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by Rutgers University Muslim Students Association

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From Dawn to Deen

Benefit of the Doubt

I began my blog writing about no matter how many deductions one makes, he/she’ll never really know a person. You can get to know someone, come up with your own conclusions—but it doesn’t change that you still don’t know what’s really going on in that person’s heart, you don’t know their struggle, and inevitably, you don’t know their true intention unless you ask them…and even that isn’t the whole story. So what does that mean about this Ummah? What does that mean about us when we’re interacting with our fellow brothers and sisters?

It means you better watch what you say and what you think about that person.

وَلَا أَقُولُ لَكُمْ عِندِي خَزَائِنُ اللَّهِ وَلَا أَعْلَمُ الْغَيْبَ وَلَا أَقُولُ إِنِّي مَلَكٌ وَلَا أَقُولُ لِلَّذِينَ تَزْدَرِي أَعْيُنُكُمْ لَن يُؤْتِيَهُمُ اللَّهُ خَيْرًا ۖ اللَّهُ أَعْلَمُ بِمَا فِي أَنفُسِهِمْ ۖ إِنِّي إِذًا لَّمِنَ الظَّالِمِينَ

“And I do not tell you that I have the depositories [containing the provision] of Allah or that I know the unseen, nor do I tell you that I am an angel, nor do I say of those upon whom your eyes look down that Allah will never grant them any good. Allah is most knowing of what is within their souls. Indeed, I would then be among the wrongdoers.” [Qur’an 11:31]

Now obviously I am not an expert on tafsir, and I am almost certain that many of us aren’t, but that shouldn’t stop us from self reflection and reflection upon the ayaat of the Qur’an. Here we have a verse telling us very clearly the idea of assuming wrong in someone. Even the Prophet salAllahu alayhi wa sallam was taught to not believe that someone is the worst of people. Another example would be Musa alayhi as-salaam being sent to Firawn. This tyrant killed babies, tortured people, and Allah knows all the cruel things he has done. And yet, Musa alayhi as-salaam was still commanded to give Da’wah to this man. You can see how Allah subhana wa ta’ala wants us to implement the idea of giving someone the benefit of the doubt. Now Firawn is a huge example of a man who crossed limits that would cause hearts to cry, but if Musa alayhi as-salaam was taught to give Firawn the benefit of the doubt, what of our Muslim brothers and sisters in our own community? 

“Hamdun al-Qassar, one of the great early Muslims, said, ‘If a friend among your friends errs, make seventy excuses for them. If your hearts are unable to do this, then know that the shortcoming is in your own selves.’ [Imam Bayhaqi, Shu`ab al-Iman, 7.522]”

“Maybe just maybe.” Exactly. Maybe just maybe that person had a different motive. Maybe just maybe he had something bothering him that day that caused him to act irrationally. Maybe just maybe you’re in a worse position than they are. So watch yourself, watch your tongue and keep your judgments under control. Because maybe just maybe, Al Adl, the True Judge of All, can ask you about your assumption on the Day when all will be taken into account. May Allah subhana wa ta’ala protect us. Ameen.

Anything wrong I have said is from me and Shaythaan alone and Perfection and Greatness belongs to Allah subhana wa ta’ala.

The Blessings of Rutgers

As Muslims we are told to say Alhumdulillah for all the blessings Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala gifted us with. We are also taught that the blessings of our Lord are limitless, that they are innumerable. After my first experience of Islam Awareness Week, it was as if Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala was so evidently showering us with blessings on top of blessings. That if anyone ever felt like they had no blessings in their lives, after the IAW experience they would have an overabundance of reasons to say Alhumdulillah. Many are having IAW withdrawal so there’s no way I could not write about anything but the special week that so many of us were able to experience.

Before I came to Rutgers I was debating whether to attend this university. Money was a problem and I didn’t want to do anything that would somehow cause a burden. But Alhumdulillah I was brought to this amazing school filled with Muslims who really understood the meaning of being one Ummah. Back at home we don’t exactly have something like a YM, and I am in some ways restricted from searching for that Muslim community feel. So upon entering Rutgers, the one organization I knew I wanted to be a part of was the Muslim Student Association. Alhumdulillah that Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala put that inside of my heart because I, Insha’Allah, don’t ever want to forget how great my first year here at Rutgers was. To start off with the first semester gaining knowledge through the classes that the MSA provided in the Iman of Steel classes, from the Eid Banquet, to the beneficial lectures from inspirational people who devote their lives to Islam. Of course, my first experience giving Da’wah at the Da’wah table, realizing how it felt to speak to Non-Muslims about Islam. Then the second semester, when the amazing events were just following one after the other. With the amazing speakers at Road to Revival, the special one day class the next day, to my first awesome bonfire experience listening to stories on a brisk, cool night. The barakah doesn’t stop there. I was able to also participate in the amazing da’wah initiative to spread smiles, literally just go around all four campuses giving away free candy and sunglasses letting people know Muslims believe making people smile is charity as well.

Cafe Commons - Islam Awareness Week 2014

Finally, Islam Awareness Week where so many firsts occurred. I was gifted with the opportunity to attend my first Da’wah class series and Alhumdulillah, was able to implement the knowledge during the event, an entire week dedicated to giving Da’wah and spreading Islam. There was a different aura during that week. It didn’t matter where you were or what you were doing, you just wanted to be there at the tent around excited Muslims. It felt like we were in a Muslim country where the Adhaan was heard from a distance and Muslims were openly praying in unity. Then at night, we’d have influential and knowledgeable speakers who grabbed our attention and allowed us to understand concepts that we as Muslims, or at least me, didn’t know before.

The Friday following the last day of Islam Awareness Week, there was a feeling of peace surfacing from every direction. As I entered the tent, I realized all the tables were put away and a spread of sheets were laid out. The wind blew in calmly, soothingly, along with the beautiful smell of musk reaching us. Sounds of conversations filled the area but almost immediately, as soon as the khutbah began, all conversations stopped. Total focus. Nothing else mattered. That’s how the entire week felt. As if nothing mattered but being at the tent. If you tried to focus on something else your heart wanted to be at the tent. Alhumdulillah. That’s all you wanted to say when thinking about the week. Alhumdulillah. So Alhumdulillah for the people who put in so much effort. Alhumdulillah for all the previous events. Alhumdullilah for the friends and family that we were able to enjoy it with. Alhumdulillah for being Muslim. For if it were not for the gift of this Deen none of this would have been a reality to any of us. So Alhumdulillah. Alhumdulillah. Alhumdulillah.

Neverending Hope

When we are in a state with an unclear future, we can sometimes become paranoid, even reckless. This makes us feel as if nothing is in our control, and we can’t see where we’re headed. When we make a mistake, commit a sin that seems inevitably fatal, we become uncertain. Among these feelings of uncertainties, we have one absolute to keep us going. The Word of Allah is always true, the Promise of Allah is always true, and what remains intact—no matter how many times we make a mistake and become uncertain about our state—is the hope Allah blessed us with.

قُلْ يَا عِبَادِيَ الَّذِينَ أَسْرَفُوا عَلَىٰ أَنفُسِهِمْ لَا تَقْنَطُوا مِن رَّحْمَةِ اللَّهِ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّهَ يَغْفِرُ الذُّنُوبَ جَمِيعًا ۚ إِنَّهُ هُوَ الْغَفُورُ الرَّحِيمُ

“Say: “O ‘Ibâdî (My slaves) who have transgressed against themselves (by committing evil deeds and sins)! Despair not of the Mercy of Allâh, verily Allâh forgives all sins. Truly, He is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” [Qur’an 39:53]

Let’s reflect on the above verse for a moment so we can get some sort of understanding of Allah’s Mercy. Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala refers to His slaves here, and who are His slaves? Everyone, all of creation. We are obligated to submit, for He is our Master and Creator. This in itself tells us His Mercy is not only open to the Muslims, but everyone. Any person who may want to change his/her life and repent has the chance to do so. A sin doesn’t have to be the end of the line for us—Allah gave all of us hope.

When Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala tells us, “…who have transgressed against themselves! Despair not of the Mercy of Allah…” Look at the amount of love and care we receive just from reading this specific part. When someone tells us “don’t worry” or gives us some sort of reassurance everything will be okay, our hearts begin to feel a small amount of peace. Here Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says, genuinely and honestly—He, Al-Haqq and Ar-Rahman—assures us not to worry, not to despair, but to keep moving forward and repent sincerely. The truest reassurance we need to change, Insha’Allah.

Finally, in the last part of the verse where our Rabb states, “…verily Allah forgives all sins. Truly, He is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful,” we feel that sense of hope our Lord blesses us with. To dissect the aya a bit further, He subhanahu wa ta’ala uses the word “all.” Does that mean some? Does that mean only to Muslims? We already established His Mercy is open to all His slaves. So this means what it says—all. In the words of Nouman Ali Khan,”Your sin is not greater than Allah’s Mercy.” There is never a reason to give up. Next, when He subhanahu wa ta’ala says, “Truly, He is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful,” we understand our Lord emphasizes reassurance by using the word “truly” and also mentions He is Oft-Forgiving. As in, it’s not a rare occasion when our Lord grants Mercy upon His slaves. Then, after stating He forgives often, our Lord does not stop there. He continues on and emphasizes His everlasting Mercy once again.

I’m sure there are many more gems that can be drawn from this single aya, but the main message I want to emphasize to all my brothers and sisters, and to myself, that hope is never lost. No matter how large a sin we think we committed, there is never a moment in which you are unable to repent for it. It is Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala who knows your struggle and the intention that lies in your heart. So sincerely try, and I understand that it’s a struggle. I am a human being as well and perfection does not belong to me, however, that does not exclude us from trying and achieving success through those struggles. On this journey that we all find ourselves in, let’s repent and do whatever we can in our power to change our state, Insha’Allah.

 وَلَا تَيْأَسُوا مِن رَّوْحِ اللَّهِ ۖ إِنَّهُ لَا يَيْأَسُ مِن رَّوْحِ اللَّهِ إِلَّا الْقَوْمُ الْكَافِرُونَ…

“…And never give up hope of Allah’s soothing Mercy: Truly no one despairs of Allah’s soothing Mercy except those who have no faith.” [Qur’an 12:87]

Anything wrong I have said is from me and Shaythaan alone and Perfection and Greatness belongs solely to Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala.

Light, Passion, That Something Special

Serving this deen clarifies the importance of passion and the light that is instilled inside of the heart of the believer. Understanding that this will we are gifted with must be used to do right and abstain from wrong allows us to continue to strive. This idea of striving and always aspiring to improve helps us realize what the mirror in front of us portrays. The amount of work and effort we put into obtaining this height of Imaan (Faith) that the believer should desire fuels this light inside of the believer’s heart.  Which begs the question, what is this Nur (light) that envelops inside of the one who worships and believes in Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala?

During the time of the Prophet ﷺ the Companions radiAllahu anhum all carried this something special. This something special that caused them to do everything and to give everything in the way of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala, always keeping in mind that death approaches everyone. Their feet were not engraved in this dunya (world) but perceived their lives as a conduit to the Akhira (afterlife). From spending a majority of their wealth in charity to spending their nights in prostration, the Companions radiAllahu anhum absorbed themselves in whatever they could in order to obtain the pleasure of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala. Their desires were not directed towards worldly concerns; rather, their hearts carried a raging fire that burned brightly with deen as its fuel.

Even amongst ourselves, we see this passion enlighten when our love for “it” grows. The more we come to love “it,” the more excited we are, and the more our hearts start to become empty without “it.” This “it” can vary from our major, a lover, or, to be direct, our deen, Many can say  as a Muslim it’s what one is “supposed to do,” but what exactly causes so many to get up before sunrise to prostrate before their Lord? What exactly causes so many to work hard in perfecting their Tajweed, or memorizing the entire Qur’an or to pray five times a day? What causes so many to sacrifice their worldly desires in order to please their Lord?

This light is something that grows and develops from within and becomes embodied in our actions and thought processes. In order for this light to continue to glow, we need to feed this lantern with Sunnah, obedience, and allow new knowledge to become actual action. Many times, we may lose ourselves with our busy lives, but any worldly action can become an act of worship. The more conscious of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala we become and the more we try to implement what we learn, the more we will grow. We as human beings are never perfect, nor can we ever match the height of the Companions radiAllahu anhum. Nonetheless, that something special is still there. That something special inside of our hearts can still be lit, and it can still control our every being. As a reminder to myself foremost and to others, nurture this light, increase this love and passion, and gain that something special.

“Allah is the Light of the heavens and the earth. The example of His light is like a niche within which is a lamp, the lamp is within glass, the glass as if it were a pearly [white] star lit from [the oil of] a blessed olive tree, neither of the east nor of the west, whose oil would almost glow even if untouched by fire. Light upon light. Allah guides to His light whom He wills. And Allah presents examples for the people, and Allah is Knowing of all things.” (Surah An-Nur, Verse 35)

Featured Image

Surfacing

Staring at a scenery of repetition
I stand alive through the snow
The cool wind hitting my body
The strength of my roots beneath me

My leaves have left me for the spring
The loneliness of my world
Oh! How the season has forsaken me

A distant memory of what it felt like to be alive
Quarreling with the taunting time
I lose myself

Forcing to love something that isn’t mine
The feeling of white is foreign
The feeling of death, nostalgic

 My branches shake with the cold winds
Trying to be one with my surroundings
But I fail, and my heart screams for Light

The sun hasn’t shone in a while
And I am not serving my purpose
Living has now become for the world but I am not meant to be lifeless 

Then one day, as the fear of death overtook me
And my breathing choked me at my chest
As I thought of what was to come after 

No more was I chained to darkness
Gentleness surfaced my skin as I stood tall humbled beneath the moon
Beauty beyond bounds I live for The Truth 

A cry for help answered with silence
The reason behind my existence emanating
For I am not the one overshadowed
I am the one that blooms

The Light of a Tree

The different seasons; the many signs. How can we ever be so blind? Have you ever really looked at a tree and observed its characteristics? Verily, there is a sign. A tree’s roots grow and get stronger. But it can’t grow merely on its own; it needs water, sunlight, and a whole lot of care. It spreads its roots and will sprout and benefit others. Its very existence grants us oxygen, how can you not tell? Autumn comes by, the leaves get old. What was hidden underneath begins to show. The different colors, and the pigments of what it really was, it begins to fall. As time goes by the tree starts to look lifeless. Its branches kneel closer to the earth, and no water can replenish it.

Winter comes along, and the temperature leaves it cold. It hardly gets sunlight, and loses what it once was. Neither does it bear fruit nor does it shine bright as it stood firm. The shade that it once provided, and the beauty that it filled the earth, is no longer alive, as it dies, when winter comes by.  Spring showers, and the sunlight brightens, the tree’s leaves return, as its heart starts beating once again. Not a characteristic that it had before is left undone; verily it has been resurrected from the Will of One. As it grows to the same strong youthfulness it carried before winter, the tree rehabilitates to its once beautiful picture.

Ponder the similarities between us and the tree. It lives with water and dies with a burn, the strength of its roots are what causes it to live. Are we not the same? It stands as a sign for observers to learn, and dies as a reminder that we will one day return. For our Lord has promised we will be resurrected, for their will be no soul that will be left, but death will overtake them.

A tree grows and dies, and relives its cycle, for its Creator has given it a fixed term of life. When will our fixed term come? Will we be resurrected as beautifully and full as the tree? Or will we come alive only to find that it would’ve been better if death were truly the end of it.

You Don’t Know Me

Surah Al-Imran Aya 29:

“Say: Whether you conceal what is in your breasts or reveal it, Allah knows it. And He knows that which is in the heavens and that which is on the earth. And Allah is over all things competent.”

Though we may say to ourselves we don’t judge, when we immediately look at someone we may start to think  the one wearing the hijab is more pious than the one who doesn’t. When we look at our fellow brothers we may think the longer the beard, the closer he is to Allah subhana wa ta’ala. But what do we really know about these people? We see Sunnah, yes, but what truly lies in their hearts?

Before I started to wear hijab, as an act of comfort, I would tell myself, “At least I am better than the one who wears hijab and does haram.” I realize now how truly wrong that statement is. Every human being has sinned. No human being has been free from sin and no human being will enter Jannah save from the Mercy of Allah subhana wa ta’ala. To say you are better because you look less Muslim only means  you are sinning in this department while the person following the Sunnah/Fard is dealing with his or her own sins.

Some may argue it is an act of hypocrisy, that the ones who carry these appearances are the ones who are deceiving us. One thing that is forgotten when coming to this conclusion: we wholeheartedly and truly do not know what the person’s intentions are. We do not know his sins. We do not know if he repented. We do not know if Allah subhana wa ta’ala is guiding him as we speak. The most amazing stories are the ones of those who sinned many years of their lives and found Allah subhana wa ta’ala and were guided to the Truth. An example can be the story of Umar Ibn Al Khattab radiAllahu anhu. This man hated the deen, but was later amongst the promised men of Jannah. What do we have to say about these so called “sinners” now?

As a reminder to others and to myself, this aya translated at the beginning of this post clearly tells us  Allah subhana wa ta’ala is the All-Knowing. We are undoubtedly, not. Though this fact is known to many, it is easy to say, but sometimes difficult to remember.

A good relative of mine felt distant from the very place where a sisterly bond was meant to be found. She conveyed to me the message: “I feel like it’s because of the hijab they will treat so and so better than they treat me. I don’t feel like going to the meetings anymore.” Instead of helping a fellow Muslim sister, the fear of judgment and discrimination led my dear relative, and I am sure many others, further away from the very Ummah she called her own.

It is safe to say our misjudgments can cause such disorder. It is not to say you won’t have some sort of understanding who a person is, but who they truly are and where they are going is something we will never know. There are some we love, get to know, and attempt to understand, but their hurt, trials, and tribulations will only be understood by the Creator. It is with this understanding I’d like to say I am who I am. Allah subhana wa ta’ala knows who I am. Though this is my first article, you may want to come up with a judgment of who I am from it. Realize  no matter how much deducing you will attempt, you will come to the inevitable conclusion, “You Don’t Know Me.”

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