This Ramadan, our special guest blogger and columnist will be sharing daily Islamic reminders with our community.

Read previous blog posts!


Cultivating contentment in one’s heart

We live in a world that values instant gratification. We want everything now and not later. And when we don’t get what we want right now we become inwardly discontented and continually feel that there is something missing in our lives. 

We don’t seem to possess the ability to be happy and contented in the moment. Our minds are either dwelling in the past, filled with regret, sorrow and remorse, or projecting into the future which fills us with fear, anxiety and a sense of foreboding. 

But in fact, the moment that we are currently in is all that we have. In the moment there is no past and no future.  Our minds may travel to the past or the future, but our bodies will always remain in the moment. And in the moment where the body and mind align, there is no past and no future, but only the NOW. In this NOW there is no suffering because regret and worry have no place to reside. 

We also have the tendency to compare ourselves with others. We compare our inner state with other people’s outward state and we become very disaffected. We become filled with envy, self-pity and anger. We begin to hate other people and begrudge them for what they have. Others are seen as healthier, wealthier, prettier, better off, etc….

This kind of thinking causes us to fall into despair and even develop feelings of low self-esteem and causes us to give up on life. 

We want out of our suffering but at the same time, we feel trapped.

Here are a few things that we can do to take us out of our predicament:

1) Focus on those who are less fortunate than you and not upon those who are more fortunate.

Abu Hurairah narrated that the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said:

“Look at those who are beneath [less fortunate] you and do not look at those who are above you, for it is more suitable that you should not consider as less the blessing of Allah.” [Sunan Ibn Majah]

2) Put things into perspective. This life is but a test and is our temporary abode. 

Allah says in Surah Ankabut 29:6: “This worldly life is no more than play and amusement. But the Hereafter is indeed the real life, if only they knew.”

3) Consider volunteering or giving in charity to someone in need, but do so directly so that you are in direct contact with the person you are helping. This will soften your heart and cause you to be more thankful for what you have. 

4) Associate with the right kind of people, ideally those who are filled with gratitude and are mindful of Allah and are not attached to this worldly life.

The Prophet (pbuh) said, “The case of the good companion and the bad companion is like that of the seller of musk and the blower of the bellows (iron-smith). As for the seller of musk, he will either give you some of the musk, or you will purchase some from him, or at least you will come away having experienced its good smell. Whereas the blower of the bellows will either burn your clothing, or at least you will come away having experienced its repugnant smell.” [Bukhari and Muslim]

One scholar is reported to have said: “Keeping good company with the pious results in attainment of beneficial knowledge, noble manners and righteous actions, whereas keeping company with the wicked prevents all of that.”

5) Minimize your time on social media as these platforms are designed to foment discontent. 

Read the article: “5 ways to tame your social media use.” 

6) Recall that Allah gives to whom He wills and withholds from whom He wills and this is all part of the divine decree which is an important pillar of our faith. And Allah does this for a reason we don’t always understand.

See Surah Fatir 35:2 “Whatever Mercy Allah accords to people, none can withhold; and whatever He withholds, no other will be able to release after Him.”

And in Surah Ankabut 29:62: “Allah expands provision for whomever He wills of His servants and He restrains for him; indeed, Allah is All-Knowing of everything.”

Also in Surah Taha 20:131 “Do not let your eyes crave what We have allowed some of the disbelievers to enjoy; the ˹fleeting˺ splendour of this worldly life, which We test them with. But your Lord’s provision ˹in the Hereafter˺ is far better and more lasting.”

Also recall that Allah says: “Don’t you know that Allah knows all that is in heaven and on earth? Verily, it is all in the Book. Verily, that is easy for Allah” (Al Hajj 22:70). And, “No calamity occurs on the earth or among yourselves but it is inscribed in the Book [of Decrees] before We bring it into existence. Verily, that is easy for Allah” (Al Ma’idah 57:22).

7) Think well of Allah and know that He only wants what is best for you. Know also that ease and comfort and getting everything you desire is not always good for you in the long run as it may cause you to be forgetful and make you feel you do not need Allah for anything.

It was narrated that Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) said: The Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) said: “Allah, may He be exalted, says: ‘‘I am as My slave thinks I am, and I am with him when he remembers Me. If he remembers me to himself, I remember him to Myself; if he remembers Me in a gathering, I remember him in a gathering better than it; if he draws near to Me a handspan, I draw near to him an arm’s length; if he draws near to me an arm’s length, I draw near to him a fathom’s length; if he comes to Me walking, I go to him at speed.’” [Narrated by al-Bukhari  and Muslim]

And it was narrated that Jaabir (may Allah be pleased with him) said: I heard the Prophet (pbuh) say, three days before he died: “No one of you should die except thinking positively of Allah.” [Narrated by Muslim]

8) Remember Allah and make supplication to Him for help with everything in your life. 

Allah says in Surah Ra’d 13:28: “Those who believe, and whose hearts find satisfaction and rest in the remembrance of Allah: for without doubt in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find satisfaction and rest.”

Qatada ibn al-Nu’man, one of the companions of the prophet (pubh) asked Anas which Supplication Allah’s Apostle (pbuh) frequently made. He said: The supplication that he (the Holy Prophet made very frequently is this: “O Allah, grant us the good in this world and the good in the Hereafter and save us from the torment of Hell-Fire.” [Muslim]

Qatada also said that whenever Anas had to supplicate he made this very supplication, and whenever he intended to make another supplication he inserted this very supplication in that.

Developing inward contentment does not come naturally, especially given the social environment we are immersed in, and we have to work on it on a daily basis. This requires real time and effort, but the outcome is worth it if we can attain peace of mind in this troubled world.

The greatest blessing from Allah

يَمُنُّونَ عَلَيۡكَ أَنۡ أَسۡلَمُواْ‌ۖ قُل لَّا تَمُنُّواْ عَلَىَّ إِسۡلَـٰمَكُم‌ۖ بَلِ ٱللَّهُ يَمُنُّ عَلَيۡكُمۡ أَنۡ هَدَٮٰكُمۡ لِلۡإِيمَـٰنِ إِن كُنتُمۡ صَـٰدِقِينَ

They regard as favour to you (O Muhammad SAW) that they have embraced Islâm. Say: “Count not your Islâm as a favour to me. Nay, but Allâh has conferred a favour upon you, that He has guided you to the Faith, if you indeed are true. (Surah al-Hujraat 49:17)

I think there is one blessing that many Muslims take for granted yet never really give much thought to. And that blessing is the ability to utter the kalima and to believe it in one’s heart.

If Allah so chose, He could seal our hearts so that we would be rendered incapable of saying the kalima. We would also lack the ability to believe in it and, in fact, may even fight against it with the full conviction that in doing so we are doing a good thing.

The very fact that we are Muslims is not a testimony of our own goodness or superiority, rather it is a great favour from Allah and this favour is not bestowed on everyone.

To believe in the tawheed of Allah and the messengership of prophet Muhammad (pbuh) is the greatest blessing that could be bestowed on any human being. This is so because to utter this statement “la ilaha ilallah Muhammadan Rasulullah” is the ticket to Paradise. And to enter Paradise is the greatest success of all, for the person who does so will remain there forever and be secure from any further punishment from Allah and instead be in a state of eternal bliss.

As Muslims, we feel saddened when there are people who are exposed to the truth yet fail to acknowledge or embrace it, and even at times work against it.

The prophet (pbuh) experienced this grief when the people of his time turned away. Allah says in Surah al Kahf 18:6:

“Then perhaps you would kill yourself through grief over them, [O Muḥammad], if they do not believe in this message, [and] out of sorrow.”

(See also: 3:176; 6:33; 5:41; 26:3 and 35:8)

We fear for those who turn away in rejection that a seal of some kind may have been placed on their hearts so that they can neither see nor hear when the truth is presented before them. Of course, we cannot know that for sure so we keep on making effort to the best of our ability with the hope that Allah will open their hearts and they will see the reality of what Islam has to teach.

My dear readers, never take for granted this great blessing of being a Muslim. In addition, do not be swayed or overly influenced by those people who claim to be born Muslim but have turned away from the faith towards something else. They have become deluded into thinking that Islam is either false or has nothing to offer them and instead they run after things of no lasting value. This will be a source of regret for them in the hereafter if they continue on this path.

Dear readers, if we are to acquire full love and appreciation for this kalima then we must work towards bringing its reality into our hearts on a daily basis because it can easily slip away if we are not careful.

I know that in the environment in which we live it is not always easy to achieve this because there is nothing that encourages us to remember Allah and everything to encourage us to turn away from Him.

Like anything of value, we must make effort to protect that which is most precious to us. And for every believer, the thing of greatest value should be Islam with all other things being of secondary importance.

Dear fellow Muslims, foster a greater appreciation and gratitude in your hearts regarding just how blessed you truly are to have been presented with this kalima and have believed in it, for this is truly a great favour from Allah.

When we look at the state of the Muslim world we may have the tendency to become disheartened for there is so much poverty, wary, instability, corruption, illiteracy and tyranny etc., which may tempt us to look down on our fellow Muslims and develop an inferiority complex to the point we would want to hide or downplay the fact that we are Muslims.

But, my dear readers, it is Islam, and nothing else, that gives us Izza, that is honour, dignity and self-respect, where we can hold our heads up high and be filled with a sense of gratitude over what Allah has called us to. And we can maintain this Izza within us regardless of the material and political situation that we may be witnessing in the Muslim world at large, for we believe that all of these trials, tests and calamities are a test from Allah.

Material goods or political power are not the true sources of Izza for the believer, rather the belief in this kalima is what raises our status and nothing else.

This is the greatest blessing from Allah.

Ramadan: An opportunity to increase our understanding of the deen of Allah

There are many things in Islam that you will not fully understand. You should not be alarmed by that because the study of Islam is a lifelong endeavor. And even if you study all of our life full-time you would still be unable to exhaust everything Islam has to teach. 

So, for example, when you read a verse or passage in the Quran or read a Hadith and it does not make sense, don’t be alarmed by that. Instead, ask Allah for understanding or go to a scholar in your area and ask your question. But never allow your lack of understanding of a certain issue cause you to doubt the veracity of the teachings of Islam. The understanding will come to you if you are patient. 
It may be that you have to go through a particular set of circumstances before this understanding comes. It is only as you experience certain things in your life and then go back and re-read these verses do they begin to take on a new meaning and the reality of what the verses are saying finally sinks into your heart and mind.
There are some people who will read a verse or passage from the Quran for many years over and over again and the meaning of it does not come to them. But then they pass through a certain set of circumstances, such as a trial or an encounter with some people, and then they go back and revisit those verses and all of a sudden they become illuminated. This is why, as I said, it is important to remain patient if you don’t understand now.
Wait for and hope that the understanding comes at a time when you most need it in your life.
In my own personal experience, I feel that when I’m in a better state of obedience and commitment to the deen of Allah and I am reading the Quran during these times, I seem to get more out of the verses than I do when my Iman and level of obedience is not so great.
This is one reason why Ramadan is such a great blessing for all of the believers. It is in this month that the believers are in a greater state of obedience and observance to what Allah has ordained, as well as seeking to stay away from that which He has forbidden. When one is in that state they are in a better spiritual condition to receive the message of the Quran without all of the static or hindrances that are resident within their lives during the other times of the year.
So it is in this month that you, dear reader, should make supplication to Allah while you are fasting and ask of Him to increase your knowledge and understanding of Islam. And, inshallah, your supplication will be answered because you are spiritually more receptive than you are at other times of the year.
May Allah increase us all in understanding and help us to put into practice the teachings of Islam in our lives so that we may draw closer to Him.