New Muslims

Who is Allah?

on Monday, 23 November 2015. Posted in New Muslims

by Aishah Iqbal

The one thing we seek to have is rock solid Emaan, which can withstand the waves of difficulty and the ocean of the unknown. To have the Emaan that keeps you strong when you receive a nasty comment about your faith or when your relationships seem to be falling apart is something we all want. The reality is many of us go through times when we have this, times when our life and focus has clarity and a straight direction. Sadly, at other times, we may find our Emaan wavering and the simple acts we could once do with firm belief are now a struggle. This is something so many of us experience; the key question is how do we get our Emaan to be strong again? How do we maintain the bare minimum when in tough times?

Our faith is built upon a statement:  None has the right to be worshipped but Allah.

The Prophet () said, "Whoever said "None has the right to be worshipped but Allah and has in his heart good (faith) equal to the weight of a barley grain will be taken out of Hell. And whoever said: "None has the right to be worshipped but Allah and has in his heart good (faith) equal to the weight of a wheat grain will be taken out of Hell. And whoever said, "None has the right to be worshipped but Allah and has in his heart good (faith) equal to the weight of an atom will be taken out of Hell."  (Sahih Bukhari, Hadith 47)

These words are what bring a person into the folds of Islam and these very words are what can help a person when they come across difficult Emaan times. The door to this religion is to accept and submit to Allah being one and the only one worthy of worship; it is of paramount importance for us to understand this statement to its core and seek to be aware of Allah and his characteristics. By doing so, we will feel much more connected to Him and this connection is what will sustain our Emaan and beliefs at all time. When trying to maintain the habit of praying the five salaahs, we may find an array of emotions when we fail to do so: anger, sadness, guilt, pity. We may even mentally punish ourselves because we are aware how highly salaah is regarded in Islam:

If you are turning to prayer towards a Lord whom you read little about and know little about, this paves way for the whispers of Shaytaan and general difficulties remaining steadfast. Sadly, many us put importance to different people, things and places when we really need to focus on who Allah is and His rights of being worshipped. To tackle all problems regarding faith, we first need to have a solid understanding of how Allah wants us to perceive Him and what His attributes are.

When we meet someone, we claim to know them if we are aware of their characteristics and values. Likewise, to know Allah we can look to the names he uses to describe himself. Here are some I feel are vital to remember when you find yourself in those dark moments of hardship and adversity.

Al-Ghaffar: The All Forgiving

But indeed, I am the Perpetual Forgiver of whoever repents and believes and does righteousness and then continues in guidance. (Surah Ta ha 20:82)

We all make the mistake of sinning and failing to adhere to the beautiful rules set in the Qur'an and sunnah to help us attain the ultimate success of this life and the next. This is human nature. However, our Lord is one who forgives us; we have to turn to Him and ask for his forgiveness.

"Whoever repents" is explained by Ibn Kathir to mean: to turn away from what one was involved in of disbelief, associating partners with Allah, disobedience of Allah or hypocrisy.

Ar-Razzaq: The Sustainer

Is there any creator other than Allah who provides for you from the heaven and earth? (Surah Fatir 35:3)

There is not one creature on this earth who is not provided for. From the food on your table to the clothes on your back to the air that you breath. Whilst we may go out to earn and purchase items, Allah is the one who gives us everything we have. If we simply think of the oxygen we breath, Allah is the one who gave us this air that surrounds us and the ability to take it in without contemplation of the method.

Ash-Shahid : The witness

And sufficient is Allah as Witness. (Surah Al Fath 48:28)

Allah sees all and hears all. Sometimes, when nobody knows our pain or believes the situations we have experienced we can feel alone. Yet, Allah knows every single thing we have been through and that is sufficient enough because our reward of patience lies with Him, not the people. Our souls want imminent approval, care and success hence why we feel upset when we do not receive this. We need to hold on to the fact that Allah is just and the best of judges; He will reward and punish accordingly to what He knows. We are never alone because Allah knows.

Al-Wali : The Guardian Lord

Allah is the Wali of those who believe. He brings them out from darkness into light” (Surah Baqarah 2:257)

To remember this when you are going through difficult times is fundamentally important. Our lives are full of darkness when we are feeling weak in faith; the darkness is what gives us a heavy, empty feeling where nothing seems to make sense nor can you find happiness. Through turning to Allah, He brings us to the light and away from uncertainty.

Ibn Kathir makes a very poignant point about the grammar used in this verse:

This is why Allah mentioned the light in the singular while mentioned the darkness in the plural, because truth is one, while disbelief comes as several types, all of which are false.

The only way to find light is through Allah and Him alone. The only way to find the happiness of this dunya is by focusing on your relationship with Him; Allah is the constant in our life so open your doors wide to receive His mercy and love. Ibn Qayyim said regarding the love of Allah: It is a light that if you are without it you are in and ocean of darkness. It is a medicine or cure that if you are without it, your heart becomes a place of sicknesses. May Allah guide us to be on the path of seeking His love in the correct way and make our belief in Him firm insha’Allah.

Ramadhan Tips For Reverts

on Thursday, 11 July 2013. Posted in New Muslims

"What makes a revert's approach to Ramadan any different than any other Muslim? After all, Ramadan is an act of worship obligatory for us all: "O you who believe! Fasting is prescribed to you as it was prescribed to those before you, that you may (learn) self-restraint."  (2:183)

However, entering into Islam later in life means you may not have had the benefit of all those years of preparation which many born into Islam have had, and may find your feelings about the approaching month at odds with those around you. As an excitement about the approaching month seems to come upon the Muslim community, you may be silently wondering how you can ever get through a month of fasting. It may be your first Ramadan and although you start off with the best intentions, you may find yourself giving up halfway through, unable to mention your "failure" to anyone else.

So as yet another "Best Ever Ramadan!" email comes to your inbox (and is guiltily deleted before even being read), we thought it may be helpful to set out some beneficial pointers for this Ramadan inshaAllah, especially if you are worried you will struggle your way through this blessed month and come out the other end feeling you could have done so much better.

•Remind yourself of those Quranic verses which reflect on Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala's Mercy towards His Creation: For example: ..."Allah intends for you ease and does not intend for you hardship and [wants] for you to complete the period and to glorify Allah for that [to] which He has guided you; and perhaps you will be grateful."  (2:185)

Also: ..."Allah does not intend to make difficulty for you, but He intends to purify you and complete His favour upon you that you may be grateful."  * These two verses alone show us that Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala just wants us to be grateful to Him. Struggle means relying on Him even more – so that can only be good inshaAllah.

•Reflect on last year's Ramadan and see if you can remember the lessons you learned and the thoughts you had at the close of the month. Choose three small goals to improve your month this year, and keep them simple. Remember the Hadith:

"The deeds which Allah loves most are those done regularly, even if they are small."
(Sahih al-Bukhari, vol. 3, no. 191)

* Although we are encouraged to read as much Qur'an as possible this month, some of us still struggle over the letters and feel completely inadequate at reading. This can leave us feeling a failure. Instead, seek positive ways to engage with the Qur'an. Read it in English, listen to a Tafsir online, really understand and absorb that particular chapter until you know it and want to live it. Then when you listen to it and try to read it in Arabic, it may become easier for you, inshaAllah.

Listen to any Youtube brief talks by Sheikh Muhammad Mukhtar Ash-Shinqitee for encouragement. eg: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wnNLVetc31M

Compile a du'a list and allocate time in the day to make lots of du'a. We often feel our difficult situation will never change, but have we made du'a about it? Have we really made du'a for our non-Muslim families, our husbands, our children, our everyday life? This is the month to really try devoting time to du'a - and by making a list, you can see at a later point that these duas may be answered! If you need some guidance, listen to Sheikh Haitham al Haddad's brief reminder about making du'a: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bi0cZ0eSlKE

- Read on the virtues of Ramadan, the blessings, the reward for fasting, taraweeh, laylatul Qadr, etc. The following short book to read online is recommended: http://www.islamicstudies.info/books/making-the-most-of-ramadan

Some other practical tips:

- Try to avoid eating too much at either suhr or iftar - keep your body and mind fresh for action for Allah. If possible, take a walk in a park or place of natural beauty before Iftar or at any point during the fasting day, to freshen your mind and reflect on what the day is all about.

- Set up a method of learning whilst cooking. Have talks and reminders of Allah at hand so that you can practice remembrance of Allah whilst being in the kitchen. This may be repeating a du'a, listening to Qur'an, choosing an ayah to reflect on for each day of the month etc - think about these things in advance so that you don't end up feeling the month is running away with you and you're still just stuck in the kitchen and not benefitting.

- Try doing the most important things first, such as Quran reading and extra prayers, in the first part of the day when you are more alert. Leave talks and other beneficial reminders to later in the day when you can rest and reflect.

- Choose a Qur'an reading buddy, or encourage a small group of friends to read a juz a day ( English or Arabic). To encourage each other to reach this goal, set a time to call each other to check everyone has done this. If a Juz is too much, set a smaller goal which is going to be achievable. Choose sisters who are at your level, so that you are all encouraged and not discouraged. Or start up a weekly halaqah/gathering with other sisters, to go through the tafseer of a certain surah. Four meetings learning together will be an encouragement to all.

- Arrange to care for a friend's children so that she can go to Taraweeh. If she can do the same for you, both of you can really benefit from this time. If you can't get to the Taraweeh prayer, don't feel guilty, but use that time after Iftar as a special time for extra prayer, reading and reflection.

- Plan different places and ways to have iftar, whatever your personal situation: at home alone, by inviting others, visiting other sisters, meeting at the masjid, eating out in a restaurant for a special treat etc. Enjoy the physical reward for a day of fasting!

- If possible, try to spend as much time as you can in the masjid- break your fast there, and relax before and after each prayer. Enjoy the special sakinah and tranquility of the masjid at this special time of year. Take a du'a book and find a du'a that resonates with you and keep repeating until you have really internalised it (even if you haven't memorized it). This will help you to feel part of the wider Ummah and reconnect with Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala at the same time.

- Buy all necessities; food, new clothes, gifts etc before Ramadan so as to focus more on worship and spiritual development. Everyone in the family, even the kids, can participate, by planning meals, writing a shopping list, and preparing some meals to be stored in the freezer.

- Choose to do one good deed per week (or more if able ) eg. make iftar for others, make time for a sister who is alone, send an encouragement to another Muslim, help to clean someone's home if they are not well, help a sister with shopping, tidy the masjid.

Finally, aim to keep a Ramadan notebook - something you can record your learning, your reflections, your duas. It will be invaluable as a record of what you have achieved, so that you can look back and see what a positive month this has been, instead of feeling a failure compared to everyone else. This month is personal - a time to connect more closely with Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala, a time for reflection, and inshaAllah a time for renewal.

SOLACE for revert sisters in difficulty

www.solaceuk.org

Xmas and New Year Survival Guide for Reverts!

on Saturday, 15 December 2012. Posted in New Muslims

Assalamu alaikum


This time is a very difficult time for reverts regardless of whether they have been Muslim for 1 week or 15 years! SOLACE acknowledges and understands that it is at this time of the year that many sisters feel lonely and a deep sense of possibly family loss. SOLACE has sought the advice of a few revert sisters and we would like to share some tips for surviving the Xmas and New Year season.

PLEASE FORWARD THIS EMAIL TO AS MANY REVERTS THAT YOU KNOW.

* Remember you have been on a spiritual journey which they haven't shared. Therefore changes which come from the heart for the revert, such as no longer celebrating non Muslim festivals, are shocking to a family who usually just see the do's and don'ts of Islam, and not the spiritual side. It's important to be sensitive to the family and as open as possible. Share with them your reasons for the changes in your approach, and perhaps warn them before these changes happen.

* Give gifts to your relatives at both Eids, just as they want to give your family gifts at both birthdays and Christmas. In this way all the family, especially the children, don't miss out and everyone can learn from each other. You can always save the gifts for Eid if you prefer, just as they may save your gifts for Christmas! Alternatively, ask them to buy the children winter presents at the beginning or middle of December but not near the day itself.

* Remember to call them on the days around Christmas - they'll be missing you, and by spending time asking them about their day, you are showing an interest in their lives, just as you want them to show an interest in yours. Be open to chatting about their preparations and plans so they don't feel you've changed beyond all recognition, but just be gentle and firm in your own beliefs. At the end of the day, you can't just pretend its not happening.

* If you don't want to be with family over Christmas, try to visit them at some point earlier or later on in December. If you want to visit on the day, don't participate in the Christmas lunch and giving of presents, but make it in the evening after everything is over. This may keep both yourselves and your family happy, whilst standing clear of the ritual Christmas activities. And during the time you do spend with them inside the house, try to look good! They need to see that although their daughter covers herself fully, she can still take pride in her appearance. Take pretty clothes when you go to visit, wear a coloured scarf if you normally wear black, etc. It can really make a difference to them.

* If you're struggling yourself with feelings of emptiness, being apart on the day when all the family used to be together, make alternative plans. Keep busy during these times. Utilise the events that often go on in the mosques such as special talks at this time of year. Have a day out, as the roads are generally clear, and parking is free. Just make sure that parks etc are open, otherwise the children may end up disappointed. Visit a large mosque in a city some distance away that you wouldn't usually get to visit, or go natural - beaches and forests are always open!

* If you decide to stay at home, have a family Halaqa or invite other sisters round, especially the revert sisters you know - and take time together to study about Prophet Isa (a.s) in detail, developing a love and renewed understanding of his life as a Prophet. Go back to the Qur'an and Sunnah, and teach the children that Islam stands out as the One true religion, and is something to be proud of. Finally, spend more time on your prayer mat, praying for your non-Muslim family to come to Islam.

* If you're still a part of their family time in some small way, without celebrating Christmas itself, then maybe your family will feel more interested in joining you on one of your Eid days, thereby opening up Islam in a new way to them. So without overstepping the boundaries of Islam, aim to see your gentle and generous approach at their time of year as a means of Daw'ah.

Wasalamu alaikum

SOLACE

www.solaceuk.org

Registered charity no: 1149720