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A Du'a to Remember

...Allah is sufficient for me. None has the right to be worshipped but He. In Him I put my trust and He is the Lord of the Mighty Throne. [Quran 9:129]

The Rewards of Dunya

For some reason I always thought that Allah rewards us only in the Hereafter, that nothing in this life should be seen as a reward, but only as a test, from Allah. But the Quran says otherwise. The Quran tells us that Allah will reward believers in this world, in addition to the greater rewards that He prepares for them in the next one. An example is the case of Prophet Yusuf 'alaihis salam (peace be upon him):

And when Joseph reached maturity, We gave him judgment and knowledge. And thus We reward the doers of good.

And again regarding Prophet Yusuf:

And thus We established Joseph in the land to settle therein wherever he willed. We touch with Our mercy whom We will, and We do not allow to be lost the reward of those who do good. [Quran 12:56]

Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala (Exalted and High is He) tells us that He does not forget to reward good deeds, but the topic here is Prophet Yusuf's knowledge first, and second his worldly status in Egypt. This shows us that Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala does not keep all of our rewards for the Hereafter. Realizing this Truth is a good protection against hopelessness and the Shaitan-inspired feeling that Allah has abandoned humanity na'udhu billah (we seek protection from Allah). Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala is always there, ever watchful, rewarding those who do good deeds with His infinite blessings and mercy.

Another example is Prophet Musa 'alaihis salam:

And when he attained his full strength and was [mentally] mature, We bestowed upon him judgement and knowledge. And thus do We reward the doers of good.

Thus those who seek Allah's pleasure and the rewards of the Hereafter are rewarded with knowledge and high status in dunya (worldly life). Allah does not leave the believers to fend for themselves, unsupported and under the whims of dunya, rather:

Indeed, We will support Our messengers and those who believe during the life of this world and on the Day when the witnesses will stand

This point is made stronger when you realize that everything good in this life has been made specifically for the pleasure of the believers.

Thus if you believe in Allah and make Allah your primary concern, nothing will have the power to cause you to worry in this life, for you will be under the 24/7 support of Al-Qawwi Al-Mateen (The Lord of unbreakable might) insha'Allah.

Welcome

“Khadija, what are you doing, exactly?” says Abdurrahman, coming downstairs, after settling the children in bed.

“Just rearranging, a bit,” I respond, stooping over the door mat, which has been residing just inside our front door. I still have my abaya on from the mosque and am trying to do this activity without getting too dirty.

“What’s wrong with the mat?” Abdurrahman continues.

“Nothing at all,” I respond, opening the door, shaking out the mat, outside, and then pausing before turning it around, inside, several times.

“It’s in English,” says Abdurrahman, switching on the hall light so he may see better.

“Janu, I know that. And it’s perfectly clear, no fancy calligraphy here,” I respond, smiling.

“So, why so much fidgeting with it?”

“I think that we should turn it around,” I assert, angling the mat into a new position.

“So the ‘Welcome’ side is upside down? That seems a little counterproductive,” says Abdurrahman, looking at me quizzically.

“No, so the ‘Welcome’ side is facing our guests,” I respond. “I want to make sure they feel welcome.”

“Don’t you think they do?” Abdurrahman says somewhat defensively. “And don’t you think…it requires more than the position of a doormat to ensure that?”

“Of course, the sign is just a symbol. But I want the symbol to be effective. I think rotating the symbol every so often is important. The thought came to me this evening as we were driving home.”

“So, before was the ‘Welcome’ side facing inwards and not outwards?” says Abdurrahman, seeking clarification.

“Yes, it faced us, which is important. All who live here should feel welcome, especially our mothers, but there’s something more for me, for all of us, actually.”

“And what Dr Khadija may that be?” says Abdurrahman warmly, as though he is preparing for one of my mini lectures.

“Well, I want those who come to stay with us to feel welcome. I want us to welcome them and I want the children to welcome them. I want our home to exude hospitality.”

“That’s a pretty tall order for a house, especially considering we’ve just moved in.”

“It’s a home, Abdurrahman, and I really think it’s feasible. Prophet Muhemmed, Salla Allahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, had a home like that. It’s sunnah.”[1]

“Easier said than done, don’t you think,” says Abdurrahman somewhat rhetorically.

“Janu, you had a home teeming with family and friends growing up,” I respond. “I remember all those stories you’ve told me about Geo and you and your friends always stopping by.”

“Khadija, they were all Italian,” replies Abdurrahman, reacting.

What’s that supposed to mean,” I say slowly, not fully grasping the weight of his words.

“Our parents spoke the same language. We celebrated the same holidays. There was a sense of culture. It was comfortable.”

“And so?”

“I’m not always comfortable, here,” says Abdurrahman looking around at the walls, which in our hallway are still mostly blank, and then staring down at the ‘Welcome’ mat.

“What is that supposed to mean? This is your home.” I say, really not understanding. It is rare for him to be negative, especially about our home. I wonder whether he might simply be tired after a long day at the office and Taraweeh.

“They all spoke Urdu tonight, and it was all desi food,” says Abdurrahman. “It wasn’t home.”

“Janu, that’s not entirely correct. I saw you speaking to Abdullah, in English. And you’ve almost always maintained that you like our food, not to mention the fact that we had lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, which I think are pretty universal. And then we went to the mosque, for taraweeh, and we all prayed in a common language. They were Najma’s friends for goodness sake. It was important for us to host them, especially during Ramadan.”

“It was never this way in Cape Town,” says Abdurrahman.

“Janu,“I start to respond, but then hear my mother, who has come to stay for the week, on the stairwell. “Ammi, we’re just going out for a quick walk around the block,” I call out.

“Ok baita, be safe,” she responds, then goes into the kitchen to help herself to a glass of water.

I take Abdurrahman’s hand and gesture for us to head out the door.

After a couple of minutes of walking, he then continues, “we had our own culture over there.”

“Abdurrahman, there’s really not that much distance between our two cultures. You’ve reminded me of this so many times before. In fact, it’s you who have taught me this. And there’s no difference when it comes to our deen. We just need to focus on that, and not let the biryani and the pilao come between us. These are really minor details,” I say trying to reassure him. Then continuing, “You know the children finished reviewing their third ayah of Ya Sin today.”

“I know, Ibrahim recited to me, before iftar,” responds Abdurrahman. “And then he snuck in ayah four, too.”

“Really? How does he know that?” I ask.

“I think you can answer that question, Khadija. You’ve only been listening to it for as long as he can remember and…”

“Nani?” I say.

“Yes, your mother helps,” he responds.

“Ala sirat al mustaqeem” I say slowly.[2]

“Yes, ala sirat al mustaqeem,” he repeats.

“Let’s keep coming back to it,” I respond.

“Before, and after the pilao,” says Abdurrahman, starting to smile. “And I like your idea about the ‘Welcome’ mat, even if it is just a symbol.”

“Next week, we turn it around again, ok?” I say, looking at Abdurrahman and squeezing his palm a bit.

“Inshaa Allah,” he responds, nodding. “And, I think it’s time for me to start working on my Urdu again.”

“And my Italian,” I say, in a gesture of peace, and hopefully, understanding.

[1] Hospitality is valued across religions, with the notion of ‘welcoming the guest’ or ‘hachnasat orchim’ clearly spelled out in Judaism, and exemplified by Prophet Abraham in the Book of Genesis (See Remarks by Rabbi Larry Back from the Institute for Interfaith Dialog’s Iftar Dinner on October 8, 2007). Similar examples may be cited in Christian tradition and scripture. In Islam, the following oft-recited hadith reminds Muslims that there is a parallel between how AllahSWT treats HisSWT creation and how the host should treat his/her guests: “Indeed whoever believes that Allah is All-Generous, Who provides for His creation and rewards those who are hospitable towards their guests, should look after his guest.”

[2] Ayah 4 of Surah Al Ya Sin is translated as “On a Straight Way,” (Abdullah Yousuf Ali 1989, p.1117).

The above is an excerpt from the third chapter in the sequel to ‘A Qur’aanic Odyssey: Towards Juz Amma’, published by Greenbird Books in April 2012. The sequel, 'Ya-Sin' narrates the family’s ongoing journey through the Qur’aan with a focus on Surah Ya Sin, the surah they set out to learn following completion of Juz Amma. Although each of the chapters are connected, each one may be read as a stand-alone text.

The Quran is my Oxygen

The Quran is my Oxygen [The Internet Islamic Art Database]

Whoever puts all his trust in Allah...

Allah is enough [The Internet Islamic Art Database]

Barren houses

The most barren house is the one in which the Quran is not recited. —Abdullah ibn Masud

A YouTube channel for beautiful recitations

AgmalTelawat is a YouTube channel that showcases heart-touching recitations of the Quran, including recitations by many less-known reciters who deserve to be appreciated more. An example is this recitation of the final parts of Surat Yusuf by the Libyan reciter Abu Ubaidah:

Make sure to subscribe to their channel. Also check out their Facebook page where they post additional recitations.

Islam and pleasure

It is easy for the observant Muslim to feel guilty about enjoying the pleasures of this life. The Quran asks us to focus on the afterlife; our current life is short and we should use our time wisely—in preparation for what comes next. There are also many sects and ideologies, such as Sufism and Catholicism, that celebrate the denial of life's pleasures.

But Islam at its foundations has a radically different view of pleasure, best shown in the following verse from Sura al-A'raf:

Say [O Muhammad]: Who is it who has forbidden God's adornments that He has brought out from the earth for His servants, and the righteous pleasures that He bestows? Say [O Muhammad]: These are meant for those who have believed in this life, and in the next life, these will be for the believers only. Thus do We make the communications clear for a people who know. [7:32]

A believer should feel no guilt in the enjoyment of life, knowing that God has made life's pleasures specifically for his or her sake.

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