Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Missing Prayer - Are All Your Eternal Affairs in Order?

Bismillah Ir Rahman Ir Rahim.

*This post was taken with permission from Hijabistyle -Al Muhajaba El Aniqa Hijab Blog

* I really liked the idea of taking a step back from life and focusing on our purpose here and whats most important.

Today, instead of posting a cute outfit or random commentary on fashion, I thought i'd take a step back to the basics of what is MOST important in this life. How often do you miss prayer because you're IM-img, blogging, e-shopping, texting, or updating your Myspace/Facebook page? Be honest, how often???

So my question today is: Are all your eternal affairs in order? What if today was your last day, last hour in this life?. Do you have prayers or fasting that you've been putting off, and need to make up? Have you given all the zakat you owe? Have you made the point to apologize to people you may have hurt? Have you righted all the wrongs in your life? If you havent, what are you waiting for?

Say: "O my Servants who have transgressed against their souls! Despair not of the Mercy of Allah. For Allah forgives all sins: for He is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful."- Qur'an, 39:53.

Our Lord is the Oft Forgiving, the Most Merciful. Have we really taken the time to ask for forgiveness for EVERYTHING? Have we made the point to forgive and ask for forgiveness - even from those that we dont want to, dont like, or dont feel deserve it?

Yusuf Islam narrates: "There is a hadith or saying of the Prophet, salla'llahu 'alayhi wa sallim, with regard to pride. Ibn Mas'ud reported that the Messenger of Allah, salla'llahu 'alayhi wa sallim, said, 'No one who has got faith in his heart to the weight of a mustard-seed shall enter the Fire and nobody who has got pride in his heart to the weight of a mustard-seed shall enter Paradise.'"

What is more important: Holding a grudge and being self righteous, clinging to ones' pride and arrogance, or humbling oneself, seeking forgiveness and preparing your soul for the Hereafter?

Watch this short video from Aqim Salatak. Its a great, poignant reminder that this life is a test, and could be over at a moments notice.

Peace and Love.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

An Envious Sister – My Recent Run-in with the Evil Eye

I decided to post this after a series of sad events and good Deen building experiences recently happened. My purpose in writing this is to educate myself and friends about the dangers of the Evil Eye (Ain Al Hasad) and how we can protect ourselves from being afflicted by it.

My Story: I recently went thru a miscarriage. It was devastating for me and my family. I was close to the end of the first trimester, about to relax into the rest of the pregnancy, when I started to have pain and miscarry. When I got home from the hospital we buried the remnants of that little soul that had barely had a glimpse at life. My mother in law over the phone kindly reminded me that I “have a little green bird waiting for me in Jennah, insha Allah, and that could have more children.” Everyone was gentle and kind, and slowly I began to heal and move on.

A few weeks later after confiding in a friend that I was still very sad, she very delicatly mentioned that she thought I might have been afflicted by Ain Al-Hassad.

“What? No way, are you serious?” I asked in dismay not wanting to take her seriously.

“Yes, its quite possible” she said “ Lots of people knew that you were pregnant. And it was your third child. It makes sense that some people would have been jealous.”

It was then that I began to sit down and really read about envy, and the evil eye in Islam. I knew the basics, but I admit that I never thought it could happen to me. I guess I was oblivious, and wrote it off as a super natural thing that only happens in the Middle East, Astaghfir Allah.

So after reading the book Jinn and Human Sickness by Dr, Abu'l-Mundhir Khaleel ibn Ibraheen Ameen and listening to lectures about Hassad, envy and jealously online, I decided to take stock of my life paying special attention to my frenships and aquaintances. I began evaluating each relationship, trying to see if i had missed anything or wasnt seeing the whole picture. As it turned out, i had some really rose colored glasses on in several of my relatively close relationships. When i stood back and evaluated situations and conversations, keeping in mind what i had learned, i began to see that some Sisters that i believed were friends, may have been foes all along. Again my being oblivious, or inability to read them well, or refusal to aknowledge negative treatment, may have been my downfall. On top of all of that i felt the need to share my joy over the pregnancy with just about everyone, which Im now sure was a major mistake.

What can invite Hassad and the Evil Eye?

Marriage (especially happiness in marriage), children, friends, a new job, beauty, house/material possessions, intelligence, abilities, attributes, education, - just about anything that you can think of can be envied and make people jealous.

“Everything that has a Na'mah in it, is envied by the people.” Prophet Mohammad (sws)

The first sin that was created was Hassad. I didn't know that. Basically, a person sees something that another has been blessed with. They begin to envy them and grow jealous. They then wish that the other doesn't have it, or worse that the person will lose it and it will come to them instead.

How can I protect myself from the Evil Eye?

“Seek the success of all of your needs by being quiet” Prophet Muhammad (sws)

This much I have learned. Hassad is real! Don't be silly like me. In your happiness over whatever Allah(swt) has blessed you with, don't go around telling people. Keep it to yourself and thank Him for His Generosity and Kindness and seek refuge in Him from the envy and jealousy of others.

The Messenger of Allah(sws) commanded us to pray for blessing for everything that we like. That includes things that other people have that we desire – in fact, it is VERY important to pray for blessings for our Sisters, because we naturally often pray for blessing for ourselves.

“If one of you sees something that his brother has, let him pray for blessing for him.” - Prophet Muhammad (sws)

This is why you often hear Muslims saying things like: “She had a baby, Masha Allah.” or “She is beautiful, Masha Allah.” or “She graduated from college, Masha Allah.” or “They just bought a house, Masha Allah.” or “She is getting married, Masha Allah.” etc etc etc...you get the idea.

Sahl ibn Haneef (ra) said: the Messenger of Allah (sws) said:
“If one of you sees something that he likes in himself or his wealth, let him pray for blessing for it, for the evil eye is real.” Narrated by Ibn Al-Sunni , and by Imam Ahmad and Al- Haakim

Could your Sister be envying you?

Listed below are the characteristsics of one who envies. Take a look at your relationships and compare them with this list. Do these characteristics remind you of anyone you are close to?

1. The envier is always angry at the decrees of Allah(swt)

2. The envier always complains and raraley thanks Allah(swt) even if he owns the whole world.

3. He/She follows up the mistakes of the one whom he/she envies, and tries to seek out his faults, and exposes them and exaggerates about them before others.

4. He/She conceals or ignores or belittles the good qualities and distinguishing characteristics of the person whom he/she envies.

5. You will notice that the envier cannot speak I front of the one who he/she envies without addressing him/her in a laughing, jocular manner, but deep down he/she is filled with hatred and resentment that is clear from the way in which he/she looks at him/her.

6. He/She clearly criticizes the one whom he/she envies, with or without evidence.

7. He/She looks for opportunities and makes the most of any chance to harm the one whom he/she envies in him/herself or their wealth.

8. Finally, the envier is a troubled person, due to the resentment that is always festering in their heart, depression and dullness show on their face.
*pages 263-264 of Jinn and Human Sickness

Conclusion: It is natural to see something good that your friend has and want it for yourself. The danger lies in develping jealousy and hatred for your Sister because of Allah's(swt) blessings upon her.

The Messenger of Allah (sws) said: "The evil eye is real and can bring down a person from a high mountain."

Seek refuge in Allah(swt) from the Evil Eye. Take caution in the way you look at your Sister and her blessings. Thank Allah(swt) for everything He(swt) has bestowed upon you, and ask Him to bless you and purify your heart of Hassad.

Finally, if you believe that you may have afflicted someone with the Evil Eye, intentionally or unintentionally: Pray for forgiveness and their well being. You may be asked to wash with water, making Wudu or Ghusl. Then that water is poured over the person that was affected so that the water may cancel out the effect of the evil eye and heal them. If you are asked to wash for someone, it is obligatory. Don't be embarassed to do it, or to ask someone to as well.

Another treatment for those afflicted by the evil eye is Ruqyah and Dhikr. If you are interested in learning more about how this is done, washing, or just for more info on envy, hassad and jealousy follow this link: Jinn and Human Sickness

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Real Naseeha and the “Holier than Thou” Attitude – How we can learn to accept Naseeha with grace and humility

As Muslim Sisters we are called to enjoin good and forbid evil. We all know this. But, when it comes to the art to offering and receiving Naseeha, a lot of hijabs can get ruffled in the process. I use the term “offering” because lately in our Ummah it seems that anytime some good-intentioned Sister does so (who may suffer from the inability to determine appropriate timing,) she ends up having her offering thrown right back in her face – along with a string of insults and accusations. The usual ones heard coming from the back of the Masala are: “When was the last time you made Witr prayer?”, or “You don’t always wear proper hijab.” Or even better, “ Please, everyone knows you don’t eat Thabiha! Who are you to tell me that Im doing something wrong?”. The abayas really seem to fly when this topic comes up.

So often our immediate reaction to someone pointing out our faults (whether they are right or wrong Islamically speaking) is to find every fault and sin possible in the Sister and essentially call her a hypocrite. Yes, it is our duty to give Naseeha. But if our intention is wrong, meaning that we want to make ourselves look good, we want to embarrass someone, we want to prove that we are right and they are wrong, we want to “win” the argument...whatever....THAT IS NOT NASEEHA. Correcting someone in public ( I.e. Publicly chastising a fellow Sister– even in a sweet tone!) whether it is in the Mosque, at school, at the mall, at the gym, or even on her Facebook or Myspace wall is Ta-eer, not Naseeha.

The “Holier than Thou” attitude really comes into play when someones pride can get hurt. More so – being corrected or humbled by someone that we believe is somehow “less” than us in terms of faith, intelligence, behavior, material means, knowledge, or what have you - is embarrassing to say the least. But I think the real questions that come into play here are: Why do you think you're better? What was their intention in giving you Naseeha? And – How can we learn to accept Naseeha with humility and grace?

Watch this video and see how the lady of the house treats her cook, do you think she would accept Naseeha from her?

In this video the lady of the house abuses her cook in front of her guests. Clearly she has status, fine clothes, many friends and great wealth. If her cook came and offered her sincere Naseeha, would her heart accept it? Would yours? Her pride and arrogance are clearly getting in her way keeping her from showing mercy. Would they not also block her ability to receive honest Islamic advice? While we may not be rich, we may perceive other attributes of ourselves to be better than others. Too good to be given Naseeha by “certain people.” Indeed pride will only be our downfall.

“Anyone who possesses half a mustard seed of Pride (kibr) in his heart will not be granted admission to Paradise. And anyone who possesses half a mustard seed of Iman will not enter the (Eternal) Fire.” [Muslim]

So how can we really open ourselves up to accepting Naseeha?

First – Take your pride and arrogance and flush it. Arrogance is an attribute of al Shaytan ir Rajeem. We dont need it. It has no place in our faith. Although it is really hard, we must put aside our perceived status and keep in mind that the only status that counts is our Iman-o-meter! Don't let it run on low because you refuse to accept Naseeha. One would hope that the Sister offering it would do it kindly and gently in secret, with the utmost sincerity and care for the feelings of the other person, avoiding embarrassment and chastisement, picking the appropriate time and circumstance, putting aside any personal issues of superiority or “Holier than Thou” attitudes and hopefully getting the context and Fiqh correct – Insha Allah :).

Second – Read some “heart softeners”. Read about instances from the Life of the Prophet(sws ) or the Sahaba (ra) and how they showed mercy and kindness to one another, and even to their enemies. Concentrate on opening your heart to kindess and compassion. Practice being compassionate to others, just as you would be to your own child.

Third – Take stock of your own spiritual life. This can be a fairly weighty task, but since we arnt Buddhist or Hindu and believe that this life is our only shot, it is worth sitting down and taking some time to really look at your faith. Do you have prayers or fasting to make up? Have you paid all your zakat? Could you be giving more in Sadaqa? Do you have old grudges that you should let go of? If you have all your prayers, what about starting Witr prayer? Fasting Mondays and Thursdays? You get the idea.

Fourth – Ask Forgivness from Allah(swt),and seek refuge in Him. He knows all that we think, experience and do. Who better than Him (swt) to cleanse our hearts and minds of pride? Insha Allah he will open us up to truly being able to give and receive Naseeha as it was intended.

So I guess the conclusion is: Fear Allah(swt) to the point where you will accept Naseeha from a child. Be truly humble and open to accepting it from anyone before you expect others to accept it from you.

For more info please read: http://www.saqibsaab.com/2007/11/15/lowlier-than-thou-naseeha-tips-from-ibn-rajab/

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Learning to Let Go - Forgiveness and Moving On

Letting go of the past or a bad experience can seem like one of the hardest most insurmountable things. Whether you were at fault or not, that broken record of the event(s) keeps going around and around over the scenario in your head. How could i have handled that differently? Why was she so mean? Why are they spreading Ghriba or Botan about me? Did they think i was gossiping about her?....and on and on it goes. That never ending cycle of thought that disrupts your life day after day.

Not only is it mentally exhausting but this state of near obsession can be psychologically debilitating as well. Unfortunately with this often comes anger, frustration and anxiety not far behind. All of these negative feelings serve to do one thing: Disrupt your ability to worship Allah(swt) and devote your life to attaining His Good Pleasure.

"Anger spoils Faith, just as vinager spoils honey." -Prophet Mohammad (sws) Indeed, i think its safe to say the same about frustration, obsession and anxiety. Letting go, especially when you were injured or hurt by someone else may not come easily and the grudge that you carry against the other party will grow and fester. At first, you may be able to control your tongue around others, but then as the anger eats away at you, after a while "innocently confiding" in a close friend seems completely acceptable and a great way to get all that frustration and irritation off your chest. The problem is, that the moment you utter a word about the other person that they wouldn't like said about them, you've made Ghriba, or worse Botan. On top of that, complaining about them and your situation becomes addictive, and the weight that you thought you were throwing off, actually becomes heavier. I'm referring to the spiritual weight of the sin of backbiting your Sister.

This short video showing what really happens metaphorically when we backbite illustrates my point:

Truly, backbiting, even out of frustration or anger will only hurt you, and will not help alleviate your stress. Even something as simple as saying: “Oh Maskeena!” - (meaning pathetic or pitiful ) about your Sister could be backbiting! So what can you do to help yourself let go and not incur more sin in the process?

Letting Go and Moving On – Several steps that will help you in your quest for absolution and freedom from this burden.

1. Seeking Forgiveness – whether your part in the incident was large or small, seeking forgiveness from anyone whom you may have hurt is vital for your spiritual wellbeing and for being able to move on. Not seeking forgiveness, even from someone that you really don't like, will only hang over your head, and keep you from freeing yourself of the burden. While it probably wont be the most enjoyable experience, it is cathartic to humble oneself from time to time. View it as a rehearsal for the Day of Judgment. Forgiveness goes along with letting go. You wont be truly free of the experience until you have obtained that spiritual clemency.

2. Forgiving the other party – Be merciful. It is just as important to try to forgive the other person(s) involved. Withholding forgiveness will only keep you stuck in the past. Even if you really think that they don't deserve your forgiveness, do it anyway. Put yourself in their shoes. You would want forgiveness from them if you were the transgressor. Take that opportunity to show mercy! For those who show mercy to one another, Allah(swt) will show mercy to them as well, Insha Allah.

3. Look at this as just another learning experience. A chance to improve yourself. Insha Allah the next time you are in a similar situation, you will know how to handle it with ease.

4. And finally and most importantly, Seek Forgiveness from Allah(swt) for in Him your true respite lies. You will only be able to truly move on if you make Dua' to Allah and ask for mercy from Him. For only He can heal your wounds, and forgive your transgressions.

Say: "O my Servants who have transgressed against their souls! Despair not of the Mercy of Allah. For Allah forgives all sins: for He is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful."- Qur'an, 39:53.