Surah Al-Asr warns mankind of fleeting time

Updated 30 January 2013

Surah Al-Asr warns mankind of fleeting time

“If people deliberate this Surah (Al-Asr), it suffices them.” — Imam Ash-Shafii

The importance of holy Surah like Al-Asr lies in the fact that it delineates the perfect all-embracing system of human life just as the Creator of mankind desires. Throughout all human history, everywhere and at all times, there has been only one system and way that guarantee happiness and prosperity to all mankind in this present world and the world to come. All other systems and ways have all been conducive to loss, wretchedness and perdition.
Allah, All-Mighty, says: “By Al-’Asr (Time)! Verily Man is in loss.” [Qur’an, 103: 1-2]
By virtue of the above Verse, Allah puts forward a Divine Oath by “Time,” in the general sense of the word, to man, whose real existence is based on “Time” as substantiated by a number of days: whenever a day elapses, one part of man’s life and existence does pass away. Whenever a newly-born day dawns, it calls out: “O son of Adam! I am a new creature and a witness upon your deeds. So make the best of me, for I shall never come back until the Day of Judgment.”
Allah, Most Gracious, swears by time to man that he is in inevitable loss in the sense that the elapse of time consumes man’s lifetime, i.e. his capital and the vessel that contains his righteous work, which is, in turn, the price of the Paradise he has been promised.
From the commercial point of view loss is to waste one’s capital without gaining a profit in return. But man is able to avoid such loss if he spends his lifetime on the things for which he has been created, namely belief in Allah and His religion, performing deeds of righteousness, recommending one another to the Truth and recommending one another to Patience. To this effect, Allah, Most Merciful, says: “By Al -’Asr (Time)! Verily, Man is in loss, except such as have Faith, do righteous deeds, recommend one another to the Truth and recommend one another to patience.” [Qur’an, 103: 1-3]

Firstly: “Except such as have Faith”
In fact, Faith is a kind of link between man — the weak, tiny, petty, perishable, limited creature — with his Creator — the Eternal, Absolute, Perfect One — from Whom all things, including man, derive their existence and survival. By such link with the Upper Infinite World man is liberated from the limits of his petty entity to the vastness of the enormous universe, from the limits of his tiny force to the marvelous gigantic forces of the universe, and from the limits of his short life to endless eternities that Allah, Alone, knows. In addition to providing man with magnificent power and ability, such link with his Lord, the Almighty Allah, enables man to attain real happiness to which he aspires, which is a sublime kind of happiness, a great unmatched joy, and a unique intimacy and friendship with life and existence, which is, in turn, an utmost win.
In fact, Monotheism safeguards man from worshipping none but Allah, the Almighty, humbling himself to none but Him, or submitting himself to none but Him. With Monotheism there is only One Power and Only One God (Allah). Monotheism eliminates from human life vain desires and caprices and replaces them with Allah’s Divine Laws and Justice as well as belief in man’s honor and dignity in the sight of his Lord — a prerequisite of Faith which provides man with self-respect, self-exaltation and nobility of character.

Secondly: “And do righteous deeds”
True Faith is a positive dynamic reality; and, therefore, righteous deeds are the natural fruits thereof. No sooner is true Faith firmly established in man’s heart than it seeks to manifest itself through performance of righteous deeds. This is because true Faith is by no means a static inactive thing; otherwise it would be either dead or untrue, just like a natural flower that sends forth its fragrance. If there is no fragrance, the flower is artificial or dead. Similarly, righteous work is not a mere accidental act on the part of man, but rather faith-motivated and purposeful work for which all true believers help and counsel one another. Moreover, true Faith is by no means an inactive or passive attitude towards life. It is not mere devotional seclusion or solitude, but, rather, a righteous purposeful movement, a positive rightly guided action and a balanced establishment of the ideal human civilization on earth in accordance with Allah’s Divine System and Guidance.

Thirdly: “And recommend one another to the Truth”
Establishment of the Truth is something difficult; the obstacles are so many, and so are distractors: desires and caprices, interests, circumstances of environment, pressure of work, traditions, customs, covetousness and greed. That is why “recommending one another to the Truth” becomes necessary to remind, encourage, and immunize a believer, and never letting him/her down or extorting any of his/her rights. Moreover, “recommending one another to the Truth” purifies and safeguards man’s individual tendencies and attitudes, because the Truth can not be established and maintained except in a community of true believers where mutual counseling, cooperation, collaboration, solidarity, help and assistance prevail among its members.
By Faith and righteous deeds man attains self-perfection; and by “recommending others to the Truth” he attains perfection to his community. And since existence of this Muslim nation is based on Allah’s True Religion, which has come to us through authentically communicated revealed Divine Scripture, which is confirmed by the mind, proved by reality, and conformed to by man’s pure original nature. Such Truth has to be firmly established and deeply rooted if the Muslim nation is to maintain its entity, unity and mission. In other words, “recommending one another to the Truth” is a decisive critical issue, because if the Truth does not prevail on earth, Falsehood certainly will. Hence, “recommending one another to the Truth” guarantees preservation of man’s existence and fulfillment of his mission.

Fourthly: “And recommend one another to patience”
It is out of Allah’s Wisdom that He, Most Gracious, made this present world an abode of trial with evil and good, and an abode of conflict between Truth and falsehood. Therefore, “recommending one another to patience” is necessary for being successful in such trial and victorious in such conflict. Hence, it is necessary to recommend one another to patience and perseverance against one’s lusty desires and caprices, Falsehood, hardships and grievances. That is why patience is an effective means for overcoming obstacles, multiplying abilities, and achieving objectives.

-  Courtesy of

The beauty of prayer in Islam

Updated 23 September 2016

The beauty of prayer in Islam

GOING deeper into our spiritual state during prayers (salah) requires that we have a presence of heart and are mindful of the words being said during the prayers.
Our prayer will feel shorter, yet when we look at how much time we actually spent, we will think, “Did I just spend 10 minutes?” or even 15 and 20 minutes.
A person who began applying this said he wished the prayer would never end.
A feeling that Ibn Al-Qayyim describes as “what the competitors compete for… it is nourishment for the soul and the delight of the eyes,” and he also said, “If this feeling leaves the heart, it is as though it is a body with no soul.”

The love of Allah
Some people’s relationship with Allah is limited to following orders and leaving prohibitions, so that one does not enter hell. Of course, we must follow orders and leave prohibitions, but it needs to be done out of more than fear and hope; it should also be done out of love for Allah. Allah says in the Qur’an: “… Allah will bring forth [in place of them] a people He will love and who will love Him.” (Qur’an, 5:54)
We often find that when a lover meets the beloved, hearts are stirred and there is warmth in that meeting. Yet when we meet Allah, there is not even an ounce of this same feeling. Allah says in the Qur’an: “And (yet) among the people are those who take other than Allah as equals (to Him). They love them as they (should) love Allah. But those who believe are stronger in love for Allah.” (Qur’an, 2:165)
And those who believe are stronger in love for Allah. There should be a feeling of longing, and when we raise our hands to start the prayer, warmth and love should fill our hearts because we are now meeting with Allah. A dua of the Prophet (peace be upon him): “O Allah, I ask You for the longing to meet You” (An-Nisa’i, Al-Hakim)
Ibn Al-Qayyim says in his book Tareeq Al-Hijratain that Allah loves His Messengers and His believing servants, and they love Him and nothing is more beloved to them than Him. The love of one’s parents has a certain type of sweetness, as does the love of one’s children, but the love of Allah far supersedes any of that. The Prophet, peace be upon him, said: “Any person who combines these three qualities will experience the sweetness of faith: 1) that God and His messenger are dearer to him than anything else; 2) that his love of others is purely for God’s sake; and 3) that he hates to relapse into disbelief as much as he hates to be thrown in the fire.” (Bukhari)
Thus, the first thing he mentioned was: “… that God and His messenger are more beloved to him than anything else…”
Ibn Al-Qayyim says: “Since ‘there is nothing like unto Him’ (Qur’an, 42:11), there is nothing like experiencing love for Him.”
If you feel this love for Him, it will be a feeling so intense, so sweet, that you would wish the prayer would never ever end.
Do you truly want to feel this love? Then ask yourself: ‘why do you or should you love Allah?’
Know that you love people for one (or all, in varying degrees) of three reasons: For their beauty, because of their exalted character or/and because they have done good to you. And know that Allah combines all of these three to the utmost degree.

All-embracing beauty
We’ve all been touched by beauty. It is almost fitrah (natural disposition) to love what is beautiful. Ali ibn Abi Talib, may Allah be pleased with him, said about the Prophet, peace be upon him, that it was “as if the sun is shining from his face.” Jabir (may God be pleased with him) said: “The Messenger of Allah was more handsome, beautiful, and radiant than the full moon” (Tirmidhi)
Allah made all His Prophets have a certain beauty so that people would have a natural inclination toward them.
And beauty is more than what is in the face, because beauty is in all of creation and somehow has the ability to take our breath away and give us peace simultaneously. The glimmer of the crescent moon on a calm night, the intensity of a waterfall as the water drops for thousands of feet, the sunset by the sea … certain scenes of natural unspoiled beauty stirs something in us. As Allah is the One Who made it beautiful, so what of Allah’s beauty?
Ibn Al-Qayyim said: “And it is enough to realize Allah’s Beauty when we know that every internal and external beauty in this life and the next are created by Him, so what of the beauty of their Creator?”
This fitrah for loving what is beautiful is because Allah is beautiful. One of His Names is Al-Jameel (the Most Beautiful). Ibn Al-Qayyim states that the beauty of Allah is something that a person cannot imagine and only He knows it. There is nothing of it in creation save for glimpses.
Ibn Al-Qayyim says if all of creation were the most beautiful they could be (so let’s imagine, ever single human being looked as beautiful as Yusuf, peace be upon him, and the whole world was like Paradise), and all of them combined from the beginning of time until the Day of Judgment, they would not even be like a ray in comparison to the sun when compared to Allah. Allah’s beauty is so intense that we will not even be able to take it in this life. In the Qur’an, Allah describes Musa’s (peace be upon him) request: “And when Moses arrived at Our appointed time and his Lord spoke to him, he said, ‘My Lord, show me (Yourself) that I may look at You.’ (Allah) said: ‘You will not see Me but look at the mountain; if it should remain in place, then you will see Me.’ But when his Lord appeared to the mountain He rendered it level, and Moses fell unconscious.” (Qur’an, 7:143)
Even the mountain could not bear the beauty of Allah and crumbled, and when Musa, peace be upon him, saw this (he did not even see Allah), he fell unconscious. This is why on the Day of Judgment it is Allah’s light that will shine on everything. We talk about breathtaking beauty, but we have yet to experience Allah’s beauty. While things in this world can be beautiful or majestic or if they combine both they are finite, true majesty and beauty are for Allah: “And there will remain the Face of your Lord, Owner of Majesty and Honor.” (Qur’an, 55:27)
Keeping all of this in mind, the Prophet, peace be upon him, said: “Allah directs His Face toward the face of His servant who is praying, as long as he does not turn away” (Tirmidhi).
Remember this in your prayer, and ask Allah to allow you the joy of seeing Him in Paradise.