This blog will be updated every night insha Allah with my reflections on selected verses or portions recited during Tarawih prayers. Please remember me and the Ummah in your Du’as – Rafiq ibn Jubair
Night 12 – Be Like Yusuf
Surah Yusuf has oceans of wisdom and life lessons for us all, one such lesson is that of forgiveness as demonstrated by Yusuf (peace be upon him). His brothers committed the ultimate betrayal by throwing him in a well leaving him facing death. Not a single brother went back to save him but instead made up a lie in an attempt to cover up their actions. This action of theirs caused much grief to their father, Ya’qub (peace be upon him) which eventually led to him losing his sight. Yusuf had to endure much hardship as a result of their betrayal from facing death in the dark well to being unjustly enslaved, to then ending up in prison due to a false accusation.
How did Yusuf react towards his brothers after Allah had blessed him with honour and a high position? He forgave all of his brothers and said “No reproach on you this day, may Allah forgive you, and He is the Most Merciful of those who show mercy!” (12:92). He could have easily ex-communicated them and said that he wants nothing to do with them and refuse to speak to them but he, as a prophet was teaching generations to come the importance of forgiving and forgetting.
He acknowledged that people make mistakes (sometimes terrible ones) but he knew that people may also regret their actions and be sorry. Yusuf blamed Satan for causing disunity between the brothers and he said: “He was indeed good to me, when He took me out of the prison, and brought you (all here) out of the bedouin-life, after Satan had sown enmity between me and my brothers” (12:92).
We all have witnessed or experienced disunity and fallout between family members and extended relatives and it has resulted in people stopping talking to one another and not wanting to see them. One of Satan’s aims is to cause division and break-ups within families and he is always seeking to stir up trouble and cause people to say or do things they later regret.
For us, we should adopt the forgiving nature of Yusuf and not hold ill-feelings towards our relatives or towards any Muslim in general. Yes, they may make mistakes but we all make mistakes as did the brothers of Yusuf but we should forgive them and welcome them back with open arms and not let Satan fulfill his objective of breaking the beautiful ties of kinship and family.
Night 11 – Du’a of Prophets
The prophets (peace be upon them) knew that they were on a mission from Allah and they had firm belief that Allah will support them but they never stopped making du’a to Allah. There are 25 prophets mentioned in the Qur’an and when Allah mentions their stories and their calling to the people towards Allah, He mentions the supplications made by the prophets to Him. Whenever a prophet faced any difficulty, he turned to Allah beseeching His help.
We should also be like the prophets and turn to Allah for all our needs. If we are carrying out some work for the Deen, we should turn to Allah in supplication, we should not think the help of Allah will come automatically just because we are striving in His way. We should should show our helplessness to Allah and know that nothing is possible without His help and assistance.
Night 10 – Qiyamah is Near
Many brothers and sisters have a habit with obsessing over the signs of the day of judgement and pursue a study of all things related to it such as the minor and major signs, the Dajjal and Imam Mahdi but neglect many of the basic knowledge we are required to know. By no means am I suggesting that we shouldn’t study such things as they have been taught to us by the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) for a reason but it should not be at the expense of leaving out other things. Many of us lack the basic knowledge of Islam and its not because the information is not available to us but because we are too lazy to learn. Such an attitude is wrong and everything which is obligatory on us is also obligatory for us to learn and not knowing is not an excuse.
Qiyamah will occur when Allah wills, it may happen in our lifetime and it may not. We may live to see Imam Mahdi and the Dajjal and we may not but one thing which is for sure is that our Qiyamah will start when we die and that can happen at any time. Death does not discriminate between the old and the young or the rich and the poor. When a companion asked the prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) about when Qiyamah is, he replied by asking him ‘what have you prepared?‘. We should ask ourselves the same question, what have we prepared?
If we were to die today, can we really say we are prepared to meet Allah? Have we made Tawbah (repentance) for all our sins and made an effort to change our ways? Have we been fulfilling our obligations and trying our best to stay away from the prohibitions? Have we made amends with everyone we know? Let’s have it in mind that death can come at any time and prepare ourselves for it.
Night 9 – Clothing of Taqwa
In Surah al A’raf, Allah says: “O children of Adam, We have bestowed upon you clothing to conceal your private parts and as adornment. But the clothing of Taqwa – that is best. That is from the signs of Allah that perhaps they will remember.”
After mentioning the blessings and uses of clothing, Allah beautifully describes another garment – that of Taqwa (God consciousness). Though it is something intangible, it could be understood that the consciousness of Allah should wrap around our entire soul and body so that we only engage in that which pleases Allah.
Furthermore, just as clothing protects us from the elements such as the heavy jackets we wear for warmth during the winter, Taqwa should also be a means of protecting ourselves from things which can threaten our Iman such as engaging in those things which prohibited by Allah.
One of the primary uses of clothing is to preserve our modesty and similarly, we should adopt the garment of Taqwa to further guard our modesty and preserve our chastity. Taqwa should prevent a believer from engaging in immoral actions and using obscene words.
We also use clothing to adorn ourselves, though it is permissible to wear beautiful clothes for the purpose of adornment, it may become impermissible if it leads one to becoming arrogant. Taqwa should be a means of adorning and beautifying our characters and how we interact with those around us. Just as how a person is disliked for wearing dirty clothes, people are also disliked for having bad manners and an unkind tongue. Taqwa should make us conscious of Allah at all times thus rendering our behaviour and actions in line with that which pleases Allah. May Allah beautify our characters the way He has beautified our forms.
Night 8 – Dictators
History has witnessed many dictators and tyrants who have ruled with an iron fist showing no mercy. One such dictator – Fir’aun was one of the worst history has seen. He had the audacity to not only kill every newborn of the Banu Israeel out of fear that a challenger to his kingdom would be born but he also went on to claim divinity saying ‘I am your Lord, Most High’! Today’s dictators won’t go that far but it’s interesting to see that the psyche of such dictators is not too dissimilar to that of Fir’aun.
The act of killing thousands of newborns was an act of desperation as he wanted to stop any threat to his power. Many years later, he threatened to repeat the same genocide of newborns when Musa (‘alayhissalam) – now a prophet – was challenging his authority (as an act of collective punishment against Musa’s followers). We see the same thing today; dictators and despots who have been in power for many years resort to terrible acts of violence against their own population in order to cling onto power. History has shown that though they may get away with it for a short while, such behaviour is a sign of the beginning of the end of their downfall.
In order to see into the future, we must study history as history always repeats itself. It is only a matter of time that these dictators will fall and we pray that Allah hastens their downfall so that the oppressed ones can be relieved from their oppression.
Night 7 – The Hidden Sins
Allah is the All Knowing and He knows the apparent and the hidden, He knows all that we do and our inner secrets. Part of Taqwa (God-consciousness) is having the realisation that not only is Allah watching us and knows what we do, but He also knows our thoughts and our hearts’ inclinations. It is easy to refrain from certain actions when we are in front of people as we have a fear of not wanting to be seen engaged in a certain sin but we could be engaging in many internal sins a midst a group of people and no one would ever find out.
We may harbor enmity and hatred towards a fellow Muslim, we may consider ourselves better than others and consider them low or we may envy and covet what others possess. These are just some examples of sins of the heart and are not only difficult to detect by other people but also at times, difficult to detect them in our own selves as they can be very subtle. As part of purifying our souls and becoming God-conscious people, we must clean our hearts from such ailments of the heart. It’s not easy and it requires constant effort but if we try our best and ask Allah to purify our hearts, it can be done.
At times Satan whispers things into our hearts or our Nafs inclines towards certain things which are impermissible but if we do not entertain these whispers and inclinations and seek protection with Allah, we will not be held to account insha Allah. We seek refuge with Allah from the accursed devil and from the evils of ourselves. Ameen
Night 6 – Hope & Fear
As believers, we should always be in a state of hope and fear. Our belief is that Allah is most Merciful and Forgiving but also most severe in punishment and negating any attribute from Allah is disbelief. Many people have a misunderstanding of God and discuss only the Merciful side of Allah and have an almost ‘everything-goes’ attitude without considering the consequences of what may befall if the commandments of Allah are disobeyed. Islam teaches moderation and we mustn’t go to either extreme; we mustn’t over-rely on Allah’s mercy as it may lead to the idea that we can sin as much as we like and that Allah will forgive us at the end anyway. Such an attitude is alien to the way taught to us by the messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) who not only sought Allah’s mercy but also sought refuge from His punishment despite the fact that he was protected and was unable to sin.
The other extreme is losing hope in the mercy of Allah; the devil often deludes those who are engrossed in sin by making them think that there is no hope for them and they continue in their wicked ways without seeking Allah’s mercy and change. Allah’s mercy is vast and he forgives ALL sins but we have to be serious, put in the effort and not have a carefree attitude. In good times, we should fear His punishment to avoid carelessness and negligence and hard times, we should have hope in His Mercy and His assistance.
Ibn Qayyim (may Allah have mercy on him) gives an excellent example to describe hope and fear. He says hope and fear are like two wings of a bird, if one of the wings fail, it will lead to its eventual downfall and if both are sound, the bird will continue to soar ahead towards its destination.
Night 5 – Pondering Over the Qur’an
The Qur’an contains oceans of wisdom and knowledge that till today, the faithful are extracting gems and pearls from it. It contains such knowledge which enrich our lives and make us better human beings. What many of us are lacking is the habit of pondering over the verses of the Qur’an. Allah says: ‘Do they not reflect upon the Qur’an? ‘.
Practically speaking, we should spend a period of our day or night (even if it’s as little as 10 minutes) reading a small portion of the Qur’an and think about what our Creator is telling us. Many of us have a habit of speeding through the pages just trying to read as much as possible but seldom do we stop and think about what we are reading. If a beloved one sent a letter to us, we wouldn’t simply read the letter without paying attention to what it says! We should look at every verse and see how it may relate to our lives; when Allah addresses the believers, we should think that He is addressing us directly, when He mentions the traits of the hypocrites and those who disbelieve, we should see if we ourselves posses a form of those bad traits and try to rectify them.
Translations are available which allow for the meanings to be understood somewhat but we should endeavor to learn the Arabic language as there is nothing like directly understanding the Qur’an in the language it was revealed in without relying on a translation.
It is worth mentioning that not all verses are straight forward and require that one reads a work of Qur’anic Tafsir (exegises) or study them under a learned scholar but for most parts, the verses are comprehensible and should be pondered and reflected upon.
Night 4 – Repentance
In today’s Taraweeh prayers, the Imam recited verses about Tawbah. Tawbah means to repent and return back to Allah. It is a beautiful thing which gives hope to even the most persistent of sinners. The door of Tawbah is open to anyone – whatever stage they are in life. Make this Ramadan a month of turning back to Allah, remove whatever sins you have burdened yourself with by turning to Allah and sincerely ask Him to forgive you.
Allah loves to forgive and He loves that you turn to Him, so turn to Him and embrace His love. Those who perform Hajj return like the sinless state of a newborn but that state can also be achieved anytime through Tawbah. If we have hope in Allah that He will wipe away ALL our sins then surely He will for His promise is true.
Make this a month of change, it’s never too late to change, the mercy of Allah is such that not only does He wipe away evil deeds from our accounts, but He replaces them with good deeds.
Night 3 – Prophetic Leadership
The character of Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) is mentioned by Allah in Surah Aal ‘Imran (Verse 159). Allah mentions that if it wasn’t for his lenient and soft nature and if he was severe and harsh-hearted, the people would have fled from him. For those of us who occupy any position of leadership – whether it be as a father, a husband, a parent or a manager; leniency, being easy going and overlooking faults can go a long way.
Many a time people make the mistake of trying to force others to do what they want rather than explaining in a loving way which yields only negative results. For example, an employer may be harsh and uncompromising and he may well get his employees to do the task he requires but that task is likely to be devoid of any passion or care. If the employer is easy going and the employees feel cared for, it will motivate them and they will carry out their tasks and duties wholeheartedly and with care.
For Da’ees (callers to Islam) it is important that they adopt these sublime prophetic attributes lest instead of attracting people to the faith, they may put off people from learning about Islam based on the bad manners of certain individuals.
However, there are times where a person has to be stern such as a parent with an unruly child. Sometimes the parent has to show who is in charge for their child’s own good. So generally, we should employ a lenient and easy going approach but also be able to limit such a relaxed attitude when there is a need to do so.
Night 2 – Reliance Upon Allah
The story of Dawud defeating Jaalut (David vs Goliath) teaches us that with the help of Allah, the seemingly impossible is possible with Allah’s assistance. From us, what is sought is Tawakkul (absolute reliance on Allah). Though these verses refer to battle, for us, we can also apply them to our many struggles in life.
Everyone has their own struggles and ‘Goliaths’ to overcome. Whether it’s performing certain good deeds, abstaining from certain sins or being persecuted for being a Muslim. We should never give up, we should have faith, take the plunge and have complete faith in Allah that we won’t drown.
Never say ‘there is no hope’ as saying so is doubting Allah’s power over all things. Surely there can be no hope for one who says ‘there is no hope’.
Night 1 – Lessons from Banu Israeel
In Surah Al Baqarah, Allah reminds the Children of Israel that despite the many blessings and favours bestowed on them, they transgressed against the commandments of Allah and disobeyed their prophet – Musa (as).
We too, as Muslims, have been blessed and we too, are transgressing the laws of Allah and disobeying the messenger (saw) everyday.
Are we any different? Let us learn lessons from the reprimand of the Children of Israel and take heed before a similar fate of humiliation, deprivation and loss of blessings is decided for us on a personal and communal level.