The blessed ‘Day of Arafat’

Updated 09 September 2016
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The blessed ‘Day of Arafat’

Praise be to Allah alone, who guides His servants to worship Him and blesses them with special seasons, days and nights as opportunities to draw closer to Him and His Pleasure. The 9th Day of Dul-Hijjah is one such day and it is known as the Day of Arafat. It is the day when millions of pilgrims gather at the plain of Arafat as an obligatory ritual of Haj.
Almost anyone who has performed Haj agrees that the standing on Arafat is the greatest part of Haj, as it is the place where a person can begin to truly know himself, his deficiencies and weaknesses. And in acknowledging his faults he also can come to know of the presence of His Creator in his life, of His limitless forgiveness and generosity. He recognizes that all he can do at that moment is turn to Allah, seek His mercy and forgiveness.
Just as those on Haj are blessed with the opportunity to turn to Allah, repent and “come out as sinless as a newborn child” (Al-Bukhari), the ones not on Haj also get a somewhat similar opportunity. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said:  “Fasting the Day of Arafat (9th Dul-Hijjah) is an expiation for (the sins of) the previous year and an expiation for (the sins of) the coming year.” (Muslim)
Not all of us can perform Haj, but almost all of us can race for Allah’s pleasure and forgiveness by fasting on the Day of Arafat which is the day of salvation from the Fire. Allah frees from the Fire those who gather in Arafat, as well as those Muslims in their home cities who can’t gather there. However, the day which follows is an Eid celebration for all the Muslims in the world, whether they were on Haj or not, because they were still included in the salvation and forgiveness of the Day of Arafat. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “There is no day on which Allah frees more people from the Fire than the Day of Arafat. He comes close and expresses His pride to the angels, saying, ‘What do these people want?’” (Muslim)
The Almighty made the Day of Arafat the best day of the year just like He made the Night of Qadr the best night of the year. While no one knows for sure which night is the Night of Qadr from the last ten nights of Ramadan, Allah has made the Best Day of the year known and this is His special favor on His believing servants and a chance for them to improve their relationship with Him by way of doing all kinds of good deeds and dua.
Arafat is a day of acceptance of duas and dua is the cord that connects the human to the Almighty and according to a Hadith: “The best of dua is dua on the day of Arafat.” (Hasan Al-Albaani in Saheeh Al-Jaami’1102) 
The Prophet (peace be upon him) also said: “The best of dua is du’a on the day of Arafat, and the best that I and the Prophets before me said is ‘Laa ilaaha ill-Allah wahdahu la shareeka lah, lahu’l-mulku wa lahu’l-hamdu wa huwa ‘ala kulli shay’in qadeer (There is no god but Allah alone, with no partner or associate; His is the dominion, to Him be praise, and He has power over all things).” (Tirmidhi-3585) Another Hadith also mentions that whoever says these words with a sincere heart, attesting to the truth of that with his tongue, then Allah will surely tear open the sky until He looks at the person from amongst the people of the earth who said it. And the right of the servant whom Allah looks at is that He grants him whatever he asked for.” (An-Nisaee - Saheeh Al-Albani)
So make a list of the duas closest to your heart and then pray to Allah on the best day of the year with sincerity and humility. Talk to Him like you would talk to a friend and confess your fears and expectations. He is Al-Sami (The Hearer) and Al-Mujeeb (The One who responds) so He will surely listen and respond to what He Knows is best for you. Imam Shawkani (rahimahuAllah) rightly said: “To know your duaa is accepted is to have your heart ready, cry and shed tears to Allah, being persistent, and after that feeling, a burden taken off your shoulders.”
The day of Arafat is among the most blessed times of the year in Islam. It commemorates the finality of revelation (Qur’an 5:3) and the completion of the Ḥaj pilgrimage. It is also the day when the Prophet delivered his last sermon — A gem and a reminder of our responsibility and accountability to Allah, so read about it, reflect and strive to implement the advice. Main guidelines from the last sermon included:
• Sacredness of a Muslim’s life and property
• The importance of propagating this message to all others (A Muslim’s responsibility thus does not end by following the religion)
• A reminder that everyone is fully accountable for their deeds and Allah (God) will take every person into account. If everyone heeded to this fact alone, the world would be a much better place today.
• “Hurt no one so that no one may hurt you.” These words of the prophet are self-explanatory.
• The prohibition of dealing with interest (Numerous accounts in Qur'an and Hadith prohibit taking, giving or being a part of any transaction dealing with interest).
• “You will neither inflict nor suffer any inequity.” These words of the prophet are self explanatory.
• The awareness of shaitan and how he can work to deviate us from the right path and doing evil things.
• Rights of women over men and rights of men over women.
• Treatment of women with kindness.
• Modesty and chastity in women.
• The importance of worshipping Allah (offering the five daily prayers, fasting Ramadan, giving charity (Zakat) and performing Haj.
• Equality among all (blacks, white, Arabs, non-Arabs, etc.)
• The need to establish justice.
• Islam is the final divine religion (Last Prophet and Last Book).
May Allah guide us in doing our part in following the Prophet’s message and propagating the message to everyone we know and accept from us the tiniest of good deeds that we do on the best of days! Ameen.


The beauty of prayer in Islam

Updated 23 September 2016
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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.