Take 5!

If you’re young, in good health, have a comfortable amount of money in the bank, and have some free time – you’re life is the motherload of productivity potential. 

Prophet Muhammad (saw) said, 

“Take benefit of five before five: 
Your youth before your old age
your health before your sickness
your wealth before your poverty
your free time before you arepreoccupied
and your life before your death.” 

We all know this hadith and nod our heads solemnly when we hear it at Friday khutbahs. 

But then we go home and spend hours sprawled in front of our screens, finally crawl into bed at 3am, and snooze the fajr alarm five times before getting up. Oh, is that the sun? 

Guess you missed fajr. Again. 

How many times have you resolved that tomorrow is going to be different? 

And woke up the next day to the sun on your face.  Again. 

Time is the one thing on earth that all humans are equal in. From Presidents of countries, to paupers in the street, to you … we all share the same 24 hours. 

Yet some have mastered it, and some use it as a wonderful one-size-fits-all excuse.  “I don’t have enough Time!” 

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How can you not love him?

Love is difficult to measure; it is dynamic, beautiful, dangerous, bittersweet, fluctuating, and abstract. It can lead you to the highest clouds of happiness, but it can also sink you through the depths of a dark abyss.

Throughout one’s life, different forms of love are experienced at varying degrees, but one type of love that is a constant for the sincere believer is the love of the Messenger of Allah ﷺ.

There are many reasons to love Prophet Muhammad ﷺ, as will be elaborated on in an upcoming article, but before we dive into the signs of true love, let us be reminded of one of the most heart-moving narrations that would increase a believer’s love, in which Aisha RA said:

“Once, when I saw the Prophet being cheerful, I said to him: ‘O Messenger of Allah! Supplicate to Allah for me!’

He said, ‘O Allah! Forgive ‘Aisha her past and future sins, what she has concealed as well as what she has made apparent.’

So I began smiling, to the point that my head fell into the lap of the Messenger of Allah ﷺ out of joy.

The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said to me: ‘Does my du’a (supplication) make you happy?’ I replied: ‘And how can your du’a not make me happy?’

He then said: ‘By Allah, it is the supplication that I make for my Ummah in every prayer.’ ” [1]

How can you not love the Prophet of Allah ﷺ when he supplicated for you in every prayer? The Prophet ﷺ cared more for us than we care for ourselves; he loved us more than we love ourselves. The proof of that is that he constantly prayed for his Ummah and struggled for 23 years in order to convey the message of Allah, and yet oftentimes we fall short with regards to our own spiritual well-being.

We may claim to love Prophet Muhammad, to ourselves and others, but let us examine some surefire signs that prove the authenticity of our love.

1. Imitating and emulating him

We frequently see society around us imitating sports players, movie stars, people of power, and other famous celebrities, out of love for their personalities, hairstyles, clothes, behavior, or speech.

Perhaps the greatest sign of your love for the Messenger of Allah ﷺ is that your life is essentially a sequence of decisions that are guided by your desire to imitate Prophet Muhammad ﷺ. As the famous saying goes, “Your actions are louder than your words.” If you claim to love the Prophet ﷺ, then imitating him is a sign that your claim is authentic. It can therefore be said that the more you sincerely and correctly imitate the Messenger of Allah, the more love you have for him.

Perhaps one of the greatest calamities is when, for example, a passionate believer goes through a sudden spiritual change, and he attempts to implement — and enforce — the Sunnah of the Prophet ﷺ in some areas, but he completely overlooks the manners of the Messenger of Allah ﷺ without realizing that sound character is a part of faith, and one of the greatest ways to follow the Messenger of Allah ﷺ. Thus, if you wish to imitate and emulate the Messenger of Allah ﷺ, then exemplify his manners alongside the jurisprudential issues.

Action item:
Ask yourself: Are my decisions reflective of a believer who imitates and emulates the Messenger of Allah? What do my manners reflect? How do I treat my parents, wife/husband, children, community members, my superiors and employees, Muslims and non-Muslims? 

2. Studying his seerah

When you love someone, you’ll find yourself learning more about that individual’s actions, sayings, and history. Many of the companions used to teach their children about the life of the Prophet ﷺ at a young age, and before many other subjects.

Every Muslim that is able to should study the life of the Prophet ﷺ to some extent; his mercy, love, compassion, dedication, speech, exalted manners, his concern for the Ummah, and the hardships he endured in order to fulfill his role of conveying the message of the Creator to the creation. This may entail reading a summarized book of the seerah, such as “When the Moon Split”, or covering an advanced book or in-depth video series, but ultimately, everyone should try to cover the basics at least once.

How can you love someone so much but have no passion to learn more about him? It’s a harsh question that many of us need to ask ourselves, and the reality is that the more love you have for the Prophet ﷺ, the more eager you’ll find yourself in learning about him. An indisputable benefit is that studying the seerah will increase your love for the Messenger of Allah ﷺ.

Action item:

If you haven’t yet, study the seerah on a basic level, alone or with family. If you have studied the basics, then move on to a more advanced and in-depth resource.
3. Studying what he conveyed

Prophet Muhammad ﷺ was sent with the greatest and final gift to from the Creator to the creation: the Qur’an. Thus, one sign of love of the Messenger ﷺ is reciting, studying, understanding, implementing, and teaching what he conveyed. The Qur’an is a light for every darkness, a cure for every illness, a guidance for every misguidance, and it was delivered and conveyed by the Messenger that was sent to us for our own happiness and success, in both this life and the Hereafter.

Action item:

Recite the Qur’an on a daily basis, even if in small quantities, and remember that consistency is key. Include with your recitation a basic study of understanding through authentic Tafseer(exegesis) so that your recitation brings about comprehension, concentration, and implementation.

4. Sending salutations upon him

Saying “Allahumma sallee ‘ala Muhammad” in any of its appropriate variations is asking Allah to send peace and blessings and mercy upon the beloved Messenger, and every time you do it, Allah will send upon you 10 times the blessings and mercy in your life [2]. Furthermore, every time you send salutations upon him, an angel appointed next to the Messenger ﷺ conveys your prayers to him. [ 3] Finally, the more you send prayers upon him, the closer you’ll be to him on the Day of Resurrection and the more of his intercession you’ll have on that significant day.

Action item:

Try to begin the basic habit of sending 10 prayers upon him in the morning and 10 in the evening [4], and increase your habit from there throughout the day and night, especially when you remember him or when his name is mentioned.

5. Loving what/whom he loved

This includes acts of worship, such as fasting Mondays and Thursdays or praying at night, and countless sunnan, such as using the siwak or wearing white garments. This sign also includes the people he loved and those who loved him, such as Abu Bakr  and Umar , and the Prophet’s wife, Aisha , as well as his entire family and the companions in their entirety. This is a litmus test for many who claim to love the Messenger but believe in fabrications against his beloved and noble companions.

6. Remembering him and wishing to be with him

When you love someone, you find yourself thinking about them often. The more you love the Messenger of Allah ﷺ, the more you’ll refer back to his life and the more you’ll pray that Allah grants you reunion with him in the Hereafter, in the highest levels of Paradise.

Action item: Include in your daily supplications a du’a for companionship with the Prophet ﷺ.

7. Encouraging others to learn about and emulate him

A sign of loving someone is that you want others to know about your beloved, especially when they delivered to you the only means of salvation and success. It’s easy to encourage friends and family to partake in leisure, vacations, or other forms of entertainment; what we oftentimes forget when we’re growing spiritually is to encourage others to grow with us. A believer who encourages others to study the life and teachings of the Prophet ﷺ has some apparent signs of loving the Prophet ﷺ himself.

Action item: Share this article with others to increase their love for the Messenger of Allah ﷺ, and encourage others to study the seerah andSunnah of the Prophetfrequently.

O Allah! Send your peace and blessings upon your Messenger, his family, and those who follow him until the Day of Resurrection.

O Allah! Grant us true and complete love for your Messenger and his Sunnah and allow us to be upon his path until the day we return to You.

O Allah! Grant us companionship with your Messenger in the highest levels of Paradise!

Footnotes/References

1. Tirmidhi

2. Muslim – “Whoever sends blessings upon me, Allah will send blessings upon him tenfold.”

3. Nasa’i – “Allah has angels who go around on earth, conveying to me the salaam of my ummah.”

4. Based on the narration of at-Tabaraani, “Whoever sends salutations upon me ten times in the morning and ten times in the evening will be encompassed by my intercession on the Day of Resurrection.” The narration’s authenticity is disputed by a few scholars of hadith, but it has a sound classification according to al-Haythami, as-Suyuti, al-Mundhiri, and others.

The Last Sermon

“Last Sermon”

1426 years ago Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) delivered this sermon on the 9th of Dhul Hijjah, 10 AH on the foot of Mount Arafah.

After praising and thanking Allah he said:

    O People, lend me an attentive ear, for I know not whether after this year, I shall ever be amongst you again. Therefore listen to what I am saying to you very carefully and take these words to those who could not be present here today.

    O People, just as you regard this month, this day, this city as Sacred, so regard the life and property of every Muslim as a sacred trust. Return the goods entrusted to you to their rightful owners. Hurt no one so that no one may hurt you. Remember that you will indeed meet your Lord, and that He will indeed reckon your deeds. Allah has forbidden you to take usury (interest), therefore all interest obligation shall henceforth be waived. Your capital, however, is yours to keep. You will neither inflict nor suffer any inequity. Allah has Judged that there shall be no interest and that all the interest due to Abbas ibn ‘Abd’ul Muttalib (Prophet’s uncle) shall henceforth be waived…

    Beware of Satan, for the safety of your religion. He has lost all hope that he will ever be able to lead you astray in big things, so beware of following him in small things.

    O People, it is true that you have certain rights with regard to your women, but they also have rights over you. Remember that you have taken them as your wives only under Allah’s trust and with His permission. If they abide by your right then to them belongs the right to be fed and clothed in kindness. Do treat your women well and be kind to them for they are your partners and committed helpers. And it is your right that they do not make friends with any one of whom you do not approve, as well as never to be unchaste.

    O People, listen to me in earnest, worship Allah, say your five daily prayers (Salah), fast during the month of Ramadan, and give your wealth in Zakat. Perform Hajj if you can afford to.

    All mankind is from Adam and Eve, an Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab nor a non-Arab has any superiority over an Arab; also a white has no superiority over black nor a black has any superiority over white except by piety and good action. Learn that every Muslim is a brother to every Muslim and that the Muslims constitute one brotherhood. Nothing shall be legitimate to a Muslim which belongs to a fellow Muslim unless it was given freely and willingly. Do not, therefore, do injustice to yourselves.

    Remember, one day you will appear before Allah and answer your deeds. So beware, do not stray from the path of righteousness after I am gone.

    O People, no prophet or apostle will come after me and no new faith will be born. Reason well, therefore, O People, and understand words which I convey to you. I leave behind me two things, the Qur’an and my example, the Sunnah and if you follow these you will never go astray.

    All those who listen to me shall pass on my words to others and those to others again; and may the last ones understand my words better than those who listen to me directly. Be my witness, O Allah, that I have conveyed your message to your people.

Empowerment of Women

Empowerment of Women Speech by Sister Yasmin Mogahed

When the companion of the Prophet, pbuh, entered a town to bring them the message of Islam, he put it very beautifully. He said, “I have come to free you from the servitude of the slave and bring you to the servitude of the Lord of the slave.”

Within this statement lies a powerful treasure. Locked within these words, is the key to empowerment and the only real path to liberation.

You see, the moment you or I allow anything, other than our Creator, to define our success, our failure, our happiness, or our worth, we have entered into a silent, but destructive form of slavery. That thing which defines my self worth, my success and my failure is what controls me. And it becomes my Master.

The master which has defined a woman’s worth, has taken many forms throughout time. One of the most prevalent standards made for woman, has been the standard of men. But what we so often forget is that God has honored the woman by giving her value in relation to Himself—not in relation to men. Yet, as some ideologies erased God from the scene, there was no standard left—but men. As a result the woman was forced to find her value in relation to a man. And in so doing she had accepted a faulty assumption. She had accepted that man is the standard, and thus a woman can never be a full human being until she becomes just like a man: the standard.

When a man cut his hair short, she wanted to cut her hair short. When a man joined the army, she wanted to join the army. When a man smoked cigarettes or drank alcohol, she wanted to smoke cigarettes and drink alcohol. Often she wanted these things for no other reason than because the “standard” had them.

What she didn’t recognize was that God dignifies both men and women in their distinctiveness–not in their sameness. When we accept men as the standard, suddenly anything uniquely feminine becomes by definition inferior. Being sensitive is an insult, becoming a full-time mother—a degradation. In the battle between stoic rationality (considered masculine) and selfless compassion (considered feminine), rationality reigned supreme.

As soon as we accepted that everything a man has and does is better, all that followed was just a knee jerk reaction: if men have it—we want it too. If men pray in the front rows, we assume this is better, so we want to pray in the front rows too. If men lead prayer, we assume the imam is closer to God, so we want to lead prayer too. Somewhere along the line we’d accepted the notion that having a position of worldly leadership is some indication of one’s position with God.

But a Muslim woman does not need to degrade herself in this way. She has God as the standard. She has God to give her value; she doesn’t need a man to do this.
Given our privilege as women, we only degrade ourselves by trying to be something we’re not–and in all honesty–don’t want to be: a man. As women, we will never reach true liberation until we stop trying to mimic men, and value the beauty in our own God-given distinctiveness.

And yet, in society, there is another prevalent “master” which has defined for women their worth. And that is the so-called standard of beauty. Since the time we were little, we as women, have been taught a very clear message by society. And that message is: “Be thin. Be sexy. Be attractive. Or…be nothing.”

So we were told to put on their make-up and wear their short skirts. Instructed to give our lives, our bodies, our dignity for the cause of being pretty. We came to believe that no matter what we did, we were worthy only to the degree that we could please and be beautiful for men. So we spent our lives on the cover of Cosmo and we gave our bodies for advertisers to sell.

We were slaves, but they taught us we were free. We were their object, but they swore it was success. Because they taught you that the purpose of your life was to be on display, to attract and be beautiful for men. They had you believe that your body was created to market their cars.

But they lied.

Your body, your soul was created for something higher. Something so much higher.

God says in the Quran: ‘Verily, the most honored of you in the sight of God is the one who is most righteous’ (Quran 49:13).
So you are honored. But it is not by your relationship to men—either being them, or pleasing them. Your value as a woman is not measured by the size of your waist or the number of men who like you. Your worth as a human being is measured on a higher scale: a scale of righteousness and piety. And your purpose in life–despite what the fashion magazines say–is something more sublime than just looking good for men.

Our completion comes from God and our relationship with Him. And yet, from the time we were little, we, as women, have been taught, that we will never reach completion until a man comes to complete us. Like Cinderella we were taught that we are helpless unless a prince comes to save us. Like Sleeping Beauty, we were told that our life doesn’t fully begin, until Prince Charming kisses us. But here’s the thing: no prince can complete you. And no knight can save you. Only God can.

Your prince is only a human being. God may send him to be your companion—but not your savior. The coolness of your eyes—not the air in your lungs. Your air is in God. Your salvation and completion are in His nearness—not the nearness to any created thing. Not the nearness to a prince, not the nearness to fashion or beauty or style.

And so I ask you to unlearn. I ask you to stand up and tell the world that you are a slave to nothing—not to fashion, not to beauty, not to men. You are a slave to God and God alone. I ask you to tell the world that you’re not here to please men with your body; You’re here to please God. So to those who mean well and wish to ‘liberate’ you, just smile and say: “Thanks, but no thanks.”

Tell them you’re not here to be on display. And your body is not for public consumption. Make sure the world knows that you will never be reduced to an object, or a pair of legs to sell shoes. You are a soul, a mind, a servant of God. And your worth is defined by the beauty of that soul, that heart, that moral character. So, you don’t worship their beauty standards; you don’t submit to their fashion sense. Your submission is to something higher.

Therefore, in answering the question of where and how a woman can find empowerment, I find myself led back to the statement of our Prophet’s companion. I find myself led back to the realization that true liberation and empowerment lies only in freeing oneself from all other masters, all other definitions. All other standards.

As Muslim women, we have been liberated from this silent bondage. We don’t need society’s standard of beauty or fashion, to define our worth. We don’t need to become just like men to be honored, and we don’t need to wait for a prince to save or complete us. Our worth, our honor, our salvation, and our completion lies not in the slave.

But, in the Lord of the slave.

12 ways to fill your day with blessings

1. Sleeping and waking up early

Our sleeping pattern plays a great role in our ability to function effectively during the day. The hours after Fajr are among the most blessed of the day. Starting the day off by praying the morning salah sets you in the right frame of mind to be the best you can be throughout the day. However, in order to rise in the early hours it is imperative to sleep early as your body requires an adequate amount of rest.

Aisha raḍyAllāhu ‘anha (may Allāh be pleased with her) said about the Prophet ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him):

“He used to sleep early at night, and get up in its last part to pray, and then return to his bed.” [Bukhari]

When you have a million things to do, it is easy to fall into a horrible cycle of sleeping late and waking up late. Due to our failure to wake up early, one day extends into the next in order to finish your list of tasks. Break that cycle today! Wake up early and sleep early to be the strong, successful you that you want to be, In sha Allah.

2. Having a pleasant smile always

Ibn Jaz reports: “I have not seen anyone who smiled more than the Messenger of Allah ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him).”[Tirmidhi]

Smiling has been shown to increase the natural antidepressant hormone, serotonin, causing the one who wears a smile to be happier. We underestimate the power of a smile on both ourselves and those around us. This characteristic is highly contagious and plays a massive role in building relationships with those around you. A positive mind and attitude is irreplaceable in the quest to be productive and achieve your goals in life. Smiling is a simple, inexpensive act that helps lift your mood and make you feel more grateful and content since our Prophet ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) was seen frequently doing it. So, let’s follow along this great sunnah. Consciously take note of your usual facial expression: is your normal expression a happy one or do you always appear sad, exhausted, preoccupied or frustrated? It will take a bit of regular effort, but you can cut down on the frowning, smile more often and spread joy and peace around you as the Prophet ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) instructed.

3. Using the siwak

Abu Hurairah raḍyAllāhu ‘anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) narrated that Allah’s Messenger ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said:

“If it were not that it would be difficult on my nation, then I would have ordered them to use the siwak for each prayer.” [Tirmidhi]

This hadith indicates the view of the Prophet ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) towards the siwak. Siwak comes from the Salvadora persica tree and has many anti-bacterial qualities, making it a great way to maintain hygiene of the mouth. It can be said, given how often the Prophet ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) would have liked us to use the siwak, that there is a big emphasis on maintaining oral hygiene. It is narrated that the Prophet ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) would use siwak upon waking. The teeth are delicate and when problems occur can cause tremendous amount of pain, so this sunnah introduces preventative measures against a problem that can have you rolled up in bed for days. Siwak is easily purchasable and relatively cheap, making it an easy sunnah to uphold. It keeps the mouth clean and fresh naturally and effortlessly all the time.

Abdur-Rahman bin Abu ‘Atiq said: “My father told me: ‘I heard ‘Aishah say, (narrating) from the Prophet ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him): “Siwak is a means of purification for the mouth and is pleasing to the Lord.” [Sunan an-Nasa’i]

4. Oiling hair

I heard Jabir bin Samurah being asked about the grey hairs of the Prophet ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him). He said: ‘If he put oil on his head they could not be seen, but if he did not put oil on his head, they could be seen.’” [An-Nasa’i]

The act of oiling is something many of us do not recognise to be a part of the sunnah. This hadith alludes to the idea of using oil to prevent grey hairs being visible, highlighting that the sunnah of the Prophet ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) encompasses every aspect of life. Oiling hair on a regular basis prevent hair loss and greying, promotes strong and lustrous hair by strengthening hair protein and rejuvenates and relaxes the mind by soothing the brain’s nerves and capillaries. We seek all this by spending a great deal of money at hairdressers and spas, yet this simple sunnah can save us a great deal of money, time and effort whilst we continue to live like our beloved Prophet ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him).

5. Maintaining the 1/3rd rule in eating

Miqdam bin Madikarib said: “I heard the Messenger of Allah ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) say:

‘A human being fills no worse vessel than his stomach. It is sufficient for a human being to eat a few mouthfuls to keep his spine straight. But if he must (fill it), then one third of food, one third for drink and one third for air.’” [Ibn Majah]

It is an underestimated fact that food has a dramatic effect on your body’s and brain’s performance. This hadith clearly highlights that overeating is a reprehensible quality we should stay away from. However, it is also important to remember that undereating is equally as harmful to a person. In order to function, we need to have a balanced outlook towards our meals; your level of food consumption should not leave you feeling tired or bloated as this is a state that leads to laziness, which is a vice we seek refuge in Allah subḥānahu wa ta’āla (glorified and exalted be He) from.

Can you conquer the world by sleeping? No. So, eat a nutritious, balanced meal that is sufficient in suppressing your hunger.

6. Speaking good or keeping silent

The Prophet ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said:

“He who believes in Allah and the Hereafter, if he witnesses any matter he should talk in good terms about it or keep quiet.” [Muslim]

We often find ourselves in situations where we sit and talk about things that do not concern us. We waste precious minutes, even hours, just by talking about matters that will not increase us in knowledge, character or anything for that matter. When speaking ill of a person or situation, the conversation becomes elongated, sadly due to the desire to gossip. The beauty of this particular sunnah is that it will help you save time and reduce the amount of energy used to contemplate over irrelevant matters being discussed. This energy and time could be well spent on something beneficial, such as reading Qur’an or doing vital tasks, or only speaking things that benefit oneself and others in dunya and akhirah.

7. Doing hijama (cupping)

The Prophet ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said:

“If there is any healing in your medicines, then it is in cupping, a gulp of honey or branding with fire (cauterization) that suits the ailment, but I don’t like to be (cauterized) branded with fire.” [Bukhari]

The Prophet ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) would be cupped on a regular basis. This form of treatment has been used throughout history in a number of countries. The benefits of cupping are vast, including the removal of toxins within the blood. Studies have shown cupping to be beneficial in the treatment of migraines, fertility and joint pains. This can be taken as a therapeutic measure against stress, helping to relieve a person of thoughts that impinge on their ability to complete their daily tasks.

8. Visiting the sick

The Prophet ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said:

“Feed the hungry, visit the sick, and set free the

captives.” [Bukhari]

The concept of looking out for others is found throughout the teachings of the Prophet ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him). Sadly, we are regularly aware of people within our circle of acquaintances who are tested with an illness, big or small. Visiting and spending time with them has two major benefits. You demonstrate love towards another, instantly tightening the bonds of kinship/friendship. Also, to see someone who is unable to function as well as they normally can, is a strong reminder to us all of the blessing of health that we currently have and take for granted. The next time you hear of someone who is ill, try your best to go beyond sending them a ‘get well soon’ and practice a forgotten sunnah: make the effort to be physically present and comfort them.

9. Sitting when eating/drinking

It was narrated from Anas raḍyAllāhu ‘anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him): “The Prophet ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) prohibited that a man should drink while standing.” (Qatadah said) So it was said: “And eating?” He (Anas) said: “That is worse.” [Tirmidhi]

Those who stand to eat or drink always look like they are in a rush. Sitting down to eat slows a person in their eating habits, reducing the amount they are likely to eat and the unhealthy speed by which they do so. As mentioned above, eating consciously prevents a person from becoming fatigued due to their stomach size. Importantly, eating together as a family, which requires you to sit, is a crucial way to build relationships.

10. Sleeping on your right side

“When Allah’s Messenger ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) went to bed, he used to sleep on his right side.”[Bukhari]

One of the main points to consider when a person wants to have a productive, blessed day is to look at how you go to sleep. The Prophet ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) was the most successful in how he spent his days; the way in which he took to his sleep plays a role in helping him to be like this. Following in his footsteps is the key to unlocking a fruitful morning.

11. Saying Salam/Bismillah before entering a house

The Messenger of Allah ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said:

“If a person mentions the Name of Allah upon entering his house or eating, Satan says, addressing his followers: ‘You will find nowhere to spend the night and no dinner.’ But if he enters without mentioning the Name of Allah, Satan says (to his followers); ‘You have found (a place) to spend the night in, and if he does not mention the Name of Allah at the time of eating, Satan says: ‘You have found (a place) to spend the night in as well as food.”‘ [Muslim]

None of us want shaytan to enter our homes; we are aware of the distractions he creates to lead to our destruction. That being said, it is fundamentally important to seek refuge from his evil ways. Upon entering our homes, it is crucial to utter the Name of Allah to prevent our doors being open for him. shaytan is an enemy of productivity and success; his ultimate goal is to see us fail in our journey to develop a relationship with Allah subḥānahu wa ta’āla (glorified and exalted be He). Take the measures, as given in the sunnah, against him because he will squeeze into whatever gap visible to him. Never let the enemy win!

12. Untying the three knots

Waking up for Fajr is a battle many of us have experienced or are experiencing. The hours of the morning, as mentioned above, are a blessed time for being productive in studying and completing various tasks. The sad reality is, many of us miss out on this because we fail to wake up for Fajr on time.

Allah’s Messenger ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said:

“During your sleep, Satan knots three knots at the back of the head of each of you, and he breathes the following words at each knot, ‘The night is, long, so keep on sleeping,’ If that person wakes up and celebrates the praises of Allah, then one knot is undone, and when he performs ablution the second knot is undone, and when he prays, all the knots are undone, and he gets up in the morning lively and in good spirits, otherwise he gets up in low spirits and lethargic.” [Bukhari]

This hadith sets out the plan of action to be successful: wake up, praise Allah subḥānahu wa ta’āla (glorified and exalted be He), perform wudu and pray fajr. Being lively and in good spirits are the perfect ingredients to having a productive day, and this is what you will achieve when you follow this sunnah, In sha Allah.

How blessed are we that our religion teaches us about all the ingredients of a successful life? Alhamdulillah!

Islam’s first Feminist.

I often get into debates with people about women in Islam. How we dress. How we don’t dress. What we think or don’t think or should-be-thinking. I get into debates about feminism. What it is and what it isn’t. I think I’ve spawned permanent foes because I don’t care to apply the label, feminist, to describe myself. (I’m not one for labels, sorry. But if it’s even required of me, “Muslim woman” suits me just fine.) But if we could agree for a moment that there exists a pure definition of the word feminist to mean: awesomely fierce to the millionth degree, then I’d like to introduce you to Islam’s first feminist.

Her name is Khadijah bint Khuwaylid. She was the wife of the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him.) And she is one of the people that I think about when I face or debate issues surrounding women today. Khadija’s existence precedes mine by more than 1,400 years; and, if I can at the very least, continuously strive to emulate her character, I will consider myself a success in life.

7 things you might not know about the awesomely fierce, Khadija (may God be pleased with her):

1. She was a successful and esteemed business woman.

I would give anything to do an on-the-job, ride-along with Khadija. Gladly swipe my car for a camel- my laptop for a government-issued glass weight to measure goods in trade. What could I learn in one day of shadowing this highly-respected business leader, trading furniture, pottery and silks? Khadija was born to a father who was a successful merchant in their Quraysh tribe of Mecca. She inherited her father’s skills in a time in history where society was male-dominated and dangerous. Upon her father’s death, she took over the business and traded goods through the primary commerce centers at that time, from Mecca to Syria and to Yemen, hiring the most trustworthy men of character to brave the dangerous trade routes. Her business was larger than all of the Quraysh trades combined and the most acclaimed with a reputation of fair-dealing and high-quality goods. She had a keen eye and was highly intuitive, earning the monikers, Ameerat-Quraysh (“Princess of Quraysh”) and al-Tahira (“The Pure One”) due to her stellar reputation. Khadija knew what she was doing business-wise, never compromising her modesty or integrity to succeed in the male-dominated trades- hiring only those that could meet these standards. Glass ceiling? Hah! 1,400 years ago, yes, Khadija shattered it.

2. She turned down many marriage proposals.

Being the most successful woman around, rich in worldly attainment as well as character, it seems Khadija faced a consistent campaign of men seeking her hand in marriage. She was married twice before her wedlock to the Prophet; both of these marriages produced children and both left her widowed. Her keen sense of character left her picky; and, she was less than eager to suffer another painful loss of a husband. She resigned herself to being a widowed woman taking care of herself and her family. Until …

3. She asked the Prophet to marry her.

Love comes when you aren’t looking, or so I have heard. (And experienced.) Khadija learned of the stellar character of Muhammad as well as his experience managing caravans on the trade routes accompanying his uncle, Abu Talib. She hired him into her conglomerate. Marriages at this time were typically necessary for survival and not always about love as we know it in today’s world. Khadija didn’t need a husband to take care of her financially. And Muhammad did not have the means to seek a wife. She fell in love with him, and through a friend, asked him to marry her. (He said yes.)

4. She was 15 years older than Muhammad.

If Khadija’s story hasn’t broken stereotypes about Islam yet, it might intrigue you to know that she was 40 years old when she married Muhammad. He was 25.

5. She was an ideal wife; theirs was a true love story.

“Your wives are a garment for you, and you are a garment for them.” (Qur’an 2:187)

Taking multiple wives was a common practice, yet Khadija and Muhammad’s marriage was monogamous until her death 25 years later. Muhammad’s prophethood began during his marriage to Khadija, when he received the first of God’s revelations through the Angel Gabriel that left him frightened, strained and feeling alone when no one believed in him. Khadija comforted her husband and encouraged him during the most difficult days of his life. She bore him 6 children. He loved no one more than Khadija during his lifetime.

6. She was the first Muslim.

Khadija, the mother of Islam, was the first person on earth to accept Muhammad as the final prophet of God and accept the revelations that culminated into the Holy Qur’an. She was greeted with “Salam” (peace) by God himself as well as the Angel Gabriel. She bequeathed her worldly goods and put herself in the face of danger to stand by the Prophet Muhammad as Islam became established in the land.

7. She spent her worldly riches on the poor.

In Islam, whether rich or poor, one’s financial condition is a test. Khadija gave her earnings to the poor and to the orphans, to the widows and the sick. She helped poor girls get married and provided their dowry.

Khadija was one of history’s most remarkable women. Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) once said that the four greatest women of mankind were: Khadija bint Khuwaylid, Fatima bint Muhammad (his youngest daughter,) Mary bint Emran (the Virgin Mary) and Asiya bint Muzahim (the wife of Pharaoh.) Khadija continues to inspire people to this day who revere her for taking great care of the Prophet of Islam and for showing the world, through her behavior, what a pious, modest and courageous woman can accomplish. The example she left for mankind remains

Social Sincerity

Social media has allowed us to reach more people. If we want to raise funds, we post it on Facebook or Twitter to get people involved. But we also post pictures of ourselves at a charity event, fundraiser, dhikr (circles of remembrance), at the Masjid, in Ihraam (Pilgrimage clothing), at the Kabah to show “our people” what we’ve achieved. Inevitably it garners likes and comments. It might on the very rare occasion not be for that intention. Exposing our good deeds puts us on very shaky ground. Just as exposing our sin takes the sin to another level, exposing your good deeds can render them null and even earn you a sin.

Any good deed performed with the intention of showing off and pleasing people is not acceptable. If one reads the Quraan, for example, craving the admiration of people for his beautiful recitation and not as a duty to Allah, this falls under the category of showing off, and is considered minor shirk. It is important to be aware of such shirk and do every good deed for Allah alone, and not to enhance our image or status among people.

Just as the Shaytaan comes to a Muslim to make him admire his actions and show off to people, he sometimes uses the opposite trick and makes a person think that he is showing off, to trick him into not doing it. In order to avoid both problems, we have to make sure that our intention is sound and make it sincerely and purely for the sake of Allah, and not worry after that about the whispers of Shaytaan.

The Sahabah (radiallahu anhum) were very eager to cover their good deeds from the eyes of people. The same way we may cover our sins from the eyes of other people. They were the enemies of Riyah – showing off. They were people of sincerity. Sulayman ibn mahran al Amash said that he once sat with Ebrahim an Nakhahi (rahimahullah) and a man came in and Ebrahim (rahimahullah) was reading the Quran. He covered the Quraan when the man
came in. He covered the Quraan and said he didn’t want the man to see him reading the Quraan. They were sincere and covered their good deeds. Ayyub ibn abi Tamim would pray at night and then when the sun for fajr would come up, he would yawn and stretch showing his family that he had just woken up.

Amr ibn Thabit narrates that when Ali ibn al Hussain ibn Ali ibn Ali Talib and they were washing his body, they noticed black lines, bruises all over his back. They discovered that he was the one who used to carry the heavy containers of food in the middle of the night passing it over to the poor people of Madina in secret. They would only discover this on his death bed.

They were sincere people who would hide their deeds. They were very honest with themselves as well. Imam ad Dhahabi narrates that Hisham said, “I cannot claim that I ever went out searching for Islamic knowledge purely for the sake of Allah. I cannot claim that.” Imam ad Dhahabi said he could not make that claim either. They were so sincere. They were honest. They were afraid because they knew that admiration and arrogance and wanting people to see the good that they were doing for the sake of Allah, might cause their good deeds to be rendered null.

You may meet Almighty Allah after 60 or 70 years thinking that you had bowed and prostrated and given da’wah and on Yawmul Qiyamah not a single good deed is written to your name. Do you worry about this? We must think about how many of our actions are accepted and how many are rejected by Almighty Allah. We may be standing on very thin ice in terms of our Imaan, but we think that we are standing on solid grounds.

If you worry about this, there is a very accurate litmus test, a benchmark to use to measure how sincere you truly are in terms of your actions. What is this test? Ibn Asakar narrates on the authority of Ibn Hudhayfah (radiallahu anhu) – the companion who was given by Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) the names of all of the hypocrites of the people of Madina. Only Hudhayfah (raDiallahu anhu) was given this secret information.

A man comes to Hudhayfah (radiallahu anhu) and says, “Oh Hudhayfah, I have a question to ask you? Am I a hypocrite? Did Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) mention me as being one of the hypocrites who will go into the fire?” Rather than saying yes or no, Hudhayfah (radiallahu anhu) gave him a criteria to use so that we could also benefit after. He said to him, “Do you pray when you are alone? Do you ask Almighty Allah to forgive you when you have committed a sin?” He said yes I do. So Hudhayfah (radiallahu anhu) said to him, “Go, Alhamdulillah Allah has not made you one of the hypocrites.”

One of the conditions he gave him – do you pray when you are alone? This is what we should use if we want to measure how sincere we actually are. Is our Imaan real and genuine or is it dependant upon the praise of other people. What percentage of your actions are in privacy, in seclusion with Allah? Are all of your actions in public? Giving da’wah can be a public act. Measure this against your private acts. If your public acts are heavier than your private acts then you are to be worried. You may be standing on thin ice. What percentage of your good deeds are in privacy. What is the status of your Imaan when you are alone with Almighty Allah?