (the angels) also love him and then make people on earth love him.” (Bukhari and Muslim)

 

Living “Alhamdulilah”

Alhamdulilah; all praise and thanks is due to Allah

We often forget that thikr (the mention or remembrance of Allah s.w.t) is an obligation to every Muslim. We are commanded to be in constant remembrance of Allah s.w.t in the Qur’an, just as we are commanded to pray our five daily prayers (1). Both are different forms of worship that feed your soul and allow you to taste the sweetness of faith in different flavors.

Thikr, unlike prayer, is among the easiest forms of worship. It requires nothing more than the movement of your tongue as you repeatedly praise your Lord, thank Him, glorify Him… Alhamdulilah is one of the many expressions to remember Allah s.w.t.

Allah s.w.t sent down many books to guide humanity. They are all summarized in the Torah, the Bible and the Quran. Again, these three are summarized in the Quran and the Quran is summarized in one Surah (chapter); Al-Fatiha. Surah Al-Fatiha begins with Alhamdulilah.

Allah s.w.t promises in the Quran that those who express gratitude to Him, He will surely increase them in goodness and blessings (2). Gratitude is essential to happiness in this world and the hereafter (3). A sort of divine contentment that only Allah s.w.t can place in your heart; one that nothing under the sky can break. Living gratitude also paves your path to heaven.

Faith is two things, patience and gratitude (4). The two come together, intertwined to strengthen each other. Patience is fueled by gratitude, and gratitude amplified by patience.

Among the many ways to express our gratitude to our creator, is by living the expression Alhamdulilah. To live it is to say it, think it and believe it just as often as your every breath. Although you can say Alhamdulilah whenever and wherever you wish, there are particular moments when I like to train myself to live Alhamdulilah. Such that when my tongue speaks it, my heart feels it.

1

As I lie in bed preparing my overly scattered mind to sleep, I like to list all the things I am grateful for.

Alhamdulilah for my home,
Alhamdulilah for my family,
Alhamdulilah for my mom,
Alhamdulilah for the moon and stars and the endless beauty of His creation…

2

I try to train myself to react to every situation with Alhamdulilah, be it happy, sad or anything in between.

3

When I see people in a less fortunate situation than I, I take that as an opportunity to say Alhamdulilah for every little ease that Allah s.w.t has blessed me with. Big and small.

4

When I find myself in a position to help others, I say Alhamdulilah for having been chosen by Allah s.w.t as a means to help another.

The list is nearly endless, and one lifetime is not enough for us to thank our creator for all that He has given and is yet to give.

May we all live Alhamdulilah as we stumble through this world all the way to heaven.

 

 

 

(1) Therefore remember Me, I will remember you. Give thanks to Me, and reject not Me.     (Surah Al-Baqara : verse 152)

(2) “If you are grateful, I would certainly give you more; and if you are ungrateful, My       chastisement is truly severe.” (Surah Ibrahim : verse 7)

(3) Read more about gratitude in the following blog post by Medicine Unveiled:
http://medicineunveiled.com/gratitude-change-lens/

(4) “And when the servant considers all of faith, he will see it returning back in its entirety to patience and gratitude.” – Ibn Taymiyya

How will you build your heaven today?

I have a paper on my wall with the question “How will you build your heaven today?” sloppily written on it with my less than perfect handwriting. It is beside my dresser, in front of which I stand every morning to prepare for the day. I put it up there when I felt I was slipping.

My prayers were slipping. I kept forgetting my morning athkar. My Quran recitation wasn’t as frequent anymore. Even in terms of my health, I wasn’t eating as well and wasn’t exercising as regularly as I used to. My time was being spent on all the wrong things and my efforts were going in all the wrong directions. What hurt the most was how dry and dull my connection with Allah swt became. I was so disappointed in myself.

Alhamdulilah I am getting better. I am trying to pull myself where I want to be in terms of my faith, my health and my life goals.

A few times, I was asked how I manage to keep my faith at such a level? The answer is quite frankly, I don’t. It is a constant struggle. But here are a few things that make my journey a little easier, and hopefully yours as well!

  1. Surround yourself only with Good Company

Surround yourself by people who will empower you every step of the way. These people are the ones that care to know your goals and where you want to be in life. Then they will make sure you are doing your best to get there. They will see the goodness in you and amplify it. They will see faults in you and love you in spite of them.

  1. Be Good Company

Who are you to your friends? Are you as supporting and as loving as you want them to be to you? It’s important to know that friendship, love, affection and support must be mutual in order to last!

  1. Religious Gatherings

The only way to get good at any subject is by attending classes or any form of groups that teach it and follow up with your progress. I feel that practising your faith is quite the same. Halaqas are, with all honesty, what keep me going. While all the other days of the week drain my spiritual energy, the day I attend a halaqa is the day I am revived!

  1. Small yet consistent acts of worship

On many occasions our beloved prophet saaw highly encouraged the small yet consistent acts of worship. They are most beloved to Allah swt and they have the deepest impact on your heart and soul. Persistence is strength!

  1. Choose one form of worship that you love and master it!

Alhamdulilah Islam is so diverse in its forms of worship. Your every daily activity can be worship with the proper intention. Sometimes you may enjoy or feel one form a lot more than another. Then don’t hesitate to indulge! All in moderation of course. I, for example, feel that my two strongest and most enjoyed forms of worship are thikr and du’a. I try my best to fill all my free time with them!

  1. Whatever you are most struggling with, put it on your wall!

In order to help me with my prayers, I have a bright yellow paper on my wall with “Pray all 5 prayers ON TIME” written on it. We are forgetful creatures, so make sure you are always reminding yourself of what you need to improve on!

  1. Make du’a

Always ask Allah swt to help you grow closer to Him through worship. Ask Him to open your heart to all that He loves and to distance you from all the He dislikes. Ask Him for all that you wish to improve on and all that you wish to achieve.

Most importantly, wake up every morning and ask yourself; how will you build your heaven today? Every single breath you take is a chance to add to your jannah! Mansions, castles, trees, gardens, rivers, fruits, beautiful clothing, unimaginable comfort…

If your life in this world is not contributing to your hereafter, then are you truly living?

 

So these are a few things that have helped me maintain my faith! Comment below with what helps you. 🙂