Lessons from Namrud’s attitude

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Updated 24 September 2015

Lessons from Namrud’s attitude

Like Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), Ibrahim (peace be upon him) was born at a time when ignorance was at its peak, at Babylon in Iraq during the reign of a tyrant disbeliever Namrud. Namrud was a ruler who was filled with misguidance. He used to term himself as lord of everything. Allah tells us in the Qur’an, how Prophet Ibrahim (peace be upon him) debated with this ignorant ruler to explain that Allah is the Lord of everything that exists. Allah says: “Have you not considered the one who argued with Abraham about his Lord (merely) because Allah had given him kingship? When Abraham said, “My Lord is the one who gives life and causes death,” he said, “I give life and cause death….” (Qur’an, 2:258)
Notice how Allah says “…the one who argued with Ibrahim about his Lord (merely) because Allah had given him kingship..” showing us that Allah had blessed Namrud with kingdom and power and this blessing was what had made him arrogantly deny the favors of Allah instead of being humbly grateful for them. He was deceived by this gift to such an extent that it had made him compete with the One who had given him the gift!
This should actually make us fearful, as when Allah gives us and blesses us without account we usually tend to take His favors for granted, while the attitude that Allah wants from us is that whenever we are blessed with gifts from Him, it should be a reason for us to contemplate over His Generosity and His Mercy, draw closer to Him in gratitude and never let it be a case where we ungratefully engage in sins and turn to disbelief and misguidance. Never let it be a case where we feel safe from the punishment of Allah just because He has kept us blessed, thriving and secure. Allah says about some tyrants and arrogant disbelievers: “So when they forgot that by which they had been reminded, We opened to them the doors of every [good] thing until, when they rejoiced in that which they were given, We seized them suddenly, and they were (then) in despair.” (Qur’an, 6:44)
We have to know and understand that Allah always tests people with either one of the two conditions; First, with hardship to see if they humble themselves and turn to Him by increasing in supplication to Him but when they don’t do that, He tries them with ease, sends them His blessings so that they might turn to Him in gratefulness and submission. But when they still remain arrogant and oblivious to the signs sent by Him, He punishes them in ways they never imagined!
Allah says: “And We sent to no city a prophet (who was denied) except that We seized its people with poverty and hardship that they might humble themselves [to Allah]. Then We exchanged in place of the bad (condition), good, until they increased (and prospered) and said, ‘Our fathers (also) were touched with hardship and ease.’ So We seized them suddenly while they did not perceive.” (Qur’an, 7:95)
So let’s always take account of ourselves.., keep a check on our reactions to the numerous gifts and blessings coming from Allah. Let’s ask ourselves: ‘Have we thanked Him for the food we enjoy daily, the security of our homes, our loving families, our five senses that work perfectly…? Hasan Al-Basri said: “Verily, Allah lets (a person) enjoy a blessing for as long as He wills. But when He is no longer thanked for it, He turns it into a punishment.”
Let’s not take our blessings for granted. Let’s thank Him and humbly submit to Him so that these blessings do not turn into a means of increased punishment.
Namrud was given a kingdom and he disbelieved but on the other hand we have lessons from Prophet Suleiman (peace be upon him) who was given such a kingdom where almost all the creation of Allah was placed under his control. He had men, jinn, animals, birds and the wind submitting to his commands and totally in his power but was his attitude like that of Namrud? No! Allah tells us in the Qur’an, about how he reacted to his Lord’s favors: “He (Suleiman) said: ‘This is from the favor of my Lord to test me whether I will be grateful or ungrateful. And whoever is grateful – his gratitude is only for (the benefit of) himself. And whoever is ungrateful — then indeed, my Lord is Free of need and Generous’.” (Qur’an, 27:40)
Allah also says: “And We had certainly given to David and Solomon knowledge, and they said, “Alhamdulillah – Praise (is due) to Allah, who has favored us over many of His believing servants.” (Qur’an, 27:15)
“This is the attitude of the righteous servants of Allah. This amazing behavior of Allah’s beloved prophets is what we need to emulate in our daily lives! Plus Allah says:
“If you are grateful, I will surely increase you (in favor)…” (Qur’an, 14:7)
So let’s be grateful for the numerous favors and blessings that keep being showered on us and let’s believe in the promise of Allah that He will increase His blessings on us if we keep thanking Him by submitting to His commands and His decree for us. Let’s be grateful and hope, expect and pray for increase in favors from Him…but let’s make sure we pray for increase in good in the life of this world as well as increase in good in the Hereafter. Let’s pray not be of the unfortunate ones who receive the result of their good deeds in their worldly life and then find nothing but scattered dust in the Hereafter.
We praise You and thank You O Allah for your infinite blessings! Indeed we can never enumerate Your favors on us! O Allah, forgive us for our shortcomings and make us of Your grateful and humble servants! Ameen!


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.